Can’t they just label food ‘good for you’ and ‘bad for you’?

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A client sent our office a box of fabulous Fabiano’s chocolates, a favorite in Lansing, Mich. The guessing game of what filling awaits a bite used to be fun. While the giddiness is still there for me when it comes to a holiday gift box of good-quality chocolates — will it be salty? maple-infused? — I have to be more careful, thanks to blood work a couple years ago showing my allergy to peanuts and, surprisingly, sesame seeds and derivatives (hummus, made of tahini, is out, for example). This afternoon, I bit into one, immediately realized it was peanut butter, and spit it out. Undeterred, I enjoyed a few other pieces featuring everything from a raspberry burst to a minty center.

The peanut and sesame seed/oil allergies are known quantities. By comparison, with my recent negative results for gluten sensitivity, I don’t know what else compromises my health. The food journal I’ve been keeping hasn’t exposed any magic bullet yet, but I want to share some of the recommendations I received in response to my post on the celiac tests in case it helps anyone else struggling with a similar question to mine: What am I eating that makes me feel bloated and ugh so much of the time?

Not so fast

Juliana (Yoga Daze blog) and Emily (Love and Cinnamon blog) cautioned me against completely trusting the blood work for signs of celiac disease, saying either they or someone close to them also tested negative, cut out gluten anyway, and experienced a remarkable and positive difference. Hannah (Balancing on Two Feet blog) suggested an elimination diet. Read their full comments.

Chuck corn

Stormy Nosse, an ashtangi I met last year at the Ashtanga Yoga Center, shared her thoughts based on experience and years of studying nutrition. Her advice: Consider cutting out corn. On an intuitive level — based on how ubiquitous corn-based products are in our country, this piece of advice really appealed to me, and I’m already trying to implement it. I try not to eat tortilla chips like I used to, but I do snack and I do crave chips, so I’ve tried chips made from lentils and from black bean, and really like both.

Examine thyroid issues

Dave from Jackson Hole, Wy. asked if I had ever considered hypothyroid issues, and pointed me to “Thyroid ‘Hell’th,” D’ana Baptise’s blog posts chronicling her journey with this issue. In the last installment of the 2009 series, Baptise writes:

I felt compelled to spend time on this topic because I knew there were a lot of us feeling like something is just wrong, and yet we aren’t being taken seriously. I also wanted to write to say that even if you are the most staunch ‘all natural, completely organic’ person, you may still have thyroid issues and no amount of organic spinach will cure it or help you feel better.

Baptise goes on to list what she has found to be helpful. Read the entire post here.

Not more than a day apart from when Dave wrote me about hypothyroid, a friend of mine stopped me at the yoga studio to ask if I had looked into thyroid issues. She had had adrenal drainage problems, and when she addressed that, symptoms similar to mine went away.

I’m definitely going to ask my physician and acupuncturist about thyroid issues.

Thanks to everyone who shared their experience and advice with me. I’m convinced this is all a good thing — a way for me to finally pay closer attention to what I put into my body. Rather than rely on external markers of healthiness — i.e., what’s supposed to be good or bad for me — I’m really working to slow down and tune in to what my internal machinations are telling me about how various foods affect me. That brings me back to the food journal. I guess there has been one clear result — and it’s that as much as I have come to love it, the protein-packed wonder known as quinoa does not make me feel very good. Quinoa leaves me feeling bloated, with the urge to burp to relieve the pressure. Guess I can’t stock up on quinoa cakes from Plum Market’s deli case the next time I’m in Ann Arbor for an Ashtanga class.

(Photo credit: Quinoa by edibleoffice via Flickr Creative Commons.)

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6 thoughts on “Can’t they just label food ‘good for you’ and ‘bad for you’?

    • You have assumed incorrectly! :-) Despite the fact that I led with chocolate in this blog post, I don’t eat too much of it the rest of the year. Oh man, coffee is something else. I’ve been trying to replace my morning coffee with a morning chai latte, because I love that stuff, but that’s expensive so I end up resorting to coffee more frequently than I’d like to. As for spicy foods — when they did my acid reflux test a few years ago, they said spicy food was OK. As you can imagine, what was no longer OK was caffeine as in soda, coffee and chocolate. I hardly drink soda these days, and when I do, it doesn’t have caffeine.

  1. Hey Rose, missed you in class this morning :). Have you checked out candida in your hunt as a cause of ugh and bloating? Its pretty common these days, especially if you have a grain (any grain) based diet. We are going gluten free in the New Year, for no particular reason except that I think we will feel better for it, plus I have heard that wheat is not a friend of the thyroid, of which I am hypo. The next phase will be to cut out cow dairy, and try to stick to goat. Happy Holidays!

    • That is a new one, Shelley! I just had to google it to find out what you mean. One of the articles I found talks about a candida cleanse diet (cutting out sugers, etc.), and how following it basically forces you to cut out processed food. I made a concerted effort starting last year to cut down on processed food, but I am by no means out of the woods yet. Congrats on your decision to edit out gluten from your diet! Looking forward to hearing how that goes.

      As for class today — would have loved to have joined you, but I am in the upper reaches of the Upper Peninsula right now (that may not be a geographically accurate description, but to me, it feels like we are in the upper reaches — so far so that we are in central time zone here in Iron Mountain, Mich., where my future in-laws live).

      Glad to know about your website too (http://www.gooddog-yoga.com, for any yogis reading this).

      Happy holidays!

  2. Oopsies, I think the Emily that gave you that advice is likely Emily Petz? Regrettably, I have not relenquished gluten’s hold on me. I enjoy baking too much (although, I could bake gluten-free and have now and then). I think the anticandida diet is a good suggestion. I would definitely cut the coffee. I have been mostly coffee-free for 3 weeks now. I killed it in preparation for yoga teacher training, assuming I would be able to use it if I REALLY needed it. I drink Good Earth tea in the mornings but I think a loose leaf chai would be amazing.

    • Oh my! My bad about the Emily switcharoos. So sorry! Not sure how that happened — probably a straightforward matter of juggling too many balls at once during the holiday/work year/trip preparation/general end-of-year madness. Thanks for correcting that. Congrats on starting down the path of kicking the coffee habit! And congrats, of course, on starting teacher training. It will a unique journey all your own. You’ll have so many people as peers and fellow travelers, but ultimately, no one’s journey through that process is the same.

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