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From a recent food intolerance test* I've taken, it looks like I'm intolerant to cow's milk and yeast (and, somewhat randomly, cashews!). I know these tests are not clinically proven but I've heard a lot of positive anecdotal evidence, so I felt it was worth a try - at least it gives me a chance to test it out by making significant dietary changes.
And significant is what they are. Suddenly everything needs to be dairy free, which takes out anything derived from cow's milk - obviously cream, cheese, ice cream, chocolate...but there's a lot of food which contains cow's milk or its derivatives, in various sauces, soups and many 'store cupboard' ingredients. And yeast, of course, does not merely mean taking out bread and marmite. Do you realise how many foods contain yeast or yeast extract? Over half of the foods in our cupboard and fridge are suddenly a no-no on yeast alone. And when it comes to finding things that are dairy and yeast free - well, therein lies the real challenge.
Still, I like to have something I can do. For someone who has suffered from chronic fatigue for over half of her life, and the last few years the delight of 'chronic headaches', the idea of something I can actually tackle comes as something of a relief. I'm not going to assume it's going to solve everything - I know for me at least it's more complex than that - but it might help.
I can do something practical to help myself, based on something specific. Which is something of a novelty.
Of course, this means that I am doing lots of reading around food intolerance. I'm having a phone consultation with a nutritionist next week. Allergy UK have sent me some useful links. Interestingly, I've read in a few places that you often crave the very thing to which you are intolerant (there's a sentence trying too hard not to end with a preposition!).
This led me, as usual, to reflect more widely. How often do we long for the very things that are least helpful or healthy? Do we crave that which we cannot tolerate - be it physically, mentally or spiritually? What addictions or bad habits are we unwilling to forgo?
It rather disputes the philosophy that 'everything is good for you, if it doesn't kill you,' and 'if it feels good, do it'.
What we desire is not always right or even good for us. It's reflected in so many patterns of our lives, yet we are usually unwilling to admit it.
*The York Test. There are cheaper alternatives, but it was the one recommended and used by friends. They also provided services which were not available from other test centres. I've found them prompt, efficient and helpful so far.