Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Corn :(

I can't tell you how challenging it was to add corn products back into my diet WITHOUT adding in soy, gluten, or dairy....aside for straight up corn (on or off the cob).  I know from past experience that my body does not digest raw or cooked corn well.  I didn't think I had an issue with popcorn.  Ummm, I think I was wrong.  On day one of my corn test, I had corn tortillas, which I toasted, broke into pieces and ate with salsa for an afternoon snack.  YUM!  I also had some air popped popcorn drizzled with coconut oil as an evening snack....BIG MISTAKE.  At the risk of TMI, the popcorn went right through me.  I had awful stomach cramping and gurgling.  It was so bad that on day 2, I limited myself to only the corn tortillas with salsa, and a tsp of cornstarch straight up (I know, not a fun way to eat it, but I couldn't figure out another way to test cornstarch, without my other allergens sneaking in).  My tummy was still rumbly, but much better than the day before.  I was completely back to normal on day 3, when I did not add in and corn products.

What does this mean from now on?  Well, I really need to limit my corn intake.  Once I get past the rest of my allergy elimination, I will test processed corn within products.  I am pretty sure cornstarch is OK for my system (especially in baked goods), but I won't know for sure until I try adding it back in as part of a product.  

Sunday, June 28, 2015


So I have completed my sensitivity test for Dairy.  I was actually surprised by the results.  I already knew that I have digestive issues when it comes to cheese in larger quantities.  My 2 day test indicated that I have issues with yogurt.  This was a BIG shocker!!!  I have been eating yogurt almost daily since last summer, and after this test I was able to put together the correlation between yogurt and constant nausea that I have had over the past year.  Here is a breakdown of my results:

Day 1
  • Natural Bliss coffee creamer (just cream and sugar) in my am coffee
  • 1 oz cheese with lunch
  • French Vanilla Coffee from Speedway in pm (it has been a MONTH, since I have been able to enjoy my fancy coffee).  French Vanilla was the only flavor that does not also contain soy.
  • 1 oz cheese with my taco salad for dinner
  • plain Greek yogurt as an evening snack.
I may have gone a little bit overboard with the dairy, so that could be a source of my issues, but I has severe nausea at bedtime.  It was so bad that I couldn't sleep. My nasal congestion was also much worse that usual. 

Day 2

  • French Vanilla Coffee from Speedway
  • 1 oz cheese with lunch
  • Gluten free cheese pizza for dinner  (it was so nice to have pizza!!)

 My nasal congestion was better, only slight nausea, and I felt a little bloated, and had some mild constipation.

Results - I am slightly sensitive to dairy.  I do not seem to have any issues with dairy that is a small part of a recipe, but dairy in larger quantities, and possibly yogurt by itself give me nausea.  For the remainder of my allergy testing, I will not be having dairy.  However, I plan to add it back into my eating plan (in small quantities) after I finish my allergy elimination.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


I finally completed my 3 weeks of being gluten free, dairy free, soy free and corn free.  Overall, it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.  You do really notice those few foods that ARE important in your life.  For me, it was cheese.  Not that I eat much cheese, but I really missed not having it sprinkled on my taco salad.  Now that I have abstained from gluten, dairy, soy and corn for 3 weeks, I get to slowly add those things back into my diet, one thing at a time.  For the next 2 days, I am adding dairy back in to my eating plan.  I am going to take careful notes of how I feel.  Do I notice bloating, digestive cramping, constipation, headaches, nasal congestion (more than usual...I have terrible seasonal allergies), or any other unusual symptoms.  Then I will not have any dairy on day 3.  If I have no symptoms, I will continue on to another food, repeating the same 2 days on, 1 day off process.  If I have any unusual symptoms from adding dairy back into my diet, I will have to wait until those symptoms subside before I start the next potential allergen test. 

I have carefully selected the dairy items that I get to add back in.  I had to be careful to avoid soy, gluten, and corn IN those items.  On a side note...Do you have any idea how much these things are added into MANY of the foods out there?!?!?  This is why I always promote clean eating.  Most American foods are just so processed that you can't find too many items that are 'natural'.  It is kind of depressing.  As I was double checking my food labels, I noticed that my shredded taco cheese has cornstarch in it.  That's is out for now :(.  Since I don't drink cow's milk, I had to find some dairy items that fit my criteria.  I decided to go with Plain greek yogurt, hot pepper cheese (got to have my cheese), and  Natural Bliss coffee creamer.   If you LOVE coffee creamer, but want to avoid all the junk in typical creamer, then give this stuff a try.  It is simply cream and sugar!  I am picky about my coffee creamers (I just can't do straight up almond milk), but THIS, I like.  Over the past few weeks, I have been using So Delicious coconut milk coffee creamer, and it is also outstanding (a little out of my typical budget though).

**I haven't taken my measurements this week, but I have dropped a total of 7 pounds over the past 3 weeks.  I have also noticed a huge increase in energy, and I am sleeping better. I am hopeful that this allergy elimination will be the answer to some of my biggest weight loss obstacles. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

2 weeks down, one to go

Can I just start off by saying I REALLY MISS CHEESE!!!!  I have been gluten/dairy/corn/soy for 15 days now.  I am doing great sticking to my plan, but I have been CRAVING cheese.  I have also been wanting popcorn.  Other than that, I don't feel like I am missing out on much.  I don't eat a lot of cheese, but not being able to have an occasional slice of pizza, or add some cheese to my taco salad is driving me crazy.  Less than one week to go.

2015 has been a really tough year for me health wise.  A year ago, I was in the best physical shape I have been in since high school - I was a gymnast and swimmer back then, and stayed VERY fit.  I was back into a healthy BMI range, and well on my way to reaching a goal weight that I never considered would be possible for me to reach again in my adult life.  I actually weighed less than I did when I got married.  I was happy, confident, and very active with my fitness.  You can read my full transformation story HERE.  Then EBV happened.  For months, I had no idea why I had no energy, and why I was gaining weight so quickly.  After getting my EBV diagnosis in April, I have been taking a step back and REALLY listening to my body and trusting that by listening to it's cues, I will get better.  It's funny, at the beginning of the year, I was working out so hard, and really watching what I ate, and still NOT making any real progress toward my weight loss.  The past few weeks, I have hardly been exercising (some walking and exercise from packing for our move), but I have been really honing in on how my body reacts to food.  I am not cutting out the sugar, and I am not making ONLY healthy eating choices.  I have not started to add gluten, dairy, corn, or soy back into my diet yet, but because of the way my body is responding WITHOUT those things, I KNOW that I have a sensitivity to at least one of those things.  It took a lot of courage for me to give up those things for several weeks.  I have actually been considering the idea for MONTHS, but I just couldn't talk myself into it.  The truth is that I was scared to give up my favorites, and that I wouldn't be able to eat anything besides veggies and fruit. I am so glad that I did give this allergy elimination diet a try.  Now I can pinpoint where I have issues, and avoid those foods.  I have also found that my energy is definitely almost back to normal.  My body is not battling my food sensitivities, so it has time to focus on keeping my EBV at bay.  I feel great!  I am losing weight WITHOUT even trying, and I am feeling confident about myself again.  It is all because I needed to give my body a chance to heal.   

P.S. Please do me a favor and leave a comment below if you read this post.  Even if the comment is just a smiley face.  I am just curious about how many people are following my story.  Thank you <3!!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Progress update - JUNE

I haven't done a progress update in awhile.  Between dealing with the EBV and trying to regain my energy and health back, finishing up our home school year, and getting ready to move this summer, I just haven't been working out like I should.  When I don't workout, I don't feel like I have "progress" to share.  I suppose I should clarify, I haven't been doing my workout programs - I'm missing my Body Beast and ChaLean Extreme, but they really deplete my energy.  I HAVE been walking 2 miles a day, almost everyday.  So, my exercise is just much lower impact.  I am trying to build my stamina back up.  I do try to fit in at least one Body Beast, ChaLean Extreme or PiYo workout each week to get in some strength training. 

On the upside, I HAVE been focusing on my eating.  I am in week 2 of my allergy elimination diet. I have NOT been cutting out the sweets, but I have not had gluten/dairy/corn/soy for 10 days now, and my scale dropped 3 pounds.  I am down 3 inches in the chest and waist.  I am dropping all the belly bloat (or more likely intestinal swelling), and I am sleeping like a dream!  Another 11 days to go, and then I can start "testing" my tolerance for gluten, dairy, soy and corn.  Even though I am supposed to add the items back in one GROUP at a time, I am planning on separating that even further to pinpoint if all foods in that category are triggers, of just certain forms.  For example, is anything with corn a trigger, or just actual corn kernels?  Maybe cornstarch or corn syrup are NOT triggers.  Don't worry, I will keep posting about it all.  Please feel free to contact me, if you are interested in testing yourself for food allergies.  I would be happy to share my knowledge :).

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Week one

I am on day 7 of my 3 week allergy elimination diet.  I have to tell you, it has really been pretty easy.  Of course, I am focusing on fruits, veggies, mostly lean meats (grass fed, when I can), and my vegan chocolate Shakeology, because they are all easy to determine that they are gluten/dairy/soy/corn free.  I actually figured out how to make my favorite brownies (Baker's one bowl brownies) into gluten and dairy free brownies....and I though they still tasted AMAZING!!!  I have been able to eat out at a restaurant.  Did you know that many restaurants have allergy info on their websites.  My folks to my hubby and I to Bob Evans.  They have a FABULOUS food allergy chart on their website.   I had my iPhone out as I browsed the menu.  It is really a challenge to find items that are free from gluten, AND dairy, AND corn, AND soy, but I managed to do it!  I ordered everything a la carte - hickory ham, baked sweet potato (plain...yes, I enjoy them WITHOUT butter), and fruit cup.  The meal was filling and all in line with my strict dietary needs.

One Bowl Brownies and homemade icing.  ALL Gluten/Dairy/Corn/Soy FREE. 

An interesting observation from the week.  I have not necessarily been looking for 'lite' or 'low sugar' foods while I follow this plan.  I want to make sure that I keep myself strictly off the no no foods, so I am allowing myself to splurge on some things that fit my restrictions, but offer a treat to my sweet tooth.  I have been eating more REAL sugar than I typically do (I don't eat sugar much at all), and STILL, I can tell the bloat and swelling in my belly is going down.  It really is true that when you choose REAL, NATURAL foods, your body knows what to do with those foods, and it doesn't cause as much irritation to your digestive system.  Before I started my elimination diet, I took my measurements, and I will share my updated progress in a few days (I am taking them again tomorrow, at the beginning of week 2).

I have been trying to embrace this eating plan, instead of focusing on what I CAN'T eat, I am on the lookout for foods that I CAN eat.  If you take your time at the grocery store, you can find lots of great 'favorites' to sub into your plan.  It's official. My kids hate going grocery shopping with me. They do not like that I stop and carefully read the food labels on everything!!  I have really been craving cheese this week.  I don't eat a lot of cheese, but still I have been missing it.  Yesterday, I came across this find at the grocery store.

If fits my plan.  I was so excited!!! It was pretty decent too.  You can taste the rice pasta (which I really like), but the 'cheese' left a little to be desired.  That's OK though.  I don't think it is forever.  I am already in tune with how my body deals with dairy, even though I am doing this elimination for 3 weeks.  I will be able to add real cheese back (in moderation) into my eating plan in a few weeks. 

Who else out there is gluten, dairy, corn, or soy free (or some combination of those)?  I would love to hear about your favorite grocery store finds!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Autoimmunity and food sensitivities

As I continue to research and learn to manage my EBV, I am learning so much about how the foods I eat impact my body and my health.  I mean, I already knew that eating healthy, clean foods are what the body needs for proper nutrition and fuel.  However, as I pour through books and websites on autoimmune diseases, I am learning so much about how much the food quality can also affect immune health.  One of the biggest things that I have picked up so far is that there is a link between the increase in genetically modified foods to an increase in food allergies.  Gluten intolerance (Celiac Disease), for example, has seen a large increase.  In addition, people are making the connection between excessive gluten and digestive issues (gluten sensitivity), ADD, Autism, immune health, and even dental caries (cavities).  From what I am reading, it isn't so much the gluten itself that is the problem (with the exception of Celiac disease), but the over use of gluten in the American food supply...which is a direct result of genetic modification as a means of increasing crop yield and thus providing a larger food supply.

Let me explain....food allergies are more likely to develop, the more often an individual is exposed to a certain food.   Back in the day, when families worked their own land and often farmed their own food, an individual's diet throughout the year would vary - fresh fruits and veggies in the summer because the weather is more favorable to farming, and more meat and grains in the winter, when hunting and use of harvest grain was likely to be the main source of food.   Foods were rotated in and out throughout the year.  Today, we can hit the grocery store pretty much anytime of the year and find pretty much anything you want to eat.  Although there is some variety in our diets, people still tend to eat the same things over and over again...all year round.   That increases our exposure to the typical food allergens, and therefore, gives us more opportunity to develop an allergy.  There is a TON of great info about this, and if you want to read in more detail, check out The Immune System Recovery Plan by Susan Blum M.D., M.P.H.

OK, so I'm bringing you our of the lecture hall and back into my blog again.  Over the past few years, I have noticed that I have adverse reactions to a certain foods.  I definitely have an issue with potatoes.  I know, it sounds CRAZY.  Every time I eat potatoes (regardless of form) I get stomach cramps about 2 hours after eating them.  Sweet potatoes are the exception.  However, I steer clear of baked potatoes, new potatoes, chips, french fries, and mashed potatoes.  I have had theories about other foods that I have sensitivities with (dairy, gluten and corn, specifically), so I decided to do a series of allergy elimination diets.  I am starting with the big 4 - gluten, dairy (milk), corn, and soy.  I have given up ALL four of these items for the next 3 weeks.  After the 3 weeks, I will introduce each one back in ONE at a TIME.  I will be taking careful notes to see how my body reacts. Later on I will do some testing for nut and egg sensitivities - although, I have never really had issues with either. 

Today is day 3, and so far I am doing great.  I am not at all hungry.  I am aiming to stay within my normal calorie range for the foods I am allowed to eat.  However, if I am really hungry, I will eat a little more.  You might be asking yourself, "If you can't eat gluten, dairy, corn, or soy, then what CAN you eat?".  The truth is that I really have to read labels in the grocery store.  Gluten free products are pretty easy to find nowadays.  I tend to shop at Kroger, and they have a special label on any food item in the store that is gluten free.  Dairy is also pretty easy to avoid.  I am subbing almond, coconut, and cashew milk for typical dairy products - coconut milk yogurt, cashew milk ice cream, etc.  I am skipping out on all cheese though, and I am NOT excited about that.  My challenges have actually been with soy and corn.  So many of the products on the store shelves use SOME FORM of corn (high fructose corn syrup, cornstarch...anything with the word corn in it), or soy (or soybean).  UGH!!!  Sadly, those are the 2 most over used products in the typical American diet.  Of course, I am getting lots of fruits and veggies, and my typical fare of lean red meat, chicken, turkey and fish.  I am trying to get grass fed or free range meats, whenever possible...mostly because those animals are usually fed corn....which I am trying to avoid.

My plan is to long in daily and give an update of my day and my progress.  However, since it is already day 3, and I am just now sharing my plan with you, I have a feeling I may not get to my blog every day.  In any event, I will share some pic of a few of the meals that I have enjoyed over the past 3 days.
scrambled eggs (in coconut oil) with peppers and green onions, strawberries and cherries

cream of rice cereal with a bit of honey mixed in, strawberries and cacao nibs

quinoa, turkey sausage, and sauteed peppers and onions

I made my family spaghetti and garlic bread. My simple swaps:
**I checked labels and bought sauce that met my criteria (I would have made my own, but I was short on time today).
**I swapped noodles with spaghetti squash
**I made my own garlic bread with gf/df/cf/sf bread, coconut oil and garlic salt.

Here is that AWESOME cashew ice cream I mentioned.  Completely dairy/corn/soy/gluten free!!