Have we found a trigger?

On the 16th, the kid decided he’d be willing to try an elimination diet. He gave up gluten, cheese, chocolate, and cured meats.

That was also about the time that he reached his full dose on his prophylactic medication. My husband and I joked around about changing too many variables at once – not a good way to design an experiment.

And over the last couple of weeks, the kid seemed to be slowly doing a little better. He could walk pretty easily with a cane. He was sleeping pretty well. We’ve worked it out for him to return to school half-time when he’s ready (a class, then a break for a period, then another class, etc.). He wanted to start last week, but we had snow …

So over the weekend, he was spending time with a friend at friend’s house. Said friend was eating hot dogs and pizza. The kid was bringing over rice cakes and plain baked chicken. They’re teenagers. He was miserable.

We told him that, given his age, and the fact that he chose to do the elimination diet, and so on and so forth, if he wanted to call it quits, he could. The catch is, if he and his doctor agree that he really needs to do one, the two weeks probably wasn’t long enough to be meaningful. He’ll have to start all over, and the misery he’s already suffered counts for nothing. He was fine with that.

So, Friday for lunch, he had cheese pizza. Saturday for lunch, cheese pizza again. Saturday for supper (and it was a late supper), he had hot dogs. And Sunday for breakfast, he asked for a pepperoni pizza. (His diet is normally better than this. He was just craving all the stuff he hadn’t been allowed to eat.)

Anyway, by mid-day Sunday, he was miserable. He had lots of dizziness, lots of vertigo. He had almost no control of his right leg and foot, and just dragged it along after him when he was walking. To get around the house, he used a cane and leaned against the wall, and even then, he was having trouble staying upright. This attack lasted until well into the night.

So … are processed meats a trigger for him? But probably not gluten or cheese? (Or maybe it’s the cheese – I don’t know what was on the cheese pizzas at his friend’s house. We add extra parmesan cheese to pizzas we make at home. So maybe it was the pepperoni? Maybe the parmesan cheese?)

How do you know if something was a trigger, or if it was just a coincidence?


I would say nitrates from the processed meats are most likely a trigger. I react to nitrates fairly quickly. I think it is too soon to tell with the cheese and gluten. Sometimes reactions from food triggers are almost immediate and other times it takes a day or so. I personally seem to do fine with cheese except for blue cheese. I tend to do better on a low-carb diet without any grains. I suspect I am gluten intolerant but don’t have any lab tests to support it.

I would strongly advise your son to stay away from hot dogs, pepperoni, bacon, lunch meat, and other processed meats with nitrates. If you look around the grocery stores, you may find nitrate-free bacon and lunch meats. Hormel makes some and so do a few other brands.


I’m in complete agreement with Marci. Foods containing nitrates are very big triggers in the food department for those who have food triggers. If I eat a cheese pizza covered with deli meats (pepperoni), guaranteed I will be a train wreck for up to two days. I can occasionally get away with a small amount of cheese on an otherwise healthy pizza (no other triggers apart from the cheese) but I would steer well clear of the commmercial pizzas.

You’re right in that it would be best to work with variables in a way that you know what’s going on. Considering how nasty the symptoms are you are describing, I’d probably go with a complete elimination diet and introduce things one at a time.

Really hope things improve for him. It sounds horrendous for someone in their teens.

S 8)