Food sensitivities? What do you eat?

Chia pudding with walnuts and raisins and quinoa porridge are great options for breakfast. | Priya Hutner

I looked in the mirror and saw dark circles under my eyes. I’d been more tired than usual and feeling on the edge of getting sick, again.

Acupuncture helped but I suspected that there were other underlying issues that needed to be addressed. In addition to acupuncture I decided to explore the naturopathy route. I met with Tahoe City Naturopath Christina Campbell who tested my adrenal function, ran a series of blood tests and took a food sensitivity /allergy test. Campbell suspected food sensitivity was the root of my problem.

Christina Campbell sat across from me and said, “I have good news and I have bad news.” I groaned.

Although I eat a well balanced diet and limit my intake of processed foods, I was perplexed as to what foods I might be sensitive or reactive to. After my test results came back Campbell sat across from me and said, “I have good news and I have bad news.” I groaned.

All my blood work was excellent and my adrenals were fine. I did, as she suspected, have a number of food sensitivities. These food sensitivities were apparently the culprit of my issues. Potential perforations in my gut were affecting my digestive system, impairing my immune system and could possibly be the root of my fatigue and exhaustion.

Campbell slid the graph of the results of my food sensitivity panel across the desk. I scanned the lines on the pages that moved from low reactive foods to high reactive foods. My food sensitivities ranged from wheat and gluten (I love bread and pasta), eggs (what would I eat for breakfast?) and dairy (well there goes my addiction to cow cheese). The food panel also had some unusual sensitivity to a number of fruits like cranberries, pineapple and bananas (OK, I can live without these). Also out were sugar and yeast products.

I sat back and thought, “OK, what do I eat?” I could eat all animal protein except for poultry and eggs, and I could eat most vegetables (no string beans or mushrooms).

I think the hardest part of the undertaking was to rethink my diet and take the time to prepare foods to have ready to eat when I was hungry. I realized that dining out would be another challenging endeavor entirely. Many of the food sensitivities I have can be found in ordinary foods and hidden in forms that are not overtly obvious. For instance soy sauce has gluten in it, many prepared sauces have yeast or yeast extract and sugar additives, and salad dressings often contain sugar or other processed ingredients. Eggs and breadcrumbs are also in many dishes.

Thus began my three-month experiment. I began slowly at first, eliminating wheat and cow dairy. I wanted to be mindful and not fall into the habit of substituting gluten free options as most of them are quite processed. If this is what it took to feel better I was prepared to embark on this daunting undertaking. The second step was cut out any refined sugar, eggs and poultry.

Chia pudding with walnuts and raisins, quinoa porridge and savory meals became my go-to breakfast options. For lunch and dinner, I’d lean toward clean protein and cooked vegetables (raw vegetables during the cold months are harder to digest). And I decided to take a break from red wine and alcohol for a period of time to explore how I felt. This has been difficult thus far; who doesn’t love a glass of wine with dinner?

Our gut health is imperative to our well-being. The digestive system is a key to optimum health. Processed food and stress affect our digestion, which in turn affects the systems of the body.

“Our primary digestive organ is the spleen. Physical and mental stress affect spleen function, as well as not eating consistently or being present while you eat, which can cause us not to be able to absorb nutrients and then we do not getting any chi (energy) from our food. When we are intolerant of certain foods it can create heat and inflammation in the body,” explains Tahoe acupuncturist Lauren Corda.

My experiment is only three weeks in the process but I look forward to a renewed sense of energy and wellbeing.

Quinoa Porridge
| From the kitchen of Priya Hutner
1 apple, sliced
¼ C water
1 t ground cinnamon
1 C quinoa, cooked
¼ C raisins
¼ C walnuts
¼ C almond or coconut milk

In a saucepan, sauté sliced apple in a ¼ cup of water and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Cook for 5 minutes. Add quinoa, raisins, walnuts and non-dairy milk. Mix and enjoy.

Chia Pudding | From the kitchen of Priya Hutner
1 C Chia Seeds
2-3 C water
2 cinnamon sticks or 2 t powdered cinnamon
3-5 cardamom pods
Maple syrup or agave to taste
2 C coconut milk, almond milk or cashew milk
Add walnuts, raisins, berries and/or banana

Cover chia seeds with water or milk. Stir and let sit for 30 minutes or until seeds absorb water. Add more water or milk and thin to favorable consistency.

Add cinnamon sticks and cardamom pods and let sit over night in the fridge. In the morning add milk, maple syrup or agave and more cinnamon, if desired. Mix in nuts and fruit for a nutritious breakfast or snack.