Sunday, 9 August 2015

A food epithany...

When I was sixteen (I will be 47 this year) I was hit with a disease that not any scared the bejeezubs out of me but involved a long and painful process of tests, procedures and hospitals stays to diagnose and then years of stupid, horrible steroid medications that never really worked and actually had more nasty side affects than they did good...

I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis and Proctitis and it was quite literally a pain in the ass for many, many years as the medication never really got it under control.  Just as I was about to go in to see the consultant to discuss an operation to remove part of my colon I happened upon holistic therapies beginning with reflexology.  Six weeks into my reflexology treatment and I was weaned off most of the medications and feeling better than I ever had and the relief of telling the consultant what he could do with his operation was bliss...  Two years of reflexology and the odd EFT (emotional freedom technique) and a bit of Kinesiology thrown in for good measure and I was not only off the meds completely I was in remission...the hospital consultant could not believe it.

That was probably about fifteen years ago and since then I have had the odd niggly flare up when I have eaten badly for a while and had a heap load of stress on top but never enough to have to go back on the steriods.

Until a few months ago...when I had a horrendous UC attack - the worst one for many years.  I was thrown into a bit of a panic I must admit as the thought of going back on meds was not a pretty one.

So I had to do some tracing back...UC has never really be proven to be linked to eating any one particular food and I think that in these days when everyone and their dog seems to have a food allergy it has been side tracked as a 'fashion trend' to be allergic to usually wheat and dairy.  However there is a big difference between allergy and intolerance and I think the lines get very blurred on this. If you are allergic to a food stuff it has to be confirmed with a test done at the hospital and the affects of the allergic reaction will be serious.  Intolerance however is another matter, being intolerant to a food product brings on the bloating and stomach pains that a lot of IBS suffers experience for instance.

I was pretty sure I wasn't allergic to any foods but I did and still do believe there is a link between certain food intolerances and UC attacks.   So I wanted to prove my point and sought out a food intolerance test - it was incredibly interesting and showed that I am intolerant to wheat, dairy, potatoes, aubergine, prawns, black pepper and certain oils.  Intolerance doesn't mean I can't eat a certain food it just means I shouldn't overload on them.  I also firmly believe that processed foods are a key here too, I can eat my own homemade bread with no issues but suffer from eating supermarket bread that is full of chemical agents (to help it rise, stay fresh for longer etc etc).

I believe the recent UC attack was brought on by several months, probably even a year of eating very badly - lots of cake, sweets, crisps, takeaways etc etc add onto that a particularly stressful personal situation and BAM...UC attack from Hades.

My solution was to go on a very restrictive food regime, I cut out a huge amount of foods from my diet - definitely no processed foods, no wheat, no dairy, no fried food and actually I found that I had to cut out a lot of meat as well as I was reacting badly to that too...but what on earth was I going to eat?   I stumbled upon the Deliciously Ella cookbook - essentially a vegan diet and I was hooked. Thankfully there is no tofu within its pages which I was thankful of (can't stand the stuff) but what it does contain is sensible healthy recipes using delicious wholefoods - I am now a total quinoa, polenta, chia seed convert.   I also then found Peace & Parsnips as well which is another fabulous vegan cook book, one which prompted me to declare beetroot burgers the best thing ever.

I have added in a small amount of meat to my diet on occasion and I have had some feta and halloumi as well - I am not calling myself vegan, I am calling my self a healthy eater because if I fancy something on occasion whether it is a piece of chicken or a slice of cake I will have it.

A couple of years ago I was also diagnosed with Polyarthralgia which is a side affect of UC and affects the joints, this got gradually worse over the last year too.  But since being on the new food regime even that has improved.  I feel a huge amount better in myself, have more energy and it has also affected my moods too (for the better) another side affect has been the unintentional loss of 3/4 stone in weight...

It really has highlighted to me how much we need to watch what we eat - I don't mean faddy cabbage soup diets or even calorie counting (can't be bothered with that) but more about cutting out the processed stuff.  I have always loved food and cooking and this has opened up a whole new world to me.  I have even made and thoroughly enjoyed raw cakes (who would have thought it?)  the raw chocolate (cacoa) and avocado dessert I had the other week was divine!

I have actually found that I don't crave chips, crisps or even cake (shock, horror) now choosing rather to have something fresh such as a bowl of fruit with soya yogurt and my own homemade granola (seriously I can't stop eating the stuff).

I haven't stopped making cakes though...just in case you were worried...I just make them for other people to enjoy...

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