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Pour some sugar on me

My allergist says I am not allergic to food. As a former 372-pound woman, this comes as no shock. I wanted to be surprised and to discover an easy cure for my never-ending headache. I was hoping the doctor would say, “Just stop eating dairy products and you’ll have your life back!” Sadly, the 20 minutes I spent lying on my chest with a grid drawn on my back after being scratched fifty-something times with a variety of food samples only led to the obvious answer: the former fat girl is not allergic to food.

Though he has not cured me, I like my allergist very much. I was hesitant at first, sitting in his waiting room which looked like it had not been renovated since the early 80’s. I further psyched myself out as I waited in the examination room reading a chart with about 90 things I did not know you could be allergic to. Then the doctor walked in, an older man who has seen it all and is on the case and poked at the problem from all angles (including poking me in the back). He demonstrated quick knowledge on a breadth of topics, which impressed me. “I haven’t given up on you,” he said, which was nice to hear even if I’ve basically given up on myself. So I’m trying some new pills and getting some new tests.

The allergist also suggested I try an organic diet, which essentially means if you can’t pull it out of the earth, don’t eat it. No artificial preservatives. No artificial sweeteners. No pesticides or growth hormones. “The 21st century may not be good for you,” he said. I’m rather fond of the 21st century, what with the civil rights and the Internet and the ability for women to vote and own property. But I get his point. “You can eat Amish chicken!” he said, which made me wonder where I would find any Amish people around here. I’ve seen hitching posts at the Meijer in South Bend, but that’s three hours away. I suppose I am supposed to shop only at Trader Joe’s now, even though it’s a bit of a drive.

So, I’ve been trying to do this organic diet thing since the weekend, but it is really, really, really, really hard. All the food at the grocery store has fake sweeteners or preservatives in it like my flavored yogurts, my beloved easy TV dinners, and my diet sodas. I’ve been drinking water. Water! And I bought….sugar. Real, organic, authentic sugar. Not Splenda. Not Aspartame. Sugar. It felt so wrong. It felt so dirty. All those calories packed into tiny white crystals in a bag. I may as well have been buying crack.

Then I discovered that Splenda actually is sweeter than sugar. It’s not just their marketing tag line. To get my coffee to taste as sweet as it does with two packets of Equal, I have to use three packets of sugar. So not only am I using more product, it’s costing me 45 calories. Ironically, I only started drinking coffee because it has essentially no calories. Now I’m hooked and it’s costing me the equivalent of one fat-free cheese stick for every cup.

I can’t chew sugar-free gum.

The only positive part of this experience is that the organic apples are sweet and delicious, much better than the wax-coated non-organic ones. But I have to pay extra for the deliciousness. And I don’t even know if any of this will work. Most likely my headache will persist and I will simply be slightly poorer and have eaten more calories. There was a study awhile ago that said artificial sweeteners make you gain weight because they’re not as filling. My only hope is that it turns out to be true and eating real sugar keeps me satiated. I’ve only been doing this a couple days, but I’m willing to accept it might be true. I haven’t been hungry right when I come home as I normally am. This might be because I’m getting real sugar in my coffee, so I’m more full from more calories. I dunno. We’ll see if it continues. It’s weird not eating right when I come home. I want to do it just out of habit.

I still have a headache though, and even if it didn’t, figuring out this organic diet would have given me one.

* Please do not comment on suggest remedies for my headache. I’ve heard it all, y’all and being the 40th person to tell me to see a chiropractor is not going to win you a warm spot in my heart. In fact, it will put you on my shit list.

Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest for Relief from the Headache that Wouldn't Go Away
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Helen • October 23, 2008 at 8:37 am

The irony to me is that all this organic stuff is exactly the way our grandparents ate! Trying to be healthy is so freaking expensive. And, we wonder why obesity is becoming an epidemic in our country.


marla • October 23, 2008 at 8:37 am

I’m hoping you will try stevia as a sweetener, because I’ve heard of it many times but never had it – or even seen it anywhere for that matter. You can be our guinea pig! And I’m interested to see how the organic life goes in general; maybe you will be posting in a few weeks about how transformational it was, or maybe that it gave you hives.

You’re right about the splenda; in the few instances where I’ve used it, I grossly oversweetened my coffee because I didn’t realize. But, I really hate the taste of it, so no doubt that made the effect even worse.


SawSaw • October 23, 2008 at 8:45 am

I commend the sugar efforts, I think I might cry if I had to stop eating my artificial sweetness.


Kat • October 23, 2008 at 9:11 am

Here are a couple places you may want to try to live the organic life:

Trader’s Point Creamery – it’s off west 86th over by the new Trader’s Point Plaza area, it may be a haul, but I think it’s worth it. Here’s there web site: http://www.traderspointcreamery.com/

Also, so you don’t even have to leave the house…try this too! I have several friends that have been using this service and they love it. My hubby and I are about to get on the band wagon as well.


I’ve not read the full extent of your search of headache relief, so I don’t know if you’ve been tested for cluster headaches, I only say this b/c I think I’ve developed them and they are a constant source of pain – I hope you find relief soon!!


TimberAllen • October 23, 2008 at 9:11 am

In the words of your very first few blog posts, “expect failure, but keep trying”.

I know if you persist you will figure out the answer and cure to your headaches.

We’re praying for ya!!!


dietgirl • October 23, 2008 at 9:16 am

Gonna have that darn song stuck in my head all afternoon now. You can’t beat a spot of one-armed drumming! :)


wilma • October 23, 2008 at 9:16 am

i would like to second the stevia suggestion–you’ll be able to find it at any health food type store, and it’s super, super sweet. way sweeter than sugar. and zero calories!!! good luck, i think that going organic is definitely good for overall health, if it’s done properly, in part because one can no longer eat processed food (though i love processed food, i’ll be honest). LOVE IT. not saying i don’t love an apple or whatever, but candy and doughnuts and frozen pizza and all that….mmmmm….


bea • October 23, 2008 at 9:36 am

I’m not going to suggest new remedies for your headache, but I find it interesting that after you try something for what seems like a very short time you say “But I Still have my headache” as though a headache you’ve had for a really really long time is going to go away after 1 acu/chiro/leech treatment, or a week of not putting artificial flavor/sweetener/etc into your body. You didn’t lose half your size by exercising once and saying “But I’m still fat” or eating healthy one day and saying “didn’t lose any weight, that must not work.”

Maybe give the changes you are making some more time to work. Maybe getting rid of something that is so entrenched takes a variety of healthy changes that you stick with for the rest of your life, and not a quick fix.

Or maybe you just need to try some leeches. They worked for my cousin’s best friend’s mom and she had really bad headaches for a really long time so I know they will work for you.


Tanya • October 23, 2008 at 9:37 am

Oh man, did splenda ever trigger my headaches. I solved the coffee dilemma by adding more skim milk; organic milk tastes sweeter to me than normal milk, and while that doesn’t totally solve the calorie problem, I have total mental blocks about that third packet of sugar. Can’t do it.


Merry • October 23, 2008 at 10:00 am

Sounds like the headache suggestions are themselves adding to the headache. Now there’s a catch-22.


Amy • October 23, 2008 at 10:03 am

I think there’s a huge benefit to going organic/non-processed, but it sure is a hard road in today’s world. It gets easier with practice but it takes a lot of reading and finding out just WHERE to shop and WHAT to eat. I’m nowhere near a whole-foods diet yet, but I’ve made a lot of progress. Maybe one of the T. Colin Campbell books would have some advice? I only read China Study but he advocates a whole foods diet, and I think he has other books about eating that way (as opposed to just about his study and all that). Maybe a Michael Pollen work too? Anyway, I’m sure there are other books, or when I get into a big new project like this I find online msg boards to help a lot. I’m sure you’re already trying that, but I did want to wish you luck and let you know I think it’s a worthy endeavor, even just for overall health! Frankly, the general Western diet scares the hell out of me. Ever try not to eat anything corn-sourced? Practically impossible.


Allison • October 23, 2008 at 10:06 am

I like the honesty about how to get on your shit list. I totally understand that (at least I think I do). When I was initially sick around the time we figured out I was diabetic, everyone had an answer and it was “just so simple if only you….” do x, y, z, etc. Then I was definitely diagnosed as being diabetic and developed about 10 months worth of other unexplainable/untreatable issues that have since subsided. Being sick and feeling bad without a sensible remedy in sight can be pretty miserable. I applaud your stick-to-it-iveness and am hoping for relief for you soon. Hang in there! On a sidenote – it’s made for some interesting stories on your blog…hopefully it won’t be a source of interesting writing for too much longer.


Mrs darling • October 23, 2008 at 10:09 am

I grow a lot of my own food and I cant tell you what a shock it is to go back to eating waxy apples and fake tomatoes when the season is over. I suffer from migraines but I dont think mine is as complex an issue as yours. My migraines come over my period, when the weather changes and always and always when I eat sugar. My daughters mother in law is a nurse and all she does is works with pain management. She said most of her patients were chronic migraine sufferers. She says there are people who have lived their entire lives with headaches and there has been no reason ever found. All they can do is learn how to manage the pain and live with it. I hope thats not the case with you but maybe going for pain management might be an answer until another is found.


Peggasus • October 23, 2008 at 10:14 am

Honey is a natural sweetner, too! You can probably find some locally made stuff, and I’ve seen that recommended as a cure for some peoples’ allergies. (Not sure how it would taste in coffee, though.) TJ’s also has organic agave sweetener, which I drizzle on my (homemade) yogurt for a little sweetness, and also use in tea. I hope you find something that works for you!


Jessica • October 23, 2008 at 10:15 am

So true about the sugar! I try to cut back on the fake stuff but found the same things as you did. That and reading labels showed some scary stuff! ( earmuffs )


Liz • October 23, 2008 at 10:18 am

Regarding yogurt, I recommend trying to flavor your own. I buy plain yogurt (low fat or fat free) and frozen blackberries (they’re the cheapest–at least non-organic–berries around me).

At home, I defrost and food process about 1/3 of the blackberries (I think most all those bags are about 16 oz… and I could probably use even less, I’m still working on that) with 3 tablespoons of sugar (this is key, mix the fruit and sugar first). Then I mix in the 32oz yogurt (in the food processor).

I’m actually down from four tablespoons of sugar to three and I couldn’t tell a difference, but really, over 32 oz that’s fairly negligible. Admittedly, I have not done the cost per unit comparison, but I prefer the taste and it’s less sugar then prepackaged (and not inconvenient to take to work once for the week; I usually eat it over four days as my afternoon snack).

Best wishes finding a headache solution.


Sarah • October 23, 2008 at 10:27 am

Lara bars! You can get these at Trader Joes. SO yummy, the peanut butter cookie one is amazing, dates and peantuts basically. TJ may be a little further, but I find it to be cheaper in the long run.

Happy Shopping!


kara • October 23, 2008 at 10:31 am

no recommendations on headache curing – but on organic frozen meals! you mentioned you missed those – i would check out the line called “amy’s.” not everything is 100% organic but it’s often organic and it’s always all natural, and she makes vegetarian frozen meals – everything from pizza to burritos. they are good too!


Cathleen • October 23, 2008 at 10:31 am

Ditto on flavoring your own yogurt — what I mix up in my own kitchen, with fresh fruit (I have access to a farmer’s market, which is a little more expensive than the grocery store, but….) and maybe (but only maybe) a dab of honey is so much better than what I’ve been able to buy.

Instead of mixing it in the food processor, though, I often mix it in my weeny-teeny ice cream freezer. Yeah, it takes longer, but I LOVE frozen yogurt, and I know this isn’t hiding anything.

Good luck with your headache!


Jessica • October 23, 2008 at 10:37 am

Once I had kids I jumped on the organic bandwagon. It is certainly more expensive and at first more difficult, but certainly worth it. I have also become a “locavore” too, trying to eat 80-90% local foods. It’s relatively easy for us because we live in Northern CA where even wine and olive oil can be grown and produced locally. I see it as my own little form of activism. Saving the gas it costs to send each ingredient to the processing plant to make the frozen meal to be shipped to me. I was disgusted to learn that the frozen organic peas and broccoli I bought with such conscientiousness at Trader Joes is processed in China. Now we buy most of our food at Farmer’s Markets and I freeze a lot summer veggies and fruits for use in soups in the winter. A really good and well written book is “Animal Vegetable Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver. It’s more about local eating and celebrating food in general, not only about organic eating. There is also a sort of neat blog-


I agree about how it’s impossible to eat a corn free diet here in America. I watched the documentary King

Corn and have been trying to be aware of all the corn we eat. I can’t eat corn-fed beef since seeing that film. Grass fed beef is much more expensive, but it’s how our grandparents ate and it is much less fattening than corn fed.


maggieapril • October 23, 2008 at 10:38 am

For yogurt, I love the fat-free Fage. Milk and cultures – that’s it. I sweeten it with brown sugar or honey.

Good luck with the organics thing – as you noted, it is hard.


Jeanette • October 23, 2008 at 10:40 am

Hi Jeannette,

Just wanted to let you know that I am thinking about you. I know what it’s like to have chronic pain and go from doctor to doctor with no answers. I really hope you feel better soon!!


kara • October 23, 2008 at 10:42 am

oh i also wanted to echo the comment about giving it some time w/ organic food. i’ve found that my health and energy have really improved eating a mostly-natural diet, but it does take a while for all the chemicals and pesticides to get worked out of your system, because they build up in your blood, organs, tissue, etc. so it’s definitely not an overnight thing and it can be frustrating in the beginning when it’s more expensive and such, but it’s worth it. i also definitely think you will find yourself more satiated over time – there’s just no comparison between eating whole natural foods and preservative-laden reconstructed “food products.” they’ve done amazing studies on how much food of an average processed food comes from corn or corn-based products – it’s like 80%! not a balanced diet and not what a body needs!


Deanna • October 23, 2008 at 10:43 am

You are hilarious! I love this post!!!!


tutugirl1345 • October 23, 2008 at 10:44 am

I have to agree with other people about Stevia- its a great way to sweeten stuff with zero calories and no chemicals. You can even make a great low calorie yogurt with it- just mix fat free plain yogurt with some stevia and vanilla extract. It tastes even better than the vanilla yogurt made with artificial sweeteners.


adrienne • October 23, 2008 at 10:54 am

When I got pregnant, I made myself drink milk for the calcuim (I’ve hated milk since adolescence). A friend offered me organic milk at her house, and I’ve been willingly drinking it ever since.

Later we switched to a lot of organic foods because I didn’t like what high fructose corn syrup did to my toddler (and it’s in everything).

On the whole, many of the foods taste much better to me than their counterparts. I hope you find the same bliss.


Jenna • October 23, 2008 at 10:58 am

Well for me my food allergies are what lent a big hand in getting me over weight.. I am allergic to all raw fruits and veggies..so its kinda hard to diet when you cant even eat a freakin salad.

As for your frozen meals (which i understand because i know i couldn’t live without mine either) you should try Amys. They are rarely on sale and kind od expensice but they are really good and they make all kinds of good stuff .

I’m really sorry about your headache and hope you feel well soon!!


Shana • October 23, 2008 at 10:58 am

I am sorry that you still have your headache. I would be an f*ing nut job if I had to leave with chronic pain of any sort, especially of the head variety.

I second you on the organic is expensive, but I have to tell you, Trader Joe’s has the best deals on everything. If you do all of your grocery shopping there, the cost savings on other stuff will balance out the organic stuff.

Have you ever considered the possibility that you were abducted by aliens, had a microchip imbedded in your brain and then the memories were erased? Just wondering.


butterfly • October 23, 2008 at 11:08 am

Stevia is amazing, although it does leave a slight after taste. It definitely is a great calorie-free sugar replacement!

I’m assuming that aside from being tested for food allergies that they also tested you for common things such as: dust,mold,dander,perfumes etc?

I’m a migrane sufferer too & sadly some of the triggers are hard to eliminate if at all.


vickie • October 23, 2008 at 11:22 am

stevia might work well with your coffee or guava nectar – both are health food store natural sweeteners – a tiny bit goes a long way.

Plain yougurt with real fruit chopped and added quickly becomes normal tasting.

Your taste buds will make the transition fairly quickly.

I wondered – was your headache better when you were away from home and away from your job?

and did they test to see if you were allergic to environmental things (cats, mold, etc) or have you already had this done?


Melissa • October 23, 2008 at 11:26 am

I went for years suffering from migraines and stopped eating all foods with artificial sweeteners and MSG (both triggers for me). When Splenda first came on the market I had tried it too and it caused me to have numbness in my arms, hives on my chest and stomach, and also migraines. Once I eliminated all the artificial sweeteners and MSG I still suffered from monthly migraines and a daily dull ache. I finally got rid of my daily dull headache and do not get monthly migraines any longer with treatments from the chiropractor. I was wary of going and it took a couple visits to convince me but I totally recommend giving it a try. I had thought I was doomed to living with a headache. Good Luck in finding relief.


Just_Kelly • October 23, 2008 at 11:33 am

Stonyfield yogurt is fab and has no artificial sweeteners.


Julie • October 23, 2008 at 11:36 am

If you have a Safeway/Vons they have a lot of organic products that they put on sale regularly.


shelley • October 23, 2008 at 11:38 am

OK, I’m going to comment on your headache – have you been checked for pseudotumor cerebri? Basically, it’s false brain tumor – you have an excess of spinal fluid that puts pressure on your brain, causing the headaches. An easy way to check for this is with an ophthalmologist who can look into your eyes to see if your optic nerve is swollen. Another way is to have a spinal tap (the way I was diagnosed) and measure the pressure of the fluid as it comes out. The cure? Diuretics. But you should really check this out because if you have it, you can lose your vision if it’s not treated in time.

Take care – oh, and I bought your book this week and loved it!


dietgirl • October 23, 2008 at 11:40 am

I know you didn’t like the ol’ Fage, PQ, but recently I tried the 2% with a wee teaspoon of brown sugar sprinkled over – you let it sit for about 20 minutes and the sugar “melts” and goes all wonderfully caramelly. Then just stir through. Or add some fruit or oats and/or chopped nuts if you want to get fancy.

It would probably work with any kind of plain yogurt – I don’t ever eat plain yogurt by itself, it’s always sweetened with fruit or honey or somethin’ :)

Good luck with it all matey :)


JEM • October 23, 2008 at 11:52 am

I don’t know if you are going to continue down this route or not but ironically I was given simliar advice from my doctor, not because of headaches but because of weight related issues. I have for the last long 7 days been doing the organic, whole foods, nothing fake or processed route. I have to say something that has saved my life is: Stevita. I didn’t want the calories from sugar but knew I couldn’t do splenda anymore. My doc suggested Stevia which I was a bit scared off, but I found that Stevita is the best brand with the best taste. It is an herb, as no calories and is completely natural. My favorite thing they make is the singles. They are naturally fruit favored. I put them in my water bottle to help me drink more water. It is all natural crystal light! :-) Just thought I would share. Here is a link if you are at all interested. I bought mine from vitacost.com because the prices were good, but I am sure you can get it at health food stores too.



fd • October 23, 2008 at 11:58 am

organic agave syrup is a great sugar substitute. one small drop goes a very long way.

and as for organic diet giving you a headache…yes at first but then after a while, the very idea of food with ingredients you don’t recognise as actual foods becomes very off-putting. i came to organic produce after living in italy, where i lost loads of weight without trying. i lost the weight because the food in italy (which is rarely processed) had more flavour so i just felt more satisfied by small amounts. organic produce really does pack a great flavour punch. and it means allowing butter and sugar back into your life. which is GREAT. that said organic meat and fish is quite crippling financially. i’ve been eating primarily organic food for nearly two years now. and i must admit that i’m still irritated that going out of my way to find the right foods has become a way of life. but my irritation is with supermarkets for not having better produce, not with my choice to eat food that doesn’t contain scary sounding chemical-compounds that i can’t identify.

i really hope the headache goes away soon in a magic forget-it-ever-happened way. and am happy for you that no part of the world of wonderful food is forbidden to you because of evil allergies.


Jenny • October 23, 2008 at 11:58 am

I am trying to make food changes to organic and natural foods as you are. I have found instead of regular sugar granules, I love to use Trader Joe’s Organic Blue Agave nectar. It is so good and has a glycemic index of 27 compared to talble sugar somewhere near 100, so your blood sugar won’t spike as fast and it should last longer in you. The sweetness flavor of agave is great. It is 60 calories a Tablespoon, but it goes a long way with its sweetness and it is natural from a plant. I put it in coffee, tea, oatmeal, and expecially plain yogurt from TJ’s. It is next to the honey and peanut butter area at TJ’s if you want to try it. I hope your changes help you.

BTW, I really enjoyed reading your book!


elife • October 23, 2008 at 12:07 pm

Just a note of sympathy from me. I had headaches for the past 2 weeks and I knew exactly what the cause was (too much laptop and too strong contacts; the problem has been fixed). But it flattened me! I didn’t want to work out, I didn’t want to go out, I was always crabby. So I’m so sorry you’ve been going through this for months. :(


Nancy • October 23, 2008 at 12:29 pm

I totally understand about the cost of organic foods being really high and pinching the pocket book. I tell myself I am totally worth the extra expense!


emi • October 23, 2008 at 12:32 pm

I don’t know why everyone is suggesting stevia – it is more natural than say, splenda, but it’s still a highly refined product (natural stevia left is green and has a noticeable taste; the white stevia powder or stevia liquid used to sweeten is made from that leaf), and it’s still a calorie-free sweetener. I consider stevia leaf natural, but I don’t consider refined stevia natural (though I do use it sometimes, along with splenda.)

the nice thing about shopping at trader joe’s (or whole foods) is that I don’t feel the need to check the ingredients list for trans fat, since (I’m pretty sure) they don’t sell anything with it. yaaaay for making my life a little easier.


sonia • October 23, 2008 at 12:33 pm

hi pastaqueen – love your blog, have been following your writing for a while now.

have you tried going without artificial sweeteners and all products without artificial sweeteners.

clean eating without anything fake could be your answer.

oxo –



scone • October 23, 2008 at 12:34 pm

At least you’re doing something good for the planet, and something great for the farm workers and their children, who are exposed to way too many toxic chemicals. As for the headaches, I’m just sending a virtual hug– hang in there, hon!


Inny • October 23, 2008 at 12:58 pm

I have to admit I’m a skeptic when it comes to organic food. Just because something is natural doesn’t mean it’s good for you, some of the strongest poisons are completely organic.

I know at this point you’re willing to try anything and it must be hard but if it really works, how do you know which of the stuff in processed foods is the one causing your headache? Or do you plan do maintain this lifestyle forever?


Narya • October 23, 2008 at 1:03 pm

I get a lot of my organic veggies frozen, which prevents the science-project-in-a-refrigerator-drawer problem. Increasingly, you can find frozen organic veggies that weren’t grown/packaged in China (I think TJ’s has committed to this; check their website). Frozen are also more likely to be available at Jewel or Dominicks or whatever is in your ‘hood.

I highly recommend honey as your sweetener of choice. There’s a ton of research about how good it is for you (it even works topically as an anti-bacterial agent, apparently); I even use it in coffee. You can replace a lot of the sugar in baked goods with it, as well; if you bake and want to know how to do this, email me.

Meat is a little more difficult. Chicken is pretty easy, but beef, well, I only have one source for it, and it’s in IL. I mostly eat game that a friend killed. You could try a monthly run (with a big bag of money) to a Whole Foods or TJ’s that has organic meat, and then wrap it well & freeze it.

As for yogurt, Stonyfield Farms has a zillion varieties, all without the additives; Whole Foods has some house brands. (I’m not much of a yogurt-eater, so that’s the extent of my knowledge on that.) I prefer Stonyfield Farms organic milk, too; it’s more expensive than the Whole Foods store brand, but it lasts longer.

I have no advice about the migraines, but I could go on all day about trying to eat organic in a city/on a budget.


Jenny • October 23, 2008 at 1:05 pm

synthetic sweetener is the devil – I gave up my beloved Diet Coke (for good) (sob) over a year ago.

I have to admit (sob)

I feel better.

I’m dating myself, but a great book was written in the 70’s called “Sugar Blues”.

Your body will adapt but it ain’t fun. Good luck.


Joanne • October 23, 2008 at 1:08 pm

I was posting to say about farm fresh deliveries, but I see someone already did. It’s a really great service, it’s not any more expensive for organic fruits and veg (than we would spend at O’Malia’s, anyway) and you can basically choose what you get every week. Or every other week, which is what we do. I love it. Good luck, I hope you find some relief soon.


Suzi • October 23, 2008 at 1:14 pm

Former fat chick not allergic to food made me laugh so hard.


Juice • October 23, 2008 at 1:26 pm

At the risk of making your s-list, may I suggest the ALCAT test? It is discussed in the book Your Hidden Food Allergies are Making You Fat. Not trying to be melodramatic, but taking this test changed my life.

Sending headache-go-away thoughts your way!


PastaQueen • October 23, 2008 at 1:34 pm

@Peggasus – There’s a guy at my work who puts honey in his coffee.


PastaQueen • October 23, 2008 at 1:40 pm

@vickie – The headache has stayed the same even when I’ve been away. They didn’t test me for the other allergies. I don’t have any congesting, runny nose or any of that stuff.


PastaQueen • October 23, 2008 at 1:42 pm

@shelley – That was already investigated by the eye doctor and the neurologist. Plus, it would have shown up on my MRI.


PastaQueen • October 23, 2008 at 1:47 pm

@sonia – Uh, sonia, did you READ my entry?


PastaQueen • October 23, 2008 at 1:48 pm

@Inny – Hell if I know, Inny.


lg • October 23, 2008 at 2:21 pm

Goof luck with the organic food, I hope it helps. I’d appreciate it if you’d update us on what else you discover about organic food, ie the apples are better.


shelley • October 23, 2008 at 2:39 pm

@PastaQueen – Well, glad that was checked out…I suffered undiagnosed for 3 months with it. Hope you feel better soon!


Rachael • October 23, 2008 at 2:45 pm

This quest to get rid of your headache could be your next book! Sorry it’s still hanging out. I get frequent headaches, too (though they come and go, not stay like yours), so I’ve been following your attempts.


Laura N • October 23, 2008 at 2:53 pm

Jennette, bless your ever lovin’ heart. Keep searching for an answer, girl. It’s all you can do.

And holy cow, I almost blew water out my nose reading one of your commenter’s replies about “have you tried going without artificial sweeteners?” So glad you responded to that.

I’ll chime in on stevia–HATE IT. It tastes awful in coffee. Major aftertaste in just about everything I tried (which wasn’t much, b/c I hated it from the beginning). It’s also stupidly expensive, and since you are already spending $$$ on organic apples, you might want to skip it.

Or I can mail you mine to try (seriously, I’d mail you some if you want them… they’re in individual packets so it’d be easy). You’ve got my email. Let me know.

Glad you’re keeping your humor through all this. And thanks for sharing your life with us.


s • October 23, 2008 at 3:44 pm

@Just_Kelly – seconded. i love their yogurt :)


Jenelle • October 23, 2008 at 4:02 pm

YES to organic foods! They are so good for you and so yummy. I was going to suggest Stevia as many other posters have, but it looks like they beat me to it. Basically, I love it and put it in my coffee every day. I didn’t read through all of the responses (you’re quite popular!), however agave nectar is also a pretty wonderful all natural sweetener.

I find the search for good organic grocers and restaurants fun. Living in Philly, it’s pretty easy because a lot of people around here are environmentally and health conscious. Good luck with the search!

Hopefully you also find out what you’re allergic to. Maybe it’s not related to preservatives and the like, but at least this experience will help wean you off of all this new-fangled futurefood.


K • October 23, 2008 at 4:07 pm

@marla – They have stevia in our local health-food shop, but it’s expensive.


Zoey • October 23, 2008 at 4:22 pm

No advice to offer. Just wanted to say that I’ve been battling muscle weakness for the past year, and it sucks raw lemons to not feel well, and to not know if you are ever going to get well again. And to get advice, phone numbers, doctor’s names, and the like for months on end, and you know that non of the help, no matter how sincerely offered, will help. There are only so many doctors that one can go to, before you drain your bank account. I nearly did, with just one doctor and by buying organic produce for juicing. It was the right thing to do, but it really took it’s toll. I think the worst thing for me was/is people trying to connect by relating a time that they were ill. Sorry. Being sick for a week, or losing strength part way into an athletic season is NOT the same thing I went through for the past year. Anyway, this week things are looking slightly better, so I’m hoping the same for you.


Betsy • October 23, 2008 at 4:54 pm

It’s me again, the book-pushing headache sufferer from Philly. I, too, have had a full allergy workup and actually found a few foods I’m sensitive to. I cut those out, but, still have the headache. Upon grilling my neurologist about the whole food trigger aspect to headaches, he said he felt that it is an extreme lifestyle change and that the small (if any) benefit derived from it isn’t worth the effort. I do find that if I have tomatoes they will trigger a headache, but tomatoes aren’t the cause of my headache, if that makes sense.

I hope a neurologist is in your near future!


nicole • October 23, 2008 at 4:59 pm

Good luck with going organic! As someone else put it so nicely, I’m sending all the go-away-headache-thoughts that I can. Keep positive and don’t give up! And yes I will say the stupid cliche, What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger!! You are one damn strong woman!


natasha • October 23, 2008 at 5:21 pm

Hang in there…

Have you tired Stevia as a sweetner? It’s used a lot in Asia, and you can buy it here as a suppliment.

Also has he checked your glueten? Maybe it’s just that.

Hope those headache go away soon. Hang in there.



Rene • October 23, 2008 at 5:21 pm

Your comment back to Sonia “Uh, Sonia,did you READ my entry?” just made me laugh out loud cause I was thinking the same thing when I read her comment! I sincerely hope that SOMETHING makes you feel better soon! I can’t even imagine dealing with something like that. Sending happy feel good thoughts your way! Good luck!


MaraFaye • October 23, 2008 at 5:31 pm

As Eddie Izzard says, the only thing a chiropractor is good for is a great score in Scrabble!

Best of luck with the organic diet thing. I tried it for a while, and the endless searching for truly organic products led me to quit.


Valerie • October 23, 2008 at 6:24 pm

I, too, applaud your perseverance and good humor under trying circumstances. For the past few weeks, I’ve been on a similar path – eliminating not only processed foods but wheat, oats, processed dairy, soy and refined sugar (yeah, I know, what fun). This was at the recommendation of a nutritional wellness expert who identified food sensitivities using muscle testing.

I’m very glad to say that I am finally starting to feel good (more positive, less weak and apathetic) after months and months of depression, digestive trouble and constant hunger. I offer this as a possible “success story” (though it may be too early to say for sure) and also to caution that during this process, I went through what is euphamistically termed a “healing crisis” – where I felt absolutely awful while my body adjusted to the new food and new approach to eating (more regular meals, natural supplements). I’m not sure if your allergist warned you that such a thing might happen but, if you can push through the initial adjustment period, you may find that you have a much easier time and feel a whole lot better eating these new foods.

Another book recommendation: “The Yeast Connection” – the web site is a bit hokey but the books present some interesting information about food and food sensitivities (that may or may not show up as allergies).

I wish you the best of luck on your journey :)


still reading • October 23, 2008 at 7:02 pm

I’m so glad you all love Stevia, I hate it. I’ll drink my coffee black before I put that stuff in it. Remember, “organic” is an administrative label, and many farmers who follow organic principles cannot be bothered with filling out the paperwork. Go to a farmers market and ask the farmer how they grow their stuff…if they are selling it at a farmers market, chances are, it is clean of poisons, and safe to eat.

(and BTW…Anytime you buy food from an actual farmer you can talk to, an angel gets their wings.)

and I second the recommendation to read “Animal Vegetable Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver. Excellent read!!!


melissa • October 23, 2008 at 7:05 pm

you should go to your local trader joe’s or whole foods and look at their sugar alternatives. agave syrup is one, xylitol is another and also there is this one kind called z sweet. its pretty good! i had severe allergy issues and had to cut out the top 8 allergens, and i went as organic as i could. it limited my food choices and was $ but i got really creative! the sugar alternatives help and they make gum with them, so you can have natural gum that is not caloric. its just not SUPER delicious. but its gum, and it was better than nothing!


Kari • October 23, 2008 at 7:12 pm

I’ll second (third, fourth, etc.) the recommendation of Amy’s frozen meals. They are very yummy! I think most everything is organic, and as was said earlier, it’s all natural.

As for the Amish chicken…there is a brand of Amish chicken that I believe I have seen at the grocery store. It’s in a yellow package (or at least it used to be) and it’s often cheaper than the Tyson.

Good luck! I hope you can find someone who can solve your headache and get feeling better soon.


TC • October 23, 2008 at 7:41 pm

Good luck with the organic diet. I have headaches often, but mine are mostly from a small alignment issue in my neck and from allergies. I know you have been to the eye doctor and I don’t want to suggest any other doctors/tests. I know how annoying it is to hear the same suggestions over and over. I recently had a friend tell me that she could not wear the correct prescription in her glasses because it gave her a terrible headache. Whenever she would try to correct her vision completely she couldn’t live with the headache it caused. She had to tell them that they had to make her glasses weaker in order for her to wear them. Then the headaches went away. Seemed strange to me, but I can see how it would be possible. I don’t even remember if you wear glasses, I just thought it was interesting. Hope you feel better soon.


Heather • October 23, 2008 at 8:26 pm


I have migraines, and I swear that the thing that exacerbated them the most were the friendly suggestions from people giving me tips to get rid of them. ;)

I wish you the best of luck on your journey to make your head stop hurting. Sometimes, all I can do is just sit on my couch with an ice pack on my head and the lights dimmed. The ice pack is so old-school, but it really helps when nothing else is working. (I have a medicine cabinet full of Imitrex and Phenergan and narcotics to take when things progress beyond that.)

Good luck, J.


Theresa • October 23, 2008 at 8:34 pm

II have no advice for your headache, I have been following the whole saga of it and you have my sympathy. I work in mental health and one of the most common issues is chronic pain. I have had headaches a lot but nothing like you describe.

However, I wanted to make a food suggestion. Your crockpot! I make a pot of soup on the weekend and eat it for lunch all week. It is easy to make, filling and cheap. There are so many different types of soup. I use a lot of beans but you can make just about anything and if you get tired of it just put it in the freezer and you have meals for next week.

Good luck



Esmeralda • October 23, 2008 at 8:44 pm

@TimberAllen – Well said!


Esmeralda • October 23, 2008 at 8:52 pm

@PastaQueen – lol- this brought on a fit of ROFL.


Helen • October 23, 2008 at 8:54 pm

Can I recommend some things to try when eating organic (which I did for quite a while completely and still do a lot)?? Here’s what I have to say, ’cause I hear you!

Try farmer’s markets if you have ’em…although TJs is cheaper for organic things.

Stevia is an herb with no calories and you can use as a sweetener…I get it at TJs…not sure if it’s organic but the one on my desk looks like it’s only got stevia in it…

I squeeze lime juice into my water (and I used to be a rabid Diet Coke, then diet lemonade drinker)…it’s yummy. :-)

Good luck…from one of the grandkids, I know how hard allergies can be…


Esmeralda • October 23, 2008 at 9:10 pm

@Heather – this is the best comment of all, I think- gold star from a fellow reader.


Sarah • October 23, 2008 at 9:38 pm

I dont mind if I go on your shit list. I just hope someones comment will help you with your headachs. Have you been tested for Celiac disease? So many people who are struggling with issues of no explanation have been positive for this. Another way to tell is, how is your digestion? If it’s off as well then you might want to check it out. I also buy everything organic and the best thing is if you go to your favorite products websites most of the time they have printable coupons for their stuff and you can use them where ever their stuff is sold. Hope it’s a helpful hint.


Good luck



maris • October 23, 2008 at 10:18 pm

I don’t understand why you’d post about this if well-meaning suggestions from your readers would send us on your ”sht list.’ If you don’t want opinions, how come you’re mentioning it?

I am not being facetious, it’s just interesting to me how different bloggers have different styles of engaging.

If you really have “heard it all” then I do hope you land in the care of a better doctor who will solve this for you! It sounds really miserable.


Cindy • October 23, 2008 at 10:20 pm

Hi PQ,

Best wishes with the organic thing. I have done most of my weight loss and maintenance by radically changing my eating, including going mostly organic. I never use the artificial sweeteners and do most of my own cooking. It requires a little pre-planning and self-discipline (not my strengths!) but most of the time I just do my food chores out of habit, at this point. If it is Sunday morning, it must be time to make soup for the week, etc…

Food just tastes better when it is fresh ~ and if it is free of chemicals, even better. Everything I can find organic I tend to buy that way, unless it is totally outrageously priced. The important things, like milk, yogurt, eggs, and meat (where food additives such as pesticides can be concentrated) I always choose organic. But don’t buy the organic milk that has been ultra-pasteurized. It kills the nutrients and the flavor! Farmer’s markets and local growers are your best option for fresh and tasty produce. Eat what is in season first and only supplement what you have to beyond that. And it gets hard for the next six months, that’s for sure. But spring will come again!

Your comments on sugar and possibly feeling more full were interesting ~ that is the opposite for me. Sugar tends to make me want more… more sugar, usually. But adding a little more fat to your diet might really help curb your appetite. I drink skim milk, for instance, but eat whole milk yogurt (for nutrients and flavor!). I sweeten my own, as all the presweetened yogurts have way too much sugar (or fake sugar, which is even worse). A little maple syrup and some frozen raspberries make for perfect yogurt. I love Hawthorne Valley organic yogurt, but I’ll suffer with Stonyfield if that is all I can find.

Good luck. I’ll warn you, though. Eating organic is addictive. Food just has more flavor and once you get used to it you don’t want to go back—ever.


PastaQueen • October 23, 2008 at 10:36 pm

@maris – That’s a valid question. I’ve actually only written about 5% of my headache experiences BECAUSE getting 100 different suggestions and judgments about my treatment is not helpful. When I have written about it recently, it’s been in relation to something else I think people will find interesting, like what an acupuncture treatment is like or what it’s like trying to eat organic. I’m fine opening up the floor to those topics, but I can’t write about why I’m doing acupuncture or eating organic without mentioning the headache.

The asterisk at the end of my entry is intended to steer the conversation towards the topics I’m ok with. It’s also intended to avoid repetition because I doubt there’s anything anyone could suggest that I haven’t heard already. Being the 10th person to suggest Aspirin only makes you look like a dolt.

Turning off the comments doesn’t help either because then people think that my disinterest in suggestions applies to everyone EXCEPT them, so I get emails instead.

Also, the headache is something I’m dealing with in my life, so I feel like writing about it. It helps me sort it out and perhaps helps others dealing with chronic pain. But just because I put that part of my life out there, doesn’t mean I want to hear about it from everybody. There are some bloggers who don’t have any comments on their blogs, and I can completely understand why. I love a lot of the interaction that takes place on blogs, but it’s also important to set personal boundaries to maintain my sanity and this is where one of the fence posts is.


anji • October 23, 2008 at 10:55 pm

Years ago I was sick as shit for a good two years. I felt horrible and couldn’t figure it out. I blogged at this time, and some chick wrote me. She was the woman who forced the US government to put the “side-effects” pamphlet into The Pill, back in the 60s or something like that…. forcing them to tell women that they could experience an increase in strokes, heart-attacks, and other diseases caused by being on the pill. She asked, “Have you ever thought of stopping it?” I never even gave it a second thought. I still have her email, almost 8 yeas later because I swear to God, it saved my life. She described the pill along the lines as (and I’m paraphrasing) as a chemical which enters every cell of your body and effects every way in which your cells work.

It took about two or three months of being off of it, for me to really notice a different. I’m suspecting the same thing may be for you, give it time. It took ages for you to ingest the levels of chemicals as they enter your body and it will take time to expel it too. My friend did this diet change (and, I don’t mean diet as in losing weight, but a real change in your diet!) and it really helped her out. It was definitely a pain in the ass but, it also saved her life too. Try to look at it as a positive change — time to try new things, new recipes, new foods. She got me hooked on wild rice, which isn’t processed… perhaps you will also realise how good food really tastes and how filling it can really be. If it makes you feel any better, I’m embarking on this style of eating in a few weeks. My friend lost a crap load of weight eating this way and besides, it’s healthier for us long-term, right? Just keep saying it to yourself and you may believe it :)

Hope you get some relief! And, my allergist is like, 85 years old too… seriously. He’s semi-retired now (just this year) but still works 3 days a week and attends conferences. A wise old man he is!


McAuliflower • October 23, 2008 at 11:27 pm

I’ve weened myself onto the diet your Allergist has recommended.

It wasn’t easy- it took probably about 2 years.

But I came at it from a political and foodie background. I only buy food: nothing processed with kind of a DIY slant… if I can’t make it I shouldn’t be letting factories make it.

That last part has been my mantra: don’t let factories make my food.

Reading your entry is an interesting set of flashbacks- it can seem so bewildering at first, looking at the labels of your old familiar *safe* foods. As you mentioned- heck even yogurt is messed up with preservatives!

And- real food as our grandmothers would recognize as food doesn’t come with easy calorie amounts to read on the back. To a weight conscious person that can be scary (to this one it was).

I wish you a journey of learning, time & patience and discovery. Food will hardly cease to be just food anymore.


ENoel • October 24, 2008 at 12:42 am

Okay, so I’m clear that I can’t comment on headache solutions, but I do have some comments about eating organic. I had a food sensitivity test (called an IgG test–different than a food allergy test) done by my doctor because of some health problems. As a result, I am like you eating mostly an organic, no preservative, no artificial sweeteners as well as mostly low-carb (no wheat, oats, or other grains or corn) etc.

Two things have really helped me as I’ve been working on this diet change. The first is all of the great recipes at elanaspantry.com. Elana eats low-carb, gluten-free, and mostly dairy free and she has lots of yummy and simple recipes. Her secret ingredients are almond flour and agave nectar. Agave nectar as her sweetener (it is all natural, derived from plants) and I love it now too. Especially good for people who need to live low-carb.

The second thing is the book The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. I actually learned so much about what Michael Pollan is all about from this news report and his rules to live by. PQ, his advice is the similar to your doctor’s advice: eat like your great-grandmother did.

Good for you for having the courage and pluck to keep working to find solution. I hope this solution that your doctor recommended might be the one. I’m so sorry you’ve been miserable for so long. Best of luck as you continue the search for healing.


debby • October 24, 2008 at 1:30 am

Okay, PQ, I am really tired after almost 16 hours of work, but of course am sitting here reading my favorite blogs. So of course I have to see if the commenters complied with your request not to give you __ suggestions. And its just funny how many food suggestions there are. Seems the reason many of us are bloggers is because we all have so many good ideas and can’t resist sharing them with the world (I put myself at the top of this list.) And I thought, I’ll leave a comment without ANY suggestions. And in 84 comments, I can’t believe no one commented on this classic line

“You can eat Amish chicken!”

Is this only hilarious because I am deliriously tired? I love chickens, and have a few still (live, not frozen) and I am just picturing chickens running around in little white caps or black fedoras.

Thanks for all the laughs, PQ.


Winn • October 24, 2008 at 1:35 am

Hi Erin,

If you are interested in eating things that contain no artificial ingredients then Whole Foods Market is your best bet. While TJs has some organic options they in no way gurantee their products to be “clean”- and I don’t mean that “clean” means only organic. WFM has quality standards which you can easily find printed on the back of every receipt or here: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/products/quality-standards.php -or the bullet point that is most relevant to this discussion: “We feature foods that are free of artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, sweeteners, and hydrogenated fats.” And by “feature” they mean that you will not find one single product in any of their stores that contains those things. Organic is not the end all, be all, to obtaining quality food and I say this even though my family business is in organic agriculture. Transparency, regarding where and how your food is sourced, is probably the most important thing. Also, having access to local and seasonal food is really important. TJs is a German, privately owned company and if you look at their website there is virtually ZERO information about their sourcing. WFM on the other hand is a publicly owned company and they have tons of information about their buying practices and lots of good information about their suppliers.

No advice about how to solve the headaches, but I hope this information is helpful. Good luck.


Winn • October 24, 2008 at 1:35 am

Hi Erin,

If you are interested in eating things that contain no artificial ingredients then Whole Foods Market is your best bet. While TJs has some organic options they in no way gurantee their products to be “clean”- and I don’t mean that “clean” means only organic. WFM has quality standards which you can easily find printed on the back of every receipt or here: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/products/quality-standards.php -or the bullet point that is most relevant to this discussion: “We feature foods that are free of artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, sweeteners, and hydrogenated fats.” And by “feature” they mean that you will not find one single product in any of their stores that contains those things. Organic is not the end all, be all, to obtaining quality food and I say this even though my family business is in organic agriculture. Transparency, regarding where and how your food is sourced, is probably the most important thing. Also, having access to local and seasonal food is really important. TJs is a German, privately owned company and if you look at their website there is virtually ZERO information about their sourcing. WFM on the other hand is a publicly owned company and they have tons of information about their buying practices and lots of good information about their suppliers.

No advice about how to solve the headaches, but I hope this information is helpful. Good luck.


Winn • October 24, 2008 at 1:37 am

Sorry about the double entry……..


Jen • October 24, 2008 at 1:39 am

First, I am so sorry to hear you are still having headache troubles. It must be absolutely heartbreaking to try so hard and have no results.

Second, I think organic is very interesting. Please keep us updated. I know you will really tell it like it is and I appreciate your honesty.

Third, just thinking about giving up Diet Dr Pepper makes me very anxious. Which, in itself might be a good reason to forgo the artificial sweetners. I really love Diet Dr Pepper too. Why is it the things you love the most you always have to give up?



Aimee • October 24, 2008 at 2:22 am

Maybe you could try Truvia? It’s made from the leaves of the Stevia plant but it’s all natural and not supposed to have the bitter taste some people say Stevia has. It’s new and supposed to be hitting the shelves any time now. You can order it online (I ordered some today). I also blogged about it today if you’re interested. Here’s the link…



Suz • October 24, 2008 at 3:46 am

Have you tried molasses for your coffee instead of sugar? It gives a hint of sweet and isn’t, well, white sugar. Also, FWIW, I’ve found that buying brighter, lighter-tasting coffee beans minimizes how much sugar I can even stand, let alone want, in the coffee; I like Kenya AA or Sumatran, medium (not french and certainly not dark) roast. (Source at a gourmet store or maybe Whole Foods; Trader Joe’s coffee is almost undrinkably bad.)


dietgirl • October 24, 2008 at 4:32 am



eileen • October 24, 2008 at 6:33 am

sympathy and not even the inkling of a suggestion about your headaches. I think everyone is secretly waiting (especially you) for that AHA moment when you kick them, so we will all know (and you can be pain free).

In terms of organic foods, people keep on mentioning products, buy this product, buy that product. I know these foods are convenient, but they’re also very expensive. A gradual move towards more wholefoodsy stuff, like real whole foods, just veggies, grains, legumes, meat (I think you eat meat, but I forget) etc will be less pricey and in my opinion, healthier. I hope you are able to gravitate towards a diet that nourishes you body and soul. You’ve come so far already!


earthmamma • October 24, 2008 at 8:48 am

speaking of headaches….

after reading all those suggestions my head is POUNDING!!!


PastaQueen • October 24, 2008 at 8:58 am

@dietgirl – This is for you, Shauna! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVxiHC9AJQw


Amanda • October 24, 2008 at 9:32 am

Hey PQ- Like you I lost a considerable amount of weight and was hooked on fake sweetners as a result. Due to stomach issues, I quit them cold turkey about 3 months ago. Not being a doctor I can’t speak to whether your headache will be cured, but the additional of real sugar has in no way affected my weight. Good luck to you.


PastaQueen • October 24, 2008 at 9:48 am

@debby – I thought that was hilarious too! I thought, “What religion are the chickens I HAVE been eating? Protestant? Catholic?”


Thealogian • October 24, 2008 at 10:54 am

A couple recommendations:

“The Truth About Beauty” by Kat James might really help you how to figure out the organic track–the title sounds like its about about makeup or whatnot, but its really about her transformation, inside and out, to greater health and she gives tons of resources and a powerful personal story that makes the book very readable.

Also, I’ve found that Stevia is good in iced teas or other cold beverages, but that in hot drinks like coffee/tea, its has a weird aftertaste. Now, honey in coffee is awesome! Maybe I just like the taste, but its worth a try. Also, raw sugar. Agave nectar is good in hot liquids too.

Also, in terms of cheap organic options, you’re in Indiana, right? Well, in Kentucky, there’s some great Menonite communities. I go once a year or so and stock up on spices and dried herbs from this Menonite grocery store in the middle of no-where Kentucky for $30 (the equivalent at a standard organic grocery would probably run in the hundreds). It might be worth it to see if there’s something similar and buy your dry goods there like once every two months? It might be a drive, but maybe you could make it a roadtrip with some friends?

Also, check and see if you have a food co-op that you might like to join. There’s two I found http://www.localharvest.org/search.jsp?st=16&ty=3&nm=

In Spring, maybe join a CSA, also look at localharvest.org

CSA are fun and many have mini shares for singltons (me included).

Obvious, I’ve been trying to get on the organic/local food scene for a while, but its really fun and interesting once you start. I gave up Diet Coke for about a year and now I’m starting to slip and I”ve reintroduced splenda to my tea in the morning. Your post helped remind me that I FEEL BETTER when I stick to the better foods.

Thanks for all that you do on this blog,




Lilbet • October 24, 2008 at 11:07 am


I went through the headache thing! It took me 2 years to get diagnosed. If you’d like to talk to me, I will happily tell you how I got answers.

It did not involve a chiropractor or abduction by aliens! What I have is pretty common with people who struggle with their weight. In fact, my neurologist said current thought is that it may actually CAUSE the weight gain!!!

I’m not a weirdo, seriously! But, I’ve literally feel your pain. I’ve done the whole food allergy thing, I’ve been where you are. My email is wide open.

Take care!



45andaspiring • October 24, 2008 at 11:09 am


I’m new to your site. I loved your description of how you felt buying real sugar. I recently bought raw/turbinado sugar and feel kind of criminal and scared using it. (I am not a “former” fat girl yet.)

I haven’t read all your posts or even all 98 comments (! my goodness what a following you have!) , so be gentle with me if I’m saying something that’s been said before (it’s not about chiropractors, I promise).

My first suggestion is, if you haven’t already, seek out some vegan web sites and blogs. They eat organic and may help you with the transition. I am not planning to become vegan, but reading about it and how even “normal” weight people struggle to make healthy food choices inspires me. I found out about the book Skinny Bitch from a vegan site. It’s very irreverent and over the top, but a quick enlightening read.

Second thought: have you had your hormones checked? Menstrual migraines are more common than many women realize. I was plagued with them when I was on the pill because my estrogen would go too low. I could get debilitating headaches (awaken with them) anywhere from 3 days before or after my period (sometimes during). . . just a thought. Also, some prescription meds have headache as a side effect. . .

Thanks for sharing. I like your direct style–and your warning about posting comments!


Amy • October 24, 2008 at 11:33 am

Stonyfield yogurt, that is all.


jkd • October 24, 2008 at 11:46 am

I’m also casting my vote for agave nectar, in addition to just trying to wean yourself off the need for a sweet taste in general. Then a little drizzle over your plain yogurt will seem like a decadent treat. Also (this isn’t exactly a headache remedy so much as a general eating suggestion), have you thought about increasing your intake of anti-inflammatory foods? Stuff like blueberries and pumpkin seeds are great for that; I find it reduces muscle soreness a lot. Even if they don’t touch the headache, they’re very good for you.


Sharon • October 24, 2008 at 12:35 pm

I have chronic pain too. It can suck. Makes me cranky and want to eat. Hopefully you’ll find the answer soon. Big hugs


susan • October 24, 2008 at 1:16 pm

If you stick to it, you may find that you can use less sugar as time goes on. I went from 2 packets of Nutrasweet in my oatmeal to 1 tsp of sugar, and from 3 packets in my coffee to drinking it black.


PastaQueen • October 24, 2008 at 1:20 pm

@Sharon – This is the truest, most succinct comment on here. Word, Sharon.


Lyn • October 24, 2008 at 2:27 pm

I’m sorry you’re suffering. I hope your headaches *poof* away to someone more deserving of them. Not naming names or anything. Be well!


Amy • October 24, 2008 at 5:08 pm

@Julie – Some of the bigger Kroger stores here have a surprisingly good “Natural Foods” section. I guess I pay more attention to the frozen fake meats and such, but they do have things that most other normal stores don’t. They even carry some brands I can’t find at TJ’s/Whole Foods.


Amy • October 24, 2008 at 5:17 pm

@Betsy – That’s kind of depressing that a doctor dismisses eating more naturally as an extreme lifestyle change not worth the effort… no wonder Americans eat like crap.


Bobetter • October 24, 2008 at 6:46 pm

Sadly it takes me a few months of eating cleanly to really see major improvements–I can’t slip on healthy food for my health. But that is more motivating than for weight loss, IMO.


Preston • October 24, 2008 at 9:20 pm

Could it be from reduction in caffeine? If you think so organic coffee and green tea may help. For low calorie natural sweetners try Stevia or Xylitol. Check out the research. I think they are the safest.


Michelle • October 24, 2008 at 9:56 pm

@PastaQueen – I LOVE LOVE LOVE DEF LEPPARD, LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS SONG…but even the band hates the UK video of this song. Try this version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_DVifxi6fI or this version, which is acoustic and fabulous!!: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VO1CmWTQgBU&feature=related

BTW, I thought your post title was perfect!!!

Luv and positive vibes from a huge Lep fan who’s heard this song live more than 25 times!


mike vincent • October 24, 2008 at 10:59 pm

Have you seen a chiropractor?…just kiddin…i agree with the last blogger….if it has less in it and its healthier it just seems to cost more…? everyone says eating healthy is hard …i say if you narrow your grocery list down to 12 items or so you can take those 12 and mix and match them anyway you like and run with it…check my blog out i have a couple of recipes you’ll be suprise.


Christie • October 24, 2008 at 11:11 pm

I’m so sorry that your headache is still around. No advice for you, but I will pray for the pain to be relieved and underlying cause to be revealed. Good luck!


Jennywenny • October 25, 2008 at 12:22 am

Its probably been said before, but I think its great that you’re trying to eat more real food, hopefully it will make you feel much better. I hope you’re aquainted with Marian Nestle and Michael Pollan and the whole ‘eat real food, mostly veggies, move around more’ concept. Having said that I’m happily putting on the pounds here, real food is also delicious!


Roni • October 25, 2008 at 7:55 am

@marla – I’ve seen it at Wal-Mart! It’s not that expensive considered you only need a tsp to sweeten like a cup of sugar does. It’s definitely worth a try but takes some getting used to.


Johanna • October 25, 2008 at 8:46 am

@eileen – “A gradual move towards more wholefoodsy stuff, like real whole foods, just veggies, grains, legumes, meat (I think you eat meat, but I forget) etc will be less pricey and in my opinion, healthier.”

I really agree with this. Regarding organic, I am a sceptic whenever anything starts to resemble a trend:



PastaQueen • October 25, 2008 at 9:49 am

@Michelle – But Shauna is from the UK, so we have to watch that vid in her honor!


Karen • October 25, 2008 at 10:29 am

@marla – I use stevia as an alternative to both sugar and chemical sweeteners like splenda and equal. It is a bit more expensive than what you’d find at a regular supermarket, BUT it has like 1 calorie per packet and is, I’m told, 100% natural. It’s also VERY sweet, so while I personally use 2 packets of splenda/Equal in my coffee, I only have to use 1 packet of stevia, so I use it at half the rate (and sometimes only 1/2 a packet is necessary). I recommend NuNatural’s white stevia packets (they come in 50 and 100 count boxes). I buy the 100 count and it usually lasts me about 2 months.

Since I began using it, Stevia has become my favorite sweetener — I think it’s an excellent alternative to sugar (and it isn’t addicting like sugar can be). PQ should definitely give it a try.


Anna • October 25, 2008 at 11:18 am

@Narya – What is the source of organic beef in Illinois?


crockpot lady • October 25, 2008 at 12:52 pm

Hi Jennette, I just got caught up on your headache saga. I’m so sorry you’ve been suffering. You’re in my thoughts. lots and lots of hugs.




Lindsey • October 25, 2008 at 1:25 pm

I really believe in this type of “diet”. When I started losing weight (55lbs and 6 months ago), I gave up artificial sweeteners first, I was a total diet coke addict. I think it totally screws with your blood sugar / insulin, but man, do I miss it! I also mostly gave up pre-packaged food, except what I can buy at my local organic farmer’s market type grocery store, Wild Oats, and Trader Joe’s (thank you California!) – which has some really good food sans preservatives and additives. I still lost weight this way, and actually way more than I was able to while eating fake sugar everything. I think Americans in particular have really gone off the deep end in terms of what we’re willing to put into our bodies (myself included b/c although I’d rather not, I still eat things like lean pockets – they’re just so good), and I have to believe that if we went back to eating what was available prior to the commercialization of food, we’d all be a lot healthier.

I have to say my toughest choice was to give up soda. First I gave up diet and switched to regular, then I gave up regular. Every now and again, I’ll buy the all natural kind (which is really good though will probably taste weird when you are still transitioning from artifical sweeteners), but mostly I stick to sparkling water.

I didn’t follow any diet when I was starting to lose weight, or even really since, but I read three books that that really helped me better understand why real food was better for you: The Spectrum, You On A Diet, and In Defense of Food (great catch line – Eat food, not too much, mostly plants).

Anyways, lots of words- – bottom line, allergies suck, I hope you find your answer.


Rachael • October 25, 2008 at 5:00 pm

@PastaQueen – I just spit water all over my keyboard from laughing while taking a drink.


superpaige • October 25, 2008 at 8:51 pm

Ugh. Who knew “eating naturally” would be so gosh darn hard? Good luck in your endeavor. I would probably get so frustrated trying to avoid artificial stuff that i would just not eat. Which would also be good for me, right?


Madison (FollowMyWeigh) • October 25, 2008 at 11:08 pm

omygosh i’ve been having a neverending heachache as well and had been hoping to hear something like “eat more dairy and it’ll go away.” hm, maybe i should try this organic diet. well, ha i’ve been trying to eat clean as a part of my weight loss diet, but apparently losing weight isn’t movitavation enough to totally clean up my diet. so maybe getting rid of this headache will push it in that direction a little more…please update if it works and if your headache goes away!!! i feel like a blood vessel is going to pop any moment…


s • October 26, 2008 at 10:29 am

@PastaQueen – lol. on the bright side, i’m learning a lot about migraine / headache remedies from all the commenters, and various diagnoses that could have been possible


redhead • October 27, 2008 at 5:25 pm

@Anna – Here’s a great source of natural beef, pork & lamb: http://www.nimanranch.com (all natural, no antibiotics, no added hormones, all vegetarian feeds, sustainable farming practices on many family farms in the US)

Trader Joe’s sells their ham steaks, and I’ve never tasted better! (Whole Foods does also, but much more expensive.) Can buy online, fresh or frozen.


Jennie • October 27, 2008 at 10:07 pm

I did not read all 127 comments, but did see the suggestions for stevia, so first let me third or fourth or 88th that suggestion. Additionally, I use honey all the time. I love it. LOVE it. Stevia can sometimes have a slightly bitter aftertaste, but honey is sweet as.. well… honey. I especially appreciate the variety available in honey – I particularly love orange blossom, which I don’t know if you can get or not where you live, but which I am always game to pay a little more for.

I would also entice you with the idea that honey is also a great allergy remedy – eating local honey allows a healthy way for pollens to get in and your body to deal with them – but lucky you – no allergies.


Catherine • October 28, 2008 at 10:31 am

I’m not commenting on your headache. I do have some ideas about eating organic, though. A lot of people mentioned Michael Pollan; he gives a great description of our pathetic food industry, but he doesn’t really get into the practical side of things (at least not in Omnivore’s Dilemma). For more help on how to eat this way, I found Sally Fallon and Mary Enig’s book Eat Fat Lose Fat and their cookbook Nourishing Traditions extremely informative. They revolutionized my way of looking at food. I’m a little surprised that none of the organic-eaters who commented here mentioned the website westonaprice.org. I highly recommend it! Also, Nina Planck’s book Real Food was very enjoyable.


Liz • November 2, 2008 at 12:07 am

So, being post 130 probably means PQ (or JF, not sure what you go by here…) will never see this, but I’ll give it a shot.

I have been focusing on eating all-natural, organic if possibly, but absolutely non-artificial, non-chemical, non-genetically modified, etc for about 10 years. I applaud your efforts to do so. After reading your book (which I LOVE LOVE LOVE to death) I bet it will be hard for you to switch from sugar-free* stuff to sweetener-free and chemical free. It truly is a daunting task! But you know what, food really tastes SO MUCH BETTER and then you get the added bonus of feeling self-righteous about saving the cute pandas and baby seals and stuff, too. It is a win-win.

As far as the price, if you buy in bulk and try to get in on CSA (community supported agriculture) gig, it will save you tons.

You are absolutely, totally welcome to contact me if you want any tips on recipes, brands, substitutions, new ways to cook, etc as I have been doing this for years and have lots I could share, if you are so inclined.

Good luck either way and keep posting.


Comments are now closed on all PastaQueen entries. The blog is an archive only so I don't have to deal with spammers. For fresh discussions please visit my new blog at JennetteFulda.com.

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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

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