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Other posts in this series:
What is an alternative medicine doctor and what do they do?
What testing do you get when you choose alternative medicine?
After talking to the Osteopathic doctor, deciding to go forward with testing and getting way too much blood taken at the lab...
Finally, all my testing was done (at least all the testing they do there in the office). Next on the agenda was talking to the Naturopathic doctor. I really liked that doctor. She was down to earth and she asked some great questions. She asked about my eating habits, my sleeping habits, how much energy I had at different times during the day and how I felt at different times during the day. She really delved deep into what a typical day was like for me.
I also learned a lot of things from her. 80% of your immune response, including your inflammatory response, comes from your gut, your digestive tract. If there are problems in your gut, there will most likely be problems in other places in your body as well. So for a holistic doctor, their first order of business is to get your gut in good working condition.
She also said that eating a food today could affect you 5-7 days later. So you could eat a piece of cheese today and 5 days later have a headache. That headache could have been caused in some way because you ate that cheese, but because the response is so delayed, you wouldn't necessarily associate those two things together.
You could also have a response to a food because you eat too much of it or you eat it too often. For example, you could be just fine with eggs, but if you eat an egg every morning for breakfast, it could start to bother you just because you are eating it every day.
In light of all those things, they decided to put me on a very restricted diet for a month. I am on a gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, peanut-free diet. This accomplishes two things. First it cuts out the 4 foods that are the top allergic foods. More people have food allergies to these 4 foods then to any other foods out there. If my body has an allergy or an intolerance to these foods, then I am giving my gut a chance to relax and to get all of that out of its system. Its kind of a detox for the digestive system.
Second, it gives me a baseline to go by. Once the month goes by, I go back to the clinic and we get the results of all the tests. Some of those tests might reveal food allergies that I didn't know I had. But even if they don't, I can do some testing on my own. I can add those 4 foods back in one by one and see if there is a change in the way I'm feeling. If, after giving my gut a break for a month, I add a food back in and my gut goes crazy, then I know I'm intolerant to that food.
I'm sure the question you are wondering right now is, what in the world will I eat for a month? That was my first question too, because I really don't like to be hungry.
My last stop of the day was to the dietitian. She was great too - friendly, willing to answer questions and just full of knowledge. She gave me lists of things not to eat and lists of things to substitute instead. She also gave me ideas on where to find foods to eat. On the list to eat is any kind of meat, vegetable or fruit. Whew! No fake meat for me :).
Dairy-free: There are a few dairy alternatives out there, but they don't recommend patients replace dairy with soy products. Instead of cow's milk, there is almond milk or coconut milk. Instead of cow's milk cheese, there is a cheese-like alternative used for melting (a brand called Daiya) or there is cheese made from goat's milk, sheep's milk or buffalo's milk (I'd hate to be the person who had to milk a buffalo!). My mom and I visited an Earth Fare grocery store earlier this milk and found some great tasting sheep's milk cheese. It was crazy expensive...but it's good and for this cheese lover, it's making all my food taste, oh so much better!
Gluten-free: Ah, there's the biggie. Gluten is in almost everything - breads, bakery products, cereals, soups, sauces...the list goes on. The dietitian recommended Kroger for gluten-free products. They have a lot and they are all grouped together which is very helpful. I found gluten-free pasta there and GF bread. At Earth Fare, I got GF barbecue sauce and GF teriyaki sauce. I was amazed that those things have gluten in them, but apparently wheat is a cheap filler. Rice and potatoes are naturally GF, so I have been eating a lot of those as well.
Egg-free: Gluten-free is hard but this is the one that really got me. Gluten holds foods together and when you take out the gluten, you have to use something else to hold it together. Guess what you use? Yup, eggs. So finding GF products that did not have eggs in them was tricky, but I did find one brand of bread that was GF and egg free. And, surprisingly, I found one brand or frozen pizza that was GF, egg-free and dairy-free and it didn't taste too bad either. "Vegan" is a key word to look for if you are eating egg-free and dairy-free.
Peanut-free: No biggie. I just can't eat peanuts or peanut butter. I did buy sunflower seed butter to use on my GF bread or my corn cakes (turns out rice cakes are off the list - don't remember if they have gluten or eggs, but they are not on the diet).
My typical food for this month:
- Breakfast - protein shake (tell you all about that later), piece of GF bread with real butter (that is on the diet, margarine is not)
- Snack - GF pretzels, fruit
- Lunch - salad with Vinaigrette salad dressing (ranch, etc, has eggs), a couple slices of lunch meat, a piece of fruit
- Snack - corn chips and salsa or corn cake with sunflower seed butter
- Dinner - meat with GF BBQ sauce or GF teriyaki sauce, veggie, and rice, potato or GF pasta
- Snack - GF cereal or GF waffle
I'm happy to report I am not going hungry. The first few days of the diet, I was very hungry, but now that I know more what I can eat, I'm doing good.
Stay tuned. I'll tell you all about the dietary supplements they have "prescribed" for me.