I’m Not Depressed, I’m Just… Food Intolerant.

Truth (sadly). Turns out that not only is the mild depression I’ve been prone to since having postnatal depression with my first baby attributable to food, but so are 99% of my other health issues. Even the joint pain that’s caused by Joint Hypermobility Syndrome is, it turns out, exacerbated A LOT by food.

Long story short, around Christmas last year, I stopped being able to breathe properly and was short of breath for over a month. I wasn’t too stressed, I’d had days like that before and it always passed – but after a month I was fed up and figured I should get it checked out by the doctor. (Short, I am keeping this story short…) Cue a bunch of tests, including a positive blood test for celiac disease, a gastroscopy, a colonoscopy, etc etc etc. And every time, the results came back: yeah, you’re all inflamed and your body’s mildly unhappy, but there’s nothing really WRONG.

(Short, short). I’ve suspected for years I had some sort of food intolerance (official allergy tests came up blank; sinus scopes showed the same as the rest of my insides – irritated, inflamed, nothing else to see) and tried to do an official elimination diet in the last quarter of 2015. However, elimination diets are BLOODY HARD, you guys. VERY, VERY HARD. So I didn’t make it.

But this time, with the whole not-breathing thing and the scopes done etc etc, I kind of had reached the breaking point, where SOMEthing needed to change, and this was the only probable thing I COULD change. So I started the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital’s Elimination Diet (which was later affirmed by a dietician as being the Correct Elimination Diet For My Symptoms, so that’s nifty and helpful #oops #dontdietwithoutadvice #doasIdonotasIsay O:)). That was about three months ago now, and… Yeah. Guys? I am pretty much literally intolerant of FOOD. >.<

So this sucks, but I’m getting used to it, and I’ve made it nearly a whole week now without a food-related breakdown, so that’s progress, and my symptoms are manageable, and the most, most, MOST important thing? I CAN SLEEP.

I’ve suffered from apparently-random insomnia and disturbed sleep for YEEEEEARS. (Yes, had sleep tests done and been checked out for sleep apnoea too – conclusion? No apnoea, but yes, definitely something wrong, more investigation required >.<) Turns out the culprit isn’t stress, or lack of exercise, or even temperature (though I do struggle to sleep when it’s really hot). It’s amines.

Amines are a natural food chemical that, if your body is normal and sane, are actually quite healthy for you. They’re formed by the breakdown of proteins in food. But they’re known to be a trigger for migraines, and, in my case, a bunch of other fun symptoms too. So I pretty much can’t each chocolate, or any of the fruits/veggies on this list that have an A next to them, or a bunch of other really tasty things, like cheese. Which… is really sad. Because I like food. And I like cooking. And I’m kind of a low-key foodie. *sad faces*. Oh, and you see all the Ss against those foods on the list? Yeah. Can’t have too many of them, either. Thank goodness I’m okay with the Gs >.< (I also have to cut out gluten (though I’m hopeful that once my insides heal, I’ll be able to tolerate small amounts), and can’t have more than a few serves of dairy a week. URGH.)

*flail*

I’m at the fun end of the project now where I’m trying tiny amounts of random amine-containing foods every couple of days, to see what I can tolerate. For example, tomato sauce (ketchup) on hot chips for one night? Totally okay. A second night in a row? NO SLEEP FOR YOU, SUCKER!!!

Vinegar, which is supposed to be one of the worst amine triggers? Seems totally okay so far. Salt + vinegar chips for 3 days in a row was perfectly fine, mayo doesn’t seem to trigger, and I even tried vinegar salad dressing once and it seemed to be okay. Lemon juice, though? One decent squeeze, maybe a tablespoon, on some (GF)pasta was enough to keep me up for several hours past bedtime with insomnia, and disrupt my sleep for the rest of the night.

Bodies are weird, y’all. WEEEEEIIIIIIRRRRDDDD.

And some things I’ve just decided I can live with. The anxiety that manifests as nyctophobia, which I had as a kid but grew out of and then returned full-force with the postnatal depression and seems to be here to stay? It seems to ease when I eat exactly zero salicylate-containing foods (the Ss in that link – so, like, nearly all fruits and vegetables >.<) – but avoiding salicylates entirely is murderously hard, and makes me cry over my lack of food options at least twice a week. So – and I’m shocked, this is so bizarre – for now, I’m actually choosing to cope with the nyctophobia, because it’s easier (?!?!?!?!?!!!!!!!) than trying to live without salicylates (which I still have to regulate and can’t overdose on, but some is waaaaaay better than none in this instance). And there are other things I can do too which down-regulate the anxiety – making sure I see the chiropractor and exercise properly often enough to keep my joints in place,* getting enough sleep – which, WOW, SO much easier without amines!! So yeah. Just going to cope with that one for now.

If you’re interested in learning more about this, I will obviously do the professional thing and say ‘see a nutritionist who’s experienced with food intolerances’, which is a giant case of ‘do as I say, not as I do’. There is also a lot of good information on the Fed Up website, which is based on the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital diet. And as an FYI-relating-what-I-was-told-and-not-in-any-way-shape-or-form-making-medical-recommendations-because-I-am-NOT-A-MEDICAL-PROFESSIONAL-Y’ALL, I was *told* by the community nutrition nurses that Fodmap is the recommended diet for bowel- and digestive-related problems, while the RPAH one is recommended as the first port of call re: elimination diets for people with ‘other’ symptoms (e.g. sinus problems, mood issues, behavioural issues, joint problems, cognitive issues, sleep disruption, skin problems, etc etc etc).

So. Yeah. Food intolerant. It me. It sucks, tbh, but not as badly as, say, being in a coma** or having a life-threatening disease, or even just a life-endangering disease like celiac, which they first thought I had.

And you guys? Wow. This sleep thing that everyone’s been telling me about for the last three decades? WOW. 10/10 would recommend.

Sleep?!!? IS MAGICAL. WHO KNEW.

 

* Anxiety + bad joints (for whatever reason) are actually pretty closely linked, the theory being that when you’re all out of alignment, your subconscious homeostatic brain is aware of this and spends its life running interference to protect your spine/neck from damage – so you’re essentially getting low-grade warning, warning signals from your brain constantly without a logical, external cause that your conscious mind can attach it to, and this manifests as anxiety – generalised and non-specific dread and fear – the feeling that something is wrong without something specific to attach it to. (Of course, there are plenty of other reasons for anxiety too!!)

** I know someone in a medically-induced coma rn. It’s… wow, yeah. If you have prayers/good vibes to spare, they could use some. <3

DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical person or a doctor or a thing that is in any way, shape or form qualified to give health advice. I’m simply sharing my own experiences. Don’t sue me. La.

Alivity, and GMO Foods

Why yes, yes I am still alive. Maybe. Probably. *checks for rotting limbs that may indicate zombieism* Nope, all clear. I am definitely, absolutely, 100% alive. Later in the week, I might even post pictures of my trip to Laos with school. See be have Plans to be Organised.

 

Randomly, I found this article today, and thought it provided a perspective on GMO foods that is often overlooked. So. Go read it, and discover why GM oranges may be a Thing Near You in the future.

Sugar-free Chocolate!

Also, in other (much more exciting) news, I am now making sugar-free chocolate by the block, and you can have some, if you’d like. Check it out at http://cobbettandpaws.wordpress.com 🙂

In fact, because I am excited about my chocolate, how about I offer you a block? Comment below with your name and some way to get in contact with you (email, facebook, twitter, phone if you live in Australia, whatever), and on Friday I’ll draw the names out of a hat. Metaphorically speaking. Winner can choose a block – at the moment I have 60% dark (all blocks are based on this, so they’re all dark), almond, coconut rough (dark with a touch of milk), and mint (not pictured). Go to, and if you spread the word somehow and let me know you can have an extra entry 😉

Five Pack of Cobbett&Paws Chocolate

The Making Of…

We’re nearly out of baby wipes. I went to the supermarket about a week ago, intending to buy some (along with groceries for the week), and came out with none. Every single brand except one was choc full of parabens (emerging research – example – shows that high concentrations of parabens are found in breast cancers, and that they encourage tumour growth; the exact link is as yet unknown, and of course, for every study linking the two, there is a study claiming no link – and bearing in mind the fact that a lot of scientific reserach is funded by companies who have a significantly vested interest in parabens NOT being linked to breast cancers… Well, let’s just say I’d much rather be safe than sorry.), and the one that had no parabens was – yay – the organic brand, but – boo – more expensive than I was willing to pay.

Given I’d read like a year or more ago, when still pregnant, that making your own was dead easy, I figured it was time to give it a try. It’s taken a week and of course I decided to do it on the day when I’m sick and feel like my face is going to explode. Maybe trying to distract myself from how ick I feel? But anyway. I’m quite pleased with the result.

I decided to go with the spray-on method. I’d bought a box of wipes (rather than a packet) relatively recently, half-thinking that I’d use the box to make my own wipes when it was empty, but reading around and thinking about it, there doesn’t seem to be a way to avoid making new batches of wipes pretty frequently with this method – too much liquid in the box, it’ll spill everywhere, and the bottoms ones will be soaked and useless, not enough liquid and the paper towel that is the base of the wipes will dry out, and as a friend pointed out, there is always the potential for mould o.O

So. Another blog I found talked about using cloth wipes, and to do that, you just dampen the cloth before using. Tried that at one point, and it was massively inconvenient, because I’d sit down to nappy-change and realise I haven’t wet the cloth, and kid was now half naked, and it was all just too late.

Enter the spray bottle. Which, once I thought of it, I saw in a bazillion places around the web, so you know. A friend linked me to this page, with some ‘recipes’ on it, and being the person I am I mixed and matched. This is what I ended up doing:

 

  • Boil some water, and make a large mug of chamomile tea. The brand I have also includes citrus peel, rosehip, and liquorice root. Double checked, and all are not only safe but good for the skin, so win there.
  • Add the mucousy pulpy insides of an aloe vera leaf. I think it was probably a little less than a tablespoon of the gunk in the end.
  • 4 drops of lavendar essential oil (remember to go easy on the essential oils as they can irritate the skin otherwise).
  • 2 ish tablespoons of grape seed oil (or any good-for-the-skin oil).
  • Put it all into a spray bottle, top it up with cold water if there’s room, wait for it to cool, and use! Spray it onto cloth wipes or paper towels or whatever else you’d like to use, and change those nappies! :o)

 

Also under the category of ‘making of’, I’m in the middle of making a batch of the world’s most heavenly body butter today – it’s in the fridge cooling. It smells like chocolate, you can spread it on toast, it hydrates without stripping your natural oils, and it really is just amazing. Recipe is from my friend Steph here, but instead of coconut and macadamia oils I used grape seed and apricot kernel (and lessened the amount slightly to compensate for the fact that neither are solid like coconut oil). Can’t wait to see how it turns out!

 

Oils, Oils, Magical Oils

The last couple of weeks have been a haze and a blur of pain, aches, and snuffed-up noses. I mananged to contract a pretty decent cold on top of recovering from surgery, WELL DONE ME. To make things even more fun, the Boyo had it last week when he was home baby-wrangling while I was still only semi-conscious, and then Small Person got it on the weekend, and now I have it too, and SP still has it and Boyo has just departed for the long weekend >.<

Suffice to say, I love all the parentals, who have been/are dropping in and out to keep me sane and help with the dinner/bath/bed routine.

ANYWAY, despite all this I’ve been feeling like I’m neglecting the blog, and I figured that I could at least manage a simple copy and paste tonight (though apparently I have also managed a Whinge, Class 1): the research I’ve done into the various usefulnesses of various oils. Variously. And yes, that first one is true – some vegetable/fruit oils actually have an SPF value, though it’s not allowed to be avertised as such without lab testing blah blah blah – but raspberry seed oil, well, estimates have it at at least 30+. Woot. I gots to get me some of that.

Raspberry Seed for sunscreen
Rosehip Seed Oil for face
Grape Seed for body generally (this is what we are bathing the SP in – even better because I don’t have to worry when he drinks half the bath liquid)
Tamanu for eyes, dry/damaged skin, hair shiner
Coconut RDB for (liquid) soap
Sweet Almond for massage base
Blueberry Seed for face serums + everything; berry seed oils are pretty much just magical
Coconut oil for moisture by itself or in stuff (fractionate version as an essential oil carrier for massage etc)
Cranberry Seed as an emollient, for skin, hair, lip, baby – often used for itchy/scaly/irritated skin conditions (again with the magical berries)
Cucumber oil for skin-tightening
Coffee for anything damaged (coffee OIL, people; just to clarify)
Camellia for dry/sundamaged skin/hair (also hand, nail, face)
Borage is anti-aging
Pomegranate for menopause & post-menopause everything
Pine nuts are an appetite suppressant, both the oil and the nuts themselves
Peach/apricot kernel penetrates quickly, so is good to combine with other oils
Macadamia nut oil absorbed very easily also
Castor oil for soaps and cleansing – mix it with another oil for face cleanser (more castor for oily skin, less castor for dry)
Meadowfoam Seed oil for shampoo (especially for dry scalp), soaps and lip balm

So there you have it: the wondrous properties of a bunch of vegetable, fruit and seed oils. For an AWESOME and DEAD EASY example of something you can make with oils (other than my body scrub), Steph over at My Kitchen Crowd just posted a recipe for the most amazing body butter in the world. (Bonus: it smells like chocolate, AND it’s edible. Body butter you can also use to butter your toast, that tastes and smells like chocolate. I told you: MOST. AMAZING. BODY BUTTER. EVER.)

What. The Hell.

So, here’s some terrifying information for you. Randomly, I was doing a click-read-click spree again tonight and stumbled across a Nov-2001 article where Johnson&Johnson were promising to remove a known carcinogen from their baby products. UM, I THINK THAT WOULD BE A REALLY GOOD IDEA, JOHNSON&JOHNSON. THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

It prompted me to go grab Small Person’s shampoo and examine the ingredients. The carginogenic compound is not listed, but of course, I had no clue what most of the listed ingredients were. Usually, the solution is to ignore these ingredients – but tonight I was struck by curiosity.

Here are the terrifying results. Some ingredients fell under more than one category, so despite what the numbers add up to, this is out of 15 ingredients.

8 safe (sigh of relief)

BUT:
1 known skin irritant
1 known immune system irritant
5 known skin toxicants
1 not safe for use on damaged or irritated skin
1 toxic or harmful for organs; not for products used on the mouth (lipstick etc) – dude, this is BABY WASH/SHAMPOO. OF COURSE IT’S GOING IN THE MOUTH.
1 potential neuro-toxicant

What. The hell.

Seriously. From now on, we are all bathing in olive oil with sugar. (Actually, I totally bought some grape seed oil from Costco on the weekend for the Small Person – it’s supposed to be one of the best oils for the skin ;)).

If you’re interested in checking out any of the complicated products on your ingredient lists, google, or use this awesome site here.

My Favourite Face Scrub Ever

Totally random, but I have to share, because I’ve just made up a new batch and it really is awesome. I always intend to use this stuff 2-3 times a week, and in reality end up using it about once a fortnight, if that – but whenever I do, my skin practically glows the next day (I’m a night showerer), so you know.

Also, bonus: it’s DEAD SIMPLE.

Wanna know what’s in my super favouritest face cleanser/scrub ever? Sure, I’ll tell you.

Sugar.

Olive oil.

That’s it. Though sometimes I throw in a spoonful of dried lavendar from the garden, because it smells pretty. And yes, I know, cleaning my face with oil sounds counterintuitive – but it works, and apparently I’m not the only one who does it.

So there you go. Favouritest scrub ever, and all you do it mix the two ingredients together until they form a goopy paste. Good for all skin, not just your face.

<3