For a lot of neurodiverse people, food sensitivities are a major pain. Sometimes a pain in the ass, the stomach, or even the mind. Unfortunately, food sensitivities can seem like a lot of other things. Like anxiety. Like IBS. And maybe, it’s both?
I’m going through this right now, the food sensitivity issue. And even though I know that certain foods cause me problems, I still end up eating them from time to time. Whether it’s from impulsivity or boredom or just good old fashioned habit. I keep torturing myself.
Let me explain some of my food sensitivities, and maybe they can help you do better than I am doing today.
First off is gluten. I’m not a celiac, I wouldn’t even say that I am “gluten intolerant.” All I can tell you is that when I have too much gluten, I get horrible skin rashes and become extremely anxious and irritable. Now you might say, “Duh, that means you’re intolerant.” But here’s the strange twist. When I am not on my medication, I can eat as much gluten as I want with minimal skin reaction. BUT my anxiety still goes through the roof. So, even if I wasn’t on the medications that I am on, I would still probably need to be gluten free.
I do alright with this restriction. The only problem is when I come across something small and delightful. Like a cookie. Which is one of the things that tripped me up this morning. My son’s golden oreo bite-size cookies. I snatched one up and ate it without even thinking.
Now my ankles are bleeding from the scratching that it induced and my mind is all aflutter. Oh, and my lips are swelling up a bit. That’s a dermatographia thing as well. But all of this is from… One. Stupid. Cookie…
It wasn’t my only mistake though. I also ate some potato chips. Now here, you might say, “But Holly, potato chips are gluten free. They shouldn’t bother you.” Unfortunately, they were fried in vegetable oil, which means immediate GI issues and more itching. (And it seems like EVERYTHING is fried in vegetable oil these days, or it’s a main ingredient.) Honestly, I could chock this one up to no longer having a gallbladder. So the only fat I process really well is lard. Not even just animal fat, because dairy and tallow give me just as much trouble. I use a digestive aid when I want to eat dairy. (Those little dairy pills you can get at any drugstore or supermarket.)
I believe this is situation specific to me, by the way. So I am not suggesting that you cut out gluten, cook everything in lard and your GI issues will go away. Interestingly my father really only digests tallow very well, so he cooks everything in tallow. I cook everything in lard. Together, we sound like an old western cooking show. But that’s how we roll.
(If you are unfamiliar with the terms I am using, lard is pork fat and tallow is beef fat. So both are animal fats. If you are a vegetarian, I find that avocado fat can be pretty mild. Same with coconut. It really is a person by person kind of thing.)
I know my father also has issues with nightshades. Which are basically plants that are mildly poisonous even though we eat them with regularity, like potatoes, tomatoes or peppers. Cutting those out helped him enormously. Those also happen to be some of the most fun foods. So he basically consumes only meat and water. Like a big cat.
Oh, and I also drank some caffiene. Caffiene is one of the hardest ones to quit. Before I started taking a stimulant medication, it was necessary to get through the day. Even though it would give me an unbalanced form of stimulus that consistently caused me to crash and my emotional dysregulation to flare up. Now that I am on a stimulant medication, I don’t need it, but I often drink it out of habit. I have quit many times. But then I popped the top on one of my husband’s diet pepsis this morning… for no reason.
I’m pretty sure I need to quit artificial sweeteners as well but that’s one I am just not ready for. Then I’d have to drink plain tonic water or seltzer to get my bubbles, and that stuff’s nasty. Maybe I’ll get fancy and switch to sparkling wine? I don’t know. Prosecco’s a breakfast wine, right?
What I do know is that I seem to do best with bacon, broccoli and lean beaf. Gluten free bread and I do alright together, though it mostly hurts my wallet. That’s pretty much it. Maybe a pork tenderloin from time to time? Oh, and fruits. I do pretty well with fruits, even though I don’t need the sugar.
Honestly, I’m still figuring this all out. The best thing I can do is to try and remember the physical and mental pain I am in right now and try not to repeat the habits that got me here. This is probably the only aversion therapy that I am ok with, the natural consequence kind.
So, to sum it up. Gluten, vegetable/seed oils, and caffiene are a problem for me. If you find that you are having similar issues, they might be a problem for you too?
My condolences, friend. See you in the gluten-free aisle.
The image above is the infamous “bread picture” of me when I was a kid. You can also see that my love of texture started early when you look at the purse I held in my hand. I can still feel that cool metal fabric, it’s still one of my favorite textures. The rest of the dress up was all my mother. And yes, I refused to take the picture without my bread.