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Cooking with Food Sensitivities

The next few posts will likely deal with my battle against food allergies.  However, I have been told by some doctors that I do not technically have food allergies, they are merely food sensitivities.  Either way, they are not pleasant.  This is a long post, apologies in advance.

My fight against food sensitivities started about 10 years ago.  I found myself weighing over 200 pounds.  I’m not a tall person, right at 5’5” if I really stretch.  I was heavy, unhealthy, and unhappy. I tried dieting and exercising, but only lost one pound in four weeks.  I had other health issues (hives, itching rashes, etc.) and suspected I might have food allergies.  I went to my family doc and was referred to an allergist.  Long story short…it was discovered that I was allergic to several molds, grasses, trees, pollen, pet dander, and dust.  However, I only had mild food allergies to fish, peanuts, wheat. and oranges.

Disclaimer:  I am NOT a medical professional; please do not take anything I write as medical advice.  This is simply my experience with food allergies/sensitivities, a book recommendation, and a recipe.  Please talk to your doctor before starting a new diet. Thank you and now back to the blog post…

After eliminating fish, peanuts, and oranges from my diet, I was still having reactions – rashes, stomach issues, joint pain, hives, itching, sinus issues, and no weight loss.  A friend, who is also a physician assistant, suggested I read The False Fat Diet by Dr. Elson Haas. This book changed my life!!  Haas mentions that people are often sensitive to seven common foods: 1) wheat, 2) cow’s milk products, 3) sugar, 4) corn, 5) eggs, 6) soy, and 7) peanuts.  Other common food allergens include:  chocolate, tomatoes, oranges, shellfish, yeast, oats, potatoes, MSG, and aspartame.

To determine food sensitivities, you can try an elimination diet, have a blood test, or have a skin test.  I tried the skin test and didn’t have success with it.  I tried the elimination diet but could not pinpoint my food sensitivities, so I tried the blood test.  A few weeks later, I got the results in the mail.  The lab results were not good:  I was highly sensitive to six of the seven foods!  I was also sensitive to several other foods, including one of my favorites – tomatoes! 

I decided to change my life, eliminate those foods, and improve my health.   I eliminated all the troublesome foods and a few others – wheat, dairy, sugar, corn, eggs, soy, peanuts, oranges, yeast, tomatoes, buckwheat, hazelnuts, MSG, aspartame, alcohol, and food colorings.  Did I mention that I was a vegetarian at the time?  Well, I was.  But I added a little fish, poultry, and pork to my diet so I would have more variety. I also followed a rotation diet.  I would eat a given food as much as I wanted in a 24-hour period and then not eat it again for several days.  This can be tough, not many people like salads for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!  It took some getting used to, but I did it.  It also took lots of meal planning; I even had charts and spreadsheets.  Did I mention I’m a bit of a nerd? 

Before, During, and After Photos:

I followed this diet for about 8 months and increased my exercise. During this time, I lost over 75 pounds and got down to 125 pounds.  That was probably a bit too skinny for me; I didn’t feel as healthy at 125 as I did at 130 or even 135 pounds. For the most part, I kept the weight off for many years. I would fluctuate between 128-138 pounds. I generally just avoided my reactive foods (particularly eggs, soy, wheat, dairy, and corn).  My healthy lifestyle fell apart when I took a job that included travel and long work hours. I got lazy with meal planning, was less active, and put on weight.

Fast forward a few years to the present.  I’ve had some different health issues, not been as active as I could, and my weight is up to its highest in several years.  In January, I was at 160 pounds.  So I joined a Scale Back Alabama weight-loss team with three friends.  The goal is to lose 10 pounds in 10 weeks. I would like to lose more. So far, in the first month, I’ve lost 7 pounds.  I gave up wheat last week and I think that will help the weight loss. Doubt I will go totally allergy free, but I will go back to limiting my reactive foods, and become more active (my broken toe and torn up knee are not 100% but I can still walk, swim, do yoga, and go to the gym).  No more excuses!  The Flaming Pot Holder will likely show the diet changes. But then again, I might also post one of my favorite recipes (chock-full of allergens), because I’ve learned that occasional splurges are ok.

Oven-baked sweet potato chips are one of my favorite snacks.  They are delicious, allergy free, and cover many of my snack requirements – crispy, slightly chewy, salty, and sweet.  Hope you like them…

Oven-Baked Sweet Potato Chips

2 medium sweet potatoes

1-2 tablespoons oil (canola, olive, coconut, sunflower, or vegetable oil)

Kosher salt or flake salt (I like coarse salt in this recipe, but regular salt is fine too)


Preheat oven to 400º degrees F.  Wash and scrub the sweet potatoes.  I keep the peel because it’s one of my favorite parts, but feel free to peel them if you prefer.  Slice the sweet potatoes into thin rounds (I use a slicer, but a knife works fine too, just keep the slices uniform).

Toss the sweet potato slices in a bowl with some oil.  Arrange slices in a single layer on a greased baking/cooling rack, placed on top of a cookie sheet (so it catches any drips).  If you don’t have a cooling rack, you can just arrange the sweet potato slices on a cookie sheet (place it in the oven while it is preheating so it is hot, then you can get a bit more crispness out of the chips).  Just be careful so you don’t burn yourself, I’ve done that way too many times.

Sprinkle the sweet potato slices with salt (optional, you can also make them salt-free). Place in the oven and cook for about 5-7 minutes.  Turn the sweet potatoes over, sprinkle with more salt (if you want).  Cook until crispy, about 7 more minutes.  Depending on your oven temperature, the thickness of the slices, etc. it might take baking up to 10 minutes per side.  These chips can burn quickly, it is a good to keep an eye on they while they are cooking.  It took me a few batches to keep from burning them (though it still happens occasionally).

  1. Robin Kisala
    March 6, 2012 at 9:44 am

    Katie, can you use light olive oil instead of canola?

  2. March 6, 2012 at 9:49 am

    That would be fine. I kinda like the “no-taste” taste of the canola oil, but have made them with olive oil and they were delicious.

  3. sweetopiagirl
    March 6, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    Reblogged this on Inspiredweightloss.

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