If you knew me five years ago, you know my diet consisted of 100% take-out options, this was in part due to a busy lifestyle, but mostly a lack of interest to cook. That being said, over the past two years I've fallen in love with nutrution, so I was ecstatic when Green Circle Wellness reached out about designing a nutrition plan based on my own body's biochemistry.
The idea was to gain education, learn more about how my body processed nutrients, and how to best fuel my system towards specific goals. Due to the timing of our meeting, this nutrition plan would not address weight gain or loss, but would be designed for me and baby to get the most nutrients from the foods my body needed, taking into consideration my body's unique food preferences rather than fad diets.
To get me started, a food intolerance test was recommended, and I'll be honest, I laughed out loud...
Personally, I didn't want to be someone who allowed allergies dictate her life, so while I was well aware of allergy testing, this was one I'd consciously avoided, and I was open about my concerns.
After consulting with Gina (lead nurse at GCW) and Faith (lead nutritionist), they assured me that I didn't have to let these results control my life. They walked me through their personal test results, a scale of 1 to 3+ indicating intolerance levels, and explained how managing allergies didn't have to be all consuming OR all eliminating, it simply had to be done intelligently– work smarter not harder. Done!
Fast forward a few weeks and lab results were in. Keep in mind, I went into this solely expecting a list of foods to avoid in my nutrition plan, and was not prepared for the depth of information that we'd cover in our following hour...
- For starters, no mention of food items, instead we'd begin by reviewing vitamin & mineral levels. At the time, I was taking a prenatal, and B-6, so most levels seemed to be in good standing, but I was slightly low on Zinc & B-3. Also, despite my attempts at including healthy gut bacteria in my diet, I was in serious need of probiotics for digestive support. Overall, these were easy fixes– a daily B-complex + Probiotic would do the trick.
- Next up, still no specific foods, rather a deeper look at fats, proteins, & carbs. As it turns out, my body doesn't process protein well, which didn't surprise me too much, since it's always taken me longer to build muscle and I have to make a conscious effort to consume enough protein to see results. Reader's digest version: the enzymes that break down food to retrieve nutrients weren't working properly, so only a portion of the protein I was consuming was actually being absorbed for my body to use. Recommendations: consider adding a plant based protein and Digestizyme supplement– one for added nutrient supply, and the other to assist in proper protein digestion.
- In my metabolic analysis, there were again indications of a lack of healthy gut bacteria and malabsorption of aminos, however, the more surprising results were in notable toxin levels indicating an overuse of plastic and tin. What?! While this wasn't related to BPA (common toxin associated with plastic), it forced me to dig deep into my daily habits. Fact is I'm pretty lazy inn some ways, so instead of carrying a reusable water bottle, I purchase a lot of bottled water while on-the-go, and regularly line pans or baking sheets with aluminum foil for easy clean up. In addition, I consume a variety of canned beans and often use plastic (ziploc or tupperware) to store foods. Again, easy fixes, but probably the most shocking results yet– how scary is it that the storage materials we use in our daily lives are so toxic they can actually work their way into our system?... Recommendations: carry a reusable water bottle, no more cooking with aluminum foil, and store food in glass containers. Most importantly, never reheat food in any plastic variety!
- Finally, my food antibody assessment– and the results I'd been dreading the most! As luck would have it, I'm allergic to a lot of foods I consume almost daily, confirming all of my initial fears when beginning this journey. To give you the highlights, I'm allergic to all dairy– except goat's milk. My body doesn't like eggs (yolk or whites), corn, corn gluten, almonds, walnuts, oats, rice, wheat, yeast, cane sugar, chocolate, and coffee. HA. Did I leave out anything else?... Oh yeah, garlic, black pepper, and thyme.
For reference, my go-to breakfasts include eggs, oatmeal, or greek yogurt. My coffee includes either 2% Milk or Almond Milk, and I have chocolate, cheese, and nuts all the time.
That being said, remember the rating scale I mentioned?... While all of these foods tested positive, they rated very low on the intolerance scale, and to my relief, Dr. Dina Pavilonis (lead M.D.) assured me that with the numbers in my lab results I had no need to alter my entire lifestyle, I simply needed to monitor my habits to prevent these levels from rising. Rather than eliminating these items all-together, I would need to plan my meals more intentionally, alternating between eggs one day, and oatmeal or dairy the next. By flagging these foods, my body was essentially saying "too much," the concern being that if I failed to cut back on these items, my body would respond with more aggressive reactions. Recommendation: rotational diet.
Like I said, I underestimated this follow-up consultation, and by the time we were done, I was overwhelmed with data. From here, the next step would be to reconnect with Faith, review my food journal, and begin to develop a nutrition plan specific to my body's goals and needs. I'll save my nutrition program for another post, because I want to make sure you get all the tools you need to be successful, but I highly recommend getting a head start on your new year's resolutions and booking an appointment to start this journey. I always knew I had allergies, but was afraid of letting them control my life. However, knowledge is power, and rather than playing trial and error, I guarantee that having the proper information will allow you to experience more freedom. Remember, work smarter, not harder ;)