Food Sensitivity Test: Retake

Five years ago I had a Food Sensitivity Test done just out of curiosity. Based on the results I made several changes to my diet, with the major change being the elimination of gluten and dairy. Since then I have experienced several  positive health changes. Today, five years later, I still maintain a gluten and dairy-free diet and still feel wonderful…for the most part. I do feel great, but not 100% as well as I could, I think.

Having just completed my nutrition degree and being on the verge of embarking on my professional career, I decided to have my food sensitivity test redone to see if there have been any changes that may be contributing to this incomplete feeling of wonderful. Comparing the two tests was very interesting and gave me the answer I needed!

In each pair of pictures below, the coloured results are from my test five years ago and the black and white results are from my recent test.

FRUIT

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No significant changes in the fruit department. Cranberries still don’t agree with me, which is fine because I don’t really agree with them either!

VEGETABLES

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Mushrooms are similar to the cranberry situation above. I’m not the hugest fan of them and vice versa apparently. No loss there! It seems they have also cut out and/or replaced a few foods on their test in the last five years as asparagus wasn’t on the most recent test. It is actually one of my top 5 most disliked foods, so I’m not too concerned!

MEAT

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The disappearance of my sensitivity to eggs is interesting because I definitely eat more eggs now than I did five years ago when I had a sensitivity to them. Hmmm…

FISH

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Nothing of concern here. It is still a little ironic to me that my taste buds dislike fish products so much, yet my body seems to love them. Murphy’s law I suppose!

MISCELLANEOUS

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My sensitivity to sugar is a little lower than five years ago, but it is still there, which means that I should continue to avoid sugar and try harder at avoiding it. Chocolate is just so good though!!

NUTS AND GRAINS

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This section was the one I was most interested in because it contains gluten, which is one of the two main diet changes I made after my initial test five years ago. When I first read the current test results and saw the low reactivity to wheat and gluten I thought “how could this be?? When I eat glutenous things now I KNOW I react to them because I feel so terrible after eating them.” Then I thought back to the section on immunology from my microbiology class where we learned about immune responses and I realized that my body wasn’t reacting to it because this time it wasn’t in my system for it to react to! This confirmed to me that gluten is in fact bad for my body personally, and that I should continue to avoid it.

That being said, I then began to wonder if some of the other foods showed no reaction because they also weren’t in my system, especially in the fish section because I hardly eat any fish. After reading back over my results I decided it wasn’t anything to be too concerned about because I never eat things like coffee or sesame seeds and I showed a reaction to them. I might have a slight sensitivity to some foods I never eat, but there is obviously a reason I never eat them, so I don’t think there is anything to be too worried about.

DAIRY

Dairy compare

The dairy section provided a very clear answer to my question about not feeling 100%. When I say I have been eating gluten and dairy-free for the last five years, I should really add “for the most part” at the end of that sentence. I avoid gluten 99% of the time, but still indulge in dairy fairly regularly. These test results confirm that I should be avoiding dairy 99-100% of the time as well.

SUMMARY

Overall, I am very happy that I redid my food sensitivity test because it confirmed to me that I am on the right track to feeling 100%, but to get there I need to be more adamant about avoiding dairy and sugar. I also like the confirmation that dairy and gluten really are not right for my body. A little proof for all the naysayers out there ;)

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Storing Kale

Leafy greens are a wonderful addition to any meal, but they often don’t last long in the fridge before going wilty and/or bad. My family is so excited to have found what we think is the most optimal way to store our kale!

We have these Tupperware containers that are made to store celery but we have found them to be perfect for kale too!

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First, cut the kale leaves off of their stems. Watch out for bugs and leafy green worms; you wouldn’t want to accidentally eat one of these guys!

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Once all the leaves are ready, put a little water in the container under the tray, then add the kale leaves, put a lid on it and store the container in the fridge.

*It is important that you DON’T wash the kale until you are ready to use it. If you wash it before storing, then it will wilt and go bad much faster. The little bit of water in the bottom of the container provides enough hydration for the leaves while they are stored.

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When stored this way, we have found the kale can last for up to a month. Yes, a MONTH, compared to just a few days when you leave it in its bunch in the fridge. Wow!

Don’t worry, any other Tupperware container works fine too! However, something like the celery one is more optimal because the tray in the bottom prevents the water from actually touching the leaves, which keeps them for longer.

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When it does come time to use your kale, be sure to give it a good wash in a sink of water, or with a salad spinner.

How do you store your kale?

Try this amazing Kale Caesar Salad

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Real Fruit Juice vs. Store-Bought Fruit Juice

As I continue on my Nutrition journey, I sometimes catch myself reminiscing about times before I started studying Nutrition and what I thought about food and Nutrition then. One such example is in regards to juice. I always thought store-bought fruit juice was real juice; where people in factories put fruit into a big machine and out came the juice straight into the bottle I bought at the store. I had a big glass of orange juice every single morning for breakfast, and felt lost without it. As much as I loved my daily OJ, there was always something about it that was a little off to me. It had this weird, bitter aftertaste, nothing like you would expect a fruit juice to be, given that fruit is sweet.

The juice I drank was from concentrate, and even though it is still fairly pure, it is still not “real” juice. Yes, it may be 100% fruit juice, but it has still gone through some form of processing to extract the water, as well as to make it suitable for long-term storage before consumption.

Ever since I started juicing, this concept has really hit me and I thought it would be interesting to directly compare real fruit juice and store-bought fruit juice. Normally I juice these fruits in amongst other fruits and veggies, so it was just as interesting for me to see what they look like juiced alone!

Can you tell which glass contains store-bought juice and which glass contains fresh fruit juice I juiced myself?

Orange Juice

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You guessed it – the left glass is the fresh OJ!

Of the three types of juice I compared, the two forms of orange juice were the most similar visually. It is really interesting to me that the fresh juice looks so pulpy, because it isn’t pulpy in texture at all!

Now taste-wise, there is a huge difference. My once beloved store-bought OJ doesn’t even really taste like OJ at all to me anymore, compared to the sweet, fresh, pure taste of the orange I juiced myself. In fact, I found myself in a bit of a dilemma having that weird tasting store-bought OJ. I didn’t know what to do with it! Five years ago I would have guzzled it down with no hesitations! Crazy how our taste preferences change when exposed to REAL food, isn’t it?!!

Apple Juice 

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Wow! What a difference!

Similar to the fresh OJ, the fresh apple juice looks pulpy, but doesn’t have a pulpy texture at all. I can see how it might not be as visually appealing as the store-bought juice, which I find amusing because the fresh apple juice looks like the apple cider you would buy in the store, which people seem to have no trouble buying. So why is it not okay to buy regular apple juice that looks like that then? Weird.

Similar to the OJ again, there was a huge difference in taste between the fresh and store-bought juice. I have never been a fan of apple juice to begin with, but sipping between the two I found the store-bought apple juice to be overwhelming and unnaturally sweet. I actually found this with all the store-bought juices. It was strange.

Grape Juice

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There was also a huge taste difference between the fresh and store-bought grape juice. I sipped the store-bought grape juice and thought “yup that’s what grape juice tastes like.” Then I sipped the fresh grape juice and it didn’t taste like the store-bought at all! So I guess it’s really the store-bought grape juice that doesn’t taste like grape juice!

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The above picture shows what the fresh grape juice looks like once it sits for a few minutes and separates (the same separation occurs with fresh apple juice, I just didn’t let it sit long enough to separate). Surprise – fresh grape juice isn’t purple!! Although to be fair I used red grapes because I couldn’t find any black grapes. However, I still think fresh juice made from black grapes would be more red than purple. I also find it interesting that when the fresh juice separates it is transparent, while the store-bought juice isn’t. That isn’t natural!

Are you a store-bought juice drinker? Seeing these pictures, how do you feel about fruit juice now?

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Roasted Chickpeas

I brought a delicious chickpea salad for lunch one day and the two girls who sat behind me in class were completely flabbergasted that I was eating chickpeas raw. I admit I thought they were off their rockers a little, because I’ve only ever eaten chickpeas raw or in chili and thought that was the only way you eat chickpeas. Then they said they’ve only ever eaten chickpeas roasted and thought that was the only way to eat chickpeas. Ha! I guess we were both wrong!

I had never roasted chickpeas before so I was anxious to try them, and let me tell you, I quickly found out why people rave about them – they are dangerously delicious! I could seriously eat them like candy. One day I ate so many for lunch that I skipped dinner because I was so full! They’re also extremely versatile. You can put them on a salad, mix them with some rice and other veggies or even just eat them by themselves!

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Roasted Chickpeas

Preheat oven to 350F. Drain a 14-oz. can of chickpeas and rinse thoroughly. Lay chickpeas out on a baking sheet lined with paper towel and pat dry with another paper towel. Remove the paper towels and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Toss to coat thoroughly. Roast for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and crunchy. Season according to personal preference (I really like a little garlic powder and parmesan cheese. Mmmmmm!)

My favourite way to eat roasted chickpeas is with other veggies in a concoction like this:

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Today’s mixture includes cucumber, avocado, tomato, roasted chickpeas and Basil Parmesan salad dressing. I have also added in celery, bell peppers, rice and/or quinoa before. Delicious every time! 

How do you eat chickpeas?

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Fast Food Doesn’t Have to Be Junk Food!

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Lately my family has been having some fun teasing my Dad about the carrot or two (I mean big carrots, not baby carrots) he takes with him when he’s on the road, but this picture makes me think twice about teasing him anymore. He’s got the healthy “fast food” thing down!

Grab a carrot or other raw veggies, a piece of fruit, a hardboiled egg, rice cake with nut butter, some nuts and seeds, or even more nutritious, a smoothie with a combination of some of the above! All these options are easy, fast and most importantly, healthy!

What is your go-to for healthy “fast” food?

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My Top 5 Food Dislikes

While I am far from a picky eater, there are a few foods that absolutely make my stomach churn.

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One night at work, the vegetables served at dinner were beets and asparagus. I thought to myself “well, if this was me, I would only be eating meat tonight” because I hate both of those vegetables. It really got the wheels turning as to what other foods I don’t like, and thus this blog post was born!

Let the countdown begin!

#5 – Asparagus / Organ meats (it’s a tie!) 

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When I was younger my Mom tried to pass off asparagus as beans. It worked for a while but I eventually caught on! It has such a weird flavour to me, and is so darn chewy and stringy.

I also do not enjoy organ meats. They are not staples in my family’s diet, but my parents do enjoy liver on rare occasions and I have tried a bite before. Not only does it smell like mouldy socks when cooking, but the texture….*shudders*. Embarrassingly enough, I found out just a few years ago that my Mom cooks up the neck and heart from our Thanksgiving turkey and adds it to her homemade turkey soup. I always wondered why there were funny tasting bits of “turkey” in there! Moms are so sneaky!!! I can’t say that I will be doing the same with my future turkeys!

#4 – Seafood

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Seafood is a huge no-go, except for tuna, salmon and imitation crab (does this mean I’d like real crab?) Even then I have to be in the right mood to have any of those, and those moments are rare. Seafood is just not my favourite. It is so……fishy. Yuck.

#3 – Olives

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It is SO weird to me how people can eat olives straight, like grapes. I have never been able to get into their flavour.

#2 – Spicy Food / Curry

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Spicy food is completely out of the question. I enjoy food with spices for flavour (except curry – horrible horrible stuff), but I do not enjoy spices for hotness. They do not feel right in my stomach, nor do I enjoy breathing fire after meals. Recently my Mom wanted to try some jalapeños in her homemade spaghetti sauce and it was awful (Sorry Mom). I think that meal sat in my throat for a full 24 hours after eating it. Spicy and me are not meant to be!

#1 – Beets

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Without question, the number one spot is reserved for beets. They taste like complete and utter dirt to me…literally. When I was younger, the rule in my house was “clear your plate before you leave the table” but let me tell you, no amount of butter or ketchup could make me eat those beets any faster, or disguise their dirt flavour. It was always a struggle to choke them down so I could leave the dinner table. They are the worst!

Surprised that brussels sprouts aren’t on the list? Me too! I had actually never had them before until a few years ago when my Aunt made this brussels sprouts/apple/almond dish for Christmas. Surprisingly, the brussels sprouts tasted okay! That being said, I haven’t had them since, or had them in any other form, so my evaluation might be a little skewed, but cooked right they seem okay. They’re definitely not my first choice for a vegetable though.

What’s on your top five food dislike list? Would you like to see a “favourites” list?

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Fed Up (2014) – Movie Review

Happy New Year! I’m a little late to the party, I know. Okay…a lot late. Nevertheless, there is nothing like starting out the New Year with some thought-provoking information, and I have just that for you today!

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Narrated by news anchor Katie Couric, the 2014 documentary Fed Up looks at the current obesity epidemic in the United States, and suggests sugar as a primary contributor.

How can this be? Surely if we just cut out those “junk” foods from our diet that are high in sugar we’ll be okay…right?

The problem is that sugar isn’t just in “junk” foods. In the average American grocery store, there are more than 600,000 food items. Over 80% of them have added sugar. EIGHTY PERCENT. Crickey! We also have to consider all the processed starches like white bread, white rice, potato products, breakfast cereals, etc. because these kinds of products are instantly digested into glucose (sugar) in our bodies. One of the speakers in Fed Up put it really well. He said: “You can eat a bowl of cornflakes with no added sugar, or you can eat a bowl of sugar with no added cornflakes and they might taste different, but below the neck, they’re metabolically the same.”

That definitely makes you think twice, doesn’t it?

So how does sugar relate to obesity? Here’s a little of the science behind this theory.

The sweet part of sugar (fructose) can only be processed in the liver. This means that when we consume large amounts of sugar, we are actually overloading our liver, and preventing it from processing all that sugar. Luckily, our pancreas is able to step in and lend a hand. It reacts to the high levels of sugar by producing excess amounts of insulin, which is the energy storage hormone. So what does insulin turn excess sugar into for storage? You guessed it – fat! This is why sugar is thought to be contributing to the obesity epidemic.

The film also follows three young teens and shows the struggles they face being obese. Fourteen year old Joe has to get a bariatric surgery in order to lose weight and improve his health. Yes, FOURTEEN. How can we let this happen?!?!? As Dr. David Ludwig put it in the movie, “What does it say about our society that we would rather send our children to such mutilating procedures like bariatric surgery but yet lack the political will to properly fund things like school nutrition and ban junk food advertising to children?”  Definitely not right!

Here are some other thought-provoking tidbits from the movie:

  • Between 1977 and 2000, Americans have doubled their daily intake in sugar
  • When you take the fat out of the food to make it “healthier”, it tastes like cardboard. The food industry knows this, so they dump in the sugar to make it taste better. So now they sell lower fat foods, but with higher sugar content. The thing is – junk food is still junk even if it’s less junky!!
  • In a recent study at Princeton University, 43 cocaine-addicted rats were given the choice between cocaine or sugar water over a 15-day period. 40/43 chose the sugar. Studies show that your brain lights up with sugar just like it does with cocaine or heroine.

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  • While food nutrition labels list government recommended daily amounts of various nutrients, when you look on any food label you will not find sugar listed with a % for the daily recommendation. I found this really interesting, so I looked up why this might be. The Government of Canada says that “sugar does not have a % daily value, because there is no recommended amount of sugar for a healthy population.” What?!?! How does this make sense given all the negative findings associated with sugar??
  • Congress classifies pizza as a vegetable if it contains a certain amount of tomato paste. SERIOUSLY?? I just….wow……
  • “I had no idea I’d be talking about weight gain and obesity my entire career” – Katie Couric.  I think this is such a profound statement and shows just how pressing an issue obesity really is! 
  • Many people think that if you are thin then you are healthy, but that’s not necessarily true. You can be fat on the inside and skinny on the outside, or metabolically obese but a normal weight. Being skinny-fat is equally as dangerous and leads to all the same consequences as fat-skinny, such as heart attack, strokes, cancer, dementia and diabetes.
  • Disease doesn’t happen with one meal, but it does happen with a thousand meals. Today, sugar is somehow a part of every single meal, meaning disease is imminent.
  • The most important thing you can do is cook and eat real food – Michael Pollan
  • It’s not an easy transition to real food. But it starts locally; really as locally as our fork. Everybody has a choice three times a day as to what they put on it. Make it good! I love this concept! 

Are you FED UP?

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*Since the release of Fed Up, there has been a lot of backlash about the movie and its supposed “misinformation”. The way I see it is that the writers have simply presented the information to the public and it is now up to the viewers to choose to believe it or not. I personally believe that there are MANY contributing factors to the obesity epidemic, and that sugar is most certainly one of them. 

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