I’ve learned so much in the last year. Since I was about 12, I remember perfumes giving me headaches and a sore throat. When I worked at a sign company for three years before having Azita, even the Windex started to give me headaches. Much less the paints and solvents and glues we often used.
Our culture, steeped in chemical use whether we want to admit it or not, will make you think that something is wrong with you for realizing that you get a migraine every time you smell your mother-in-law’s perfume or your friend’s shirt that was washed in a scented detergent.
So I thought I was just ‘sensitive to smells’. But let’s think that through… sensitive to smells? All smells? Does the smell of a fresh peach send blood pulsing up my temples? Does it make me cover my nose instinctively and run for the door?
The people I have met and read about since discovering my family’s food intolerances have made me realize that I am not nuts for thinking that chemicals were causing some of my aches and pains.
I remember one guy I worked with at sign company said “Chemicals only hurt you if you breathe in a lot at once. We just get a little every day.” I’m pretty sure that that is backwards.
I think I am very sensitive to chemical smells and I think it triggers reactions in my body while it tries to get rid of them. But I think they affect everyone. Some of us feel it more than others; Some of us become more in tune with our bodies (in my case that was due to gluten elimination); Some of us suffere from fribromyalgia, headaches, constant sinus infections, fatigue, cancers and assume that these things are a normal course of living with a human body.
The symptoms I find most intriguing, however, are the emotional ones. Chemicals or foods that the body is intolerant to cause mood swings and anxiety attacks and depression. Why… why… is our society plagued with depression and anxiety when we live in the richest and most technologically advanced time period? There are some obvious answers to that question. Money doesn’t buy happiness, for instance. And there are still some crappy, crappy things that happen to you regardless of if you have a house over your head and a computer to play on. And many people in this society are certainly in need of the basic necessities of life.
But, I have heard too many anecdotal stories in the last year of people whose anxiety or depression flares up with they eat a food they are intolerant to.
And when I eat something made in a facility with gluten/wheat, I get a little… eh, moody. Essentially, all the symptoms I thought in my life were due to PMS, disappear when I am eating very very gluten free.
Next post I’m going to share some of the opinions on the Foodlab group, which has had alot to do with enlightening me on how food and chemicals affect our bodies.
Perhaps one of the most telling and personal examples, however, is not even from me or Ada. Ada hasn’t had food related tantrums yet.
But my mother-in-law, who has suffered from anxiety attacks and depression for years, stopped eating gluten and dairy for two monthes. It was great. Ada wasn’t coming home from their house with skin bumps. Mother-in-law seemed more relaxed, happier, more able to go with the flow.
She started eating gluten again last week. Three days later, I sat on her couch and for the first time in a while she talked to me about how horrible life is. She lives in a 4 bedroom house, doesn’t currently have to work, and has all the modern comforts of A/C and television and a yard with flowers and trees and two grandchildren that love her to death.
And she actually said, “My life would be better if I were homeless,” when my husband pointed out that life could be a lot worse. That’s seriously out of touch with reality if you ask me. And it makes me sad more than anything. We have a nation of people who have tons to be grateful for and who depression is a physiological symptom of our bodies trying to get rid of toxins– either a chemical or a food.
You can think I’m nuts. But I’ve heard so many anecdotal stories and seen them in my life and I really pray that humans will come to a better understanding of how to be in tune with our bodies and nourish ourselves. It doesn’t mean that everyone needs to eat how me and Ada eat. It just means that you should be open to discovering if a food– any food– is causing physical or emotional discomfort in your life. You have nothing to lose.
I often wonder why I weighed 15 pounds more (in a healthy way) in a Grenada and never had clogged up ears– which I deal with on a daily basis for the past few years. I think it was just cleaner air and a cleaner life.