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What Can Ken Eat?

I’m really not a picky eater. If I could, I’d like to try everything and explore every cuisine. Unfortunately, my genetics and microbiome have conspired against me on that. In order to stay healthy, I need to restrict my diet in a number of ways.

  1. In the mid 1980’s, while I was in college, I experimented with going vegetarian, and I found that after I started eating meat again, I got violently ill. I felt like my body had a relief when I didn’t eat meat and then revolted when I went back. I’ve been listening to my body and haven’t had any meat (that I know of) since 1986.
  2. When I was little, I couldn’t be in the same room if you fried eggs. Seafood also made me feel ill, and I couldn’t handle raw onions (cook them and I’ll have them by the bucketful!) This always confused me until a number of things happened. I have been going to Easton Mountain Retreat Center for many years, and I would get really ill if I drank the water there. Then, in 2009, I was hospitalized for a cellulitis infection, and when I got out, they gave me Bactrim as an antibiotic. I soon started getting arthritic all over, and was in such pain that I had to have them change the prescription. After I recovered from that, I started to do some research and discovered the common link with all of these: They are all high in sulfur. I have a sulfur sensitivity, which is basically that I can’t eat anything that has a high concentration of sulfur. The main things that I can’t have are anything that has a high concentration of eggs, such as quiche, omelettes, raw onions, or mayonnaise. If it’s diluted (like custard, eggs in baked goods, etc.), my body can handle it.
  3. After having 6 months straight of sinus infections in the winter of 2010-2011, I decided that I needed to find out why. I had a history of getting just about every infection in the book, and would get really run down often. I got tested for allergies, and everything came up negative, but I had mentioned to the allergist that my sister had been diagnosed with celiac disease a few years ago, but I had been tested and it came up negative. She recommended that I get retested just to see. This time, it came up positive and a biopsy of my small intestine confirmed that eating gluten was destroying my digestive tract. Since then, I’ve been eating gluten free, and not only have the infections decreased dramatically, but I also don’t have the really bad bloating and gas problems that I used to have. So, anything with wheat, rye, or barley, of those foods which have been contaminated by wheat, rye, or barley, are completely off the table for me.

So, given all this, you might be wondering: So, What Can Ken Eat? If I have him over for dinner, what can he have? Can he actually eat out at a restaurant? What about at a potluck? As many people have had these questions, I figured I’d write this page to answer those questions.

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of foods I can eat:

  • vegetables
  • potatoes
  • fruits
  • nuts
  • dairy
  • all grains except wheat, rye, and barley
  • beans, lentils, etc.

It’s actually pretty broad. The things to look out for (that aren’t obvious) are those things that have meat or gluten in them that you wouldn’t expect (soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, beer, anything with mayonnaise) which can send my stomach erupting (you don’t want to be around me when this is happening!) and make me want to go home and lie down.

Some suggestions for meals

  • For eating out, Indian and Mexican restaurants are good choices. Indian always has a lot of vegetarian and gluten free options, and Mexican usually have combinations of beans and corn with vegetables (and cheese!)
  • For a dinner, something that has a lot of vegetables and a grain such as rice or quinoa. Risotto is always a good option, as are curries. A vegetable bean soup is usually good too, as is a potato casserole. Just look at the list of foods above and think of combinations you would normally put together.
  • For snacks, popcorn or chips and salsa are easy.
  • For desserts, something with fruit or a rice pudding or flan are also good.

Granted, the availability of gluten free options have made things easier, but I’m not expecting others to go out and make gluten free croissants or something extravagant. If we’re getting together, it’s because I want to be with you, and not primarily for the food. Just know what is in what you have, and that will be 90% of the battle.

Again, if you’re wondering, just ask, but I hope this has helped!

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