Back in my undergrad days, we ran all our psychology experiments on lab rats.
Our lab rats were ugly bastards: ginormous, mangy, and sporting beady red eyes, they also had a tendency to bite. (However, one rat redeemed himself when he bit one of the meanest, almost-certainly-a-sociopath people I’ve ever met. I thought about slipping that rat an extra food pellet as a reward for a job well done, but then I realized that it might reinforce the biting behavior overall, not just the biting of probable sociopaths, and that this would be a very bad thing. But I digress.)
Anyways, although I’m neither mangy nor sporting red beady eyes (at least I hope I’m not), I’m going to be my own lab rat for the next few weeks.
You see, I’ve been feeling spectacularly unwell for the last couple of years: despite having gone gluten-free, I still often wind up with some fairly gnarly stomachaches. My joints often hurt. My soft tissue aches. I have that “Who, exactly, is responsible for filling my sinuses with concrete and then driving the truck over the length of my body?” feeling with fairly alarming regularity.
I suspect that part of this is stress and a lack of sleep — after all, I often feel a bit better during the weekends — but I’ve also long wondered if other food sensitivities might be lurking in the murky deep of my immunological system.
Then, because sometimes the stars align, while doing more research about autoimmune diseases I found a recently-published book by a doctor who, wouldn’t ya know, just happens to focus on autoimmune diseases.
The Immune System Recovery Plan, by Dr. Susan Blum, is one of the most scientifically sound books on autoimmune disease that I’ve encountered. Many people have theories about so-called miracle cures for autoimmune disorders, but a) they often tend not to be doctors or scientists, and b) as such, they tend not to back up their claims with actual, y’know, science. They instead tend to rely entirely on anecdotal evidence, which, while important and powerful in its own right, probably shouldn’t be the entire basis of a book about medicine.
Fast fact: while I was studying at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition last year, my all-time favorite class modules focused on functional medicine. Functional medicine is slightly different from conventional medicine in that conventional medicine focuses on treating the symptoms of any given condition, whereas functional medicine focuses on treating the causes of the condition itself.
Dr. Mark Hyman and Dr. Andrew Weil were two of my favorite IIN speakers because of their commitment to — and scientific understanding of — functional medicine. Dr. Hyman (seriously dude, call me if you ever need an intern!) perfectly explains the difference between functional and conventional medicine:
Anyways, Dr. Blum is the founder of the Blum Center for Health, where she practices full-time functional medicine. In her book, she uses both data-driven scientific evidence and anecdotal evidence — and I appreciate the combination of the two (after all, statistics can only do so much without a key illustration or two to drive them home).
In her book, Dr. Blum strongly recommends trying a 3-week allergen elimination diet to see if symptoms improve while one is living sans what she identifies as the big 4 allergens: gluten, dairy, soy, and corn.
I read this over the weekend, and decided to embark on that 3 week experiment myself. Then — because like I said earlier, sometimes the stars align — I was visiting MindBodyGreen, and I saw this article: 5 Signs a Hidden Food Sensitivity is Sabotaging Your Health. I have every single symptom, y’all. When I shared the link on Twitter, my comment just about sums it up:
Story of my life, indeed. This only reinforced how much I need to try the 3-week elimination diet, even though it’s going to be a bit of a pain in the ol’ tuchus.
Why might it be a bit of a pain? Because virtually everything has soy or corn in it. Tea? Soy lecthin. Salad dressing? Soybean oil. Most GF products rely on corn starch and soybean oil, so despite having been strictly GF for over five years now, I could still be ingesting loads of other possible problem foods.
This means…I’m going to have to cook everything from scratch.
Y’all. I have no time for this. I’d need, like, an entire day off of work in order to cook allergen-free bread, soup, granola, etc. from scratch. (Now, if I were, say, a freelance writer and had all sorts of scheduling flexibility, then I’d be golden. Alas, I have no such luxury.)
So, I’m torn. Part of me really hopes that the 3 weeks of allergen-free eating go a long way towards helping me feel better, part of me is like….”Noooooooooo! Already pressed for time! Cannot handle any added responsibilities or tasks!”
Soooo…we’ll see how this pans out. Here’s to scientific experiments!
Have you ever done an allergy elimination diet?
Do you have specific food sensitivities?
How do you find the time to cook things from scratch?