Five years ago, I began a life-long battle with food. It hit me, suddenly and out of nowhere, forcing me to change my diet. Prior to this, I was oblivious to what I ate. I thought food was all about carbohydrates, fat, protein, and calories. I was wrong. I was unknowingly putting poisons into my body.
I never thought of food attacking my body. Until it happened to me.
In the summer of 2011, I was working 60 to 70 hours a week as an industrial electrician in one of the largest chemical manufacturing plants in the world. This was, to date, the hottest summer on record. After work, I would hit the weights. For 4 days a week, I would go to the gym. I was at my prime with a 340 lb. bench, 425 dead-lift, and a 355 squat. At 6’4″, I hit a lean weight of 218. I ate whatever I could find, usually taking in around 3000 calories a day. I took supplements, 3 protein shakes a day, and a pre-workout drink to get me hyped. I dipped a can of tobacco a day, and drank on the weekends.
From the outside looking in, one could point a finger at my lifestyle being the cause of my allergic reaction. Maybe it was. Maybe it was where I worked. Could have been the stress. Either way, I thought it would never happen. I didn’t even know it could happen!
My feet became the initial indicator, breaking out and itching like crazy. I thought it was athlete’s foot. Within a month, it suddenly spread to my arms, hands, and legs. At first, I thought that I had hit a patch of poison ivy while weed-eating. After a week of suffering, I went to see a doctor. This was a big step for me, mainly because I never go to the doctor. I never take medication or anything pharmaceutical. He gave me a shot of antibiotics – typical band-aid protocol. It stopped my body from producing histamine, thus reducing my rashes and itching. It worked for a week.
Soon after, I noticed that I would get choked up eating food. I have always been a fast eater, but never had any issues like this before. This was my throat constricting, my body’s reaction to the food. Not long after, I noticed that I would get light-headed after eating certain foods. This was my blood pressure dropping, another reaction to the food. I did some research, finally pinning it down to a food allergy. On my new found revelation, I went to see a local east TN allergy specialist. He did the usual on me, testing for leather, cotton, iron, etc. to find me normal. He then did a test for wheat. Again nothing. He said to observe how I feel after I eat certain foods. I quit tobacco, hoping that it was the cause of my problems. It wasn’t, but it was a good decision regardless.
I love peanut butter. After eating a tablespoon of it, I would notice myself become light-headed, then soon itch. I told him to test me for peanuts. Again, nothing. I was confused, and a little pissed off that he told me to go home and try again. I got online and researched allergies. I found that there is no evidence to what causes allergies to suddenly appear in adults. Most of the time they are found in childhood. When it happens in adults, the only answer is this; it is all the chemicals that we are surrounded by in our lives.
In my Googling, I found that peanut allergies are often mistaken for soy allergies. I looked on the back of my Jif, finding vegetable oil as one of the ingredients. Anytime something is labeled “vegetable oil” that means soy, unless stated otherwise.
Let me tell you now, soy is in everything. Example – Mountain Dew (I love it, or did love it) contains brominated vegetable oil. That is soy, and I had to quit drinking them.
I returned to the allergy specialist and told him to test me for soy (something he should have done in the first place). It came back positive, but slightly. It was an intolerance, not an allergy. Relieved to find this out, I began to cut as much soy from my diet. I bought Jif Natural for peanut butter, and looked on the ingredients label for almost everything. After eating a bag a Fritos one day, I noticed the light-headed drop of blood pressure again. Looking on the back, I found nothing but corn ingredients. Here we go again, I thought.
Abstaining from as much corn and soy that I could, I decided to try organic foods, hoping for some relief. I soon found that organic corn and soy did not affect me. Confused, I hit the Google again. This is where I learned about GMO’s. I also knew people that grew round-up-ready corn, using to feed their livestock. It is what it sounds like. The weed and grass killer, Round-Up, genetically modified and engineered into the corn’s DNA. It prevents weeds, making the corn easier to harvest.
Here’s what I found in 2011: By 2012, 88 percent of corn (maize) and 94 percent of soy grown in the United States were genetically modified, according to the US Department of Agriculture.
I was shocked. I quit drinking, or eating, anything that contained high fructose corn syrup. There went soda and candy. More research led me to find that almost every single health related problem can be found in the gut. From diabetes to cancer, allergies to diseases, most of it starts in the stomach.
I began to eat organic. Not only does it taste better, it feels better. It can be a little more expensive, but not by much. More and more companies are becoming “natural” and organic. I told my wife in 2012, if it happened to me, it’s going to happen to a lot more people before long. I think it has, or at least people are becoming more aware of the dangers of food. It’s not just a band-wagon thing that organic food products are booming in the grocery stores. Consumers are forcing companies to change their products. This includes the hormones and antibiotics in meat and dairy products.
Organic is defined by having no chemicals, synthetics, or processed materials. No pesticides. No chemical fertilizer. No GMO’s. Natural is good, but not as good as Organic.
I still fight food today, but am much more well equipped. In the last year, I have practically reduced it to nothing more than a minor symptom. I believe that I am on track to eliminate it from my body entirely.
Next week, I will post about my tips and tricks that I have learned over the last 5 years. It has been hell. But I see the whole experience as a blessing, maybe one of the best ever. Not only do I benefit from eating healthy, but so does my wife and my children. This will be the beginning of a healthy, life-long relationship with food for them. They will be educated on the dangers of food, instead of being blind to it all, like I was.
No, I’m not a vegan. I love meat. I just try to eat the best that I can now. Sure, I still eat fast food from time to time. I also eat a candy bar every now and then. But I am more aware of the affects of this. I write this post because I wouldn’t want anyone to go through what I went through. But like I said, I see it as one of the biggest blessings. I guess that’s the stoic in me.
There is a lot more to GMO’s that I haven’t mentioned here. Do yourself a favor and do some research. If you know anything about GMO’s that I haven’t covered here, please leave a comment. If you know of anyone who has food allergies or a food intolerance, please share this with them.