Discovering my nightshade intolerance.

Figuring out that I had a nightshade intolerance was a long process for me. Growing up, some food allergies were known, but sensitivities or intolerances (aside from lactose intolerance) were not commonly known, or understood. 

So without being able to take a test, how did I finally realize it was the nightshade family of vegetables causing my health problems? I believe that God led me to the answers.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, and this is not medical advice. This is my personal experience and information that has helped me feel better. If you’re experiencing symptoms like those I describe, talk to your health professional.

What My Health Was Like

But before we get into that, I want you to understand what life was like for me. Everyone with a nightshade sensitivity has a different experience. My symptoms were headaches, stomach pain and other digestive issues, joint pain, and fatigue.

I was constantly in pain and I was always tired.

Looking back now, I’m amazed by how different my life was. I couldn’t even do dishes without naps. Unload the dishwasher, go take a nap. Load the dishes, go take a nap. Do the hand washing, go take another nap. That was my life.

woman in pink jacket lying on gray couch

Looking For Medical Answers

At one point, I did try to get medical answers. I had a family doctor I knew and liked. She ran a blood panel, and a test for lupus (my symptoms lined up pretty well with an autoimmune disorder). But the only potential answer I got from that was a vitamin D deficiency.

But supplements didn’t make a big difference. She suggested light exercise to start building my strength, but that didn’t seem to help either. Something was draining my strength and I still had no answer.

The Beginning

It actually started with my sister. She complained that eggplant made her tongue buzz. Our family thought it was just an anomaly. But then one day she said that sun dried tomatoes were making her tongue buzz just like eggplant did.

Now I’m a little nerd, and I love research. And now I was wondering if these two vegetables were related. I wasn’t a gardener, so I had no idea there was a nightshade family!

So I share my findings with my sister, and suggest that maybe her body is trying to tell her not to eat nightshades. This would have been around 2010*.

I didn’t think anything else of it until one day she complained that eating potato chips (potatoes are another nightshade) “tore up” the roof of her mouth, and I realized there was something I ate that did the same thing.

I didn’t remember what it was until later that week when I made chili (loaded with tomatoes and peppers- both nightshades!). That’s when it clicked. My mom started telling me to just try eliminating nightshades from my diet, just to see if I would feel better.

Night shade vegetables. Potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers.

I wanted to cry. I loved tomatoes. I snacked on peppers. Potatoes were delicious! At the very least, I wouldn’t miss eggplant.

But I was desperate for a change in my health. So I tried it.

Within three days I felt so much better! No more headaches, no stomach pain. No more joint pain. I started having energy!

I was expecting my second child, and had more energy than I had had in a long time—maybe ever!

It was amazing! (Yes, I’m using a lot of exclamation points, that’s how big of a deal this was for me!)

Finding My Sensitivity Levels

I stayed away from all nightshades as well as I could (It’s hard) for a whole year. Then I started trying small amounts of each one (well, except for eggplant) to see if I had any level of tolerance for it.

I missed fries. And mashed potatoes.

But I discovered I have no tolerance for potatoes. The slightest amount and my stomach hurts and it wipes out my energy all over again.

I have a low tolerance for peppers. Enough that if something spicy smells really, really good, I can try a bite without fear. But more than that? Energy gone.

Are you sensing a theme? I like my energy now that I have it. And with two little boys to keep up with now, I need as much as I can get!

But I did discover that I don’t seem to have a reaction to tomatoes! Which was a relief, as it opened up so many food options without getting super creative. (I’m having to pull out those tomato-free recipes again now for one of my sons, though.)

Moving Forward

That was 2016. From there I started building my strength. When you don’t have much energy, you tend to not have a lot of strength. It’s been a slow process for me.

So even now working in the garden, or just staying busy doing things at home without needing a nap still amazes me!

I was helping a friend spread wood chips in her new garden a year or so ago, and she kept telling me I didn’t have to. I had to tell her I still kinda delight in the ability to do physical labor. Because I haven’t always been able to.

So I am thankful each day for the energy and strength I now have. You can call it chance or luck that led to figuring out this “weird sensitivity” of mine. I prefer to call it divine guidance. It’s a “God thing” to me.

However you learned you (or someone you love) has a nightshade intolerance, I want you to know you’re not alone. There are others that also live with this “weird” food sensitivity, and it is possible to manage your diet and find substitutes for the foods that make us sick.

Want to learn more? You can check out my blog post about nightshade intolerance here.

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