[Picture above is my version of cabbage soup in the Instant Pot!]
10 years ago, I never gave a thought to the food I was eating, where it came from, or what was in it. Food was my comfort and my escape. I would dream of plates of pasta with parmesan cheese, cannoli’s, and my grandmother’s pies and cookies.
Fast forward to the present. I can hardly eat anything listed above and much more. 4 years ago, I was diagnosed with severe lactose intolerance. Later that same year, I discovered I was also gluten intolerant.
Just to be clear, I do not have celiac disease. However, when I eat any wheat or gluten products, my skin breaks out and my stomach cramps. And since those two discoveries, I have also found that I cannot tolerate corn or red meat. They have the same affect on me as gluten.
At first, I was devastated. Coming from an Italian family, the thought of no anise cookies for me at Christmas was worse than death. And no more cannoli’s?? Someone just shoot me now and put me out of my misery!
In our family, the food was part of the experience, the commeraderie, and the relationships. Sharing grandmas recipes, cooking together, taste testing things. Not to mention, everything was just SO GOOD! I grew up doing all of that without ever thinking that one day, I wouldn’t be able to participate or eat those foods anymore.
The one thing that I wasn’t expecting was the emotional effect this whole change would have on me. Changing what I eat, in some ways redefined me and my relationships with others around me. I realized I would not be able to taste or participate in family gatherings in the same way. I also realized that a lot of the people in my life really didn’t think a second thought about what they ate or how to cook for other people with allergies. It was hard for me not to be frustrated at get-togethers and events because I felt like no one thought to even ask what I could eat or if I could eat what they made. I would have to bring my own food. At times, I felt sad, isolated and left out somehow.
Get-togethers with friends and public events also became challenging. If my husband and I were invited to a banquet, cook-out, party, wedding, etc. my attendance at that gathering now centered on whether or not I would be able to eat anything, or if I would have to cook and bring my own food.
I didn’t realize how much of our time spent with family, friends, and loved ones was spent centered around food. And for someone with a food allergy, it can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety.
Think about it. Every time you leave the house to visit someone, go to a restaurant, or go to a party, you need to make sure you either bring food you can eat or ask ahead of time what will be on the menu. It’s a lot of extra time and effort. At times, I felt like just staying in my house and not going anywhere so I didn’t have to think about food at all. I actually had some depression because of it.
So how did I start to change my perspective? I had to learn to let go of all of that.
It was no one’s fault. It isn’t something people without food allergies often have think about or do. I had to redefine my relationships and participation so that I could learn how to function at get-togethers, parties or events again. I learned to adapt and make it work for myself. I now plan food and meals at get-togethers with my family. I even started sharing my recipes with family and friends.
But an even bigger shift was happening within me. One that brought with it an amazing transformation.
I gained a new perspective on the food itself. I retrained myself on how to cook, read ALL labels, and learned how not to cross contaminate. As for eating out?…well that became almost non existent for a while. But it was ok.
I started to lose weight easily. A total of 70 lbs. actually! But it didn’t happen JUST by cutting out dairy and gluten. While reading every food label in the grocery store, I started to wonder about the other ingredients in the food I was eating.
I started to do research on things such as High Fructose Corn Syrup, soy, sucralose, aspartame and other artificial sweeteners. Then I dug deeper and started looking up research on the effects of sugar and GMO corn on the body. I learned about leaky gut syndrome, auto immune and much, much more. (That’s a whole other blog post in itself.)
The biggest weight loss I had was when I cut out the processed and artificial sugars and added vegetables to every meal. I cut out a lot of sugar unless it was stevia, organic cane sugar or coconut sugar. I stopped drinking juices and sodas. (I haven’t given up my wine though. I did cut back. LOL)
I began to choose foods I thought my body needed most and what didn’t make me sick afterwards. I chose organic foods without chemicals and pesticides; things like avocados, broccoli, berries, coconut milk, and nuts became a part of my diet. I stopped eating corn and red meat. After making all of these changes, my digestion became better, my skin cleared up, and I slept better. I was also able to reduce the symptoms of my fibromyalgia.
I also started using a company called Misfits Market. They ship organic vegetables straight to your door for half the price you pay in the grocery store! If you are interested, here is my referral link: http://misfitsmarket.refr.cc/saracourtney Click on it and try a box! You get discounts for referring friends and family. The quality is great.
So what started as a sad, depressing emotional ordeal turned into something pretty great. I am a healthier, more food educated version of myself. I have a few favorite restaurants that will accommodate my food allergies. I feel so much better overall. And I am actually good cook now! I even bought an Instant Pot! LOL. (I was a meal in a box person before.)
But most of all, I eat healthier not because I have food allergies. I eat healthier because I get to choose to put foods in my body that nourish it, fuel it, and don’t make me sick. And not a single cannoli, cookie or piece of cheese can ever replace that.
PS- I am going to start sharing some of my recipes on my blog! So stay tuned!
Thanks so much for reading.
Blessings to you.
With love from above,