A few years ago I did my first Whole 30. (30 days of eliminating all grains, dairy, legumes, sugar, and alcohol). I chose to do it to hopefully drop some weight and also get some relief from my digestive issues. I’ve known, since I was a teenager, that dairy was a problem for me. I cut out milk and felt a lot better. But it wasn’t life threatening. I still ate cheese and wasn’t particular about dairy ingredients. I’d never truly cut out gluten until Whole 30 though. I got through the 30 days and felt great, lost 14lbs, reduced digestive issues and bloat. As I brought back in the things I cut out, I noticed that gluten and dairy were definitely ingredients that made me feel ill. It was a great experience and I walked away grateful to know how my body would react to certain foods.
Here we are in present day and as much as I learned with Whole 30 I didn’t really implement that knowledge regularly. I went through ups and downs of sticking to watching what I eat to not caring and eating whatever I wanted.
A couple months ago I began to experience some digestive pain (some so severe I ended up in the ER..twice). After many doctors appointments, scans, and an endoscopy I was finally given a diagnosis. I suffer from a condition called Eosinophilic Esophagitis, EOE for short. My non-professional description of this chronic disease is: certain foods, when eaten, cause an allergy immune response that sends white blood cells (eosinophils) to the esophagus and cause swelling and inflammation. When this inflammation continues to happen, scar tissue can form, and the esophagus can narrow. In turn, this can initiate problems with swallowing, and even cause food to get stuck.
All of this was overwhelming to me. I wanted to be in denial, but I couldn’t ignore my symptoms and the way I was feeling. I swiftly realized that gluten, and dairy were playing the star roles as my main triggers. The part that has been hard has been realizing that I no longer had a choice. My body was making the decision for me. I’m not in control. I had to take a couple days to emotionally come to terms with the loss. As silly as it sounds I had to grieve my freedom.
I realize this isn’t a death sentence and there is a lot worse that people live with. And in reality I am lucky my symptoms are fairly mild. At this point my esophagus hasn’t shown signs of damage and I don’t have trouble swallowing. Just the occasional annoyance of the sensation caused by inflammation. I see an allergist on Monday to do testing and determine if there is anything else I can cut out. Let’s all hope I don’t lose something drastic like eggs or almonds, or avocados :::gasp:::, those foods are my life source.
I love food! I love cooking— I love eating! I am finding new foods to enjoy, and learning how to keep my tastebuds happy. And, I hope someday I can get to a point of remission, where a little flexibility is an option. But, for now I’m trying to heal and restore my amazing body. I may have lost my choice in how I eat, but I’m grateful for everything else that is working correctly and I’m lucky to be living!