I know guys, I know. Being gluten free is so mainstream now, so it is totally typical of hipster me to find a new food allergy that is pretty unknown. But, unfortunately, it is not a fad or a phase. And I think that many of you might actually be allergic to nightshades and don't know it yet.
So what are nightshades? Here's a basic list of nightshades you may recognize:
- Potatoes (all except sweet potatoes/yams)
- Peppers - (bell peppers, chilis, chipotle, paprika, cayenne, etc)
- Goji Berries
Nightshades, scientifically known as Solanaceæ, are named as such due to the little cap that tops the fruit/vegetable/flower of the plant. Think of an eggplant, there's the purple body and then the little green cap- that cap is what gives the name nightshade and is the common trait between the plants!
So how the heck did I find out that I was allergic to these seemingly random group of foods? Well, it was not easy. I have always had gastrointestinal issues and migraines. After my husband and I were married, I just got way worse. It was to the point that I was curled up in a ball of pain every night. We finally broke down and went to doctor after doctor after doctor. We finally got into a highly recommended specialist, only to have the doctor not even attempt tests and give me some samples of pills. We were left frustrated and with a lot of medical bills. There had to be a root cause of the pain I was having, of how sick I was, of how much weight I gained (nope, I was not pregnant!).
So we searched around the internet and decided to try seeing if it was a food allergy. We did this crazy diet called the elimination diet (dedicated post on that later). Essentially, we got rid of all foods that were potential major allergens and slowly re-introduced them into our system. It was a months long process. Finally, we were able to have tomatoes...and I threw up within five minutes. We tried again, same result. Heck, I even had a piece of tomato the other day and immediately threw up. Although my symptoms were different with the other nightshades- ranging from stomach pain to headaches and brain fog to arthritic inflammation- it was obvious that they were somehow related.
Google to the rescue! We searched each of the food I had a reaction to, and BINGO! All nightshades. Since removing them from my diet (for the most part, slip ups happen), I have found that I can actually live pain free. To be honest, I didn't think it would be possible. My husband has been a rockstar this whole time, taking care of me on my worst days and committing to a nightshade free home- because let's be real, I love me some Spaghetti!
After 6 months of living nightshade free, I found that there was no blog that I could turn to. Some Paleo blogs have recipes that I can adapt, but let's be real- I am not hardcore Paleo by any means. I LOVE CARBS DO NOT HATE ME. I have been able to really dive into my cooking skills- forcing myself to learn how to make everything from Mayonaise to Pies to Alfredo Pizza from scratch (or mostly from scratch). It is work, yes, but it has actually been such a great bonding experience for my husband and me.
So, I hope this will be a great starting place if you need recipes, want tips, or need help being nightshade free. Ask questions, give me cooking challenges, post your thoughts. Let's get cooking and stop throwing 'shade in the kitchen!