Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Normal Girls Eat Cheeseburgers

I grew up eating meat.  We were poor and ground beef was inexpensive and versatile.  I never really considered myself much of a meat eater, however, and always said I would easily be able to give it up.  In December 2010, I did.  I knew I needed to make some changes to my diet but just couldn't motivate myself to do so.  So, when a friend said he was "going vegan" for a week to make amends for upsetting the girl he was dating at the time, I said it would be easier for me to be vegetarian for a week than for him to be vegan-despite his being a lifelong vegetarian. 

The timing worked out well for this.  I had a sinus infection at the time but despite following the directions, I kept throwing up my Amoxicillin-and everything I ate.  Ultimately, I had to be taken off of it.  So, my system had been cleansed, though not in a traditional manner, as recommended before starting a diet lifestyle change.
Other than missing bacon (mmm bacon) and  the convenience of meat, I did not find it hard to be vegetarian, though I did find a few chain restaurants to not be vegetarian-friendly.  But overall, Portland is very vegetarian friendly.  Actually, it's pretty friendly to most lifestyles. 

Over time,  I started to notice I kept getting sick and finally was able to attribute it to onions.  My dad was allergic to them and it turns out as much as I love them, they don't love me.  It also turns out that onions are used to flavor about 95% of vegetarian dishes and cannot always be left out.  So this added an extra challenge-vegetarian without onions. 

Then I had LASIK in October, and I came out allergic to food.  I've never been particularly healthy-not necessarily sick, but not really healthy either so chances are the food allergies have always been there; it just never occurred to anyone that perhaps I should be tested for them.  In November, an IgE blood test revealed an allergy to Baker's yeast with the antibodies present for several other items.  Researching that was frustrating, to say the least.  It's not a common allergy (of course not) and it's controversial.  Not to mention, most research is centered around the bacterial yeast, Candida, that naturally occurs in our bodies and I'm allergic to the fungal yeast found in the yummy goodness known as bread, pretzels, pizza dough, vineger, etc. 

So now I can't eat onions, bread products, condiments, salad dressing, most sauces, alcohol (also allergic to sulfites), and grapes.  I started to eat chicken and pork again.  I quickly learned you can't be allergic to yeast and highly intolerant to onions and be a vegetarian.  Unless, of course, you only want to eat dairy, fruits, veggies, and pasta. 

Armed with a better understanding of food allergies and their symptoms (which strongly resemble what you go through when you are grieving), I realized there was something that was still making me sick.  So I made an appointment with an allergist for the skin-prick test.  It revealed I'm allergic to yeast (I wanted a second opinion), almonds, hazelnuts, and pistachios with a mild allergy to spinach (seriously?  How is that even possible??), potatoes and peaches.  Sigh...although I seem to be fine eating potatoes, and I don't really care for hazelnuts and peaches so no loss there.

Neither of these tests were what I considered to be comprehensive as they only tested a limited range of items: 23 for the IgE test and 56 for the skin prick test.  So on the recommendation of a naturopath, I went in for the EAV method of allergy testing, which is an electroacupuncture method and pretty much tests everything you can think of.  According to this test, I'm allergic to wheat, which came up negative on the skin prick test but positive on the IgE test; however, I do not have Celiac Disease.  This test also showed positives for sugar (not tested previously but she said almost everyone tests positive on this), dairy (negative on the other two tests), tomatoes (also positive on the IgE test) and chocolate (um, not just no, but HELL no).  On the environmental side, I'm pretty much allergic to leaving the house.  Negative for yeast, alcohol and sulfites. 

Frustrated, I asked how I could test positive for something on two tests but not the third.  She said she considered the EAV method to be 85-90% accurate and if I tested positive two out of three times, I should assume I'm allergic to it.  I should also assume an allergy or intolerance to foods I know to make me sick-which is what I'm trying to narrow down with all these tests.  Again, sigh.

I'm very frustrated right now and don't know what to do next.  I guess I'll start by looking at the three test results side by side for commonalities and go from there.  The thing I found interesting about this from an emotional standpoint is that for the first time in 4 years, James wasn't the sounding board I want to help me figure out a game plan.  Someone else is-a friend who has become quite the presence in my life in a short amount of time-a definite sign of healing.

Lately, there has been a lot of talk about pink slime in ground beef.  (Eeww).  All the talk, this frustration of still not being sure of what I am and am not allergic to and driving by Carl's Jr on a regular basis has me wanting a nice, big bacon cheeseburger.  However, if you take off all the things I may or may not be allergic to, I can have the hamburger patty and the lettuce-as long as there's no seasoning containing autolyzed yeast extract on the patty.  I haven't had beef in 15 months so it would probably just make me sick if I ate it now.  And it's not so much that I actually want the cheeseburger; I just want it to be an option.  I just want to be normal.  And normal girls eat cheeseburgers.  

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