Food Intolerance – One Test, Improved Energy and Reduced Hunger

I know I’ve talked in the past about my food intolerance issues which started, or were discovered, I guess, around the same time I started paleo, which is nearly ten years ago now. I’ve been struggling with health issues, weight loss, energy and various frustrations since. I felt like I got exponentially older each day. My sleep was terrible, mood was depressed or angry, hunger was constant and it made me feel like my willpower sucked. I had new skin issues, and general daily fatigue as well as post-workout fatigue that was debilitating the entire day after a workout.

I was overweight, hungry, moody, tired, sleep deprived, and everyday I felt was a new onslaught on my immune system. And like I said, I’ve been slogging through the mud for the past seven or eight years. I’ve had times I isolated myself to “perfect” my diet. I’ve tried every diet out there. Not for quick weight loss, but I was truly desperate enough if something did work, I’d commit to it. Forever. I’d sometimes start a new way of eating and see some short term success. But over time the five to eight pounds I’d lose would stall, then slowly come back. And when I’d abandon that diet out of frustration, I’d gain back even more. I’ve gained forty-five pounds slowly over these past seven years. A combination of being hungry, having limited ability to workout, and probably diet hopping. Of course, all of this is interspersed with falling off the wagon all together, out of frustration.

I’ve gone paleo, primal, ketogenic, generic low-carb, low-carb keto, autoimmune protocol, Wahls protocol, GAPS, juicing, raw food, intermittent fasting, macros, increased fiber, increased protein, and probably three or four others. And I didn’t go halfway on any of these. I was all in.

My friends and family have probably labeled me as “that friend.”

And, honestly, even with super short term success in weight loss (probably mostly water weight), I NEVER felt better. I kept thinking the right diet, and boom, I’d feel better and everything would come together. But I just couldn’t find the right diet. And people are all, “You’re getting older, you feel more tired when you’re old.” Or, “There’s no quick fix!” When, clearly, six years in, that’s not what I was trying to do. I was frustrated, desperate, hungry, and tired.

Who would have known one blood test could make an overnight difference? On Black Friday I splurged on a food sensitivity test from EverlyWell (I’m not getting paid for this), and I spent a week trying to eat everything on the list of 96 foods. Their site suggested it needed to have been eaten in the last month, so I tried to get two servings of all of the foods I didn’t eat regularly.

Then I took the test and mailed it off. Over the next four days I repeatedly told myself, no matter what the test said, no matter how hard to swallow, I was changing my diet around it. No excuses, no explaining away, no validating why I could NOT change something. Friends asked me what I expected to see, or what my worst case would be, and I said, “I’ll have to give up pizza and Coke Zero.” That meant cheese, wheat or gluten and cola were at the top of my list.

In the week leading up to the test when I was trying to eat all of the foods on the list, my coworkers would get excited with how creative I’d get to try to eat several foods at once, one day splurging on sushi, another making my own salad and getting a smoothie at a smoothie place I never visit. By the end of that week, I had a terrible headache, felt tired, my eyes were watery and itchy, and I knew I was eating foods my body didn’t like. I was excited for the results, and also had my eyes open to how UN-varied my diet was. It was an exciting challenge to try to eat so many different foods. I realized no matter what the results said, there were so many foods to eat!

I mailed off my test on Monday, it was marked as received in Wednesday, and Friday morning I got my results. Dairy and wheat/gluten were at the top of my list. But cola wasn’t! So 2 for 3, but I still had my diet pop (please don’t lecture me, in the pasts even years, I’ve eliminated diet pop twice, once for six months, and I didn’t feel any different). And I had ALL of these foods I don’t eat often enough. Also high on my list were mushrooms and chia (which I had for lunch near the end of the week) and shellfish (lobster and crab were in my sushi the day before). I also had coconut at the top of my list – that explains why paleo and anything low-carb or coconut oil-worshipping never worked!

The biggest changes were going to be dairy and wheat/gluten. Cheese has been my favorite food all of my life. I eat it daily, if not multiple times a day. I felt daunted, but jumped right in. I couldn’t have cheese or bread, but I could have potatoes. I got a burger, with grilled onions (ok), avocado (ok), lettuce and tomato (both ok). And a side of fries (ok). I felt great that afternoon. I was able to focus on a project, and felt like I had a lot of energy. This was also near the end of the semester, so that, being a Friday, and who knows about hormones. I don’t even know if it’s normal to feel better that quickly. But the point was, this wasn’t so bad, I felt good, and even got to have a banana and some almond butter (both ok) for a snack. I hardly ever have potatoes or bananas!

That weekend I shopped for some cheese alternatives, but honestly, I didn’t miss cheese that much. I had already avoided bread , so gluten/wheat wasn’t a big deal for bread or pasta, but maybe in other items. However, the grocery store was full of possibilities, including some things I’d been avoiding unnecessarily – rice, peppers, tomatoes, etc. I also found myself substituting avocado for dairy. And bought some egg-free mayo as another creamy option, though I still haven’t opened the jar.

One side note: I do think my post-exercise fatigue, the really debilitating next day fatigue, was iron-related. And in the past two months I’d found an iron supplement that worked and I could take twice a day rather than twice a week. However, now with this general uptick in energy, I was looking forward to working out! And I was shocked to jump right in with hour long workouts, including weights and cardio. I of course had some endurance issues, but the blah-tireds I used to feel weren’t there. And I was able to go longer than fifteen or twenty minutes. It felt like a Christmas miracle.

Into the next week I found the next surprise: I wasn’t hungry all the time. I was eating about three meals a day, maybe one small snack in the afternoon. I still didn’t miss dairy, which was a huge surprise.

I’d also been stalled out at the same weight for about six months, and couldn’t get it to budge. After only two weeks post diet change and adding 3-4 workouts per week, I’m down four pounds! Part of me keeps thinking another show will drop, but it hasn’t. Yet. I did have a day of weakness where is had some gluten/wheat and dairy. I didn’t notice a difference that day, or even the next during the day. But that night when I went to workout, that old feeling of it being a huge struggle was back. I dragged myself through about 25 minutes and called it a day. The next day I was ravenous. But I drank a lot of water and didn’t fall off the wagon despite the unrelenting cravings. And now, two days later, I feel GREAT again!

I think there were variations of each diet that worked, but there were things throwing me off. Namely, coconut products. When I did paleo the first time, coconut oil was touted as a super food, one EVERYONE should consume. And I bought into it. Even when I’d feel blah after consuming them, I’d buy the “that’s die off” excuse others were feeding me. I also had a lot of mushroom stuff. Not intentionally, but maybe added into foods. Maybe stuffed mushrooms, or mushrooms in a stir fry or as a topping on something. And of course the regular dairy, and somewhat frequent wheat/gluten. And not to mention sushi once or twice a month with some shrimp or crab thrown in. Those dosing of the foods high in my list wasn’t constant (except for cheese!), but one shift away from something shifted me to something else. In the case of coconut, something my body liked less.

That’s probably why I had constant low grade fatigue and semi-regular headaches. And why I was ALWAYS hungry.

Right now I feel hopeful this is the answer for me. I’m back to doing a Firm workouts. After the new year, I’ll start counting calories (not restricting or limiting, just counting to see where I land), and watching my carb intake to keep it under 40g per meal. I’m not sure what I’ll do long term. Will the way I feel keep me from eating these foods permanently? Will I want to eat them for special occasions and suffer the next day or two day hangover? I’m not sure. For now, I’m going one day at a time. And I’m excited for the future!



A friend of mine and I were talking about diet and exercise obsession and our propensity of late to obsess over food or workouts, and really get crazy on diets or perfecting a workout plan. For me, food obsession, orthorexia, etc., are not new. However, I really haven’t lost weight SINCE and that’s something I’ve been grappling with and trying to understand better. Was my relatively easy, unfocused weight loss a fluke of my twenties or a product of being more aware of the food I put in my body, making overall better but not obsessive choices, and working out or resting as my body said to?

I’ll probably never know.

But as we were reflecting, I remembered how the diet and exercise world was when I tried to lose weight the first time, at the end of 2002/beginning of 2003. I didn’t know anyone on any specific diets. After I started being aware of my diet, which was “eat less than I was,” I remember people talking about I think it was the South Beach Diet. I might be wrong, but all I remember is several women at work were on this diet, and they were all miserable. One was eating a snack cake from the vending machine as she was talking to another woman about it. Another woman went on a super extreme diet, and I remember she could eat five French fries once a week. And she’s like, “Five fries. FIVE! I eat five fries in a bite!”

Meanwhile, I was just eating less, not talking about it, and not even seeing I was losing weight. And you know what else? Not a single person mentioned my weight loss as it happened. Now? I bet once a week I hear someone asks someone else if they’ve lost weight. And I’ll admit, I’m more aware than ever of the size of people around me. Everyone wants to know what others are eating, or how much, or how little, or what workout they’re doing, or how often, or where they do it. And now people are obsessing over each other’s body sizes. It’s too much.

I believe I started running sometime in 2003. And after running for awhile, I found out there were races. I decided I wanted to try running a race. And I could not find a soul who wanted to go to these races with me. Not a single person. The races were small. And people showed up, ran, supported each other, and left. Now there are huge races, and while there were costumes at Halloween races in the early 2000s, it was also really average to just show up in shorts and a tee and run. Now a 5K race is some sort of fashion show, and a 5K isn’t even interesting enough if someone isn’t getting chased, jumping over or off of, or into something, or something isn’t on fire. People are asking me to do races all the time. When I was first lifting in 2002, most women around me thought fitting was for men, and it was boring, and of course, I’d get bulky. If I wanted to workout with someone,I usually had to find a guy friend. Now Crossfit is a thing, and I see lifting competitions all over. Most of the women I know now are lifting weights, which is great. But they’re also doing HIIT or something else intense with it. And a more extreme version of cardio that started out as 10-20 minutes are now often stacked to three sets of 15-20 minutes. Boot camps used to be Friday evening gym workouts that had a lot of variety. Now they’re these, let’s see who pukes first money making adventures outdoors. Then add on rucks and other military -based workouts, and I don’t even know the world I live in now. 

I’m ready to take it back to the start:

  1. Eat less – on average, eat fewer calories than I was eating on average before
  2. Workout – workout 4-5X a week doing workouts I enjoy that improve my skill set (strength, endurance, etc.)

That’s it. Stop trying to do a specific diet. I know when I’m eating too much. Eat too much less often. I know when I’m not moving enough. Move more often than not enough.

And stop spending spare time trying to find a trick. Sleep instead.

Frustration Overflow

I’ve been so frustrated with diet, er, excuse me, WAY OF LIVING groups since I decided to try lower carb. These groups sell themselves as an easy way to lose weight. “Just don’t eat this, and boom!” Or, “Make this your diet and voila!”

However, what these groups are is filled with people staving themselves that would lose weight no matter what they were or aren’t eating. You come into the group because someone said, “This is so simple. You’ll wish you’d done it sooner!” Then you’re pumped full of dogma about how “any other way is crap, doctors don’t know anything, and you’ll die if you don’t eat this way. Plus, never stray for a second or you will gain it all back instantly!”

Basically, over-simplification and fear-mongering. Plus, you have to put up with bullying people who don’t comply, and mocking any other approach.

No thanks.

The first times (yes, multiple) I lost weight, I simply watched what I ate, and exercised. Now diet groups say exercise matters almost none. Don’t even bother. And it’s ALL diet. “You can’t outrun your fork!” “Garbage in means your body can’t be efficient enough to drop weight.”
I know I go through waves where I try new eating approaches. Trying to find something that makes me lose weight. So far, it hasn’t happened. 

I’m trying to regroup. Again. And realize there is NO diet that’s easy. There are lots of bodies. But every time someone stalls on ANY of these diets, the advice is to eat fewer calories or fast (eating fewer calories) or some other form if eating less. They sell the diet as appetite suppressing, or allowing you to eat more. But it’s all bullshit..Some people just drop weight easier (me in my twenties) so it seems simple. Others struggle no matter what (me in my thirties). 

Honestly, the stuff promoted isn’t any different than the pro-ana stuff I had a short stint interested in. And while I understand anorexia is an eating disorder, so is orthorexia, and I see so many of those tendencies in ask of these diets. Obsession with perfection, fear of certain foods or groups of foods, and making those around you enemies. 

Having orthorexia netted me weight GAIN. Doing low carb, very low carb (keto) and zero carb for the past six months has resulted in four pounds lost. FOUR. Better than four gained. But I list more than ten fasting – and in a shorter period of time. 

And for the record, I know fasting only made me lose because I was starving. I’d lose a lot more during the fast and then most of it comes back. 

What’s my new plan? I’m just going to take the things I felt worked in other diets and implement into a calorie controlled diet with strength training and cardio. Essentially what I’ve done in the past. No dogma. No rules to follow. No off limit foods. Just be honest about what doesn’t work. And know what does. Be better at tracking when I feel good, and when I don’t. 

Plus, I really do think working out us important for more than weight loss. And I think fat loss is far more important than WEIGHT loss, but that gets lost in the shuffle in these groups. I’d far rather weigh 40+ more pounds, have a ton of muscle, and be in great shape than brag I list 100 pounds.

My happiest and healthiest was when I was doing Form and Cathe workouts 3-5 days a week, running 1-3 times a week, short distances, and eating pretty freely but with awareness because eating terribly made the workouts harder. 

That, for me, is where I’m heading now. 

My People

I’ve really been struggling to find people to share my diet and weight loss struggles, successes and overall journey with. I’ve found the groups I stumble in are one or more of the following:

  1. Super-strict and cult worthy
  2. Judgy
  3. Not
  4. No gray area
  5. Group thinkers
  6. Cliche
  7. Inflexible

The problem probably us that I think a group exists that I’ll like. Back when I first lost weight, I was doing The Firm. I list some weight, then stumbled upon a message board. Weren’t those the days? Message boards and mostly slower internet. People would hop on occasionally. But no one was on all the time. Commenters were supportive, shared what worked for them, but also wanted to hear what others were doing or offered (non-cliche) advice when people were stuck. 

Now we have access to more information than ever, with fast search and find. But diets seem to be sort black and white. Even groups that claim to be flexible or open to the path are full of judgy mean people who instead of judging those in the group judge everyone around them.

And in almost every single group I’m in, if the diet, er “way of life” isn’t working, you’re lying about your adherence. Or the responses will deflect the real question. 

I’m trying to get out of these groups and blaze my own path. I’m trying even lower carb for a few weeks. I really want to find what works for me. And listening to others isn’t going to help me. Especially if the group is filled with negativity, judgement, black and white, super strict or faux flexible.

I know how I feel. I need to journal it. It’s the oath to what works that creates success. Not perfect adherence to something that isn’t working or can’t be sustained. 

For now, I am “my people.” 

Fat Logic

There’s a group on Reddit I stumbled upon, mostly by accident. But I try to see all sides of things, and clicked in there this week. Some of the things they post is just adv excuse to make fun of fat people. They make fun of then accepting their bodies. They make fun of fat people making excuses or looking for more information about why weight loss it’s harder for them than dine people. They make fun of many approaches to dieting, even if the person doing it had switched up hire they eat for good. 

Some of the stuff, I suppose I agree with. Manning that I duo think eating too many calories leads to weight gain. Or that many period make a simple thing complicated, then fail. But they also try to way over simplify. And I’ll admit, I used to be one of those people. I used to think weight loss was easy. And didn’t understand why people didn’t just eat less and move more (specifically, lifting weights and any type of cardio you like). 

That was then. 

To clarify, I do still think excess calories make you gain. And I still think everyone should lift weights and get in some sort of endurance to strengthen your heart. I don’t have a set idea on how to lift – I just think muscle mass and strength training is good for you. I also think the cardio can be as simple as walking. Or you can run. Or you can do HIIT. Or power yoga. It should challenge your heart.And doesn’t have to be for hours at a time. That’s just what I think. It can easily be disputed.

But I no longer think weight loss is simple. And the assholes who simplify it are assholes. They say, “Just stop eating. Hormones have nothing to do with it. Insulin doesn’t matter.” Or whatever they say. They only see their experience in front of them. 

When you see people start to ask why it’s easy for some people and harder for others, their only answer is too fast, or eat less and you’ll be less hungry, or exercise more, or eat less than you’re eating now. Great, thanks for that. The person was asking WHY. Why do some people lose weight without hunger? Why do some lose at a much higher caloric intake? Why do many people lose weight, then have a list metabolism than someone who hasn’t lost? 

There is nuance to this. Hormones, or something beyond simple sheer willpower is involved here. It is a lot harder fit dine people. All fat.people aren’t gluttons. They aren’t all lazy and excuse making. What works for you doesn’t work for everyone. And for some people, despite diligence, the weight doesn’t budge. And trust me, most overweight people would love to be a lower weight. And if it were that simple, most people would be a lower weight. 

All I’ve wanted since I gained weight is to be a lower weight. I’ve tried so many things. And after awhile, I get exhausted and quit until I have a new plan. Then I start over. The doctor offers diet pills. Or suggests I weigh food (I do). 

I don’t need your over simplified platitudes. If you can’t explain why it’s different for everyone. So being an asshole about people being different. 

Craving the Outdoors

I’m not sure if it’s the unseasonably cool sorting weather, the rain, or something else, but I’ve been craving the outdoors. 

I spent the majority of last weekend outside, working in my yard. I’m in a relatively new to me house, and last spring was spent tending to la fancy things in and out of the house. But with pay houses I was never this excited about being outdoors. I do have a better, more private setting than in previous houses, do that might be all it takes. Many neighbors spend weeknight evenings and weekends outside. But without using each other as an excuse to talk or procrastinate. In fact, usually the neighbors only interrupt you to help. Maybe offering some if their overflowing perennials. Or some gardening supplies they no longer need. 

I’m not much of a gardener. I don’t really have the creative eye for it. But I’m trying to learn. I’m trying to choose lower maintenance and naive options. And I’m trying to make big, sweeping changes while also staying in the details. 

I actually want to re-paint my whole house. And have decided I’m just going to work on little by little until it’s done. Maybe this sitting. More likely this fall or even next spring.

Being out of adv HOA has done wonders for improving my stress level. These neighbors are encouraging and supportive. Not competitive and judgmental. Houses range from “master gardener” to “minimally maintained.” I’m definitely on the minimally maintained side of the scale. I want to always be low maintenance. But could definitely do some work for it to look better while being barely maintained. 

Anyway, I’ve really enjoyed my time outside. And feel like my stress level is a fraction of a year ago. I have been able to work outside for hours without a break. And my energy has stayed steady. 

Overall, I’m so happy it’s spring. And hope summer is very patient in arriving. 

Maintaining Weight Loss – The Last Stance

I first gained weight in college. I always correlate the gain with a breakup and comfort eating. But, the truth is, I may have gained the weight regardless. Was I eating healthy before? Not really. I’d eat a Poptart late morning at work so I could make it through my early afternoon classes. I’d grab a McDonald’s breadkafst sandwich and Coke on the way to work sometimes, and would grab convenience foods between classes for lunch. I’d probably gained about ten pounds my freshman year, just from more access to junk. 

I grew up in a small town. We had one local pizza place, and the next town over also had pizza. Otherwise,e I mostly ate at home. In high school, id eat a little dry cereal or a Poptart for breakfast. Usually a piece of fruit or a simple cheese sandwich on white bread for lunch, some candy in the afternoon, usually with a Pepsi, and whatever my mom made for dinner (it was a low fat high carb world) with some sort of simple snack. Not nutrient dense at all, but probably relatively low calorie. 

It’s possible no matter what happened, my diet choices would have led to weight gain.

In college, I had more access to excess. More freedom to drink more alcohol (I did drink in high school, but not as often). I was in the city, so access to fast food all the time, which felt like a treat. Vending machine food at work, with no one caring how often I had sweets or salty snacks. Plus, generally sitting around at work or in class. 

I’m not even sure that whatever I did, I wasn’t destined for weight gain. 

It seems no mater what some people do, they gain. They adhere to a strict diet, it works for a time, then stops. 

I’m in a keto “support group” where Jimmy Moore was brought up. I didn’t realize he had gained around half of the weight he’s lost back. And there was a brief discussion, then a mod stopped the discussion because that’s what mods in these groups do. It’s like there are boundaries around what’s right and wrong, they think they know everything, and that’s the end of the story. Once they’ve said their part, even if it’s biased, they shut down the conversation. Even if people are civil. If people start saying, “OMG, what if keto doesn’t work?” Or, “what if, like every other diet I’ve done, it works for some initial success, then stops?” “What if, despite my allegiance and diligence, I eventually gain back?”

I think the mods shut this stuff down because they want to believe keto is the holy grail. They want to believe anyone who gains is lying, and misrepresenting what they’re doing. But, I don’t believe that’s true. Here’s what I believe:

  1. Many overweight and obese people eat better than many thin people. Less calories and processed “junk food.” Thin people assume overweight/obese people are lying. 
  2. Your body changes when you diet. And I don’t mean just weight loss, I mean shit inside changes. And this is why an absurdly large percent of people gain weight back. The diet they’re doing stops being effective, so they gain. And over time, sure, they become frustrated and done adhere anymore. But adhering wasn’t working, either.
  3. Gastric bypass seems to be one of the few sustainable ways to lose. But you have to be fairly overweight to qualify, the weight comes off quickly, and you’re prone to malnutrition. Is it a simple super-restricted diet creating their success? And if so, why doesn’t this stand up in non gastric patients? 
  4. I know people who are semi-successful with a smaller amount of weight loss who lose, adjust their diet, gain a little, adjust diet again, lose, adjust again, gain. But stay in a ten pound window. This also seems to be a maybe semi-successful approach. And the one I’m considering adopting since bypass isn’t on my radar. 

What else do you see that’s frustrating about the religion of dieting? Or “lifestyle changes,” if that’s what you prefer calling it. I hate the lifestyle and diet industry so much. And the narrative controlled by a few, when so many are struggling, but their voices are muted out. I want to discuss real, long term solutions. Not the voice of a few know it all, who are closed off to anything but their preconceived notions and confirmation biases. 

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