One has to wonder: what’s left?!
I’ve been a vegetarian for many years, almost a decade now of transitioning from processed packaged food to a fresh vegetarian diet. It was a rather easy and delicious transition, introducing me to Indian dishes like korma with naan bread, Thai curries with spring rolls, mediterranean hummus with pita, beyond basic Itallian pastas, and varieties of quesadillas that were almost orgasmic. Besides ethnic cuisine, of course I enjoyed a broad range of comfort foods from the traditional American diet, like burgers, pizza, buttery mashed potatoes, cheesecake, biscuits, macaroni & cheese – almost anything besides chunks of meat was on my plate. But recently, I got to have some fun mailing my poop to Texas in order to get tested for food sensitivities that could be causing my digestive system issues. The results from my Enterolab testing came back positive for food sensitivities to gluten, soy, dairy and egg – meaning that my body has an immune response in my gut whenever I eat these foods, which is daily, and instead of digesting them and deriving nutrition, my immune system attacks the food like it was an invader. Here’s the scientific data if you want the bare-bones lab results:
Name: Bancroft, Amanda
A) Gluten/Antigenic Food Sensitivity Stool Panel Limited
Fecal Anti-gliadin IgA 151 Units (Normal Range is less than 10 Units)
Fecal Anti-casein (cow’s milk) IgA 42 Units (Normal Range is less than 10 Units)
Fecal Anti-ovalbumin (chicken egg) IgA 17 Units (Normal Range is less than 10 Units)
Fecal Anti-soy IgA 37 Units (Normal Range is less than 10 Units)
Interpretation of Fecal Anti-gliadin IgA: The level of intestinal anti-gliadin IgA antibody was elevated, indicative of active dietary gluten sensitivity. For optimal health; resolution or improvement of gluten-induced syndromes (mainly falling into six categories abbreviated as NAAAGS – neuropsychiatric, autoimmune, asthma, abdominal, glandular deficiencies/hyperactivity or skin diseases); resolution of symptoms known to be associated with gluten sensitivity (such as abdominal symptoms – pain, cramping, bloating, gas, diarrhea and/or constipation, chronic headaches, chronic sinus congestion, depression, arthritis, chronic skin problems/rashes, fibromyalgia, and/or chronic fatigue); and prevention of small intestinal damage and malnutrition, osteoporosis, and damage to other tissues (like nerves, brain, joints, muscles, thyroid, pancreas, other glands, skin, liver, spleen, among others), it is recommended that you follow a strict and permanent gluten free diet. As gluten sensitivity is a genetic syndrome, you may want to have your relatives screened as well.
The results go on to explain that I should also avoid dairy, soy and egg in much the same way. An incredibly kind and knowledgeable nurse from Enterolab explained to me over the phone that gluten was what my body started attacking first, then dairy, then soy and finally egg (based on my numbers above). She said that, after avoiding these foods for at least 6 months (which would happen around Thanksgiving) my body may stop attacking the other 3 foods, but a lifetime gluten-free diet was necessary for me because I was gluten-sensitive and if I continue eating gluten (i.e., bread, wheat, etc) it could cause serious damage to my intestines and other diseases I definitely don’t want to have.
Researching gluten sensitivity is like a big international road trip entitled, “Why the *&^#%@ did Humans Ever Begin Eating Gluten and Dairy?” However, I’ll leave it up to you to do the research and decide for yourself if gluten and dairy are a super duper awesome-on-the-level-of-health-equal-to-fruits-and-veggies daily part of your diet or not. I know I’ll be writing more on this incredibly complex topic in the future, so stay tuned for more.
For now, I just had to give some kudos to Something Better Foods for not only accomodating my new gluten-soy-dairy-egg-free diet, but making a pizza I will never forget!!! While traditional pizza is a terrible idea on several levels of health, Something Better Foods uses a crispy rice tortilla and LOADS it with fresh toppings, perfectly-pizza-spiced tomato sauce, and this vegan cheese mix that’s unbelievable for a person who has tried many vegan cheeses and disliked ALL of them until now! Their blend is a cashew base, so it’s actually something I can eat! Hurray! We have established Thursday night as Something Better Pizza Night.
And a huge hug goes out to the staff at Greenhouse Grille, not only one of the most ethical green businesses to be found locally assisting with all sorts of projects, but also the most supportive of a wide range of diets from free-range meats to strict vegan dishes. An inside joke: for about 4 years the staff at Greenhouse Grille has been letting us sit at the exact same corner table where we order the exact same thing – the spicy black bean burger with sweet potato fries – each time. They have tried unsuccessfully to convince me to order something different, ANYTHING different than the black bean burger (because, after all, Greenhouse Grille has many more delicious options, almost all of which I’ve sampled). I had to stop ordering the black bean burger since it’s made with gluten, so, you guys finally win! LOL. But a nice replacement option is the lime cilantro quinoa salad, topped with avocado, pineapple, black beans, and veggies mixed together in a salad I actually would defend from even the cutest herbivores wanting to eat it. Thanks, Greenhouse Grille!!!