Dealing With Food Sensitivities with Monica James, iCoach Nutrition Coaching Client

Coach Justin: “Today we’re going to dive into Monica’s story, her journey and her experience working with iCoach Nutrition. Monica, how are you?”

Monica: “Hey everybody, I’m good. I’m Monica, I am from this area. I do property development for restaurants. It’s a lot of due diligence, but I really enjoy it. I played a bunch of sports growing up and I am still pretty involved in athletics in one way or another. I do crossfit, fitness classes and I play a bunch of sand volleyball.”

Coach Justin: So why did you come to me in the first place?”

Monica: “So I first contacted Justin because I was getting really bad headaches all the time and they weren’t super bad but they were just always there and so I went to a hormone doctor and she recommended me to do food sensitivity testing and that was gonna like completely alter my diet and I had no idea what to do. So I hit up Justin and I was like okay let’s take this opportunity to help me improve my body composition at the same time. So we set up a plan to accomplish my goals and it worked really really well. I was able to keep everything out of my diet that I needed to keep out to help prevent headaches and also tone up at the same time.”

Coach Justin: “I mean that’s pretty amazing and kudos to you because going through some type of elimination diet, AIP, FODMAP, etc. can be extremely challenging because you have to be so incredibly strict! They sound great on paper, but going out in real life and actually doing it correctly is really hard. So can you talk a little bit about that journey?”

Monica: “When I first started, I was like wow…this really sucks. You know? So my issue is that like any proud Texan, I love Mexican food way too much. And so, the number one thing that I had to cut out of my diet was garlic and if you did not know garlic is in pretty much everything! that you consume on a daily basis unless you’re making your food at home. And I really didn’t I also didn’t like to cook either so it wasn’t just about watching what I ate, I pretty much couldn’t eat out unless I went to restaurants that could specifically make my food a certain way. So it was very overwhelming and I was not happy the first probably three weeks that I was doing it just because I felt so taken out of everything, it was like I couldn’t go out to eat or have dinner with friends. If I did, I would get a huge headache because of the garlic, which really messes you up more than you think because it’s just in everything.”

Coach Justin: “How long were you like on that protocol and how many times did you go out to eat during that time?”

Monica: “The things that I had minor sensitivity to, I started adding back after a month. The things that were moderate sensitivities to was like six weeks and then things that were severe was two months. So I think I started going out to eat more often once I had started adding back the things that weren’t super severe after that first four weeks because I could eat bread again and other basic things that they had me cut out. Originally I had me cut out gluten, all sugars, avocados, pretty much my entire chipotle order, etc. Once I started adding some of those back, I would maybe go out to eat once a week, but I was only going to restaurants that I knew I could order my chicken without any garlic on it. Garlic is what I had to cut out for the longest amount of time. During the first two months, I think I probably ate out a total of six times. My kitchen and I got really friendly! Chipotle and Zoe’s Kitchen were the two places with garlic that I had to avoid most, because I was so used to eating at these places prior. They were relatively cheap healthier options so I would go there quite a bit and they’re right next to my house so I was a frequent client of theirs.”

Coach Justin: “I’m sure the fomo aspect was the worst because you’re you’re super social like you want to go out with your friends and family and just be able to enjoy life and not have to worry about this crazy diet / protocol to follow, but like what helped you pull through? Was it just the fact that you were so sick and tired of the headaches that you were willing to do anything?”

Monica: “ Yes and I had spent the money to get all this testing done, hired you as my coach. I had also been consuming way too much Advil and Tylenol because I always had a headache and my headaches were weird, they would escalate into a migraine really easily. So I finally came to the realization that if I was gonna do it, I wanted to stick to it! I’m also competitive and prideful, so if I start something, I want to finish it!”

Coach Justin: “When most people come to us with a digestive issue, I need them to understand that we need to focus on improving their health first before looking into other goals. But with you, you know I think it was one of those things where it’s like you were experiencing so much inflammation and bloating that once you did start eliminating these foods from your diet, your body composition changed as a byproduct.”

Monica: “I truly believe that the only reason why my body composition improved was because I was also tracking my calories and macros. I also went from eating out all the time to eating home cooked meals the majority of the time. That was a game changer when it came to losing weight / body fat. When it comes to the headaches, we found out through all the blood testing that it had to do with me being inflamed in my stomach because I was eating all these things that I was sensitive to and that was just a side effect for me. Like, some people are more bloated, some people are sick to their stomach all the time. My side effect was just that I had a headache all the time. So, I mean, they can manifest in a lot of different ways.”

Coach Justin: “I think that’s really interesting for people to know that if you are experiencing crazy headaches and migraines or something like that and you haven’t gone down the rabbit hole of figuring out why then you should probably start rather than just ignoring it until symptoms get worse. Do your due diligence to make sure that, you know, you’re not just over here taking a pill every single day if you’re having headaches. Be sure to address the root cause of the problem.”

Monica: “I originally went to a hormone doctor, because I thought there was something wrong with me, like my thyroid or something more complicated because I was really tired at the same time too. And then, you know, it all just tied back to that inflammation. I get this whole page of results back and I’m freaking out about garlic because literally I eat at chipotle way too much and so I get this whole thing of results back in, that’s the thing about adding them back in slowly, like one at a time, the way that they tell you to do because it could have false positives on it all the time, it’s like something will show up in your bloodstream whenever they do the test, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have bad reaction to it, like as I was adding the stuff back in, whenever I added garlic back in I was sick, like I had a migraine the next day. I woke up with a horrible migraine and I was sick to my stomach. Ever since, I’ve found out how much of it I can eat without having those bad side effects so I noticed like okay if I have garlic two or three days in a row, I’m gonna have a headache, like you know behind your eyes, constant little pain, but not bad, but I’m gonna have a headache because of that, but if I spread it out to where I have garlic on monday and I don’t have it again until thursday, then I don’t have any problems so for me so at least it wasn’t a situation where I had to cut it out for the rest of my life. I realized that I can manage it, because I wanted to still be able to live life, go out to eat with friends and not worry about it and just live with it. So that was my biggest thing and I’m glad that I cut it out so I do know what the really bad things are for me, but I’m also glad that I found out how to manage it afterwards. It took a while after, I reintroduced it to be like okay if I have two days in between whenever I have a big dozing of garlic because I do want a piece of pizza every once in a while or this or that, so it really just depends on how your body reacts to it in the end after he reintroduced it.”

Coach Justin: I think that’s such a great perspective because you know, a lot of the times like I said, people will see this crazy strict diet and they’ll think to themselves, oh this has to be like this forever, like for the rest of my life. I’m sorry, but it’s impossible to follow some of these diets for the rest of your life. It’s good to just remind people that if you’re seriously having issues like what Monica was experiencing, don’t just keep living in pain and discomfort, figure out what’s going on and then realize that an elimination phase is not a forever thing. You’re gonna create a lot of awareness in your life, like maybe Monica, a lot of awareness is created and from there, you’re gonna be able to kind of start to figure it out and find a sustainable approach in the end. For example, you can consume garlic now, but you just know exactly how much you can consume before you have issues, right?”

Monica: Yes, I’m much more aware of what’s in the food that I’m eating. I’ll look at okay, if I went to Zoe’s kitchen one day and Chipotle another and you know hit up some other random restaurant another day and now I’m having a headache, I’m like well I didn’t think that one had garlic in it, but it definitely did because I’m having trouble now. You just become more aware of what you’re putting in your body at the same time and I think that’s a good thing to always have in the back of your head anyway. A lot of good things came out of it. I mean, I’m not gonna lie those 1st 2 months sucked!”

Coach Justin: “I think that’s a good mindset towards it, like for anybody that’s watching this that maybe is about to have to embark on something like this, like just being able to hear somebody like yourself that’s found success. Most people, even if they get dealt this card, they don’t do it, you know, they won’t follow through with it because it is really, really hard and maybe they don’t have that support to help them.”

Monica: “It was definitely easier to do it with you helping me because I was just mad a lot of the time, the entire like first two or three weeks, I was just mad. I was like, I don’t get to eat the foods that I like. They even made me cut out avocado, which I was not happy about! You were just really supportive about it, I got to vent all of my gripes to you and you listened. You helped me along the way.”

Coach Justin: “That’s what coaches are here for, right? I mean it’s like anything though, we all have so many things going on in life, the last thing that we want is something like this to happen where we have to completely change our lifestyle and what we’re doing. And so, you know, it’s just all perspective. It’s like sometimes we have to go through the suck to, you know, to have a better quality of life. Sitting here having headaches and migraines all the time is making your quality of life worse, so ultimately your backs up against the wall which forces you to figure it out.”

Monica: “You’re right! I was fed up. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired! I didn’t want to deal with this anymore. Like, what’s wrong? Oh yeah. And plus on top of that, I was literally taking Advil or Tylenol once a day which is obviously not good for everything else in my body. That’s going to damage my stomach or my liver or whatever it is, like later on in life. So it’s like, if you’re just masking symptoms, then you’re just hurting yourself in the long run as well.”

Coach Justin: “I completely agree. What’s crazy is there are so many people that take, you know, Advil or Tylenol or whatever on a daily basis or even allergy medications and things like that or any medications at all, and it’s like, we have to remember that everything that we put into our body, there’s gonna be some type of reaction regardless. You hear people say things like the food that we put into our body is basically what fuels our life. So it’s no different than the other things that we put into our body. Just make sure that you do your own due diligence and educate yourself on whatever you’re putting into your body. Not just the food that you’re putting into your body, but supplements, alcohol, drugs, etc.”

Monica: Advil was just such a big thing for me, because I was taking so much of it and I knew that it wasn’t good for me, but it’s like in the back of my head, I’m like, well, if I don’t take something, then I’m gonna get a migraine, I’m gonna be throwing up and having to go to sleep in the middle of the day to get over this headache because that’s how my headaches would work. I know I can pinpoint it now, but before it was like, what the hell is going on!? What’s wrong with me!? Now it’s more like, I know I drank too much, so I have a hangover type thing. I think that it would be easier to manage having an actual food allergy than having just a sensitivity because it’s like if you’re managing an allergy, that’s almost a life or death situation in a lot of cases.”

Coach Justin: “I love it. Well Monica, thank you so much for taking the time today. I know you’re busy, I want to respect your time.”