Sundog –noun 1. parhelion. 2. a small or incomplete rainbow.

El Polo Diablo

It has been a long several days but I’m finally feeling a bit more normal today.

Last Sunday night we had a big windstorm in the area which felled a tree onto some power lines and knocked out our electricity. It happened just after midnight. All night the wind waged war in the tree tops overhead and we had a very fitful night of sleep.

Monday morning we awoke to find the power still off which is actually a little unusual. We also found only six hard boiled eggs remaining and no other precooked heavy protein sources for meals. Though we are well prepared for going several days without power (as has happened a few times in the past), it was with foods dense in starchy carbohydrates remaining from our past style of eating.

latimesblog 11/10/09
On the prowl for food.

For a Paleo diet, the cupboards were largely bare. And so the hunt began.

Jeremy’s father could bring home something from town after he was off work but he needed to know what to get and where to go. Given that until four months ago I had been a vegetarian for over 12 years and so had never gone to a restaurant and ordered a meat dish in this town… it proved rather difficult to find anything to eat. Add to this difficulty a national holiday leaving half the places we called closed, we were lucky to find one place after two hours of searching.

Or at least we thought we were lucky at the time.

This brings me now to saying how absolutely burned up with frustration that I still am today at what follows. We called one of the local grocery stores that tends to try and be a bit more upscale and I spoke directly to someone in the deli department. I asked her very specifically if their rotisserie roasted chickens had MSG in them. She claimed to go find out, came back and told me they did not.

There is not a doubt in my mind that that bird was covered in tons of MSG and I have paid a steep price for having eaten it.

My goodness, I have never been sensitive to MSG before. I knew we wanted to avoid it based on a number of things I have read over the last year that said it wasn’t a very good thing to ingest if you have chronic illness, hence the hours of calling around looking for food that did not contain it. But it was just a precaution; I had no idea that it would make me this ill if I did eat it.

Less than a hour after eating I began to have my first symptoms. The first two days were the worst. I had difficulty breathing at times and a lot of shortness of breath all other times, a huge amount of exhaustion, nausea, intestinal cramping, my emotions going very haywire, large amount of water retention (also from the added salt at the store), headaches, greatly increased allergy symptoms with my sinuses, really scary stuff going on with my ears, and just in general a strong feeling of my body systems being really messed up.

Why did I react this way to MSG while others can safely eat it? MSG is an excitatory neurotransmitter which means it excites nerves and makes them fire more frequently. It does this in your mouth and your brain first so that your taste buds are triggered to enjoy the food more. Problem is that it doesn’t stop there. In an already overly stimulated nervous system such as mine, it is like adding oxygen and gasoline to a fire barely under control.

firestorm
The chaos of an overly stimulated nervous system.

Everything goes haywire. Brain chemistry gets wonky, felt like my body was utterly exhausted yet I had done nothing to cause it, and there are studies showing MSG increases histamine by 150%. Histamine is responsible for allergy symptoms amongst having other biological roles.

As time has passed my symptoms have slowly been lessening in severity. The first three days I could not walk to our ‘facilities’ and back without nearly collapsing in a breathless heap on the ground partway back, willpower the only thing that kept my feet under me till I could fall into bed with my heart pounding and dying for air. Luckily that has passed fully. To take its place is a light rash over much of my skin. The gastro-intestinal problems have mostly gone away too. Allergies are still hyperactive but slowly going back to normal as is the myriad of other symptoms.

All of these symptoms (minus maybe the water retention) can be traced back to how MSG allergies/sensitivities present themselves. This could have been prevented were it not for one incompetent worker telling me there was no MSG in the food. Grrrr!!!!

Today I am very happy to say that I am finally starting to feel a lot calmer in mind and body again after a very chaotic week. Jeremy also had some troubles with the food, but not to the same extent as I did though the first two days were also pretty rough on him and he is not fully recovered from it yet either.

Half of week four down and we are very much still eating strict Paleo and gradually feeling a bit better with it. The only bump in the road was that chicken… El Polo Diablo.

El Polo Diablo, my photoshopped image
El Polo Diablo aka “The Devil Chicken”

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4 responses

  1. Snez

    Hi Lisa 🙂 , another great blog.

    I avoid MSG as well but have difficulty in stopping my mum adding it to every dish in sight when we go to visit.
    MSG is a real problem because it comes under so many different guises. The one to watch out for is hydrolyzed vegetable protein, sounds harmless enough. I suppose it is a possibility that the deli person might not have been aware of the other names MSG might might fall under.

    I’m glad you are on the mend 🙂

    January 24, 2010 at 2:05 am

    • Oh my! That really must be hard Snez. Can you bring one dish with you to share and that way have something minus MSG to eat if she puts it on everything else?

      Thanks for the post Snez 🙂

      January 24, 2010 at 4:11 pm

  2. I avoid it, too, when I know there’s a risk it’s there. My diet has become so simplified now that there’s less risk of it, thank goodness. I don’t get reactions like yours, but I can feel it. I love your blog with the illustrations today. Good luck to you with the power situation.

    January 24, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    • I certainly seem to be in the minority for the type of reaction I got from it. >.< I shall have to be a lot more careful now that I know I react this way.

      Thanks for stopping by Pris! 😀

      January 24, 2010 at 4:12 pm

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