About 6 years ago a food intolerance had doctors testing me for cancer. I am telling the story now because I am reliving it now. It’s making me remember the whole hell that I went through for months. This is my own story and not intended to diagnose anyone or anything like that. Just sharing an experience of my own.
Just a little history on me, I have always been a notorious yo-yo and fad dieter. I would read health food book after health food book and instantly become obsessed with whatever it was that I read. In my efforts to be healthy, I took it too far and had my plans backfire.
I got sick gradually. It started off with stomach pains and fatigue. Over days it progressed into abdominal cramping so bad I could not stand up straight. It felt like my entire digestive tract was inflamed. Starting with my esophagus, I felt like I could feel the entire journey of a piece or food or the swallow of a drink.
Not only was there pain, but there was an eerie awareness of all of my bodily functions. This trippy and strange feeling is not great for a person who already has extreme anxiety. I wanted to escape my own body. Plus, the pain was just insane.
After a while I finally went to the doctor. I’ve never been a person that runs to the doctor for a stomachache, but this was getting out of control. She ran a series of tests…
My Food Intolerance Had Me Being Tested for Cancer
My blood work came back with extremely elevated eosinophils. Eosinophils are a type of white blood cell that usually only rise during specific occasions: Parasites, allergies, certain auto-immune diseases, or cancer.
The parasite test (oh how fun that is) came back clean. My doctor then referred me to a hematologist (blood specialist). During this time, I started to think back and use a common sense approach, as well. What had I changed? What foods had I recently introduced to my system?
Well, if you refer to the second paragraph, I had read a book about the “raw food diet” and had been giving it a try. Part of that included incorporating almonds and almond milk into my diet. Never had I had an allergy to almonds, but I also had never had them in such mass quantities.
Right before my scheduled bone marrow test to check for cancer(!!!), I convinced my doctor to let me see if the problem could be from the almonds. I explained to her what I had been doing and she agreed that bombarding my system with the almonds could be causing an allergic reaction that would raise the eosinophils. The other problem was that it was a “which came first?” scenario. Meaning that I could have had eosinophilia, which can cause a person to develop new allergies — or, the allergies could have been causing the eosinophilia. What a mess.
Long story short, I got off the almond milk. I had been in so much pain, I had already stopped eating almonds (and most solid foods), but I was still drinking smoothies with almond milk. After a couple of weeks she ran my blood work again and the white cell count was down. I was feeling better and getting back to normal. I have had blood work done throughout the years to make sure, and it’s never been elevated since.
This was a super tricky situation because it’s not like I would eat an almond and break out into hives. There was no immediate allergic response. Just a food intolerance so subtle at first and grew into a monster.
So, hoping that I outgrew this, I decided to give almond milk another try recently. (Never said I was a genius.) I want to be able to drink it so badly. Dairy bothers me, I cannot drink soy, rice milk is not great, and coconut milk is not my favorite. Now, I am sitting here about a week after having almond milk maybe three times and the pain is beginning. It’s all coming back to me now and it’s horrible. At first I thought I must be getting the flu. It still didn’t kick in right away that it was the almond milk (duh!). I just have to accept the fact that I cannot have it.
Moral of the story here is listen to your body. I could have saved myself thousands of dollars in medical bills had I just kept a food journal or realized that all these extreme diet changes were not a smart move. Obviously, always go to the doctor, too, but sometimes common sense can really be the ticket!
Have you ever had an extreme reaction from a food intolerance?