My MSG Story

Why am I sharing this?  I come across so many people who share the same struggles that I used to have and I want to be sure they understand that getting MSG out of their diet can potentially be life changing.  It was for me.

I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s.  Eating Little Debbies, Big Macs, Doritoes and ranch dressing was just a normal part of life.  It still is for most people, in fact.  I never struggled with those foods until I reached my early twenties.  I really have no idea why something “snapped” at that point, but it certainly did.  Maybe it was years of ingesting a dangerous food ingredient and my body finally said. “No more!”  Maybe it was four years of college when I probably ate WAY worse than I should have.  Maybe it was being under a ton of stress planning a wedding and trying to find a job.

Whatever the case, my body began going a bit crazy.  Not all of me, just my bowels, but it effected my entire being.  It started with horrible stomach and bowel pains after I’d eat at a restaurant.  Usually, I’d either have to run to the bathroom with explosive diarrhea before leaving the resaurant, or I’d be in horrible pain hoping I could “hold it” until I got home.

Before long, it started happening even at home.  Often, I’d wake up in the middle of the night with cramps and spend an hour or more in the bathroom praying that I’d figure out why in the world this kept happening.  Many times, the pain would be so bad that I’d have a trash can in front of me ready to throw up at a moment’s notice.  Of course, the next day left me feeling sore in my bowels and extrememly tired after the “episode”.

I lost close to 20 pounds over time.  Eventually, I had a colonoscopy.  Irritable bowel possibly, colitis maybe.  Vague.  Unacceptable.  I set out to find real answers.  I simply couldn’t live with just a “title” – I wanted help.  Where to start?  Prayer, of course.  “God, please show me the reason!  I know it has to be something I’m putting in my body.  Please help me!”

In a matter of days, I had found my answer.  I “stumbled” upon  (I say stumbled, but we all know I was led there purposely!)  I simply couldn’t get enough of the information I was reading.  I knew this was my answer.  I hadn’t even tried removing it from my diet yet, but I knew this was it.

It didn’t take long to realize I was right.  After removing all the MSG from my diet, I literally STOPPED any and all episodes of painful diarrhea.  The only time it would return was after mistakenly ingesting MSG.  When I say it was life changing, I really mean that.  Both in good and bad ways.

Good changes:  I was healed!  The pain, explosions, middle of the night trips to the bathroom, lethargy the following day and everything going along with my problem competely disappeared.  Completely.

Bad changes:  Finding the source of my problem came with a huge price.  MSG is in many, many, many products.  Not only in products that say MSG or monosodium glutamate, but in hidden ingredients like textured vegetable protein, spices, broth, and so much more.  I found myself, by necessity, in the middle of a complete dietary change.  If I wanted to be healthy, no longer could I shop for just anything.  In fact, for a diligent few months, I read the ingredient list on each and every product I bought.  I had to begin learning to cook from scratch, something I hadn’t done much of previously.  I had to learn how to question restaurants, something they still don’t appreciate this many years later.  And worst of all, I often had to learn by trial and error the products that are safe for me to eat.  Oh, and maybe even worse than that, I had to learn how to politely say no to food offered to me by friends or family when visiting their homes.

But let me say this very loudly:  The effort it took to make changes was (and is) completely worth it as opposed to being sick and unhealthy.

And let me say also as loudly:  Once the intial work was done and I got used to the new lifestyle, IT’S NOT THAT HARD anymore.

Do I have to cook everything from scratch?  No way.  But even the things I do cook from scratch don’t take nearly as long as you’d think.

What are some examples of things I can never ever buy again?  Campbell’s soups (most soups, really); flavored or seasoned food like chips,  stuffing, rice mixes, prepared seasoning packets (taco); many salad dressings;  prepared or pre-seasoned meats;  anything in a gravy or sauce; dry roasted peanuts; and bottled bbq sauce.  These are just examples, the list is long.

I have to be very careful at restaurants to make sure they don’t pre-season meats or sprinkle seasonings other than plain old salt and pepper on my food.  Of course, all special sauces and gravies are out, too.  Chinese restaurants aren’t the only MSG culprits, believe me!

What can I eat?  Almost anything I want as long as I prepare it (or someone else) with MSG-free ingredients.  In other words, I can still eat casseroles that call for a can of cream of mushroom soup, I just have to make my own white sauce with mushrooms.  I can still eat tacos, I just have to prepare my own taco seasoning.  And talk about saving money!  I can make about ten packet’s worth of taco seasoning for the cost of one that I might buy in the store.  I can still eat stuffing at Thanksgiving dinner.  It just has to be old-fashioned homemade stuffing.  By the way, the taste of prepackaged stuffing doesn’t come close in comparison!

As far as prepackaged things, there are some companies putting food out there without any hidden MSG.  It’s simply a matter of reading the ingredients on every package that goes into the cart.  For instance, we don’t buy the name brand french-fried onions, but Walmart’s brand is MSG-free.  We can’t buy just any sour cream, but the Daisy brand is natural (and much yummier.)

Have I found acceptable replacements for anything?  Like I mentioned before, I have been able to make all my own seasoning mixes for packets that I normally would have bought.  Making my own salad dressing is simple, but there are several organic companies that put out yummy MSG-free dressings, too.  And I believe the tide might be changing for some of the major companies lately.  I’ve been finding more and more products that are safe to eat.  :o)

Does eating MSG-free cost more?  No.  In fact, it usually costs less because I’m not buying nearly as much “convenience food”.

This is just my story.  Not everyone reacts to MSG the same way, which you can read about at the MSGmyth website.  Either way, whether you react visibly or not, MSG is a nasty little filler that’s only included in your food to enhance the taste so that the manufacturers don’t have to include as much of the real ingredients for taste.  That’s pretty sad.

I hope this story helps someone in some way.  I’m always happy to answer any questions you have, so bring them on.  If you have an MSG story, I’d love to hear it.

For the record, I bought the cookbook from the msgmyth website and it was SUPER helpful when I first began sorting out how to live my “new” life.  Also, I plan to post some of my most favorite mix recipes soon since a couple people have asked.

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