“I’ve seen zero evidence of any nation on Earth other than Mexico even remotely having the slightest clue what Mexican food is about or even come close to reproducing it. It is perhaps the most misunderstood country and cuisine on Earth.” ~Anthony Bourdain
I spent most of May and June doing Autoimmune Protocol (AIP). Now, if you are not familiar with how I already eat, I eat basically Paleo. This means I omit grains, legumes, dairy, added sugar and seed oils from my diet. I have been doing this for three years. Going AIP meant I omitted a few more things. Those were: eggs, nuts, and nightshades (Peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes, etc.) Basically, anything that could irritate my gut I eliminated it!
As a result I felt great and leaned out a little but then I arrive in Mexico and everything went out the window. Here are the five foods I reintroduced and the results:
If you have never had Mexican sweet bread then you are missing out! As a kid in Los Angeles I grew up eating these things. I also grew up fat! I have not eaten a piece of sweet bread in four years, since the last time I was in Mexico. It only took me a couple days before I caved. It was as good as i remembered and my gut felt great. This gave me false hope. So I ate another piece the following day… and the next. Eventually it caught up with me. My gut swelled up and I was constantly bloated. Not to mention… lets just say, I wasn’t having happy poops. After two days of resuming gluten free everything went back to normal. I am not going to pretend that I have only gone through this entire cycle only once either. See, there are these empanadas here that are to die for and this is the only place in the world you can get them so…
I traveled to Peru a couple years ago and had no problem eating clean (I did eat potatoes.) but this is not Peru. This is Mexico! Corn is a staple in practically every meal. Have you heard of these things called tortillas? Well, you need them to make quesadillas, tacos, enchiladas, chilequiles, and if you do not order one of these meals they will come on the side, kind of as a tool to use to eat with. It’s almost impossible to eat out and avoid corn. Actually, it’s very possible but you would have to substitute it with wheat. (Tortas are a delicious Mexican sandwich and are as common as a taco here.) So, to avoid both corn and wheat is nearly impossible while eating out. I was actually fine with eating corn and not showing any obvious signs of intolerance but my girlfriend had an immediate reaction to the corn with an actual break out under her eye. As a result, we eat most of our meals in and go out for french fries in the evenings.
Before May my dairy was limited to grass-fed butter and the occasional mozzarella or parmesan cheese but for the two months prior to coming here, I cut it all out. That ended on day one in Mexico. We had quesadillas with dinner and for dessert we went for ice cream. I was able to handle the cheese and still can but the ice cream created an immediate reaction in the form of… horrible, horrible gas. Ice cream was our nightly treat for a few days but then we had to change it to french fries per the request of my lovely girlfriend.
The cheese here is awesome. It’s basically a Mexican string cheese and melts perfectly. Thankfully I don’t have a bad reaction to it so I get to enjoy it while I’m here.
Finally, some good news to report. I have been eating eggs like crazy since I got here and as a result, they make me feel good! Eggs have been calming my stomach and giving me strength. This makes me very happy. Eggs have been a staple in my diet for years and since going paleo, they have been a big source of protein for me. There is also an even better benefit to eating eggs in Mexico, they are awesome! At first, the fact that the market we bought our eggs from didn’t refrigerate them scared my girlfriend but once I explained that these aren’t U.S. eggs and therefore don’t HAVE to be refrigerated she felt a little better. She still put them in the refrigerator when she got to the apartment though. After busting a few open and seeing the dark orange yolks, she realized that these weren’t your normal eggs and she stopped putting them in the refrigerator and stored them on the kitchen counter like a Mexican.
5) Nightshades (Mainly in the form of salsa)
This one broke my heart. I love spicy food! Love it. Especially salsa. I make my own at home and have hundreds of recipes but gave it all up for AIP. The day I got to Mexico I started putting salsa on everything. I didn’t think I would have a reaction to it. I mean, I am Mexican so chile is in my blood, right? Well I did have a reaction but I didn’t associate it with the chiles until the day after I had a barbecue and grilled some chiles with the meal. The following morning I awoke to a very fiery and painful emergency. To be frank, I was having convulsions of hot, burning diarrhea! I was in denial but decided to avoid the spicy food for a day just so I could eliminate it as the cause. Turns out, the spicy food was the actual reason for most of my stomach problems. And, I don’t mean just for this trip but for probably every trip I have made to Mexico. I didn’t want want to believe it but ever since I got away from the chiles 80% of my digestive issues have gone away. I cried a little bit but I am happy to not be in that situation where I am in the middle of nowhere and need a toilet ASAP!
While in bed last night I was trying to come up with how to close this article and I thought of cigarettes. Why cigarettes? Because the poison is in the dose. One cigarette is not going to give you lung cancer or even smokers cough. It’s the repeated use over time that can result in such things. I feel the same goes for inflammatory foods. I can eat a little cheese now and then but if I were to eat it everyday for an extended period of time, I could suffer from all kinds of ailments, such as post nasal drip and hay fever. Also, smoking may be gross at first, it could give you bad breath, make you light headed and just taste terrible but over time you get used to it and these inconveniences could actually make way for some pleasurable experiences. This doesn’t mean they are less bad for you. It just means your body has built a bit of a tolerance to the poison you have been feeding it. The same goes for foods not on the Eating Primitive approved foods list. My girlfriend’s immediate allergic reaction to corn has subsided. It’s not because corn is, all of a sudden, not bad for her but because she ignored the signs her body was giving her and continued to eat corn and now she has a bit of a tolerance to it. Again, just because the symptoms subside does not mean the food, or poison, is not doing the damage it was doing before.
All in all, I love this month long trip I have been on. I am enjoying every bit of it but I look forward to coming home to more food options and cleaning up my gut.