On Friday 13th March, I came to the end of the 60-day Elimination Diet, during which many lovely things were off limits. My HS symptoms appear to be in remission, which is the perfect base from which to now embark on the Reintroduction Phase – bringing back foods one by one, until (hopefully), the trigger foods can be identified and eliminated from my diet forever.
Much of the scant literature available advises reintroducing foods which you don’t consume all that often, as chances are they will be safe. But I don’t see the logic of that, as surely it could take months, even years to discover what foods, if any, are triggering the HS if I start off with foods I didn’t eat much of anyway.
Because I’ve had flares more or less all the time for the last five years, that’s telling me that if I do have a food trigger, then it’s something I was consuming often, not on occasion. So in my head, it makes sense to reintroduce foods I ate regularly, so the trigger food can be identified more quickly.
On that premise, I decided to ‘start at the top’ and then go down the list until I hit the jackpot. I might get indecisive as the weeks go on, as to which food is the chosen one at the time, but the first week was a no-brainer. I really wanted a proper drink, and felt I deserved it. So I bought a bottle of Campo Viejo Reserva on the Wednesday, and had to walk past it ten times a day for two days until I was allowed to open it on Friday.
But when Friday came, I was suddenly afraid to have a drink. I was only to be allowed one glass – with all reintroduced foods, you have to gradually being them back in, not go all out in one go – but it took until around 9pm before I ‘dared’. Half of me was terrified that alcohol would be the trigger food, which would be a disaster, but the other half was feeling almost guilty, as though the moment I had that drink, I’d be slipping off the wagon and going right back to old habits. I’d come so far, I didn’t want to ruin everything by drinking, and then feeling everything I usually feel when I drink – mostly carbs and cheese cravings. Not drinking has made my other bad habits disappear, and I didn’t want to top that first domino again.
So it took a while for me to actually open the bottle and take a sip. But once I did, I can’t say I enjoyed it. Within half an hour of finishing the glass, my nose had blocked up entirely, and my head felt like it was about to explode. I was in bed for 10.50pm, feeling as though I’d taken a sleeping pill. Very strange, and not the effect wine usually has on me.
Saturday, I had two glasses during the evening with my tea. Again, my nose blocked up and my head exploded, and I had another early night. The good news, though, was that I did not have any sign of an HS reaction, which I was ecstatic about.
Sunday, I finished the bottle, which made me feel sleepy but at least I didn’t get a headache. I then had a glass of Pinot Grigio, but that gave me heartburn and I couldn’t even finish the glass.
Monday/Tuesday, I finished the Pinot Grigio but it was a struggle – it just sat in my throat and gave me another headache. I’d toyed with buying an organic wine, to avoid any unnecessary additives and excess sulphates, but having discovered that organic wine can contain just as much crap as normal wine (only the grapes have to be organic, but any other chemicals can still be added afterwards – another labeling con), I stuck to the tried and tested stuff I always drink.
The rest of the week, I had one or two glasses per night, which I wouldn’t normally do on a usual week, but I needed to see if I’d react – inviting it, almost. Happily, I can report that there is no doubt – wine alcohol is not my trigger. Result. Different alcohols can have different effects, though, so things like vodka, rum, lager etc will have to be reintroduced separately in their own weeks.
As good a start as that is, I was still reminded by my friends in The Coven, that there is nothing healthy about alcohol. Even though it might not be a direct trigger, alcohol still harms our guts, making it easier for our trigger foods to infiltrate the gut lining and start hurting us. So wine may have passed the trigger test, but it doesn’t make sense to just go back to drinking the way I used to, because all I’d be doing is eroding my gut anyway. That’s a bit of a ‘booo’, but not as big as a “you are allergic to alcohol” kind of boo.
So I’m now looking ahead to Week 2. My actual diet won’t be changing all that much, as one extra food per week doesn’t exactly open up my menu options. But, over the next couple of months, at least I can look further afield than butternut squash and sweet potato soup which, to be honest, I’m getting really quite sick of.
Coming up: Week 2 – Tomatoes