If you’d read anything about The Greater Knead you may already know that I, Michelle Carfagno, started the company after my sister, Nicole and grandfather, Poppy (his real name is Paul but that sounds weird for me to call him that). BUT what you may not know is my personal struggle...well journey, but sometimes it does seem like a struggle...with food allergies. From the time I was 8 years old I started noticing when I ate certain fruits and raw nuts that I would get an itchy throat and sometimes hives around my mouth. Then in my adult life I noticed if I am them cooked or roasted I was fine. It was until about 20 years later when someone posted an article on Oral Allergy Syndrome, that I finally understood WHY! It didn’t change anything, I still can’t eat those foods raw BUT there was sense of relief to finally understand it. It’s not all in my head. So to all those people that looked at me like I was crazy when I said I’m allergic to raw apples, plums, apricot (basically anything with a pit) almonds, walnuts and the worst offender hazelnuts, it’s a real thing! Ok, I’m not yelling, I get it, trust me it was weird to me too :-)On top of my fun Oral Allergy Syndrome (don’t worry though I can still have apple pie!) I was diagnosed with Endometriosis in 2013. I will spare you all the details but feel free to read the article from the link by clicking on “Endometriosis”. To sum it up: killer cramps (sometimes not just 1x a month if you catch my drift), infertility, and pelvic pain. I underwent a surgery in 2013 shortly after my diagnosis that may have seen relief with, but unfortunately for me my condition persisted. After many months of frustration I decided to do some research and spoke with a leading Endo (for short) Doctor in NYC. He explained the correlation of Endo to estrogen increasing foods and suggested I cut these out of my diet:
I think I stared at this list for a LONG time. My thoughts went something like this:
Wheat/Gluten- no problem, I already eat gluten-free because I feel better anyways.
Dairy- CHEEEEEESE, ahhhh not my cheese! I have 6 cheese plates, a bridal shower themed around cheese and basically eat cheese with every meal. That one stung and feeling of hopelessness ensued.Caffeine- sooo how would I actually function at work! My employee’s are going to kill me, like no coffee before workee! But in reality I only drink ½ a day at the most, coffee always ends up making me feel sick (mmm wonder why? Maybe the DAIRY I was adding to it!)Alcohol- HA! followed by a tear, I’ll just leave that at that.Soy- no problem, I always get headaches from soy...oh wait SUSHI!! I love to dip my SUSHI in soy. Feeling of panic.
Despite my hesitation, I knew it was worth a try if I could find some relief from pain without overdoing the Advil on a regular basis. I am proud to say I went 3 months without any of the above foods! And when that “time of the month” I had much less pain, still needed advil, but not nearly as much so to me that was a step in the right direction.
So I guess you’re wondering what happen after 3 months- reality, that this limiting diet was really hard. I did eventually learn I am intolerant to GLUTEN, DAIRY, SOY and coconut (random one sprinkled in but I learned the hard way from the pain after trying the Paleo lifestyle). I decided that I would continue to eliminate the ones I was definitely intolerant to and then limit my alcohol and only have decaf every once in awhile (with cashew milk). For me this is the best way to make a positive change and I am lucky to not have a severe allergy to any of them so that I can choose to live this way.
I still have pain, but not nearly as bad as others, so I consider myself lucky. I am also still learning what foods trigger more pain, it’s an ongoing journey. As a result I have been connected with so many others who struggle with food sensitivities for all sorts of medical conditions. It’s truly inspiring to hear stories and I am thankful to share mine in hopes it may inspire and empower someone else! Food can be isolating when you have intolerances, sensitives, allergies, etc. BUT food can also build community. I would like to think that’s what I am doing with The Greater Knead. Thanks for reading :-)-Michelle