So, I don’t know about the official statistics on this but I get the impression that most people think a lot about their diet and exercise regimes these days. In fact, it feels relatively impossible to avoid hearing about how you’re diet is causing you to: get fat, get high cholesterol, be angrier, be sadder, age prematurely or even get cancer (yes, it’s the Daily Mail but it has an average readership of over a million readers a day – that’s a lot of influence!) I’ve always had a heightened sensitivity to ‘diet and fitness tips’ and given that I’ve spent almost half my life struggling with anorexia; that probably comes as no surprise. However, I notice that even if you have a healthy attitude to food and exercise – it’s pretty darn hard to know what’s good for you and what’s not!
There are messages literally everywhere about “healthy foods” and foods that are anything but – and guess what? These messages contradict. All. The. Time. The end result is that most of us are pretty confused about what we should eat. Advertisers have gotten in on the action too. It seems like anyone can slap “Good for You” on a label these days and it’ll fly with the advertising standards agencies. Most recently, I saw a chocolate bar wrapper that proudly proclaimed “made with 20% REAL milk.” I should hope there’s some milk in the milk chocolate I’m buying! That’s not something to boast – that’s the bare minimum! Another unhelpful bit of marketing I’ve come across recently is the marketing via influencers and celebrities on social media. I won’t name any names but I will say a certain brand that rhymes with Shit Pee and a certain celebrity name that rhymes with Dim Trashbagian have recently come under fire for promoting a tea that makes you lose weight.
OK, I know what you’re thinking. Nutrition is basic knowledge and if people educate themselves on the basics, they deserve to fall victim to this kind of advertising. You might also say that official guidelines about what we should eat and how much of it we should be eating are also around (e.g. here) to help people avoid falling for these fads. However, that’s a very simplified view of the issue. In our information-rich era, it’s actually becoming impossible to realise what diet claims are backed up by science and what diet claims aren’t. As well as that, it’s not as simple as just “eating the basics that you know are good for you.” Irritable Bowel Syndrome and intolerance to specific food is on the rise meaning a lot of us are needing to go out in search of nutrition advice and guidance to get some semblance of a healthy gut. Specifically, we’re all different and we’re all going to react differently to foods so it’s important to know what works for you, not just for the general population.
Personally, I’ve been fortunate in that I don’t have any food allergies and I’ve always been able to eat a wide and rich variety of food (as the the photos interspersed in this post attest). However, a few years ago, I went through a really stressful patch in my life. I suffered a bereavement, I was at the end of an intense degree and I also relocated my life all by my lonesome. During this time, I started to get a lot of horrible symptoms. I was frequently nauseous and throwing up. I had days where no matter what I ate, I felt ill. After several months of experiencing these symptoms on and off, I decided to embark on an elimination diet. This is where you remove everything from your diet and then reintroduce food groups one at a time and keep a diary of what impact they have on your physical health. After 4-6 painstaking months, I was still no closer to figuring out what the culprit was. I made my first trip to my GP in 4 years and we agreed that as I do run a lot, it might be wise for me to ensure I’m drinking enough water as a lot of my symptoms were similar to dehydration. Again, this didn’t make much difference. However, life goes on and I somehow adjusted to the fact that every few weeks, these symptoms would re-emerge, seemingly without cause. To my delight (note: sarcasm), these symptoms have morphed into bloating and belching. There have been times where I’ve been burping for hours and my throat, chest and stomach have ached. Again, I’ve done all the Googling and all the home remedies under the sun and whilst alka seltzer is temporary relief, I know there’s potentially a bigger problem here I need to address.
This time, I decided to skip the pseudoscience and go straight to the source – by asking my body: “hey, what in darnation is going on with you?!” No, my internal organs haven’t evolved the ability to speak back to me. Instead, I’ve got the next best thing – a home-testing kit for food intolerance. Test Your Intolerance is actually a really affordable way to do this – and good news, there’s a way to do this without needing a blood sample. They have a number of options to choose from and when your kit arrives in the post, all you need to do is add a few personal details and a few strands of hair. The team at TYI were really kind in offering to gift me an advanced kit in exchange for an honest review.
Although I haven’t sent my kit off yet and received any results, I will say that their prices are pretty decent for the service they offer. If I hadn’t been lucky enough to get this opportunity, my next stop was ask for an intolerance test from my GP which would have taken several weeks to organise due to waiting lists. My stomach has bothered me so much recently that spending about £40 on a kit like this would have been worth it for the peace of mind. You can also purchase a kit from there website here (please note, this isn’t an affiliate link).
So, here’s hoping I can kiss goodbye to my stash of Rennie’s and Alka Seltzer medications and adopt a diet that works for me, armed with the scientific knowledge I get from the TYI lab. I will post a follow-up of my results soon.
Have any of you guys experienced symptoms like mine – bloating, burping for hours and no amount of changing diet, sleep schedules or exercise routines has been helping? Have you found anything that works for you?