I’ve had a persistent rash on my hands, arms, legs and torso for over two years. It’s patchy and not super consistent. Last April, I wrote a blog post titled Sometimes, a Rash Is Grace in which I reflected on how this rash was affecting how I interact with food. Since then, I’ve gotten some new information and wanted to share some new reflections.
Shortly after my post about grace, I went to see a naturopathic doctor. He is a super nice guy who, as Casey Affleck would put it, is “wicked smaht.” Seriously, though, this dude is very, very intelligent. He studies the body as a whole on a cellular level. As far as I can grasp, he looks at how the body produces or doesn’t produce certain enzymes needed to process food or digestive byproducts. He has a chart laying out the chemical processing cycle involved in digestion that easily has a hundred different enzymes and their interactions. And he understands it. It’s mind-boggling stuff, and I consider myself a pretty smart guy.
I visited him monthly for about six months. We started with a DNA test to get a baseline of what my body is doing or not doing on its own. It turns out my body doesn’t produce antioxidants very well on its own. I also do not produce an enzyme necessary for the processing of fats and proteins. Since I can’t process those types of cells, they oxidize outside my blood cells creating free radicals and inflammation. This inflammation usually presents itself as either arthritis or, you guessed it, rashes and swelling. There were some other things in there, but those were the biggies. So, we tried to boost those functions with supplements.
It made a difference, but not a ton. There was some relief, but it wasn’t consistent or lasting. I’d go to my visits and give updates. He’d tweak what I was taking, and I’d leave with a hope that things would improve. They didn’t. I was being very faithful in taking what he’d recommended, and it wasn’t working. I got really frustrated during this six-month period. I felt like I was pouring money down the drain with no finish line in sight.
Meanwhile, a friend had recommended going to see a specific doctor who does a specific blood test to measure one’s reactivity to foods. If I could supplement my way out of the rashes without having to adjust my diet, I really wanted to. Plus, the test is expensive. But supplements weren’t working. So, off I went to have this blood test done. Here are the results:
Yellow=Bad. Red=Super bad.
None of these things will kill me. My body doesn’t react that severely. If you want to kill me, shoot me, strangle me, drown me, poison me, push me off a mountain, etc. If you want to make me itch and swell, feed me the things on this list. Take note of a few: celery? Seriously? Who the heck is allergic to celery?!?!? Oats? WHITE POTATO?!?!?!? Certain things aren’t that surprising. A lot of people are allergic to peanuts, pineapple, red food coloring. But celery and potatoes? Come on. Those are things people eat when they’re trying to eat more healthily. That’s what I was doing.
I started getting things on this list out of my diet. And, guess what. It works. The more I can avoid the things on this list, the better off I am. However, take note of a few: MSG, fructose, red food coloring, vanilla, sorbic acid and s.m.b. sulfite. It is difficult to avoid these things in restaurants and grocery stores alike. I have become conscious of everything that passes my lips. And that brings me to my two reflections:
1. What goes in matters
I have become very, very conscious of everything I eat or drink. I weigh desire for a food against consequences on a regular basis. Sure, I can go to The Hearth (great diner in Lebanon; you should check it out) and get their amazing french fries with sausage gravy over them, but I’m gonna pay for it over the next couple days. What goes into my mouth matters.
What goes into my heart and mind matters more. Am I going to believe what the world tells me about myself and God? Am I going to listen to the enemy’s lies when he accuses? Am I going to hide God’s word in my heart? Am I going to seek Him and His kingdom first, or will I fret about tomorrow? What goes in matters.
2. How do I change what goes in?
Have you ever eaten shrimp? I mean just shrimp. Don’t bread it. Don’t fry it. Don’t douse it in Italian dressing. Don’t season it. Just boil it and eat it. Actually, go ahead and do all that other stuff because plain shrimp is gross. Trust me on this one. There’s a reason people bread and fry shrimp. There’s a reason cocktail sauce was invented. But, just plain shrimp is real food. It’s basic. It’s nourishing. It doesn’t tantalize, but it gives life. The only reason to bread, fry and douse shrimp is to make it more palatable.
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
What do I do to the bread of life to make Him more palatable? Jesus didn’t call Himself the cinnamon roll of life or the bruschetta of life. He’s bread. He’s life-giving. He is the very basic sustenance we need in life. I find myself seasoning Jesus with all sorts of stuff to make Him easier to handle. But, does Jesus need seasoning?