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.

Dealing with Allergies: A list

1. If you’re allergic to a food or substance, then any amount of that food or substance will cause allergy symptoms. Also, anaphylaxis is more than just your face swelling up and or your throat closing up. (TV shows are very bad at presenting food allergies.)

2. It’s possible to have an allergic reaction to food but not be allergic to that food. For example, if you’re (very) allergic to ragweed, you might not be able to eat bananas. Lactose intolerance is not an allergy.

3. Antihistamines work better if you take them before your symptoms start. Some allergy meds might also need a few days before you really feel the full affect.

4. Some supplements or vitamins might help alleviate your allergy symptoms but remember that supplements are not as well regulated as medicine. Vitamin B and vitamin C are some supplements that might help.

5. Antihistamines are safe and there are multiple kinds. If one kind of (OTC) antihistamine doesn’t work for you, try another. If OTC antihistamines don’t help, then see your doctor. If antihistamines make you sleepy, try taking one at bedtime.

6. Your house or apartment might be making your allergies worse. Curtains, carpets, pillows, and beds are all places that can accumulate dust. Even something as simple as changing bed sheets regularly and vacuuming regularly can help ease symptoms. If you think you are allergic to dust, try taking your antihistamine at bedtime.

7. Zantac and other similar medicines are antihistamines. (Prilosec and Nexium are not.)

8. Allergy doctors and immunologist doctors can help you with allergy symptoms. Expect to answer a lot of questions and possibly go through a skin test. The skin test isn’t scary at all. Technology has improved and it’s quick and handled in the doctor’s office.

9. When taking antihistamines remember to stay sufficiently hydrated, especially if you are using decongestants.

10. There are multiple kinds of OTC allergy eye drops. Try to find one that doesn’t not advertise “getting the red out.” Also, see if lubricating eye drops alleviate any of your symptoms.

11. Saving the most important thing for last. If you have ever had trouble breathing after eating a specific food you should go to your doctor. You might need to carry epi-pens. Food allergies are serious business and what you’ve “learned” about food allergies on TV is probably very wrong. Side note: Step 1: Use Epi-pen. Step 2: Go to the ER. Step 3: Don’t die.

Note: This is not medical advice. This includes information that I have learned through years of dealing with allergies and treating my symptoms. I have food allergies, food sensitivities, problems with chemicals, pollen allergies, and sensitivities to other environmental triggers. I am the type of person who carries antihistamines and epi-pens just in case.

Another Immunologist Followup

I love my immunologist because he’s very thorough. I just wish I didn’t have to leave 45 minutes before my appointment time (driving, parking, checking in, etc.).

Had my 6 month followup today. Caught him up on medicines, new diagnoses and stuff. He doesn’t think I have mast cell activation disorder. He agreed with me when I said I don’t think I’m “sick enough.” However, there are milder forms…. so he’s going to think about it when finishing the notes from the visit and stuff.

It’s obvious I need to give the MS meds more time because I cannot definitively say whether or not I feel better. I just know other people have noticed changes that seem to be improvements.

He also recommended I see a dietician, which is cool because it means seeing one who actually has experience dealing with food allergies!

I remembered to grabb a copy of the results I had from a skin test done last year (July 1st). I tested allergic to broccoli, spinach, cherry, grape, almonds, brazil nut and hazel nut. This is also interesting because I *had* reactions to walnut after eating them but didn’t test positive here.

….I need to decide if I want new skin tests done. Problem is I have to go off all antihistamines for 5 days which will probably be migraine triggering all to hell and back – beyond who knows what else. I might try adding foods back into my diet and see how that goes first. I’m not sure how to handle it.

Note to self, you listening self?

So I believe that everything that has happened to me makes me who I am. Everything.

The fact that I had three foster families before age 5 is part of who I am. The fact that I cut myself off and on again for like five years is also part of who I am. These things, respectively, help me appreciate people’s experiences with families and cause me to be more empathetic of the pain caused by internal conflict. Among other things, obviously. Baggage is a bitch but it’s still just baggage.

Therefore, that means food allergies are part of who I am too. Even migraines. Even migraines that last 4 days and rebound on the 5th day.That’s life it’s all or nothing.

But that doesn’t mean I have to listen to the maniacal little voice in the back of my brain that likes to go through what if or worst case scenarios. That just means I have to accept that I have to take the necessary (and healthy) steps towards telling that voice, “shut up bitch, I’m too busy for you!”

Why Whole Foods needs to train their employees on food allergies

or: Why Chopped Beef is Vague Terminology

other titles include:

“Why people with food allergies must always be vigilant of everything related to their food” or “why people who are supportive to people with (multiple) food allergies are awesome” or “Why my husband is my hero” or “Why grocery stores that supply prepared food need to be better about identifying all ingredients” or “Even the grocery store can be stressful when you have food allergies”

Ok. So. I’m going to talk about my food allergies, if you don’t care, stop reading, go up to the top of your browser and close the page, continue on with life.

My husband and I went to Whole Foods after work on the way home for some light grocery shopping. We do this often. We decided to get food at Whole Foods for dinner, this happens depending on what’s available. I got to what I’d call the “barbecue counter” if I was me – and I am – and found out they still had baked potatoes. So I ordered a baked potato with chopped beef. I also gathered up a small salad at the salad bar. My husband collected much of our other purchases because my foot was sore and throbbing. No one wants to walk all over the grocery store on a sore throbbing foot.

We get home, we’re putting away groceries, you know. Like you do. I explain to my husband what I purchased for dinner. A baked potato with chopped beef. He asked “Brisket?” No, I explained the beef with the sauce. Not brisket. I elaborated, pointing out how I thought all the meat at the barbecue counter was safe for me to eat. He said no, the chopped beef has Austin’s own barbecue sauce in it which has Worcestershire sauce in it. Worcestershire sauce commonly has fish in it so it’s off-limits for me.

Mentally I sigh and remind myself to be calm. Because I was tired and hungry and didn’t remember to bend over and check the very small print of the ingredients card I didn’t see that I shouldn’t have ordered the chopped beef which has the sauce in it. I was just happy to get a baked potato I guess?

So we debate and come up with options:

1. remove the beef and chance the potato, but the potato has also started soaking up the juices/sauces/etc so that’s not really a great option.

2. get something out of the pantry which would be canned soup or a cold sandwich or a noodle bowl like I had for lunch yesterday, none of these are all that fantastic either

3. just eating the salad is not a legitimate answer because it’d leave me hungry later

4. Call Whole Foods and try to get the ingredients

So phone number to Whole Foods found I call and ask to speak to someone at the barbecue counter. I get transferred. I explain I just purchased a potato with chopped beef and I’d like to know the ingredients of the chopped beef – not the brisket. I explain that by the words barbecue counter I mean hot food. I explain I just purchased it and want to know the ingredients. The girl puts me on hold. She comes back and says “Yes we still have some available.”  I’m thinking, “SERIOUSLY!?!?!? REALLY???” and just say Thanks and hang up. After I hang up I explain to my husband, “I give up, the conversation went from me asking what the ingredients are to yes they have some available.” He (rather calmly) asks for the phone and calls himself. He confirms the present of Austin Own’s barbecue sauce. So, because it’s 2013 I go look up Austin’s Own barbecue sauce on the Internet. They have a website. However they have no food allergy information and do not provide a transparent explanation of ingredients. (I filled out the Contact Us form asking that they post food allergy information on their website.)

Then my husband offers to go out to Jason’s Deli and get me a potato so I can still have a potato. I agree, because that sounds like a fabulous idea. I check the Jason’s Deli website and also ask that he order a cup of beef stew if it’s available since Jason’s Deli has all food allergy information (the major eight) as part of the nutritional information on their site.

So, because:

1. for a split second I wasn’t ever vigilant and missed one ingredients label

2. Austin Own’s doesn’t have a full ingredient list or food allergy information posted online

3. Whole Food’s employees seem to be mostly ignorant of food allergies (beyond other things like how to properly hold a knife when slicing meat)

4. chopped beef may or may not be beef with barbecue sauce

I got to send my husband back out into the cold so I could have a hot meal for dinner that didn’t come out of a can and I feel stupid. Ultimately I feel stupid because I forgot to read just one label. I’m so grateful he offered and was willing to go back out in the cold and get me dinner – before eating his own.