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A little background – Part One

January 12, 2008

It all started back in March of 2006. I was Mcdougalling, which means that I was following a high-carb, low fat vegan diet for weight loss. I was vegan anyway, and had been for about five years. I had successfully lost a ton of weight on this diet back in 2004, I think 30 pounds in 2 months, with never a single hunger pang and without a gym membership. I have always been overweight. Being vegan made me feel much better about myself; brought me to a much healthier place with food – both physically (just the lifestyle change brought me from 200 lbs to 170) and mentally.

Getting back to March 2006…here I am eating tons of black beans and rice and quinoa and baked potatoes with salsa and kale and spinach. Something doesn’t feel right. Burning in the stomach. Indigestion and….belching. Ick. I’ve never been a belcher. And I’m not losing the weight the way I did in 04. True, I wasn’t sticking to the diet as strictly – you’re supposed to be off all bread and tofu and oils, and I was cooking with water but still having a sandwich now and then. At the time I was going through some stress, its true. It was the summer between my first and second year at grad school and I was searching for an internship, without any luck. (All told, I applied to over 25 government agencies and nonprofits, and was finally offered the last two positions that I went after – the process took over two months.) I was also trying to quit smoking. I had smoked since I was 15 and never a more devoted yet guilty smoker did I meet than myself. I’ve always dealt with depression issues – I had a rough childhood and all that, nothing out of the ordinary really. I clearly remember the last week in April stopping cigarettes and being unable to control the constant weeping. At home, in bed, crying into my soon-to-be husband’s shoulder. It didn’t get any better in public – I cried in class, at the office, and on the train.

I guess a few weeks went by and I got out of it. Going to the gym regularly helped with the cravings for cigarettes, although they never totally went away. I still wasn’t losing weight. Then we bought a juicer. At this point I believe we’re into late May or early June. Actually early June, because the Monday discussed below was June 15th. For a week or so I juiced like there was no tomorrow. Mostly organic, parsnips, carrots, spinach, kale, fennel…my stomach got worse and worse. I didn’t juice instead of eating, I juiced along with eating, which I now realize was probably a mistake, but I think with not smoking and trying to stay super active, the thought of juice fasting would never have occurred to me.

I had my internship by now, and it was a Monday. The night before I had juiced fruits, a whole mess of apples, mangoes, apricots, peaches, plums. I had stuck to veggies before and the juice that I produced with those fruits – freaking holy nectar. It was so good I had two big glasses! The next morning I skipped breakfast as I usually did until reaching the office, and the most singular thing occurred. Somewhere between Brooklyn & midtown South in the City, on the L train, my stomach bloated up so large that my pants, which were a size 16, and a little too big for me as it was, ripped.

And so begins the epic tale. The bloating gradually went from four days a week to every day. Pains developed. The rest is literally history, but if you don’t have time to read the timeline, in a nutshell: I’ve had the following procedures – ERCP, endoscopy, gallbladder removal. I’ve been tested for: Celiac (twice,) giardia, H. Pylori, Lyme Disease, occult blood in the stool, pregnancy (about a gazillion times,) and candida. I’ve been given the following diagnoses: IBS, Gastroparesis, and the best of all – “It’s in your head.”

I’ve figured out that certain things bother me in certain ways. I can’t eat most fruits, besides the occasional banana or glass of pomegranate tea or juice. I can’t eat any legumes except lentils. Corn bothers me in most forms; especially in baked goods. Citric acid seems to trigger horrible cramps and bloating. Carrageenan is a big no-no. I can’t drink champagne or most bubbly alcoholic drinks. Although bubbly non-alcoholic drinks either don’t bother me or seem to help bringing up air. I gave up diet sodas anyway on the first of the year, and since they were the only kind that I drank, no more bubblies.

Does any of this really add up? A fructose intolerance seems obvious, however, other things make less sense. Some weeks I nearly completely escaped the pain and bloating living on hard-boiled eggs. Other times a hard-boiled egg in the morning could keep me from leaving the house until 3PM. It’s clear to me that a food is a very large contributor to the problem, however, I think there’s some general damage done that may take some time to clear up regardless of any intolerance that may make itself clear due to this diet. I hope through this blog I can more clearly notate clues for myself, and I welcome any comments or suggestions from those who happen upon my records.

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