I'm Ro. 

I’m a 30 year young woman with Crohn’s Disease. I have felt trapped by the burden of a chronic illness and the medical intervention it requires. This is my journey to taking back my life through dramatic change in lifestyle, location, and loving myself.

LEAP - What I'm Eating and Why

LEAP - What I'm Eating and Why

Under the supervision of my nutritionist I started the LEAP protocol diet therapy following the results of my MRT (mediator release test). This test determines what food chemicals (both natural and non) your body is sensitive too and cause inflammation.  The test and 3 follow up sessions cost $600 out of pocket. No insurance company, that I know of, covers any part of it. This may seem like a lot, but given the fact that I was spending somewhere between $120-$200 a month on my Remicade alone  (the bills came constantly and always for different amounts) this seemed like a worthwhile investment.  After receiving my payment in full, the nutritionist mailed me an Oxford Biomedical MRT test kit, which I brought to a lab test facility. I went to a ANY LAB TEST NOW facility in a small shopping center in Marietta. The nurse at the testing center sat at the front desk singing along to Ariana Grande on the radio. She coughed and smiled as if she hadn’t been merrily caroling to herself moments before I walked in.

I gave her my test kit and after filling out another form, and paying the facility $35, she sat me in chair to draw my blood. She tied the rubber band around my upper arm, felt for a good vein and popped the little needle under the skin, watching the small test tube fill crimson. I was used to this ritual after months of blood work testing and infusions. She smiled and hummed along to Arianna as she danced the vile up and down to keep the blood from coagulating.

A few days later I received an envelope with a detailed report of everything my body was reactive too. It turns out I am sensitive too:

Sugar (yes, ALL Sugar)
Maple syrup
Black pepper
Millet (grain)
Green peas
Lima beans
Soy lecithin
Sorbic acid
Potassium nitrite
Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
Red #4 (food dye)
Yellow #6 (food dye)
Potassium nitrate (preservative in foods)
Blue #1 (food dye)

This list was not particularly helpful for me at first. I was never one to mainline Blue Gatorade and ice cream, so I found it frustrating that everything listed to avoid were things I did not eat much of to begin with.

Upon further discussion, I learned that the most important part of this detox was not focusing on what you should avoid eating, but rather, on what you should. The test is about distilling your food selections down to a small list of non-reactive foods for your body.

Those foods are determined by a set of numbers. For the first 10 days (which I actually did for 20 since I was still having symptoms) I only ate foods that I scored a 1.0 or below on. After that slowly added in higher number foods up to 2.0.

For the first 20 days I ate only:

Cod, Egg, Tuna, Sole,
Corn, Buckwheat, Rice
Cucumber, Celery, Beet, Lettuce, Carrot, Broccoli,
Orange, Cherry, Avocado, Apple, Pineapple, Olives, Pear, Peach,
Cashews, Olive Oil
Vanilla, Basil, Mint, Dill, Paprika, Coconut, Cinnamon,

Thanks to the caffeine gods, coffee is ok for me, but I have completely cut out gluten, dairy, and most difficult alcohol. People act very strange when you tell them you’re not drinking. I've been at parties where men still pour me glass of wine and push it into my hands despite protestations. I’ll raise an eyebrow, smile politely, enjoy having a prop for a moment, then leave it on a countertop at the first opportunity.

Eating out is still very challenging, I have practically stopped doing it. It is much easier to know the exact ingredients in your meal when you’re the one making it. Even things like preservatives in frozen meats or fish I learned are compromising for me.

People ask me about my diet all the time. Noticing that I refuse most of what’s being offered, at first they assume it's a vanity (not entirely wrong), an anorexic inclination they mock; I’m a silly woman for watching what I eat; as if the whole world telling women since birth to watch what they eat was not reason enough. They are a little more gentle when I blushingly tell them it is to control my Crohn’s, although I’m not sure why my doing it for weight loss should be any less valid.

People also tell me they just do not have the “willpower” to do it. That they peter out on their diets after a few weeks at most. This is not really an option for me. Every time I’m in a position where I’m staring lustily at someone’s chicken wings or Jack Daniel’s, I think about the feeling I will have immediately after eating it. The bile that will immediately rise in my throat and the bloated acid gurgling in my stomach. I think about sticking myself with a Humira pen in my bathroom or laying on my couch getting a Remicade infusion and it’s enough to turn those chicken wings into dust.

10 Tips for Sticking With Your Detox

10 Tips for Sticking With Your Detox

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A $25,000 Insurance Ordeal