I’ve known about, and have written about, the YorkTest for many years. But I’ve never been brave enough to do the test myself – I just couldn’t bring myself to prick my finger and squeeze the blood out.
I was happy to do this for a friend, some time back, though, and the process was gruelling. Her blood was thick and jammy and it took - I'm not joking - about 20 minutes and a lot of finger massaging to get it out. Sorry if you’ve now fainted.
I don’t know why, but even this protracted squeezing of her blood didn’t make me feel at all squeamish. But the thought of doing the same to myself still brought me out in hives.
Then came another YorkTest invitation – last week – to have tea at the Lanesborough Hotel and hear about York’s new research revealing the link between food intolerance and depression (very high, it turns out... Who knew you could be on antidepressants, when all you needed was to drop a food or two from your diet!).
The other journalists were talking about their food intolerance test results – and I realised that, still squeamish, I had mentally blocked my invitation to do this.
But, determined to find out what it was all about, I asked the lovely PR Julia to do the test for me as I averted my eyes and hoped my blood wouldn’t get too close to the jam for our scones.
It took Julia seconds to get the blood she needed, and, this week, I learned the results: I have intolerances to cow’s milk, yeast, egg white, beetroot, and a few wine grape varieties.
This was fascinating news. I already loathe egg white and beetroot, and always have done. I also hate milk – on its own.
But, while dropping beetroot and egg white from my diet poses no problem for me, milk is another matter. I am a cheese-aholic, and also love to start the day with a bowl of natural yogurt and fruit, and, later, a 50:50 milky coffee.
Yeast could be even more of a problem – it means no bread, no wine (although I happily note that champagne is a minimally yeasty wine!), and, according to a kinesiologist who also told me I was yeast intolerant about 12 years ago (and whose advice I ignored, because frankly it was too tiresome), nothing that is fermentable – including fresh fruit and raw vegetables. Mushrooms, being fungii, are naturally yeasty, and, of course, Marmite is out of the question now.
I had just bought a nice lot of Greek yogurt when I received the results, and there was a lovely olive baguette waiting to be eaten too – so I decided to delay my new regime. After all, I don’t have any symptoms that I know of – though I do want to see if anything changes when I stop eating these things.
According to Dr John Mansfield, author of The Six Secrets of Successful Weight Loss, food intolerances lie behind seven out of 10 weight problems. And York’s medical director says I may suddenly feel more energetic and have (sorry!) happier bowels when I avoid my culprit foods.
So today I went off shopping for dairy and yeast free breakfasts to replace my lovely yogurt.
It’s not that easy!
What will I put in my coffee?
I hate soya milk, and other options such as almond milk tend to contain additives and sugar (and sugar is another food we avoid when we can’t eat yeast).
And, if I go for black coffee, I will find it too bitter unless I sweeten it...
I have plumped for a new cow’s milk that doesn’t contain the milk protein – hopefully the York nutritionist will say that’s OK. My plan B is something called oat drink (I’ll let you know what it’s like).
I can put this in my coffee and use it to make porridge instead of eating yogurt (though I do recall oats making me bloated in the past...). If I get clever I may even make some yogurt with it (once I’ve found out how to get the start up culture without resorting to normal yogurt). And I will sweeten my porridge or home made yogurt with pure granulated Xylitol.
Instead of toast, I will try Matzos or rice cakes – with peanut butter, instead of dairy, and banana (if the nutritionist says it’s not too sugary and fermentable).
Steve is already muttering that he doesn’t like the idea of me becoming an even fussier eater (he can’t understand the no beetroot or egg white thing!). But I reckon most of our evening meals will be OK – as long as he uses my milk for any Bechamel, and doesn’t try to tempt me with a glass of wine and the cheese board.
I’ll let you know how I get on!