Tag Archives: food intolerances

Zucchini Soup and enter to win Shirley Plant’s cookbook Finally…Food I Can Eat!

25 Feb

Shirley Plant's Finally...Food I Can Eat!

Fifteen years ago, author Shirley Plant found that she had to make changes to her diet after being diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and multiple food and environmental allergies. She understands firsthand the difficulties of trying to plan creative, nutritious, and affordable menus while having to avoid such common foods as wheat, dairy, eggs, corn, gluten, and sugar, just to name a few. Through understanding, education, and a keen interest to help people find food alternatives to fit into their life schedules, she has developed an expertise and reputation in dietary design and customized recipes, as well as being a personal chef for clients with dietary sensitivities. Her recipe book, Finally…Food I Can Eat! provides those with multiple food allergies and sensitivities with a ton of great recipes. She’s also included advice on food combining, rotation diets, substitutions and more.

I’ve been experimenting with my diet since last year, to find out what I am sensitive to. Although my symptoms cannot be compared with those who have severe allergies, I know how difficult it was to enjoy food when I was constantly analyzing every ingredient. It was exhausting to figure out what I could and couldn’t eat and I certainly made mistakes along the way, as “forbidden” ingredients are everywhere.

Shirley’s book simplifies things by providing recipes that cover off most of the major allergies and intolerances, but the key is, the recipes actually sound tasty! There are so many recipes and options in this cookbook that the possibilities really are endless. What made me most proud was to find out that she’s Canadian!  Many thanks to Vicky @momwhoruns for connecting us : )

I had some zucchini in the house, so I immediately thought of Shirley’s recipe for Zucchini Soup. It was simple, satisfying and allowed the ingredients to shine. Don’t forget to scroll down after you check out the recipe, I’m giving away a copy of Finally…Food I Can Eat! You can purchase her book from Chapters/Indigo online here: http://bit.ly/13hGn9L

Zucchini Soup from Shirley Plant’s cookbook Finally…Food I Can Eat!

Zucchini Soup

Taken from Pg 112 of Finally…Food I Can Eat! by Shirley Plant

Note: This recipe is free of dairy products, wheat, yeast, corn, sugar, eggs, soy, nuts, nightshades, and gluten.


Olive oil

6 cups zucchini, diced (approx. 3 large zucchini) (1.5 L)

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

3-4 cups water or vegetable soup stock (750 ml-1 L)

1 tsp basil (5 mL)

1 tsp oregano (5 mL)

1 tsp sea salt (5 mL)

½ tsp pepper

1 can beans – navy, lima, or northern beans (14 fl oz. -398 ml) (Sandy’s notes: I drained, rinsed and drained the beans again).

Handful parsley or watercress to garnish (optional)


Cut zucchini info small chunks. In a soup pot, heat oil and add onions and cook until soft, approximately 2 minutes. Add soup stock or water, basil, oregano, salt, pepper, and simmer for 15 minutes until zucchini is soft.

Add canned beans and parsley and purée with hand-held blender.

You can serve this soup hot or cold.

Yields: 8 cups (2 L).

Sandy’s Notes:

  • I added 1/2 a teaspoon of chili flakes for a bit of a kick
  • I had a ¼ cup of canned corn on hand, so I added it to the soup for colour (Note: the original recipe is corn free, but (thankfully) I’m not allergic to corn!)
  • Before pureeing the soup, I removed 1 cup of the vegetables and set them aside. My hand blender wasn’t working very well, so I put the soup in the blender in small batches to puree it. I then stirred in the vegetables I had set aside, to add some texture to the soup.
  • I found that my soup was a bit thick, so I thinned it out with some water

CONTEST: Win a copy of Shirley Plant’s cookbook “Finally…Food I Can Eat!”

I’m giving away a copy of “Finally…Food I Can Eat!” by Shirley Plant! You must be a resident of Canada to win. If you win, the cookbook will be shipped directly to your home.


Option 1: Leave a comment on this blog post and tell me why you should win a copy of “Finally…Food I Can Eat!” P.S. Don’t forget to include your Twitter, Facebook or blog site address so I know how to reach you!

Option 2: Follow me on Twitter @savvari and tweet the following:

I want to win a copy of @sherrecipes cookbook “Finally…Food I Can Eat!” from @savvari #cookbook #contest

You can enter once a day using each option!

Hurry! Contest closes on Sunday March 3 at 5 pm EST. Good luck!


YorkTest Program’s Food & DrinkScan, a Food Intolerance Test – Part 5 – Product Reviews and changes I’ve made

16 Aug

Note: This is my last post in a series about YorkTest Program’s Food & DrinkScan, a Food Intolerance Test. You can find the earlier posts here:

Part 1 – http://bit.ly/M8QPne  Part 2 – http://bit.ly/L7okuY  Part 3 – http://bit.ly/N2T92g  Part 4 –bit.ly/MqTQj8

As I had mentioned in my previous post, once I found out from my YorkTest Program results that I needed to avoid cow dairy, I decided to try non-dairy alternatives to supplement my diet. There are so many products out there and while I had a great time trying them, some were certainly better than others! I’ve reviewed some of the products below: 

Almond Breeze Original (sweetened)

I tried this beverage first, simply because it’s readily available at major grocery stores. I was pretty happy with the smooth, slightly creamy taste it provided however it was a little too sweet for my liking. It looks like milk but it certainly doesn’t taste like milk. It is however a decent substitute!

Uses: In cereal, oatmeal, coffee, smoothies and homemade ice pops.

Would I buy this again? Maybe (only due to the amount of sugar in it).

 Almond Breeze Original Unsweetened

I loved this beverage as it’s (obviously) the unsweetened version of Almond Breeze Original. Wherever possible, I like to be in control of the amount of sugar I’m consuming, so I appreciate that they’ve created an unsweetened version.  

Uses: In cereal, oatmeal, coffee, in soups, smoothies and homemade ice pops.

Would I buy this again? Absolutely!


 Almond Breeze Chocolate (sweetened)

I enjoyed this beverage as it is really tasty, creamy and has the right amount of chocolate, giving me the same satisfaction I used to get when I drank a glass of chocolate milk. It’s not very low on the calorie scale, so it’s more of a treat, but it’s definitely a great product to keep on hand for when a chocolate craving strikes.

Uses: Great chilled on its own but also tasty in smoothies and homemade ice pops. It’s also delicious when heated up, for a “hot chocolate” treat.

Would I buy this again? Absolutely!

Rice Dream Enriched Vanilla (sweetened)

This beverage was just okay for me. It was thin, watery and had more of a milk-like texture than Almond Breeze but it didn’t give me the same satisfaction I used to get when I drank milk. I also found the vanilla flavouring to be a bit odd.

Uses: In cereal, oatmeal and smoothies.

Note: Since Rice Dream is sold at every major grocery store, I assumed it would be fabulous. Perhaps I need to try the other flavours?

Would I buy this again? Maybe

Coconut Dream Original Unsweetened

This was my least favourite non-dairy beverage. Some of my friends really like it because it’s “creamy” but I actually found it kind of oily. I didn’t enjoy the coconut flavour in the background, even though I  usually love coconut.

Uses: In cereal (I found it tasted really odd with my Cheerios), oatmeal (the oatmeal did mask the flavour) and smoothies (everything gets hidden in a smoothie!).

Would I buy this again? Probably not, however I would be willing to try other coconut beverages to see if there’s a difference in flavour.

Becel Vegan margarine

If you’re looking for a mainstream, non-dairy margarine than this is it. It looks like margarine and tastes like margarine. This is also one of the only non-dairy products my husband will consume because it’s made by a brand he trusts.

Uses: Anywhere you would use margarine.

Would I buy this again? Absolutely. P.S. Well done Becel for creating a specialty product and putting it on major grocery store shelves. Kudos to you!

Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds

After hearing so much about this product on Twitter, I finally had an excuse to try it. It’s very interesting in that it looks like cheese, it (sort of) smells like cheese and it (sort of) melts like cheese. I applaud the creators of the product at it really does mimic the real thing quite nicely. The flavour however is different and it’s a lot more pungent.

Uses: I used it in pizza, on nachos and in veggie fajitas with success.

Would I buy this again? Yes, but I’d like to try the “cheddar” flavour next.

Note: Once opened, it has a short lifespan in the fridge but it does freeze quite well.

Liberté 1% Goat Milk

I felt like I was missing out on the calcium that’s in cow dairy so I decided to give goat’s milk a try. A few of my colleagues (and their families) drink it in place of cow’s milk. It is quite expensive though, as I paid almost $4 for a one litre carton of it. You can buy it in bags as well and save a few dollars.

Uses: I’ve only tried it in smoothies so far (I’m not brave enough to drink it straight up yet.)

Would I buy this again? Absolutely.

 Liberté Plain Goat Milk Yogurt

I’m South Indian, so when we have a traditional meal we always end with rice and plain, unsweetened yogurt. This is meant to cool the stomach at the end of a spicy meal and it’s one of my favourite things to eat. With my new diet, I knew I needed a backup option and I found that Liberté goat’s milk yogurt was a perfect substitute. It is a little pricey at almost $5 for a 500 g container of it but a little goes a long way with this product. Bonus: It’s high in probiotics!

Uses: So far I’ve had it with rice (as mentioned above), in smoothies and as a snack with fruit. The flavour and texture is similar to sour cream, so I think it would be great on a baked potato too.

Would I buy this again? Absolutely.

President’s Choice Soft Unripened Goat’s Milk Cheese

People (including me) often forget that those with dairy issues usually only have an issue with cow dairy. A good goat cheese is made strictly from goat’s milk, making it a pretty safe bet.

Uses: I’ve had it on pizza, in salads, mixed into pasta and in sandwiches. I’m looking forward to trying it in dessert recipes too.

Would I buy this again? Absolutely.

 President’s Choice Formaggio Di Bufala (Buffalo Milk Cheese)

Another product that’s perfect for those who cannot have cow dairy as it’s made from water buffalo milk.  It’s delicious but quite expensive, so you have to use this product wisely!

Uses: So far I’ve only used it in a salad that consists of sliced tomato, sliced buffalo milk cheese and fresh basil with fleur de sel, fresh pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. It’s delicious!  You can also use it on pizzas and in pasta dishes.

Would I buy this again? Absolutely!

I know there is a whole world of other non-dairy possibilities out there. If you have any products to recommend, I would be happy to try them out!

Overall, I am so very thankful that I participated in the YorkTest Program. If I had not taken the test, I would have continued to consume foods and beverages that were causing harm to my body. Even if I had wanted to figure out what foods/beverages were causing a reaction, it would have been almost impossible to identify the specific items by trial and error. The YorkTest Program results were clear, easy to read and only required a quick finger prick and a drop of blood to provide me with the detailed information I needed.

By replacing cow dairy with alternative sources, I’ve found a huge difference in my body and I no longer feel the bloating and stomach discomfort I used to face on a daily basis.  My clothes fit better now and I have a lot more energy. I’m certainly looking forward to continuing on this path and I would sincerely encourage others to look into this test as it can really change your life for the better. Thanks YorkTest Program!

Want to learn more about the YorkTest Program? Visit their website at http://www.yorktest.ca/ or follow them on Twitter and Facebook

Disclosure: In exchange for writing this series of blog posts, I’ve received a free Food & DrinkScan and enrollment into the program. The opinions expressed are my own.

YorkTest Program’s Food & DrinkScan, a Food Intolerance Test – Part 4 – My call with the Nutrition Advisor and the “No Cow Dairy” diet

13 Jul

 Note: This is Part 4 in my series of posts about YorkTest Program’s Food & DrinkScan, a Food Intolerance Test. You can find the earlier parts here:

Part 1 – http://bit.ly/M8QPne  Part 2 – http://bit.ly/L7okuY  Part 3 – http://bit.ly/N2T92g

A few days after I received my results, it was time for my first call with one of YorkTest Program’s Registered Naturopathic Doctors, Dr. Michelle O’Neill. She took me through my results chart and helped me to understand that I didn`t need to eliminate all of my main AVOID (RED) items immediately, specifically Cow Dairy, Yeast and Lentils, and advised that it would be best (and easiest) to start with the worst offender, cow dairy. Cow dairy was the top item on my AVOID (RED) list and therefore was the food that my body was fighting the hardest against. I was slightly surprised as I thought that by only including lactose-free milk, yogurt (the amount of lactose apparently reduces during the fermentation process) and hard cheeses (apparently also lower in lactose) that I had things under control. Clearly not!

Dr. O’Neill was so easy to talk to and asked what my current diet consisted of, so we could work together to pinpoint the key sources of cow dairy. From there, she walked me through potential substitutions for cow dairy and I was so happy to hear that I actually had options!

The plan – eliminate all sources of cow dairy for two full weeks and see if I felt any different. Dr. O’Neill was quick to point out that it would require a lot of willpower and planning ahead to make this work, as many of my daily food and beverage choices would be affected. She mentioned that in addition to the straight and obvious sources – milk, yogurt and cheese – I should look out for modified milk ingredients and related ones such as whey and casein when making choices.

She was quick to point out that although cow dairy was off limits, I could try goat, sheep or buffalo dairy instead. Almond milk, rice milk, soy milk, coconut milk and other non-dairy sources were also easily available now at my local grocery stores. I was not only happy to hear that I had options but I was also looking forward to exploring new foods and beverages.

I decided to start Week 1 properly the following Monday, as I not only wanted time to prepare but I felt that my best chance at making this work was to start with a full week ahead of me. I sat down to make a list of all of the items I consume regularly with cow dairy in them and I realized just how big that list was. I was regularly consuming milk, plain yogurt, fruit yogurt and having cheese. Just as I started to pat myself on the back for having such a short list, I realized that many of my beloved sweet snacks, specifically chocolate, usually contained cow dairy as well….yikes! As painful as it sounded I knew I had to do this for the sake of my health. I was sick of feeling tired and having an upset stomach pretty much all the time.

I knew the only way to make this happen was to plan my own meals and cook at home as much as I could for the next two weeks, so that I could control the ingredients. I also knew that I would have to think of every food and beverage choice to make sure that I wasn`t putting cow dairy into my system. This was going to be fun and scary…

I headed to the grocery store and probably spent a good hour and half going through the aisles (this is not unusual for me, I love browsing in grocery stores), reading packages and filling my cart with the items I needed and wanted. I picked up the following alternative products to try:

I also stocked up on fruits, vegetables, tortillas and English muffins. I spent a FORTUNE on groceries that day, as alternative products are often a lot pricier, however I didn’t mind as I was excited to have an excuse to try some new products.

I spent the first week eating the following items (not all at once of course):

Breakfast Options:

  • English muffins with almond butter and/or jam
  • Breakfast wraps with egg, goat cheese or Daiya cheese and veggies
  • Oatmeal made with almond milk and fruit
  • Coffee with almond or soy milk OR a Starbucks Soy Americano Misto OR a soy latte

Lunch/Dinner Options:

  • Rice with veggies and tofu
  • Quinoa with veggies
  • Pastas with veggies and Daiya cheese
  • Wraps with egg, goat cheese and roasted veggies
  • Vegetarian maki rolls (Japanese)
  • Indian curry dishes, all made without dairy
  • Homemade soups
  • Salads
  • Noodles


  • Fruit
  • Veggies
  • Smoothies
  • Chocolate almond milk (heated)
  • Homemade frozen ice pops

While I enjoyed the challenge of Week 1, it was also exhausting. After eating whatever I wanted that was lacto-ovo vegetarian for so long, I had to stop and think about everything I was putting in my mouth. This sounds simple enough, but when you look forward to having a small coffee with one cream and one sugar every morning, taking it away is rough. I’ll admit, on more than one occasion, I poured cream and sugar into a cup and was just about to add coffee before I realized what I was doing and had to throw it out.

Dealing with the food situation was okay, partly because my husband was away on a business trip and I didn’t have to cook for both of us that week. I also didn’t have many social engagements to deal with, which was a blessing as I’m sure that I was getting a little testy with some people : ) Week 1 helped me to realize just how much food I used to put into my mouth without thinking about it. Being a vegetarian is pretty easy once you get used to it but taking away the dairy and eggs just made it harder. For someone who loves food, it was a great exercise in restraint for sure. I wasn’t sure if I was exhausted because of the amount of effort or from what I was eating, so I asked Dr. O’Neill for her thoughts on how I was feeling. She advised that it was common for participants of elimination diets to feel tired in the first few weeks of making changes to their diets, as the body works to adjust.

By Week 2, I definitely noticed a change in my system as I did feel less bloated and wasn’t experiencing as much discomfort in my stomach. It was quite amazing to feel these changes as I had lived with my symptoms for so long that they started to feel normal to me. My pants started to feel a bit looser and the heavy feeling that used to drag me down all the time was lifting. I wondered at first if it was psychological but my stomach symptoms had clearly subsided! It was truly surprising. Now what was I going to do?

Want to learn more about the YorkTest Program? Visit their website at http://www.yorktest.ca/ or follow them on Twitter and Facebook

Stay tuned for my next post in the series – YorkTest Program’s Food & DrinkScan, a Food Intolerance Test – Part 5 – Product Reviews and changes I’ve made

Disclosure: In exchange for writing this series of blog posts, I’ve received a free Food & DrinkScan and enrollment into the program. The opinions expressed are my own.


YorkTest Program’s Food & DrinkScan, a Food Intolerance Test – Part 3 – Food Intolerance and IgG Antibodies

1 Jul

Note: This is Part 3 in my series of posts about YorkTest Program’s Food & DrinkScan, a Food Intolerance Test. You can find the earlier parts here:

Part 1 – http://bit.ly/M8QPne  Part 2 – http://bit.ly/L7okuY

After receiving my results, I was excited to finally have an idea about what was causing my symptoms, but I was left with a few questions, so I turned to the good folks at YorkTest Canada for some answers…

Did the test show results only for foods/beverages that are in my system OR for all foods/beverages? Based on my results, I know that several items were actively in my system but I just wanted some clarity.

Answer from YorkTest Canada – You are correct.  In order to test for an IgG reaction, the food has to be present in your system.  IgG antibodies have a half-life of between 15-21 days so it can take up to 2 months to lower your IgG levels.  This basically means that you can show a positive well after ingestion of a problem food because IgG antibodies stick around in your system so long.  Your sample would have been tested against the entire panel, and if there was a reaction, then it shows IgG antibodies were present at an elevated rate.

What is a food intolerance? What are IgG antibodies?

Answer from YorkTest Canada – Food intolerances or food sensitivities are believed to arise when certain incompletely digested food particles enter your bloodstream and are treated as foreign substances. This results in your immune system producing tailor-made immunoglobulin G or IgG antibodies, which attack the food in question and ultimately generate an inflammatory response in various organs throughout the body. Some researchers believe this chronic low grade inflammatory response in the body to select problem foods is associated with many conditions (see list of symptoms below). These immune mediated food intolerances or food sensitivities are sometimes described in medical literature as delayed food reactions, type III hypersensitivities or non-IgE mediated food reactions.

Food intolerance is characterized as a delayed onset food reaction as symptoms can takes hours or even days to develop. While the symptoms of food intolerance may not be considered life-threatening, they negatively impact a patient’s quality of life. Due to the uniqueness of our immune systems, we have varying levels of IgG sensitivity to different foods. Therefore foods that are healthy for some can cause agonizing symptoms in others. Self identification of problem foods through a food elimination diet can be a painstaking process and is rarely successful.

There are 3 important factors that make linking problem foods with symptoms nearly impossible: It has been shown that patients typically have 6-7 food intolerances. Imagine the complexity of finding the right combination of 6-7 hidden foods among the 100s of foods that make up one’s normal diet. It takes several weeks for IgG antibodies to fully leave your bloodstream. Therefore you have to eliminate the suspect food from your diet for at least 3-4 weeks to truly know if the food you are eliminating is a problem food for you. Imagine how long it would take to cycle through all the foods in your normal diet. Food intolerances may take several hours or even days to develop. This delay may cause patients to associate symptoms with the wrong foods while others may never realize their symptoms are related to food intolerance. It is not surprising that patients prefer to take a simple blood test and minimize the guesswork associated with trial and error elimination diets. Food intolerance testing significantly speeds up the whole process of identifying and treating hidden food intolerances.

Are there any classic signs of increased antibodies?

Answer from YorkTest Canada – Symptoms: (can be any number of these typically)

  • Cramps
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Skin Dryness
  • Rashes
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Itching
  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Difficulties Breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Weight Gain

Their answers really helped me to understand what the purpose of the test was. Knowing exactly what to avoid could certainly help me to make better food/beverage choices for my health. Had I tried to conduct my own elimination diet, I know that I wouldn’t have had the willpower or motivation to remove some of my favourite foods for weeks, without having an end goal. I never would have known that I could have an intolerance to specific wine grapes like Pinot Grigio and Reisling, but now that I do I can make an effort to order a Malbec or a Pinot Noir instead and make better choices for my body.

The next step in the process was to have a call with one of YorkTest Canada’s Nutrition Advisor to setup a plan for my elimination diet! The process continues…

Want to learn more about the YorkTest Program? Visit their website at http://www.yorktest.ca/ or follow them on Twitter and Facebook

Stay tuned for my next post in the series – YorkTest FoodScan`s Food and Drink Intolerance Test – Part 4 – My call with the Nutrition Advisor and Week 1 of “No Cow Dairy”

Disclosure: In exchange for writing this series of blog posts, I’ve received a free Food & DrinkScan and enrollment into the program. The opinions expressed are my own.

YorkTest Program’s Food & DrinkScan, a Food Intolerance Test – Part 2 – My Results

13 Jun

Note: This is Part 2 in my series of posts about YorkTest Program’s Food & DrinkScan, a Food Intolerance Test. If you missed Part 1, view it here –> http://bit.ly/M8QPne

So after a short wait, I’m happy to share that I’ve received an envelope with the results from my YorkTest Program Food & DrinkScan test. Here we go….

I found that my results were organized into 3 categories:

AVOID (highlighted in RED) – indicates you have raised IgG antibody levels to these foods and you should try to eliminate them completely from your diet.

LIMIT(highlighted in YELLOW) – indicates you have a borderline reaction to these foods and may or may not benefit by limiting their consumption. It is best to eliminate these for a minimum of 4 weeks and slowly reintroduce these back into your diet and see how you react to them.

ENJOY (highlighted in GREEN) – these foods can be eaten without restriction, unless you already know that these foods do cause you a reaction and you have been avoiding them, in which case you should continue to do so.

Below is a breakdown of what was on each of my three lists. Here’s a copy of my results file –>Sandy – YorkTest Program Results

Based on the information I was given, the list I needed to be most concerned about were the foods and beverages that were marked in RED (my items to AVOID), in order of appearance.

Sandy`s list of items to AVOID (highlighted in RED):

  • Cow’s Milk
  • Yeast
  • Grape (Pinot Gris/Grigio)
  • Juniper
  • Grape (Red/White Zinfandel Mix)
  • Grape (Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • Grape (Chenin Blanc)
  • Grape (Sauvignon Blanc)
  • Grape (Shiraz)
  • Grape (Riesling)
  • Guarana
  • Beetroot
  • Lentils
  • Grape (Chardonnay)
  • Elderberry/Elderflower Mix
  • Salmon/Trout  – Not supposed to be part of my diet
  • Beef – Not supposed to be part of my diet
  • Dandelion/Burdock Mix
  • Grape (Concord)

Sandy`s list of items to LIMIT (highlighted in YELLOW):  

  • Rooibos (Redbush tea)
  • Lychee
  • Grape (Merlot)
  • Prune
  • Almond
  • Egg White
  • Hibiscus
  • Tuna – Not supposed to be part of my diet

Sandy`s list of items to ENJOY (highlighted in GREEN):

My list of “items to enjoy” was (thankfully!) a very long list, too long to post here. Here is the link to the PDF file of my results —> Sandy – YorkTest Program Results

Based on the above RED (AVOID) list, my number one offender was Cow’s Milk! Yikes! As a lacto-ovo vegetarian, I am not happy with these results. I rely on dairy both for nutritional value and enjoyment. As East Indian food is a staple of my diet, avoiding plain yogurt was going to be a challenge as I have it with rice at least 3 times a week. I also love cheese, so it was certainly going to pose a problem.

Item number two on my avoid list is yeast! Again…yikes! Ohh how I love bread…

Cow’s milk and yeast were followed by a LONG list of grapes which make some of my favourite wines such as Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Riesling. I don’t drink wine often but I do enjoy the occasional glass with dinner or while socializing with friends. Why oh why did some of my favourite wines have to be on the list?

Beetroot I could avoid pretty easily as it wasn’t a major part of my diet…but it was still upsetting to find out that something so delicious could be causing harm to my system.

Lentils…wait…lentils?!?  I`m an East-Indian vegetarian, how am I supposed to avoid lentils?!?  Okay Sandy…breathe…

There were thankfully a few items that I didn’t feel that I had to worry about. Juniper, guarana, elderberry/elderflower mix and dandelion/burdock mix were all items that I’m not in contact with often, so avoiding them would hopefully be easy.

Moving on to the YELLOW (LIMIT) list, I was also in a bit of trouble as almond and egg white showed up here. What`s the name of my blog again you ask? Ah yes, that`s right, MILK & EGGS…trust me, the irony of it all is not lost on me. This was getting funnier (read: more terrifying) by the minute.

On the “yellow” list were lychee, rooibos, prune and hibiscus which are all items of low significance in my diet. I was quite happy to find that a majority of my AVOID (RED) and LIMIT (YELLOW) foods and beverages were ones that I rarely come into contact with, so that put my mind at ease.

I did find it interesting that salmon, trout, beef and tuna were on my RED (AVOID) and YELLOW (LIMIT) list as I had specified that I was a lacto-ovo vegetarian. I decided to contact YorkTest Canada to find out how these items came to appear on my intolerance results, especially since I don’t consume any meat, seafood or poultry. I was very surprised to find out that in order to have an IgG reaction, the food particles must be in your system….so that meant that particles of salmon, trout, beef and tuna were in my body? But how? I’ll update you all when I have more answers…

After reviewing my results and hearing that I had particles of seafood and beef in my system, my mind was racing and I was feeling a lot of different emotions at the same time…

First off, I felt joy and relief in FINALLY having detailed insight into the foods/beverages that are giving my body a hard time. I`m also feeling fear and frustration as I consider what it will be like to remove some of the foods/beverages that I rely on the most. Horror of horrors…will I have to look into becoming a vegan?!?! Would I have to change the name of my blog to Almond Milk and Egg Yolks?!?

I took a step back from the situation and realized that should probably wait for my first phone consultation with the Nutrition Advisor before I panicked too much (it was too late for that!). I felt confident that they would start me off on the right path…

Want to learn more about the YorkTest Program? Visit their website at http://www.yorktest.ca/ or follow them on Twitter and Facebook

Stay tuned for my next post in the series YorkTest FoodScan`s Food and Drink Intolerance Test – Part 3 – IgG antibodies and a call with the Nutrition Advisor

Disclosure: In exchange for writing this series of blog posts, I’ve received a free Food & DrinkScan and enrollment into the program. The opinions expressed are my own.

YorkTest Program’s Food & DrinkScan, a Food Intolerance Test – Part 1 – Why I Took the Test

4 Jun



For over 15 years now, I’ve gone through life eating anything and everything that fits the lacto-ovo vegetarian profile, meaning that I follow a vegetarian diet with no meat, poultry or seafood but I do consume dairy and eggs. Some of you may think that it’s limiting but there are so many products and cuisines from different countries to try that I’m never lacking for options.

Unfortunately in the past few years, I’ve found that I’m unable to drink plain milk from a glass or have avocado. How did I find these things out? I paid attention to my body and after some time I realized that my stomach was getting upset whenever I consumed either of these items. From that point on, I avoided avocado entirely and only consumed lactose-free milk if I was having a glass of milk or including it in my cereal. I still ate yogurt, cheese and dairy in other food products because I didn’t feel any reactions taking place. I was happy that I had paid attention to my body and had figured out what it didn’t like. Unfortunately, there were still days when I felt “heavy” and also days when I was tired, even after sleeping perfectly well the night before. I basically got used to feeling like this and on the days that I felt terrific and energetic, I simply ignored the bad days and carried on.

After years of living this way, I read an article in January 2012 that changed everything. Barbara Turnbull, one of my favourite writers from the Toronto Star, published an article, Food Intolerances Can Be Found With a Blood Testhttp://bit.ly/y3WKwn and it hit me that perhaps my issues with milk and avocado were more complicated that I thought. In the article, she talked about food intolerances and how simple tests could assist in finding out exactly which foods could be affecting the body in a negative way.

A few months later, I remembered reading the article and I decided to do some research on the food intolerance tests she had referenced. On my hunt, I found out that one of the companies mentioned, the YorkTest Programwww.yorktest.ca – was active on Twitter and Facebook and was using social media to spread the message about food intolerance testing. I contacted the company to find out more and it turned out that the program not only includes the test, it also includes one-on-one nutritional counseling sessions via phone to help you interpret your results and provide you with advice on the types of changes to make to your diet. It is also one of the only tests with science on its side to support the results. YorkTest has clinical evidence to ensure the accuracy of the results that it presents to patients. I was so pleased to get these details and I was even happier to hear that many supplemental health plans are able to assist with partial or full coverage of the test costs. Why hadn’t I heard of this test earlier? Surely there were others who would benefit from taking the test too…if only they knew about it…

It was at that moment that I decided to contact YorkTest Canada to see if they were interested in allowing me to take the test and document my journey in a series of blog posts. I wanted to go through the process for my benefit but also to help others understand what food intolerance testing is all about. I was thrilled to find out that they liked the idea and that they not only wanted to run my blood sample against their set of common foods, they also wanted to run it against a new test (coming soon) that covers beverages as well! A few days later, I was excited to receive a YorkTest Program package in the mail…

Included in the kit was a pamphlet explaining the differences between food allergies and food intolerances and I learned that food allergies are usually quick to develop and can often be life-threatening. Reactions can take place after having even a small amount of an offending food. Symptoms of food intolerances can develop slowly and can often take hours or days to appear. Due to this, it can be difficult to determine exactly what is causing the issue. According to information I received, food intolerances are believed to arise when certain incompletely digested food particles enter your bloodstream and are treated as foreign substances. Your immune system then produces tailor-made antibodies (IgG), which attach to the food in question. Researchers believe that the inflammatory response in the body can cause certain symptoms and that bloating, tiredness, constipation, diarrhea, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), eczema and other issues can be caused by food intolerances. After reading this, I just knew that this test was going to help me out.

I was excited to take the test and I was happy to find out that it would be easy to take at home. Apparently all I had to do was collect a drop of blood in the collection vial, send it back to YorkTest Canada and shortly afterwards, the scientists at YorkTest Laboratories would be able to identify food intolerances across 100 common foods and drinks including:

Foods:                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Dairy, seafood, fruit, herbs & spices, meats, nuts, grains, vegetables

Beer, wines, hard liquors, juices, coffee, tea and energy drinks

This all sounded great but first I had to get over the hurdle of pricking my own finger to draw blood! Thankfully, the kit included easy-to-follow instructions on how to take the test and included everything I needed to process the test correctly. A copy of the instructions can be found here on the YorkTest website – http://bit.ly/LWfAD3

After preparing the collection vial, I used the provided antiseptic wipe to remove any residue from my finger. When it came time to actually pricking my finger to collect the sample, I found that the lancet they provided made it so easy and virtually pain-free. All I felt was a tiny prick, as the push button on the lancet did the work for me. I massaged my finger to encourage a drop of blood to form to collect the sample and closed the collection vial. That was it! They had even included a finger bandage in the kit, which I didn’t really need as the pinprick was so small. Then, I labelled my sample and filled out the Patient Information Form to provide YorkTest Canada with some background on my symptoms. I sent the forms back along with my blood sample and used lancet (they look after safe disposal) and all I had to do now was just sit back and wait for the results…

Want to learn more about the YorkTest Program? Visit their website at http://www.yorktest.ca/ or follow them on Twitter and Facebook 

Stay tuned for my next post in the series – YorkTest Program’s Food & DrinkScan, a Food Intolerance Test – Part 2 – The Results!

Disclosure: In exchange for writing this series of blog posts, I’ve received a free Food & DrinkScan and enrollment into the program. The opinions expressed are my own.

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