Is the context of when you eat and how you’re feeling, just as important as WHAT you’re eating?

This may be something that’s very individual, but for me…

I have noticed there can be a big difference in how my body responds eating the exact same foods, under different scenarios.

I’ve noticed that if I eat at times when I’m stressed out, or during transition times during the day (like let’s say I’ve been rushing around, stressed, running late for things, dealing with traffic, and then I finally get home).

I am much more likely to get weird bumps on my arms after eating in the second context, not so much the first.

I first discovered this a few weeks ago when I tried beef for the first time.  My dad made me some plain, straightforward ground beef in a pan.  He didn’t even use oil– he cooked it in its own grease.

But I happened to try it at the exact same time that my Mom gave me some really upsetting news about a family member.

Lo and behold, I got really upset, my arm got really itchy, and next thing I knew, it had a few wheals on it.

I thought it was beef that was the problem, and was scared to try it again.  However, I’ve since tried beef a few more times (both in the form of a sandwich at Panera, and also more plain cooked beef at home from Trader Joe’s) and I never got a wheal again.  Which leads me to believe it had more to do with emotional stress.

Last night I came home, again, feeling pretty late, stressed out, and in somewhat of a bad mood.  I was rushing to get my workout (of walking for 15 minutes) done before it was too late at night, and quickly just ate one piece of chicken after that.

Just one piece of Trader Joe’s frozen chicken breast, pan-fried in olive oil.  Which has been one of my safe foods…

Which is why I was SO upset when part of my arm started itching and it looked like I was getting one or two itchy bumps again.

I was really freaked out thinking I might not be able to eat chicken again, but then I thought about what Dr. Bayuk told me at my last appointment.  Which was that the bumps were not about a specific food, but a physiological response to eating.

I’m not entirely sure I agree with this, but since luckily neither he, Dr. Castels, nor Dr. Rashid think the arm bumps sound dangerous, I decided to do an experiment.

Rather than completely freaking out and assuming I can’t eat chicken anymore, I tried to calm myself down.  I read my new DNRS book for a while and watched a few of the recommended videos on neuroplasticity, which made me feel more optimistic about fixing this.  Then I actually fell asleep for a short nap.

When I woke up an hour later, I tried another piece of chicken, and it didn’t really seem like anything too significant happened.  Plus it’s hard to say what could have been a delayed reaction after my body freaked out at the first.

But what definitely did NOT happen was me getting one new, specific, itchy bump.

So, this is something I definitely need to keep in mind.  It’s something Savannah Marcum talks about in her video on MCAS recovery, about how she realized there’s no point in trying something new if she’s stressed out, because the stress itself would totally cloud her actual response to that thing.

It also definitely underscores what Dr. Bayuk said, about it being a physiological response to eating.

So… I’ll be keeping an eye on this, if it seems like I start reacting to my safe foods.  I do think my bad reaction to sweet potato when I tried it may have more to do with that specific food– but, again, I was scared when I tried it, so who really knows.

This whole experience with chicken has really impressed upon me just how integrally linked the nervous system and the immune system are.  Eating the exact same food an hour apart, when I was stressed versus not stressed, seemed to yield entirely different results.

Which is not to say that anyone should expect to totally eliminate ALL stress from their lives.  That’s not possible at all.

But it does give me up hope that, if I’m very careful to pay attention to how I’m feeling, and the relationship between the nervous and the immune system, this may lead to some more clues for healing.

After all, as Dr. Bayuk says, the two are “totally wrapped up in each other.”  The more I learn about it, the more I don’t really think you can separate the two.

(And also thinking back to Jeff’s story over at MEchanical Basis, and how he believes that MCAS is somehow neurological).

I think that makes a lot of sense.

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