The Mustard Freeze – or LEAP Phase Limbo

13 January 2015 § 2 Comments

My food list is frozen, like my window on a -23C morning.

My food list is frozen, like my window on a -23C morning.

After three painful and frustrating weeks in Phase 5 capped off with a mysterious reaction to mustard (i.e. not allergic nor enzyme related), my dietician put the process on hold. I’d only managed to add one food in Phase 5 and even that was iffy. I also noticed a correlation between my hormonal cycle and whether or not I would react to a new food. NOT helpful. Thus the plan for the next four weeks is to stick to safe foods so my body can rest.

BUT. The last few days I’ve been having reactions to what I thought were safe foods and supplements. Going in to this rest-stop I had 44 foods/ingredients/beverages plus 3 vitamin/mineral supplements. If my analysis of my symptoms since Friday is correct, I am now down to no vitamin supplements and only 41 foods. I’m hoping to add a few back if my body can truly be calm for two weeks straight. I’m also hoping to work again now that I won’t be throwing monkey wrenches into my system every 36-48 hours.

Stress-management was also suggested, since stress can cause the immune system and digestive system to go haywire. I definitely don’t need that kind of help right now. Fortunately it’s winter, so I can distract myself with snow photography — one of my favorite subjects. I also have a stack of Christmas books waiting for me to sit and be still.

At least I’ve lost another pound (23 total). Yay?


At 22 Pounds Lost

5 January 2015 § Leave a comment


loving my “new” old clothes


A box of clothes that once I wore
reopened in our basement store:
With much weight lost I now reclaim
ten tops, some jeans, then lose the blame
I’d taken on before I’d found
the cause of all my excess pounds.


Love/Hate – or LEAP Phase 3/4

16 December 2014 § 2 Comments

Thank God for tea.

Thank God for tea.

Phases 3-4 were only 7 days apiece since I didn’t have any allergic reactions (YAY!). I did, however, have some pretty nasty enzyme-related issues; the last one was so bad I went back to only Phase 1-2 foods for 48 hours.

I love that I get to have tea again, but hate how wired just a half cup makes me. I love that I get to have chocolate again, but hate that I can no longer eat chickpeas (i.e. socca & hummus). I love that the ale yeast Harpoon uses in their hard cider doesn’t mess me up, but hate that the baker’s yeast Wasa uses in their sourdough rye crackers does. In other words, I love the anticipation of trying a new food, but hate the disappointment when one doesn’t work out…

…especially when the bad reaction is completely unexpected. Like cashews. 48 hours later and I’m still nauseous.

The lists of Phases 3 & 4 foods were so short that I’m grouping them together below. In addition to the foods from Phase 1 & Phase 2, my list now looks like this:

  • string beans
  • chickpeas (enzyme problem)
  • cocoa
  • pistachio nuts
  • basil
  • tea
  • cashews (enzyme problem)

Going forward, I hate that I’ll have to hold off on Phase 5 until I’m back to rights; I’m hoping it will be worth the wait. But even with all the hiccups in Phases 3-4, I do love that I’ve lost another 2.5 pounds:-)

Calming Down – or LEAP Phase 2

9 December 2014 § 3 Comments

Like this photo?

Trees Drawn by Ice

It’s a pattern the ice made on my front steps last week. I think it looks like a leafless maple surrounded by ice-bent pines. I took it with my DSLR + macro lens — the macro lens I hadn’t been able to use in 13 months because I couldn’t hold still enough to get crisp detail on tiny subjects. Until now.

That’s right: by the end of LEAP Phase 2, my as-yet-unexplained tremors vanished. Neither my dietician nor I expected the diet to eliminate them. (We had hoped it might calm them a little once my body was less stressed in general.) By the end of October they’d gotten so bad that I had to carry around a folding cane just in case I got wobbly while out and about. I’d also stopped playing the bass, doing calligraphy, and hand-binding books because my hands were no longer coordinated enough. There were even days I couldn’t type. Now I’m back.

I did have to stay in Phase 2 for 2.5 weeks because I continued to have allergic reactions to some of the challenge foods. The extra time was worth it, though, since my tremors left AND:

  • I lost 6 more pounds (total of 14).
  • My hearing improved because my ears drained.
  • My blood sugar stabilized.
  • I can now tolerate some raw fruits and veggies.

The biggest blessing of Phase 2 was getting olive oil back. Ghee was really messing with my gall bladder. Plus baking is much easier now that I can just pour some oil in the batter and stir, rather than bringing eggs to room temperature so they don’t re-solidify the ghee before mixing is complete. So now in addition to my Phase 1 foods, my Phase 2 list looks like this:

    • salmon
    • shrimp
    • chicken (allergic)
    • rye
    • barley
    • spelt (allergic)
    • tomato
    • cranberry
    • apple
    • sunflower seeds (allergic)
    • maple
    • leek
    • mint
    • cane sugar & molasses
    • yeast (enzyme problem)
    • olive oil

My combined list of foods is finally long enough to cook some things my whole family will eat. Like waffles. And BBQ beef (I’ll share the recipe this week). Still, I’m REALLY looking forward to Phase 4 when I can try TEA again:-)

Digging Out – or LEAP Phase 1

4 December 2014 § 6 Comments

My husband, after a 16-inch snowstorm

My husband, after a 16-inch snowstorm

Individualized medicine rocks!

Despite my lung issues being substantially improved by relocating, I was unable to shake the high blood pressure and weight gain brought on by my prescribed corticosteroid overdose three years ago. To make matters worse, I developed as-yet-unexplained tremors (sometimes eased with megadoses of B2). After a year of working with specialists (in whose boxes I did not fit) and only getting worse, my dietitian suggested a crazy-strict elimination diet called the LEAP Diet.

The theory behind the LEAP Diet is that people can have non-allergic inflammatory responses to foods which can cause all kinds of ailments and make weight loss difficult. It requires a blood test which yields an individualized ranking of common foods from least to most reactive. A person eats only the least reactive foods for 10-14 days (Phase 1), then adds one new food a day while watching for reactions (since allergies and enzyme problems aren’t tested). After six weeks, a person’s immune system should be calm enough to allow the body to start healing.

Problem is, I ended up being allergic to some of my Phase 1 foods so my supposed withdrawl period (which was actually allergic reaction) lasted way longer than it should. It wasn’t easy to figure out what foods were creating the mess, so I had to stay in Phase 1 for three weeks. I ended up having to take one food out at a time to see if anything improved, rather than the other-way-round-method meant for later phases.

In the end, my Phase 1 list looked like this:

  • beef
  • tuna
  • sole
  • egg
  • quinoa
  • sweet potato
  • buckwheat
  • lettuce
  • yellow squash
  • beet
  • mushroom
  • carrot
  • peach
  • pear
  • raspberry
  • banana (enzyme problem)
  • cherry
  • avocado (enzyme problem)
  • peanut (enzyme problem)
  • coconut (allergic)
  • black pepper
  • salt
  • cinnamon
  • ginger
  • dill
  • lemon
  • baking soda
  • yogurt (allergic)

That may seem like a long list of foods to eat, but when that’s ALL you can eat for three weeks it gets a bit monotonous. And did you notice the total lack of any caffeinated substances? Yeah. It was ugly.

BUT when things calmed down, they REALLY calmed down. By the end of Phase 1:

  • I’d lost 8 pounds.
  • I was taken off my blood pressure medication.
  • The decibel level of my snoring lowered 50% (as reported by Kurt).
  • I woke up before my alarm, feeling rested.
  • My sinus headaches disappeared.
  • My mental fog cleared.

Low-salt diets, volumetric diets, no-refined-carb diets, not to mention a slew of meds… Nothing worked until this individualized plan that identified my specific sensitivities and took them into account. Individualized medicine rocks!

I won’t share any of my recipes from Phase 1 because no one wants to eat the ludicrous concoctions I made to survive. I did find, though, that a little mashed sweet potato blended with water makes a decent milk substitute in baked goods & griddle cakes. The color of buckwheat flour and the smell of quinoa flour on the other hand…

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