I underwent The Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH) exclusion diet protocol in 1985 (1) which involved a few-foods diet until symptoms settled, followed by food challenges, then a modified diet excluding only problem foods. Lastly, there was moderation of the diet up to my level of food tolerance.
Some of the food challenges raised my blood pressure.
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a medical condition in which blood pressure pumping through the arteries is elevated compared to what is considered normal. It is a major risk for coronary heart disease and can lead to long-term complications such as vision problems, or kidney disease. My own father had uncontrollable high blood pressure and died of stroke in 1974 age 49 years. His mother and aunt also had strokes.
The Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH) Exclusion Diet (1)
I underwent the RPAH exclusion diet protocol in 1985. On the exclusion diet I felt ‘withdrawal’ effects of flu-like symptoms, aching joints, sore throat, cough, tinnitus (ringing in ears), teeth-grinding and headaches. I became edgy, uptight and lethargic. As symptoms settled, I became clear-headed, alert and energetic with natural colour in my cheeks, a change from my previous pale complexion with black rings under my eyes. Food cravings (for fruit) vanished. I became extremely calm, relaxed and organised. My blood pressure was 110/70. I was ready to perform the food challenges.
By my late twenties, my red-meat-centred, full-fat dairy, white bread and sugar-treats diet of my childhood had changed. Food swaps after my father’s heart attack meant more chicken and less red-meat, skim milk instead of full-fat milk, oil instead of butter, and fatty foods only eaten socially. I also restricted sugar, confectionery and chocolate. I based my diet around foods high in fibre with wholemeal breads, added bran, and fruit. Thus in the early 1980s, when I started out on motherhood, I had preconceived high ideals on a healthy diet for myself and healthy foods for my children. I believed if I fed my children mainly wholegrain cereals, vegetables and fruit; if I avoided excess fats, salt, sugar and refined cereals; then good health and well-being would naturally follow.
How wrong I was.
My second son was a failure to thrive, suffering chronic diarrhoea and repeated wheezy chest colds from the introduction of solid food. Referred to a paediatrician at 15 months, a series of tests ruled out sinister problems, and he was diagnosed with food allergies. He initially improved on a restrictive diet excluding milk, eggs and wheat. However, he had frequent relapses and it would be another two years before I had the complete answer for him. Needless to say, this was an emotionally distressing time as I battled sleepless nights, guilt-choked days and a socially-crippling diet. Continue reading “My food history # 6 – critical moments … high blood pressure”→