Observations on my eating and diet

All related to health and stuff.

Noticed recently that I eat more when I’m in enough pain that I need to take additional pain meds. (Wouldn’t it be nice to see the numbers on calories burned for people who aren’t always in pain? Seems like being in pain must burn more calories!) On top of that, I realized just this morning, that if I don’t feel well at all – no mental focus, all the fatigue, enough pain that standing more than a few minutes might be an issue – I could add more – then I don’t want to actually make myself meals. In fact, I don’t even want to use the brain power to even think about what kind of meal to prepare. Perhaps I’ve forgotten that your diet is part of your self care? If I don’t assemble a meal then I snack. I’ll snack all afternoon instead. When I do that it’s difficult to keep track of what I’ve eaten. Anything that resembles a meal is way easier to keep track of – even just mentally through the day. This seems like the better option compared to just grabbing a snack instead.

My diet is already difficult because I have to balance limitations placed on me because of food allergies, food intolerances/sensitivities that can be damn near deadly, gastroparesis, migraine triggers, trying to lose or at least maintain my weight, and now PCOS. MS has its own set of dietary recommendations and only some of those are similar to the recommendations for fibromyalgia. Avoid these foods, eat some of those foods, etc. etc. One health problem says eat low fiber, another health problem says eat high fiber. Low fiber wins. For example, I can’t not eat rice or potatoes. It’s just not happening. If I followed all of these diets I’d eat nothing but baked chicken and uh? Well I don’t even know. I’d hate my life. Anyways.

I will be making myself consider whether I want to develop a list of meals – right down to how many chicken nuggets I would need – for when I don’t feel well and can’t summon the mental focus to figure out what to eat. Do I want to spend the time and energy on this or do I just want to try a little harder when I’m making food for myself? I also need to think out and actually make decisions more often. That makes no sense but here’s what I mean. I cannot eat dinner (The dinner that my awesome husband makes that will be way more tasty than chicken nuggets or fish and chips from the freezer that might be an easy alternative.) late if the dinner is higher in fat because then my stomach spends most of the night digesting it. This is especially important if any of my health problems are (currently) aggravated or flaring. Maybe, when I can stop and make these choices the flares of pain/fatigue/bloating/nausea or any of the other things that might happen to make me feel crappier than usual, won’t last as long? Not sure if I want to actually hope this to be true. I imagine it’ll help only some of the time.

Also, I had an epiphany related to my muscular problems and my stomach. Had this epiphany at 4 am after I woke up from coughing and started refluxing food so I crawled out of bed for a bit. All of your muscles are part of you, and everything really is connected. I have a great deal of trouble with my muscles not wanting to work at their full range of motion. My eyes won’t focus out after I’ve spent a few hours knitting. Muscles that aren’t regularly stretched do actually seem to get shorter (and tighter). I wouldn’t be surprised if my muscle problems are what’s causing the gastroparesis to flare up.

tl;dr: I bet stretching helps my digestion more than I can even imagine. I will try harder when planning food choices when I’m alone and eating for one because maintaining your own personal diet – with variety – is also part of good self care. And I’m not going to stop eating ice cream or chocolate, but I do want to try drinking more low fat goat milk.

Foods I cannot eat

I’ve decided to make a list of the foods I cannot eat (and things I cannot drink). If it’s here assume I cannot eat even a tiny bit of it.

I have to know every single ingredient of any food I put in my mouth. If I happen to just try a bite of something, I’m risking anything from being sick to my stomach for a few hours to a few days, to not being able to breathe. Not being able to breathe means risking death. Many of the foods listed here are foods I’ve had serious reactions to. If I’ve not had serious reactions to the foods, then eliminating the foods have greatly improved my quality of life.

This is also a work in progress. I’m beginning to feel like diet is not enough to control my symptoms for a variety of reasons. I’m waiting on the LP procedure to determine the MS diagnosis before I go back to my immunologist. Anyways, the list.

  • fish
  • shellfish
  • tree nuts
  • soy
  • artificial colors – especially red40
  • gluten
  • most dairy – I cannot eat aged cheese of any kind – even cheddar
  • cherries
  • blueberries
  • raspberries
  • strawberries
  • vinegar and fermented items – yes, this means basically no condiments
  • tomatoes
  • spinach
  • pumpkin
  • spices – cinnamon especially, but also allspice, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger, also curry and chili powder
  • MSG
  • foods that contain high levels of nitrites – If I eat regular cured bacon, technically I’m risking a migraine.
  • alcohol – I drink some amounts of gluten free beer, apple cider, and mead. Probably about 2 drinks a month? Technically I’m supposed to avoid it completely.
  • preservatives – especially those based of benzoates, BHT is another one. example: I cannot eat Rice Krispies because of the preservative in them.
  • grapes/raisins
  • dates
  • eggplant
  • red beans
  • tea
  • caffeine
  • bananas – recently eating bananas has given me migraines – I’m wondering if it’s because my latex sensitivity has gotten more extreme.
  • sulfites – also used as a basis for preservatives
  • corn – I’ve developed a sensitivity to corn but so far it’s based on the source and how much I eat. That’s how I know it’s a sensitivity. Popcorn at the movie theatre means a stomach ache for two days. Snack bag size of fritos from the machine? Stomach ache for at least a day. Mixed veggies with corn for dinner? No problem I’ve noticed so far.
  • chocolate
  • oat
  • flax

There are a few things that I can eat every now and again if I don’t eat too much. Avocado is one of those. I still eat chocolate but I only get it from one or two sources which I know are allergen free and have very few ingredients. I eat chocolate bars with three ingredients in them.

There are other things I need to be careful with. A big one is leftovers. I cannot eat meat that has been leftover more than 48 hours or I’ll likely end up with a stomach ache.

If you’ve stuck with me so far…. I challenge you. Pick up your bottle of juice, soda, tea, whatever and read the ingredients. If there’s something you don’t understand? Google it. I’ll bet you go get a glass of water afterwards.

This is why I’m actually hoping that the MS diagnosis comes through as a real thing, because then I can go on immune suppressing drugs and maybe, just maybe, my body will calm down and stop treating so many different kinds of food as poison.

If you want more information, including information about histamine intolerance, check this out.

Anti-inflammatory low histamine diet

Here’s one according to the Dr. Weil guy, I totally picked one because he’s got a fanny pyramid. I detest a lot of diet advice found no the internet because. Often, such advice, like the link I’ve included, makes no mention of how to figure out what is in season. In this decade, just because it’s offered fresh in your local grocery store – if you have one – does not mean that it’s in season. Further, there is no consideration of cost. Organic produce is expensive! I’m not saying do not eat organic. Personally I think I feel better eating organic – and prefer it – but sometimes you have to make choices because of the cost.

Good article about histamine intolerance: Maintz L and Novak N. Histamine and histamine intolerance. Am J Clin Nutr 2007; 85:1185–96.

Let’s work through this from the bottom shall we?

Vegetables
– varies by season and region of the country you live in.
– description suggests money is not an issue here either
– I cannot have tomatoes or spinach.
– I tested allergic to cabbage and have yet to retest this.

Fruits
– again varies by season and region of the country you live in.
– Berries are famous for anti-inflammatory properties. I’m allergic to cherries and all berries are high in histamine.
– Thankfully, apples are easy to get. We’ve kept those on hand through cooler months so far.

Whole and cracked grains
– gluten intolerant
– yeast is to be avoided on low histamine diet
– That being said, pretty easy to handle in dinner.

Pasta
– gluten free pasta is really not as good for you, or as good tasting
– also, why? I guess it’s here for variety?

Beans and Legumes
– this might be the first actually easy thing I’ve seen
– except that since I cannot have vinegar under the low histamine diet I’d have to start cooking beans from scratch DAILY.
– hummus is tricky because I can’t eat the leftovers after 24 hours.
– canned foods not smart on low histamine diet.

Healthy fats
– allergic to tree nuts
cannot tolerate flax or oat
– avocados are high in histamine and a possible migraine trigger. I eat sparingly.
– I eat eggs sparingly because of histamine and cholesterol. I cannot eat the foods that would naturally help to lower cholesterol.

Fish and seafood
– COMPLETELY OUT on low histamine diet and made me very sick before I knew anything about the low histamine diet
– again depends on region of country you live in.

Whole soy foods
– again, why?
– also not recommended on low histamine diet

Cooked Asian mushrooms
– But what about people allergic to fungus? I’m careful with mushroom intake because of my mold/fungus allergies.
– also, this one is interesting. Reason to eat more Shitake mushrooms?

Other sources of protein
– this is probably the only easy thing here.
– Except that I cannot eat any cheese but mozzarella or goat cheese and have to have yogurt sparingly.

Healthy herbs and spices
– what makes them healthy?
– Ginger causes a serious reaction for me and I think it’s part of the low histamine diet
– I don’t tolerate turmeric well.
– Cinnamon gives me bad asthma attacks and it’s not on the low histamine diet.
– Garlic? That one’s ok but you can’t put garlic on everything.

Tea
– Out on the low histamine diet. I save it for days when I need a hot drink only since I’m allergic to coffee. Also, coffee has health benefits…..
– cannot tolerate more than 1 cup of white every few days because of caffeine
– cannot tolerate green or oolong at all

Supplements
– seriously?
– I have yet to find a multivitamin that doesn’t have food sources in that. Spinach is a popular one – which is high in histamine.
– I’m on vitamin D supplements but that’s because my doctor found I’m low on vitamin D. Just recommending a fat soluble substance with no mention of a doctor is NOT smart.

Red Wine
– migraine trigger.
– no alcohol on the low histamine diet

Healthy Sweets such as dark chocolate
– dried fruit is out because of sulfites
– chocolate is high in histamine

So, basically, vegetables and proteins for me, with some fruit thrown in.