How you doin’?

It’s been almost three weeks since I stopped eating school lunches. How’m I doin’? Better.

Since those test results revealed that my body is not happy eating gluten and dairy (non-Celiac gluten sensitivity), I knew that after the project I would have to remove gluten and dairy completely from my diet, to see if my digestive issues would go away. Starting with the day after the project ended, I have been gluten free, and mostly dairy free.* Naively, I thought that the day after I finished eating school lunches, I’d feel amazing, ready to run through a field barefoot or something. While I did feel like celebrating when the project ended, it took a full two weeks for me to say that I think my body is approaching normal.

Chocolate was one thing I enjoyed all last year. My husband and I would have a couple squares every night after our son went down. Some people high five after putting their kids to sleep, we would “clink” a couple squares of dark, smooth chocolate. In December, I switched to gluten-free, pure dark chocolate (no milk ingredients). But every day that I nibbled on any type of chocolate, I noticed I was getting headaches and needed to pop a couple tylenols. I decided to eliminate chocolate and see what happened.

One day last week, I again got a little headache, and thought to myself with much relief, “I didn’t eat any chocolate today so it can’t be chocolate…” and then I remembered my son fed me Nature’s Path Leapin Lemurs cereal, which has chocolate in it. Is chocolate out now, too!?! Well, I haven’t eaten chocolate since, and I haven’t had any more headaches. **burying face in my hands**

My husband, who as I’m sure you already suspected, is a saint. He is wonderfully accomodating with my son’s and my gluten free, dairy free diets (my son has been on this diet all fall due to severe tummy troubles — being gf has been a godsend). Over the holidays, my husband didn’t have to make any new adjustments, but the rest of my family was subjected to a lot. The out-of-state folks were real troopers. My mom planned the whole Christmas dinner gluten free/dairy free. She said, “Since I have cooked a lot of holiday meals, this wasn’t too hard to do.” She cooked the turkey, gf stuffing, mashed potatoes, and sweet potatoes (all excellent). I contributed a broccoli salad (a winner) and green bean casserole (a flop). To me, almost everything tasted really good, and not like it was prepared according to strict dietary rules.

This week, I went to my primary care doctor and chatted with him about the project. The last time I talked to him was in June. I told him that I’m still feeling tired. When I look back over my life, I’ve always felt “tired.” Granted, I have a ton on my plate right now, but still. We have a history of thyroid disease (Hashimoto’s — an autoimmune disorder) in my family and my thyroid levels haven’t been checked since 2008. So he ordered a lot of blood work, including my vitamin D levels.

I fasted this morning and went to the lab to have my blood drawn. I don’t mind needles at all, thankfully. I’m really interested to see how everything compares to my results in June. After being reminded about the project, my doctor gave me the name of a doctor on staff who specializes in integrative medicine. I’ve made an appointment for next week. Should be interesting to share my story. I guess this is someone who has talked about school lunches in the past! I’m laughing thinking about how I’ll introduce myself, “Um hi, I ate school lunch all year and I have a blog. And I’m anonymous…” Giving the whole “recap.” Won’t this be fun, eh? I’ll keep you posted.

*I have eaten some ghee, which I had never heard of before. It doesn’t seem to bother me. The label on the jar I found at Whole Foods states lactose and casein free. I keep calling it “glee,” but maybe I’m just happy.

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15 thoughts on “How you doin’?

  1. I am also embarking on a gluten and dairy free life! I can't believe how much better I feel after just a couple weeks…though admittedly I ran out of almond milk and had to put a splash of milk milk in my coffee this morning.

  2. I saw your note about the ghee. Ghee is a great ingredient. It is really just clarified butter. Butter is allowed to slowly melt and when the solids seperate just the clear "oil" is removed while the solids remain. The caesin is in the milk solids, so properly produced ghee should be totally fine.

    I went dairy free after my second son was born. He would have terrible gas while I was breatfeeding. The moment I went dairy free it stopped. I found he could tolerate low levels of dairy. I would have butter and would have milk in my coffee. But that was it.

    I think your new diet is GREAT. And I have a sneaking suspicion that many many people have sensitivities to gluten and caesin. I myself have a gluten sensitivity, but I can still eat maybe one serving of wheat a day with no problems. But go beyond that and I am paying the price. How many people are in my situation and just haven't figured out that the problem is their diet? I say if you have any kind of recurring digestive trouble or fatigue that can't be related to sleep deprevation, it is worth it to examine your diet. Many of these types of allergies are spectrum disorders, so there are severe cases as well as mild cases like mine.

    Can't wait to hear about the doctor!

  3. I have been thinking about going gluten free because of your blog. It just seems like processed wheat is making you feel bad, but why? You don't have celiacs, so did your doctor describe to you why it is making you feel bad? I have read that cutting out refined wheat will make you a healthier person, but I don't know the scientific reason for that.
    Anyway, I look forward to the lunches you will be posting! It will give me ideas for gluten-free foods to try.

  4. I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease, but I have since heard that a lot of people are misdiagnosed with CD–they have gluten sensitivities instead. And don't get me started on everything you may or may have to avoid with CD; it's all up to how your body reacts. I'm thinking about trying a gluten-free diet to see if my symptoms will disappear. (I've been having a mild flare-up and am a short-run of Flagyl (antibiotics) and prednisone.)

  5. My father thought he was allergic to chocolate for years. Turns out the allergy was to sulfites used to process non-organic chocolate. We made the connection because so many dried fruits are also processed with sulfites to maintain their colors.

    But since Leapin' Lemurs is made with organic cocoa, this apparently doesn't apply 🙂

  6. Wow, you do have a lot of sensitivities and health issues. I ate school lunch every day of high school and I've never in my life experienced anything close to what you have. Besides my personal preferences (I don't like straight milk, eggs, etc. but not allergic to them or anything) I have no problems with the things you post about, and there's basically nothing similar in my (recent) family history either. Maybe a part of it is psychological? I would be interested to see this project done with someone who has "no" health issues/sensitivities vs. this project.

  7. I just recently discovered that I have a dairy allergy, specifically to whey protein. I've been mostly dairy free for a few months and I've felt amazing! Best I've been my whole life. I discovered my dairy allergy when I went to see a naturopathic allergist, I feel like that was one of the best things I've ever done for my health. I can now breathe out of both nostrils, taste food, don't have chronic sinus infections, and have noticed a huge improvement in my asthma! I will say I do miss cheese and occasionally splurge, but often what I want isn't worth the reaction. Good luck on your new diet!

  8. My mother discovered she had celiac disease when I was a teenager, but my whole life she hasn't been able to ingest caffeine without getting a headache, and she'll get a cold sore if she eats chocolate. I think some people are more sensitive. It's possible eating lots of probitoic rich food will help!

  9. I've been reading your blog and your journey since you started and I think you're incredibly brave and have done a great job. I gasped when I read this entry b/c I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's disease about 2 years ago and have been on a gluten-free diet since then. Eliminating gluten from my diet has been a challenge but it is so worth it! The internet is a great resource for finding gluten-free recipes. And feeling better just by making a change to my diet makes me hardly miss items that are wheat based.

  10. I used to think I was allergic to chocolate, and while I was in my junior year of college we were given a final project in one of my classes to write a research paper about any subject that interested us. Curious to find out more about chocolate allergies, I chose that subject.
    Through the research project, I came to learn that allergies to chocolate itself (as in cacao) are incredibly, incredibly rare, and that it's typically an allergy to one of the ingredients used in the production or preservation of chocolate.
    Following the completion of my paper, I started experimenting with different kinds of chocolate and discovered that while I did get mild reactions to milk chocolate, it was the incredibly low-quality "milk chocolate flavored" chocolate (like the chocolate easter bunnies and santas that you get on the cheap around the holidays) which really set me off. Dark chocolate has always been ok, and as I prefer my chocolate dark, bitter, and straight up (I even used to get into my grandmother's bittersweet baking chocolate as a kid), it's never been too much of a problem for me to simply avoid milk chocolate (and chocolate flavored things such as cake and ice cream) at all costs.

    I would suggest, based on my own experiences with chocolate, to try to comb over the ingredients in all of the chocolate products you've been eating to see if you can make a connection. Perhaps it's even an intolerance to refined sugars instead? There are so many different kinds of sugar out there which we eat (cane sugar, beet sugar, corn sugar, etc), that it could even be the type of sugar used to sweeten your chocolate which is setting you off.

  11. Mrs Q have you ever read the book "The Unhealthy Truth" by Robyn O'Brien? (Maybe I missed it in an old post?) She's the mother of two children with food allergies, and she has some interesting arguments about the topic–namely, that chemicals and preservatives in processed food, including GM crops, are sparking the widespread allergy rate we see today. It's a good read.

  12. Have you checked to see if the chocolate you were eating may contain traces of dairy or gluten? There are some certifiably gluten free vegan dark chocolates out there that you may want to try. (I'm gluten and dairy free myself.)
    If you are looking for a cheese alternative, I just tried Teese – vegan cheese yesterday that is labeled gluten and dairy/lactose free. It was quite good. I'll be blogging about it in the next day or so.

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