Monday, December 23, 2013

A State of Intolerance

My whole life, I've been an eater. I like food. Luckily for me, I also have this cardio addiction. The 2 are forever at war with each other. Sometimes, the food-loving portion of my existence tips the scales (literally and figuratively). Other times, I let the Wookie win the calories-out side of the equation dominates. The result has been a rather life-long equilibrium of non-overweightness coupled with my fair share of sweaty, smelly clothes.

Should anyone ask, my favorite food is, hands down, chocolate. I can't remember a day going by when something chocolaty has not crossed my lips. Usually, chocolate hits my system multiple times a day. Sometimes, it's 100% of my daily intake. This is not to say that I don't like other foods. Quite the contrary, I like almost every food (except for bacon- I loathe that vile excuse for a meat's existence). I've always had this endless, cast-iron stomach; able to handle food in epic portions and random mixtures of organic compounds.

In the past year, I've met my match. It took a rather surprising form. Upon it's ingestion, I am rendered even more useless than normal, which makes me about as valuable as a 3 dollar bill. My new nemesis: the Almond.

Nutritionally, it's supposed to be a healthy nut. It's loaded with protein and fat. And, not the bad kind of fat, but the Glinda- the Good Witch kind. Regardless of it's accolades, I cannot tolerate this food.

That's not to say that I don't like it. Quite the contrary. I think it's remarkably delicious. I've enjoyed its flavor in its 'raw' form. Its 'roasted salty' form. Its 'sliced and mixed with other foods' (such as chicken or green beans) form. Its 'lubed for her pleasure' form. Its 'mashed up 'butter'' form. They're all good.

Except that my digestive system, for some reason, stopped agreeing with me. I have what's commonly known as adult onset almond intolerance. This is not the same thing as an allergy. Nut allergies usually impact the respiratory system. The resulting lack of ability to breathe can be quite deadly for the allergee. As opposed to an intolerance, which can be quite deadly to the others in the room.

With any of my food problems, I will occasionally re-validate. Like I said before, I like to eat and I hate it when an item is removed from the palate. Yes, I've even re-validated my hatred for everything bacon. I've never liked it and it seems that I never will.

Recently, I revalidated my almond intolerance. The Wife made some almond butter based chocolate chip cookies. Once she decided to put chocolate into the mix, I was sold on the attempt (addiction is not pretty). Plus, I was curious to a couple of things: 1. Will cooked almond butter cause a reaction? 2. What are the individual Banter Intolerance phases? This time, I took careful notes to try and understand the process scientifically. Sure enough, the cookies were extraordinarily good. I am saddened to report that I'll probably not eat another one again.

I'm posting this now so that you, dear Bantee, can be aware of the symptoms and have an understanding of what is happening in your body.

Step 1: Ingestion
This seems simple enough. Simply introduce the intoleragen (yes, I just made that word up) into your digestive system. The best way is through eating. I have not experimented with other methods, probably since I am unwilling to purchase almond suppositories.

Step 2: Gestation
This part is purely psychological warfare. See, you've eaten something that you think will cause a problem. Only thing is that it's not immediate (at least not for me). There is this time period in which the food travels the length of your esophagus and enters the stomach. Now, I'm not exactly sure where the reaction takes place. It could be in the stomach. It could be in the duodenum. During the wait-period, there is nothing but joy. I am cured! Then, you start thinking of all of the other food opportunities that await you newly found intolerant-free existence. Until Step 3 hits like a bully's punch to the gut.

Step 3: The Build Up
Your intestines are designed around the movement of solids and liquids. Sure, there are some gas molecules down there. Partly, there is marginal amounts of air leftover from the swallowing process. Majorly, there are some products as a result of enzyme-aided chemical reactions. Well, one or ten-thousand of these processes has just been ramped up. As a consequence, your belly fills up like an airbag during an automobile collision.

Whereas modern-day man will point to an infinite expansion level of the mid-section, that is a slow build up. In Intolerant Land, it feels like something is about to burst. You look at your belly button in hopes that you'll find the secret pressure release valve. No luck.

Step 4: The Churning
Initially, the pressure is in your upper abdominal region. But, you can feel it migrate. There are approximately 22 feet of small intestine in the average human (I haven't measured mine just yet. Been meaning to, but who has the time for such things?) If you put your hand on your stomach, not only is it extra sensitive to your touch but you can feel a creature moving its way south. You start to think that it's going to burst out. (Don't worry, it will. But that's in the next step.) I'm pretty sure that the origin of the famous scene from Alien(s)/ Spaceballs (pictured) was influenced by someone with a food intolerance.

Step 5: The Release
Note- sometime during step 4, it's probably best that you communicate to anyone in your immediate vicinity of situation and the risks of their proximity. This is especially important if you have only 1 bathroom.

The Release happens suddenly. You'll likely be curled up in the fetal position due to the never ending presence of steps 3 and 4. However, once the Release comes a knocking, all other sensations and discomforts are forgotten as panic sets in. You run to the nearest depositing station.

What comes out in no way resembles what went in (but isn't that always the case?). The main ingredient is water, meaning that your large intestine has stopped functioning normally and switch all of its effort on the evacuation procedure. The large intestine does its new job well, adding an extra layer of intensity. Now, depending on the volume of food you have consumed that day, a courtesy flush or 2 may be in order.

Step 6: The Cycle
I'm sorry to report but this whole process does not end after the Release. In fact, it starts over at Step 3 (unless, of course, you are stupid enough to continue eating) (which I, umm, may or may not know through experience). Upon leaving the bathroom (or wherever you made your deposit) after step 5, it's nice to turn on a vent fan or light a candle out of respect for those that may live with you, including your pets. It is unlikely that you had time to do so on the way in. Advanced tip: leave the fan and candle running for a while.

Here's what's going to happen. You'll resume your fetal position on the couch, bed, -or for the experienced intolerators- the bathroom floor. The Build-Up, The Churning, and The Release will happen again and again rendering you useless for the next several hours.

There is, however, a gleam of hope. The amount of time between one episode to the next increases. During round 1, the cycle make take a total of 2 minutes between Releases. Round 2 may take 2.5 minutes. And, with each passing Release, intensity lessens.

Scientifically put: time and intensity are inversely related. This means that as the time interval (x-axis) increase, the amount of discomfort (y-axis) decreases. Be advised- units may vary. Even better, it's an exponential relationship (see graph). You'll start feeling better and for longer periods of time. Soon, you'll be able to tolerate non-fetal positions. After a few hours, you might even be able to turn off the bathroom fan and blow out the candle. Your loved ones may attempt to use the bathroom again. If you have any respect for them, you should run some cleaner around the pot.

1. Will cooked almond butter cause a reaction? Yes. The mashing and baking process did not denature whatever chemical(s) that my discomforts.

2. What are the individual Banter Intolerance phases? Ingestion, Gestation, Build-up, Churning, and Release. Lather- rinse- and repeat.

The Take-Home Message
Please don't feed me almonds. There is a high probability that I will eat them. It won't be pretty for either of us.

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