Christmas Cake and The Holiday Headache

Christmas Cake

Christmas Cake – made with rice flour so i could enjoy it too. Thanks Dad

Hi Sweet Treats,

Today my headache is finally lifting.  It started on Wednesday night.  This was after enjoying foods that are not on my “you can eat” list.  I can’t say I went too far off my eating approach but I did have Christmas Cake, some date balls and likely ate just too much of my healthy dinner foods so had challenges digesting it all.

The Christmas Cake is a cake that has been made in our family for generations.  My Mom’s Granny would make a Christmas Cake every year but sadly the recipe was never handed down.  In the early year’s of their marriage, my parent’s took advantage of the IGA promotion for Mary Margaret McBride’s Encyclopedia of Cooking.  In Volume 4 they found a recipe that reminded them of Great Granny’s recipe as it contained citron and not jujubes (which are not good in cakes).  My parents have been making their version of the Christmas Cake for over 50 years so it is a holiday tradition.  We are lucky that Granny’s Almond Icing recipe was saved and the new cake recipe is topped with a layer of Almond paste then Almond icing.  Here is the funny thing – only a few people in the family actually like the Christmas Cake.  Everyone loves the icing but not so much the cake.  I personally love it!  For the last 10 years my Dad has been making the cake as he is the other one who loves it.  So yeah, it really is a cake for my Dad and me and the occasionally icing eaters.

So imagine my delight, when I arrived for a pre-holiday visit that my Dad had made the Christmas Cake with rice flour so I could have some.   Oh my – I did a Christmas Cake dance!  Yeah, I would get to eat a treat after all.  I did however refrain from eating the icing as I figured the sugar overload would be too much for my body to handle.  So the first time I ate it, I did not have any reaction.  Yippy – I could eat it.  I was convinced my health challenges had been resolved.

On Christmas eve, my son’s girlfriend brought over some amazing homemade goodies made in the Estonia tradition.  I of course tried them as I knew her family had spend days preparing the feast. They were amazing.  But there was gluten, beef, pork, and sweets.  Well, I had to step away from “Its a wonderful life” for a bit as my stomach said “that is not staying in this body”.  After that, I felt fine.

Christmas day, at the family gathering, I made sure I ate healthy in the day, and even brought open sesame green beans, a green salad, creamy tahini dressing, a garlic dressing, and sweet potato mash so my dinner would be in my control.  I did however venture over to the sweet table and ate several of my brother-in-law date balls (made with dates, rice krispies, sugar, butter and rolled in coconut).  Boy were they good.  I resisted the famous Buttertarts (again made for over 50 years).  I did take one sip of wine at dinner and got a head ache right away so did not touch another drop.  So I really only had dessert with a healthy dinner.

Then on boxing day, I did a two hour hike with my sister and brother-in-law from Ottawa.  We went into the city to a graphic novel store called The Beguiling Books and Art store. After a healthy dinner we dropped into my parents, and my Dad brought out the Christmas Cake.  I totally enjoyed my generous slice.  And bravely ate some icing too.   Well, within an hour my headache started.  I went to bed hoping sleep would cure it.  Thursday morning the headache was still there.  So I did green juice all morning and afternoon and towards late afternoon, had a rice cake with raw almond butter and took a nap.  The headache continued and I even had a slight fever.  For a later dinner, I ate only a green only salad.  I was trying to ensure I ate only foods I knew I did not react to.

So that brings me to today.  My headache is lifting.  In the past, I would have taken Advil so this was a good test for me to see how foods affect me.  My head was sore to touch.  Today my head is still tender but not like yesterday.  In the past, this headache would have triggered a massive migraine – it fact, it actually felt like one.  Many migraine headaches are food reactions.

What have I learned:

  1. Eating dessert with sugar it still not on my list of foods I can eat
  2. If I am going to eat dessert, eat it on an empty stomach so it can digest easier
  3. Have restraint – try a little bit so I don’t overload my body with foods it is not use to any more
  4. Spread out timing between the desserts over a longer period of time – try weeks not daily
  5. Take my digestive enzymes and HCL with me for large meals to aid with digestion
  6. I will likely be the one to carry on the Christmas Cake tradition

It is hard to leave so many foods that are part of family celebrations behind but the intense headaches that I have had since I was nine (9) just are not worth it.   So as my Mom says “Start your own traditions”.  Next year, my new tradition will be Christmas Cake (made with rice flour and love from my Dad) that will be eaten two hours before dinner.

May you enjoy your holiday favourites by altering the recipes to work with your new eating approach.

To parents that cook Christmas Cake with rice flour so their daughter can enjoy it too.  Mom and Dad, you are awesome.

Jo-Ann Blondin, your 9CupChallenge partner

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