Thank you so much for visiting My Allergy Advocate, the “fun blog”.
My Allergy Advocate is the brainchild of one woman, Imei Hsu (that’s me!), who got sick and tired of having a Grumpy Tummy. Period. And this fun blog is also the result of my community, who has encouraged me to build a website to serve and resource others. MyAllergyAdvocate.com will launch in late January 2018; this is the “fun blog” community site for now.
Update: As of Fall 2016, it appears that I am no longer having any symptoms of Leaky Gut Syndrome, after being on a modified AIP-Paleo and strict gluten free diet free from highly processed foods.
Here, I invite friends to participate in my journey, and you’ll get to know them too. They are recipe writers, food bloggers, nutritionists, food photographers, and your everyday food lover who wants more out their food. They are into whole foods, wellness, and fitness — just minus the grains and the substitutes and the emulsifiers and the chemicals. None of us eat Cheetos or Cheerios.
If you ask me, I think I’ve been sick with GI problems off and on for most of my life. By the time I was a teenager, I had problems eating food, was generally picky, and developed Anorexia Nervosa as a way to cope with a nervous and unhappy stomach attached to a frail frame. I tried running and later dancing to improve and grow a stronger and more confident sense of body image, but these activities were largely limited by nutritional issues and an ever-present Grumpy Tummy.
In 1996, I discovered through ELISA food allergy testing that I had over 300 food allergies and intolerances. Three months into rotating out every spec of these foods, I barely managed to subsist off of white rice, water, salt, and black coffee. My doctors never even bothered to suggest that I should be tested for Celiac Disease, even though I complained of frequent problems with GI distress, fatigue, and weight loss. I think the medical community was still working through the general theory that Celiac Disease was more prevalent in European and Caucasian people groups.
Nearly two decades later, I became more sick. I mean really, really ill. In April 2013, I travelled to Maui, Hawaii to accompany my then boyfriend at a triathlon camp. As a non-triathlon person, I was looking forward to eating Asian foods and taking in the beauty of the islands. Upon arrival, we stopped in at a restaurant to have a local favorite at a greasy spoon, and right afterwards, M (aka Man-Geek) proposed to me on a small beach near Pai’a. The beauty and tragedy of this moment: I was both the happiest and the sickest I had ever been. I spent a good amount of the first half of the week struggling in the bathroom, stopping up the diarrhea with Imodium, and praying to God that my Grumpy Tummy would cease being so grumpy.
It did not, because it could not. My guts were broken. And my immune system fell apart.
When we returned back to our home in Seattle, I decided to do an Elimination Test instead of a gluten-loading test before a biopsy. I know, I know, “the Gold Standard” and all that jazz! But I learned about something else by doing the Elimination Test; a very strange and seemingly random skin rash over my joints that would emerge and then disappear without a logical connection to anything did its magical disappearance when I removed gluten from my diet, and then it magically appeared like a rabbit in a magician’s hat when I ate a sandwich at the end of a thirty-day test. Guess what? The cramping, gas, diarrhea, nausea, headaches, fogginess, memory problems, and fatigue lifted as well; they came right back with that sammich. Voila. I discovered that at the very least, I was gluten sensitive. It turned out, that rash was significant.
With positive DNA markers upon testing, the evidence of Herpetiformis Dermatitis, improvement on the gluten-free diet, and the abating of mysterious anemia I had suffered from for years, I was finally diagnosed with Celiac Disease in early 2014.
Like most people given this diagnosis, I threw myself into learning how to eat a gluten-free diet. Getting “glutened” was that thing I avoided, fully knowing it was likely to happen at some point. Gluten is hidden in a lot of foods, and when you eat out, you rely on the restaurant kitchen and its handling of food to restrict cross contamination. I did get glutened, even when I was careful. As I read more about other people with Celiac Disease, I realized that only about one-third of the people who went on the GF diet fully recovered in the first two years. Many do not get better in even seven years. Researchers suggest that the one reason they don’t see a higher recovery rate (nor a faster one) is because it is difficult to be gluten-free compliant; I would add that I think there is another layer of treatment missing from the gluten free compliant diet, and that is of how to heal the GI tract, post diagnosis.
I don’t know about you, but two years is a long time to wait for recovery, and that recovery wasn’t even a guarantee. I began asking the question, ‘What more can I do to heal my body?”
Disclaimer: This blog contains my answers to that question. My blog is not a substitute for sound medical advice from your doctor and medical team of professionals. I do not give medical advice. This blog is meant to provide perspectives, dialogue, recipes, and options that may be useful for people who are on a medically-necessary diet, including the lifestyle issues that help you remain compliant to your specific needs. You will see that there are NO menu plans, and NO claims of treating or healing your medical conditions. If you need to see a doctor, then please seek treatment and see a doctor. If you need help with the food allergic, Autoimmune Disease, and Chronic Illness lifestyle, I can help you.
Join me for the journey that begins with simple gluten-free living, and then meanders into the Autoimmune Protocol, which really helped me personally with healing up Leaky Gut Syndrome, a common feature among newly diagnosed people with CD.
Other Random Things to Know About Me
Among other things to know about me, I absolutely adore Applehead Siamese Cats and their yeowly meows, and I love Chinese, Japanese, French, and Indian cuisine (most of which I can’t dine out safely to eat, so I must cook them at home) .
In my spare time away from my busy private practice as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, I train and race triathlons (all distances from Sprint to Ironman), ultramarathons at the 50km distance, am finishing the writing of a book about the Solopreneur, and I’m a consumer enthusiast of new wearable technology.
I live in three spaces: an artloft in Seattle, a home in Redmond,WA with my husband, and on the Internets. Oh, and my husband ‘M’ and I have one very adorable, chubby Applehead named Loomi, of whom you will see many, many pictures on this blog. I also own three bikes, a 2006 Lemond called the Snappy Dragon I, a 2012 Specialized Women’s Carbon Fiber road bike (named Le Petite Taxi, or “Donkey”), and a 2012 Cervelo P2 Time Trial called the Snappy Dragon II (aka “Pig”).