The end of the boring-food-only diet.

Today marks the end of eight weeks of experimentation. Yes, the boring-food-only diet is over. I have cleansed my system and I have finished all of the challenges (including performing one twice just to be sure – no, not the chocolate one). I cannot say how grateful I am that this period of my life is over. Of course, the questions is, what will the rest of my life look like (food wise) now?

The first challenge – sulphites – gave me a definite answer. My system reacts badly to sulphites and I could see the effects start immediately and continue for about 24 hours. Sulphites are preservatives added to food and they have numbers in the 220 range. Here in Australia they are indicated on the packaging of the food and I think they should be reasonably easy to remove from my diet. Some of our regular foods might have to be avoided or I might have to change brands but I can handle the result from this challenge.

None of the other challenges were quite so clear cut. The vegemite challenge was a test for MSG and yeasts and I found that eating vegemite gave me ulcers. However, the other MSG challenge – cuppa soup – didn’t have any effect at all. So I guess I’m cutting vegemite out or at least limiting my intake but I don’t need to worry about high glutamate fruit and veg so much.

The corned beef challenge scared me a little – after the delicious treat of flavourful sandwiches for lunch, the next day I had a very sore throat. Oh I was worried! Cutting out nitrates would mean cutting bacon out of my diet! But there was a chance that the sore throat was due to irritation from the nasal spray I’m now taking. I decided to take the nasal spray at dinner time instead of last thing at night and to repeat the challenge. I am pleased to report the lack of a sore throat the next day so I think that bacon is safe. Hooray!

The red and yellow food colouring challenges were fun – four icy poles for the red, and six teddy bear biscuits for the yellow. No obvious changes in health but I wasn’t really concerned anyway. I am trying to eat more natural foods to be healthy so eating food colouring would be something I avoid generally and now I know that if I indulge it is likely to do minimal damage.

Amines are found in chocolate, bananas, cheese and in nice crispy barbecued meat. I chose to test that one by eating a whole 200g slab of chocolate in one sitting. I could have eaten three bananas but why not chocolate? (Really. Why not?) And the result was all good. So that’s wonderful. Life without cheese would be so sad! Not to mention chocolate.

Finally, salicylates. My last food post was written as I was gorging myself on strawberries and cream to test for a reaction to this chemical group. The result was a full body reaction. Not as severe as the sulphites but oh dear, headaches, sneezes, and bowel issues too. So I seem to be intolerant of salicylates. And that is where the problem starts. Salicylates are found in, well, in all the foods I was eating in order to be healthy. Avocado is high in salicylates, citrus fruits are high, nice red apples are high, almonds, walnuts, all the foods I was eating every day, all the foods I was snacking on to be healthy. Onions and tomatoes and cauliflower and broccoli and spinach – all the veggies that we used in our normal evening meals, all very high in salicylates. Even the humble carrot and pea have moderate amounts of salicylates.

Now I don’t think I need to remove salicylates entirely from my diet. That would be limiting my fruit and veg to cabbage and lettuce and pears and bananas for the rest of my life. I’m not sure that my reaction was extreme enough to warrant that. But how much is too much? How much can I get away with? The next few months will be months of experimentation as I figure this whole thing out.

My family have been amazingly supportive in these eight weeks. They have either eaten the cabbage, rice, and slabs of meat without complaint or they have cooked themselves a second meal and performed the extra washing up without any whinging. I am so blessed by them. But it’s getting a little tiring and we all want to get back to normal. Or find the new normal for us.

We have always prided ourselves on being people who eat everything. When we go to someone’s house for dinner and they ask ‘is there anything you don’t eat?’ we could say ‘No, we eat everything!’ and feel so virtuous. Alas! No longer. DH is gluten free over the summer months and now I need to figure out what to say and do about my own diet. But then, my sensitivities aren’t that bad. I think that I will watch what I eat at home but I will eat anything when out and suffer the consequences. After all, I’ve lived quite happily with these sensitivities for about 20 years. If I can keep the symptoms at bay for six days out of seven then I’m already in front.

The diet process, the whole eight weeks, has been a thought-provoking and challenging exercise. I go back to the GP on Tuesday and I’ll be very interested to hear if she has anything different to say than what I’m feeling already. Thanks so much for joining me on the journey, you’ve all been very encouraging! Here’s to good health!

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5 thoughts on “The end of the boring-food-only diet.

    • Totally blessed. And yes, cutting out salicylates is painful! At the moment I’m cutting down and then when I feel ill I’m thinking ‘yes, I know what caused that’ but I probably should take it a little more seriously and enjoy the benefits. It’s just a big adjustment. I’ll get there…

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