Friday, August 23, 2013

Food Allergies Part Two: So What DO You Eat?

I'm a vegan by default. Not necessarily by real choice.

The good thing is that in eliminating all my allergic foods, my motility has improved drastically. Meaning that it is possible the gastroparesis was made worse by the multiple allergies as well as the increasing severity. In this aspect I am very lucky.

However...I need an insane amount of calories to thrive. And not a lot to choose from. Couple that with autonomic system issues and those symptoms it can be very complicated.

Of all the stupid things I am allergic to all classes of bovine, along with pork and fish/shellfish. This leaves chicken and turkey as animal protein sources and I was eating those...for about two days.

There was nothing that happened that I stopped. The simple fact is that I don't like meat. I was a vegetarian during the period where one's preferences are developing in childhood and honestly just don't care for it.

This leaves legumes, seeds, and...well...the foods that aren't in the cute little "protein" bracket of the USDA Food Guide Pyramid (like I really care about the USDA's vested interest in certain wealthy meat and milk pushers...)

Did I just write that?

Anyway...

I do miss yogurt and rarely cheese. Even the occasional egg and I did actually like soymilk quite a lot. However, I really love how much more life I have in my voice and my eyes. So the trade-off is worth it.

With a 3, 000kcal/day goal...what do I eat and how do I avoid taste fatigue?

Key word: Curiosity.

Key word: Create.

Keep Allowed Snacks Handy: So simple. Most of the time if I feel run down I grab some water and a piece of fruit or something else with fairly quick release carbohydrate. I keep dried fruit with me and an Enjoy Life brand snack bar for such times. If my body tells me I need something further I also keep a small baggie of sunflower seeds with me. The mix of carbohydrate and protein can keep me going for an hour or two or more depending if I was late for a meal or snack, or if I just needed something more.

Eat What You Like: Not just what you have been told you need. For instance,  I hate rice protein powder. I was told to use it. I think it's gross. So I just don't bother. This way I can keep things around I really love: sunflower seed butter. Avocado. Apples. Coconut milk. Do not stress over grams of fat or even protein unless you are experiencing muscle wasting or other malnutrition related issues. If you keep eating things you hate, you will feel deprived. You may cheat and those moments can be seriously dangerous.

Experiment: There are gluten free-egg free-nut free-etc nightmares. You may even have been the author of those nightmares. I recently made a stew and it...let's say it didn't turn out well. My first attempt at banana bread was...laughable. It is overwhelming to make big changes and with food allergies you don't get to transition slowly. So just keep trying! My latest banana bread turned out wonderfully (I can attest to that. So can some friends who shall remain nameless...).

Be Someone Who Eats Weird Food...And Eat Enough Of It: Most don't think eating enough is a problem. But even having one allergy can suck the joy out of meals. Some are like me and have insane calorie needs and are very restricted.  This is where experimenting comes in handy. To me, creating meals is equal part science and art (funny coming from someone who struggled horribly with an eating disorder at one point). Throw things in blenders! This is a great way to boost nutrition and create something interesting. Currently I cannot get enough of a smoothie I've made out of Simply Orange orange juice (with added calcium and vitamin D), frozen fruit, and a whole avocado. Colors vary from green to purple and keeps things interesting.

Make It Yourself: It doesn't mean you have to slave over a stove all the time. No one has time for that. But some think it's a hassle to boil water and wait a half hour for brown rice to cook. It's worse to waste money on terrible tasting convenience foods or picking things up which, on second thought, are not on the approved foods list. This way, you decide what's in your food and more importantly...what isn't.

This is so trial and error. I live off very limited income, so throwing ruined or otherwise inedible things out is devastating at times. Rotate things that went over well with new things you want to try.

In the United States, if you have Milk/Soy Protein Intolerance (MSPI...meaning you cannot eat these items. At all)...you might as well as stay out of the center isles. Away from prepared frozen dinners. All the prepared items and most of the development of improving the taste amd texture of certain foods all will have a milk or soy component. It can feel like you are missing out.

But in reality, this can be excellent potential to reformulate your preferences and tastes. Share what you have created. Others will want recipes and ask questions which, in turn, reinforce your confidence and turns into a positive cycle. Since altering what I eat, I have also eschewed soda (I do indulge occasionally but now it makes me feel sick for no reason I can pinpoint) and excessive use of sweeteners. Michael Pollan had the right idea: "Treat Treats As Treats". I used to down a 12oz can at least daily on oral intale trials. Now if I buy a 20oz bottle I take a few drinks, then toss it because it aggravates my reflux.

I guess not such a treat afterall...

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