Food Journaling for Self-Care

Food and eating are both hot button issues in our current social climate. Between diet culture, increased nutritional knowledge, and increasingly globalized food choices, it can be overwhelming to figure out what to eat. Enter my April self-care challenge: eating for self-care.

There will be some modifications to this challenge for primarily tube fed individuals included later on. I could not figure out how to include people on TPN, and I do apologize for that.

Gray haired man in a gray suit holding a banana as if it was a gun and making a "grr" face.
Accurate representation of “diet culture.”

Every single body is different. Even if we all ate exactly the same things, exercised exactly the same ways for the same amount of time, and slept the same amount every single night, we would still all be different sizes and shapes! If we did everything the same, some of us would be very ill, some would feel amazing, and the rest would be somewhere in between. Why? Because no two bodies have the same requirements.

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Gluten Free Spritz Cookies – Recipe

Growing up, the holiday dessert I always looked forward to the most were the cookies we called “Christmas Tree Cookies” – the cookies were Spritz cookies that we made in a Christmas tree shape and topped with sprinkles! They’ve been my absolute favorite Christmas cookie for as long as I can remember, and I was worried about how I could make them with my new diet! I’m 100% corn free, and as gluten free as possible. Thankfully, they turned out great! Continue reading

LEAP Diet: Changes to Phase 1

When we first setup phases ½ and 1 of my LEAP diet (see this post), I was told to email Kara (dietitian) near the end of my ½ phase so she would know my progress. Unfortunately, with everything that has been going on with my health, the email was really long and not very happy. Because of everything going on, and my mental health struggles during this time, Kara decided that instead of doing the even stricter phase 1, we would liberalize my diet. Now, I can have all of my green foods and chemicals. I have to stick to tested ingredients only (with one exception), and I did go through the list and make sure I removed foods that were naturally high in the yellow and red chemicals.

The one exception to “tested ingredients only” is that Kara has allowed me to have Trader Joe’s Rice Milk. The ingredients list is exceptionally short and boring; it’s mostly just rice, salt, water, and some added vitamins. I already knew I loved their rice milk, and I was struggling without having a milk. (My homemade rice milk was disgusting.)

Some general rules for my “liberalized” diet:

  • I cannot have any frozen or dried fruits or vegetables. Really, I can’t have processed fruits or vegetables because they usually contain sodium metabisulfite, which is my only red chemical.
  • To avoid sulfites in general, I need to avoid: sulfur dioxide, potassium bisulfite and metabisulfite, sodium bisulfite and sulfite and metabisulfite.
  • To avoid polysorbate 80, I need to avoid: sorbitan monooleate, polysorbate 60, sorbitol, and sorbitan derivatives
  • FD&C Red #3 is another additive I need to avoid, and it also goes by the name erythrosine.
  • All of my dairy products have to be grass-fed. Cheddar cheese must be aged less than 6 months to avoid high tyramine.
  • If I decide to have oranges, they must be pulp free. That pretty much means I need 100% pulp free orange juice only, or I can use orange essential oil!
  • I will still be limiting soy products, as there is research that shows soy may not actually be good for you after all. (It can mess with hormones, and my hormones don’t need any more messing with!)
  • I should try to limit parsley and dill because parsley is high in nitrate and dill is “medium” in nitrate.
  • I can have sea salt, cane sugar, and baking soda.


What Can I Eat?

Proteins
  • Chicken
  • Codfish
  • Crab (not a big fan)
  • Pork (not a big fan)
  • Beef
  • Eggs
  • Pinto Beans
  • Sole (unsure if I’ve ever had it)
  • Catfish (unsure if I’ve ever had it)
  • Tilapia (unsure if I’ve ever had it)
  • Clam (only like in N.E. clam chowder)
  • Garbanzo Beans
  • Turkey
  • Tuna
  • Scallop (never had)
  • Salmon
  • Lamb (yuck!)
Starches
  • Sweet Potato
  • Kamut (unsure if ever had)
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • White Potato
  • Amaranth (grain) (unsure if ever had)
  • Buckwheat
  • Oat
  • Tapioca
  • Spelt
Vegetables
  • Broccoli
  • String Beans (yuck!)
  • Cucumber
  • Peas (only eat in things, never alone)
  • Zucchini (not a huge fan but it’s in my chicken broth)
  • Onion
  • Yellow Squash (yuck)
  • Mushrooms
  • Green Pepper
  • Cauliflower
Fruits
  • Pineapple
  • Honeydew Melon
  • Watermelon
  • Peach
  • Plum
  • Cherry
  • Blueberry
  • Cranberry
  • Orange (no pulp)
  • Strawberries
  • Apple
  • Apricot
  • Pear
  • Mango (no idea how to prepare)
  • Papaya (no idea how to prepare)
Dairy/Miscellaneous
  • Cocoa
  • Cheddar Cheese (aged less than 6 months)
  • Goat’s Milk (not a big fan)
  • Yogurt
  • Cottage Cheese (yuck! hate the texture)
  • American Cheese
  • Whey
Nuts/Seeds/Oils
  • Sesame
  • Olive
  • Sunflower Seed
  • Soybean
Flavor Enhancers
  • Vanilla
  • Cinnamon
  • Oregano
  • Lemon
  • Cane Sugar
  • Cayenne Pepper (don’t ever cook with this)
  • Carob
  • Basil
  • Honey (need to limit due to pollen issues)
  • Mustard Seed (not a huge fan)
  • Leek
  • Black Pepper
  • Cumin
  • Garlic
  • Mint
  • Maple
  • Coconut (need to not go too overboard because it’s very close to yellow)

Since my diet has been opened up a bit more, I won’t be doing the weekly roundups anymore. Instead, I’ll just post recipes (including those you have requested) that have worked out well for me. These won’t be on a regular schedule, because it depends on when things work out and when I can get pictures of them so I can write the posts.

Feel free to take a look back through my other LEAP diet posts and request any recipes you would like to see! I have a request for the tortillas (which I will probably get posted this week) and one for the sweet potato risotto (which will probably be posted sometime near the end of this week or early next week). Here are all my past LEAP diet posts:

If you have any good recipes using these things, please let me know below!

The New Diet So Far

Please check out my first post about the LEAP diet that I’m doing: LEAP Results & My Program. That first post goes into detail about what the diet is and what I’m allowed to eat.

I’m still horribly sick (as I talk about in this post), so I’m having a hard time telling what is from being ill and what is from the diet.

I started the diet on Tuesday, the 28th; starting phase 1/2 as directed by my dietitian. However, since starting, I have felt horrendously ill. I’m not sure if my viruses have gotten worse, or if I’m experiencing the detox/withdrawl symptoms that this phase 1/2 is trying to reduce. I’m also not sure if some of it is from being removed from two of my (very helpful) supplements suddenly – I did my best to taper slightly. I was removed from my magnesium, which has been mostly controlling my fibromyalgia for several years now, and from my VSL #3, which has been extremely helpful in easing my IBS symptoms. This diet is supposed to reduce or eliminate both my fibro and IBS symptoms, but so far it’s not. Continue reading

LEAP Results & My Program

After the low FODMAP diet didn’t work for me, my dietitian and I decided to move forward with the LEAP program. I explained the LEAP protocol in more detail in this post, but I’ll give another brief summary here. LEAP is technically the eating plan that is developed based on the food sensitivities that are found from the mediator release testing (MRT) conducted. Mediators are chemicals that are released by white blood cells – such as histamine, prostaglandins, and cytokines – in an immune system response. Mediators can cause a range of symptoms, including inflammation and pain. The LEAP 150 panel tests your blood against 150 different foods and chemicals, and checks for mediator release. Results are ranked numerically, and these numbers are converted into a great visual with different length, color-coded bars for each item tested. Bars are either green (non-reactive), yellow (reactive), or red (highly reactive). The yellow and red items, as stated in the booklet I was given with my results, are best to avoid completely. Yellow items can sometimes be dose dependent, so late in the program you can sometimes attempt to reintroduce them. However, that is for wayyyyy down the road, so right now we won’t talk about that.

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It’s Almost Time to Get the LEAP Results!

My LEAP/MRT follow-up with the dietitian is on the 21st, so just 7 days now! While I’m really nervous about what I will be able to eat, I’m very excited because I think this will really help!

For an overview of LEAP/MRT, and why we are going that route, be sure to check out my More Dietitian Changes post!

Dan and I have definitely noticed that there are a few meals that make me feel quite ill, so we decided it would be fun to make some guesses. There are also foods that cause significant oral symptoms (itching, tongue rash, etc) and that seem to trigger my eosinophilic esophagitis (E0E). Obviously, Dan was only able to make his guesses based on the times I’ve told him something seems off. These guesses are just for if we think the foods will be “not green” (either yellow or red), not the degree to which they will be no good. Continue reading

More Dietitian Changes – LEAP/MRT Program

The dietitian has changed things again! I saw Kara on February 6th to follow-up on the low FODMAP diet. As I mentioned in my last low FODMAP roundup, the diet really didn’t seem to be doing anything for my symptoms. Since it wasn’t helping at all, she took me off the diet completely! Of course, I’m still eating sort of low FODMAP since I still have so many groceries… but I’ve been able to eat some of my favorite foods that were taken away from me (burritos is a big one).

Obviously, we have just changed what we’re going to do. For now, I’m on a free diet (I can eat anything I want), but it won’t be staying that way at all. Nope. We have moved forward with the LEAP/MRT protocol. LEAP = lifestyle eating and performance, and MRT = mediator release test. I got my blood drawn for the testing February 10th, and it’ll take a little bit for the results to come back.

blood-test

Image: The Times, UK (credited in the article to Getty Images)

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