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Sea ChangeJuly 11, 2012

I changed my diet recently, in an effort to figure out the allergies I was suffering (see the swollen face, below). I'm doing an anti-inflammation diet, which basically means I'm currently dairy, gluten, soy, corn, caffeine, and added-sugar-free. 

When I thought about doing it, my brain, in a panic, screamed, "What's left?" I usually eat toast or a muffin for breakfast, a sandwich at lunch, and often ice cream follows dinner. HEALTHY! Cheese was my go-to snack, and in a pinch, I could make a meal of two glasses of milk. 

But I was kind of getting desperate to figure out what the problem was, so I gave it a shot, and I gotta say: I like it. I like feeling more energetic. I like sleeping better. I like that my hayfever/allergies have basically gone away for the first time in years. I like that I've dropped fifteen pounds without trying to lose weight. (The answer to the "What's left" question is: organic meat, eggs, fruits, vegetables (minus the nightshades), and some grains/legumes. Thanks to Janine, I read It Starts With Food by the Hartwigs. Yes, they say no grains or legumes. I say just TRY to take lentils and oatmeal away from me.)

I do not like: thinking about what to eat all the time. I do not like cooking all the time. I mean, I like cooking, and I like it when I hit the ball out of the park and make something amazing. But I'm not one of those people who looks forward to chopping vegetables, and there are a LOT more vegetables in my life right now. You know how you find those wilting greens at the back of the fridge? We're not finding those in our fridge anymore. We're eating all of them. We started getting a CSA box, and come hell or high water, we've got to figure out what to do with zucchinis even though I hate them (hint: feed them to Lala). 


No, come on. THIS is what 40 looks like: 

At my birthday party. SO fun. 

And, it turns out, they've figured out what was wrong with me. I have estrogen induced angioedema, which is rare, rare, rare indeed, so rare my allergist is actually excited to present his findings in a paper. I'm intolerant to any estrogen that's not my own, which means I had to go off the HRT immediately (since the swelling isn't treated by regular ER-given antihistamines and steroids), and now I can't supplement with anything like soy or black cohosh since the reaction in the body is the same. Gah. I haven't had a hot flash yet, but I'm nervous. 

Hey, it's not all bad. For a minute there I thought I was allergic to avocados, and I would MUCH rather be in sudden surgical menopause than have to give up those green goodies for the rest of my life.

I have my priorities, people. 

Bonus Recipe! 

Eggs and Greens

There's something wonderful about the soft-boiled egg, how the yolk runs into the greens, making everything rich and delicious. I've been eating this almost every day and I'm not even starting to get tired of it yet. 

Set a small pot of water to boil. While that heats, chops greens (kale, colllards, chard, or a yummy mix of all) and two cloves of garlic. Dice mushrooms if you have them, because that's just fun. When the water boils, use a slotted spoon to slide two eggs in their shells into the water. Set timer for seven minutes. Heat a glug of olive oil in a heavy pan, add garlic, cook till it's fragrant, then add the greens (and mushrooms or whatever else you like) and add some salt, pepper, and an optional dash of cayenne. Cover, cooking over medium heat until the greens are wilted to your liking, stirring occasionally. (This usually takes the full seven minutes of egg time for me.) When the timer goes off, pour cold water over your eggs and then peel, careful not to let the shell pierce the egg or yolk. Plate the greens, add the eggs on top, another sprinkle of salt, and YUM. Eat on the porch, if possible. 


I also hate the zuchini, but a good friend tends to sneak them from her garden into my car when I'm not looking. (Note to self: start locking car) The good news is there are a ton of recipes online for ways to cook zukes so they no longer appear to be a zuke. Good luck!

And, by the way, you look absolutely mahvelous! (And my hubby has accordion-envy.)

Oops, meant zucchini.

Poached eggs over fresh spinach with a homemade vinaigrette (olive oil, lemon juice, dijon mustard, salt and pepper)is wonderful too.

Just a word from someone who's had the dreaded hot flashes for nearly 10 years now. They're not that bad (annoying, and I know I have a high tolerance for annoyance, but still...). Deep slow breathing helps. Mine don't last more than a couple of minutes. If you can, grab something out of the fridge and apply to your cleavage or the back of your neck (hey! a new use for zucchini!). Helps *immensely*.

If I recall correctly, you can use zucchini to make "noodles", so if you're jonesing for a pasta evening, that's always an option. I've done it by using my peeler to make long, flat strips, then sauteed them with oil (butter, olive or coconut), pepper, and garlic until tender. Since you're going the less-processed route, find a good home-made sauce recipe, sprinkle with fresh parmesan, and bon apetit! :D

I think you can also get specialty peelers (*snicker* noooo....that's not an innuendo... ;) ) that will make more of a spaghetti shape.

Or, if you REALLY want to, you can make zucchini bread. But ONLY as a rare treat (I recommend inviting people over and giving them a loaf to take home as a gift. That way, you maybe get a taste at dinner, and the temptation goes away quickly. When in doubt, default to noodles!)

Yes, yes, yes to all of that. And I have a hint: eggs can be poached in the microwave for instant gratification.

Have "green monster" smoothies entered your life yet?

Hey, Zucchini, I used to shred it and add it to my spaghetti sauce when my son wouldn't eat his vegetables. Worked until he found some green, then I started to peel them and saute the skins first.

Yeah on all counts!!

I have been eating just about the same breakfast all summer myself -- but I throw an over easy fresh egg on top of mine. Same runny goodness. It is my "eat the whole CSA share" summer diet ;)

I lost weight without trying too. Though I don't know how, I did just snarf down three pecan sandies down for breakfast. I find people who have diets and stick to them, like you do, to be so nobel, the kind of person you would want to be stuck on a deserted island with because they wouldn't eat more than thier food ration.

But I like that you're refusing to give up lentils or oatmeal. It makes you feel like you're getting away with something.

I have the same feelings for Zucchini. It's the little plant of the devil because it's not really widely liked, but the yield per plant is SOOO high. There are sometimes where I'm this close to paying people to take it.

I didn't know you'd received an official diagnosis! It's really not so bad to not be able to have estrogen -- it's exactly what I have to do, and food is AMAZING these days. And also, my doc is very surprised I'm getting only the mildest of hot flashes--so mild I didn't even know I was getting them at first!--which I'm convinced is because of my super healthy diet. So you might have the same reaction :)

This diet sounds a lot like the Paleo diet - no grains or legumes, basically no dairy, lots of meat, veggies, and some fruit. Basic foods. It's supposed to be very good for your stomach - you don't eat anything that ferments, such as beans or wheat, which could upset it. Which is why I'm going to try it, sick sickly stomach over here.

But - why no nightshades? I don't know if I could give up my garden tomatoes!

Vitamin E helped me a lot with hot flashes.
Glad to know you're not allergic to avocados; that would have been too sad.

I am going to try that recipe as soon as I can get my hands on some greens. YUM.

I don't like the way that zucchini gets sludgy when you cook it. I prefer to eat it raw, just sliced into rounds or spears. Ideally with ranch, but a good vinaigrette is nice, too. Splash of olive oil + splash of balsamic vinegar + dab of mustard + crushed clove of garlic. I think that's compliant with your diet?

What a wonderful pic -- 40 looks beautiful on you, and I love your hair. Good thoughts for you on your healing.

The Zucchini Noodles recipe in Well Fed is so damned delicious I can eat an entire recipe of it myself! I've got a cool little circular julienne-er that makes marvelous noodles.... Glad the diet stuff is helping out.

You look beautiful at 40, just like you were gorgeous and 30 and will still be gorgeous at 50. So there. Happy birthday!

Glad they know what's wrong with you and if the Dr. presents said paper in say, Hawaii, I'd insist you get a free ride courtesy of your malady. Let it work for you.

Your diet change sounds very healthy, hope you can still sneak in some booze though.

Be well!

Glad you figured it out and if you need any help getting rid of the zucchini let me know ;)

Zucchini cut in rounds, garlic powder and throw them in the food dehydrator to make chips. Betcha can't eat just one.

We eat our soft-cooked eggs over brown rice with sliced avocado and a sprinkle of sea salt. It's amazing.

I've been a vegie lover for years. I taught my son well we fight over who gets the last of the brussel sprouts.

Welcome to my veggie loving world. smoothies, veggie stir fries, salads, more salads,
fruit whenever and wherever I want. An option to try that I love to

replace ice cream;
2 or 3 frozen banana's
almond or coconut or other non dairy milk
cocoa or vanilla, your call
maple syrup, honey, or agave depending on preference

blend in regular or high speed blender, vary the amount of "milk" depending on the power of your blender and whether you want a shake or soft serve ice cream. I also have tried orange extract in the chocolate, fruit on top, cacao nibs for chips.

I have done this food lifestyle for years now and have no more migraines, sinusitis, colds, chronic colitis, severe depression, etc.
Best of luck, there are many cooking idea's out there. I wish you the best!

I love what you said about cooking! I have a dear friend who says "Oh, it was a great Saturday! I spent the WHOLE DAY in the kitchen!" ... and I simultaneously think "Well, THAT's stupid" and "Lucky for me, I spent the WHOLE DAY on the sofa knitting." I mean, I get it, but ... it's not for me!

I did a CSA last summer and not again. It taught me how to cook and eat veggies I wouldn't normally have tried (cabbage!) but I felt like I devoted my entire summer to it. This summer, using those lessons, I"m hitting the farmers' market every Saturday.

And if you love 50 as much as I do, you're gonna be fine!


zuchinni does REALLY WELL as compost!!!!

YOWCH. I would not do so well on such a diet, but it does sound amazingly healthy, and I'm glad you finally got a diagnosis (most especially, with associated answers)!

Zucchini can be made into anything...but I like the compost idea ;)

Everyone's menopause goes differently (of course), but don't be too scared of the hot flashes. Like mosprott above I haven't had too much trouble dealing with mine. Not that I LIKE them... but it's just a temporary temperature thing. A splash of cold water on the wrists and face, a frozen zuchini in the cleavage... it will pass.

Glad the diet is working. It would really suck to cut out all those staples and then find out it didn't do anything.

awesome that the diet is making you feel better!! Definitely check out Meghan Telpner's blog for lots of healthy recipes that will fit into your boundaries:


UGHHHH I have had a sudden onset, weird, as of yet un-diagnosed allergic reaction... Have been on Zyrtec and Pepcid for 10 days and a course of prednisone are keeping the symptoms at bay but not cured. I to am going to cut out all wheat/gluten, dairy and sugar hoping it makes a difference. Love all the food suggestions THANK YOU!

I just love it when doctors are clearly really excited over a rare diagnosis... I recently had a doctor practically skip into the office, he was so thrilled at my illness.

Someone above already said it, but yes, it sounds a lot like the paleo diet. I am trying to gather my strength to try it out as I know dairy, sugar and wheat are bad for me. And try not to fear the hot flushes and stuff - the anxiety is worse than the thing itself.
Be healthy - you look fabulous!

Happy (belated) birthday!

That sounds so hard. I'm glad you're feeling better. But So. Hard. I really love my dairy.

Thank you for the recipe, it sounds fabulous.

Lovely pic of you and your pretty blue accordion!

Good luck with the hot flashes. I had one a month, for about a year, and then this past February, I went through a crazy hot flash hell, where I had them about once an hour for a few weeks. It was nice that it was in the dead of winter, and I'm normally always freezing, so I just dressed in short sleeved t-shirts and went outside just wearing a light shawl (think Icarus). Really not as bad as I have been led to believe, and some acupuncture needles, plus a temporary farewell to my usual favorite things: sugar, alcohol, inversions in yoga, fixed me up to the once a month schedule again.

I am intrigued by this book and this diet. I've kicked around on their website.

Also, thank you for explaining how to make a soft boiled egg!

I'm so glad you have an answer. And hot flashes (we call them flushes) may be uncomfortable but are definitely survivable - ask me how I know! :) and you may not have them -not eveyone does.

Avocados RULE.

My favorite sandwich consists of a good wheat or whole grain bread, toasted, smeared on one slice with cream cheese, guacamole on the other, with tomato slices between.

It's so not on your diet, though; if I cut out dairy, gluten, soy, corn, caffeine, and added-sugar-free, I'd be eating paper. SIGH But 15 lbs down without even trying? That's super cool!

I am reading "It Starts With Food" and have been practicing. I've all but eliminated dairy, grains, and sugar for the past almost two weeks, I guess. (I just sort of "tried" one day... and then the next...) I've had problems with edema for the past few years -- mostly in my legs and ankles, but I'm sure all over (lymphatic system)! Now, I'm checking out my own ankles ALL.THE.TIME -- I can't believe that they're hardly swollen at all and are even the same size! I don't have a scale, but must have lost some weight because I'm hiking up my pants all the time. Some of my numbers were not so great at the doc last time... pre-Type 2 Diabetes and all that jazz, so I'm looking forward to the re-check.

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