Wednesday, 6 July 2011
I began this blog in order to post recipes, advice, and information for those of us who choose to live gluten-free, dairy-free, and/or sugar-free lives. Most people come to this decision after experiencing health problems, and end up choosing to change their diet as a last resort after seeing numerous doctors and specialists (often unsuccessfully), doing an enormous amount of research, and suffering immensely in the process. Although the discovery of the cure for what ails us is usually met with joy, often what follows when people realize they have to “do without” those foods which they have been eating their whole lives (and which they discover are extremely difficult to avoid given our fast-food, industrially-processed system of convenience eating) is this reaction – “WHAT AM I GOING TO EAT? THERE IS NOTHING I CAN EAT!”
I am here to tell you, there are plenty of wonderful foods out there that you can enjoy, more than you would have ever discovered if you continued along your standard American diet (SAD) path. Moreover, once you start eating real, fresh whole foods (as opposed to processed foods that consist of mostly wheat, dairy, sugar, corn, and soy derivatives), you will feel younger, healthier, and more energetic than you ever imagined. This site is dedicated to helping you learn how to achieve that goal.
I didn’t discover I had an allergy to gluten or dairy until I was 30 years old. I used to eat the typical standard American diet – you know, fast food, microwave dinners, mac-and-cheese, Ben & Jerry’s Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream, Cocoa Puffs cereal with milk and donuts for breakfast (or a midnight snack). I used to think it never bothered me, after all, I didn’t have any major health problems. However, that’s not including the fact that I still had severe acne dating back to my teenage years, never had any energy unless I drank coffee or a Diet Coke, suffered from depression off and on, and recently developed horrible nasal allergies that often turned into chronic sinus infections.
One day I read that sinus allergies could actually be caused by food allergies. I’m not allergic to any food, I thought, after all, I ate anything and I was still doing fine. Nevertheless, I decided to try going on a detox diet where you remove all common allergens from your diet for two weeks, then gradually re-introduce them to find out if you have any symptoms. Interestingly, when I removed all of these foods from my diet (wheat, dairy, sugar, corn, soy, eggs, beef, yeast, etc.), I noticed that for once in my life, my face was not oily and my acne started clearing up. Imagine that – after all the years and money spent on dermatologists that never helped me, I found out it was food that was causing my acne. I went to a naturopath, had allergy testing done, and found out I was allergic to wheat, barley, oats, dairy, beef, yeast, mushrooms, peanuts, and sugar.
Wow, I am allergic to everything, I thought. What am I going to eat?! I started vigilantly reading labels on food products and to my dismay, everything I found on the supermarket shelves contained at least two or three of these items. I began doing research and finding substitutes for these items, and bought several cookbooks with recipes for gluten-free baked goods. I spent a lot of money buying expensive products (like xanthan gum and arrowroot powder) to create really high-maintenance versions of the stuff I used to eat, and it ended up tasting like crap.
Finally, I realized I would have to just give up on the gluten-free biscotti or the wheat-dairy-yeast-free pizza, and change what I was eating. I started broiling fish and poultry, slow-cooking bean dishes in the crockpot, and making hot polenta for breakfast. I discovered the joy of farmers’ markets, and how incredible fresh organic fruits and vegetables taste when they are in season. I spent a lot of time learning how to cook whole foods from scratch, but discovered it was much cheaper than buying processed, packaged foods, and so much more delicious. At first it was very time consuming, but I learned that sometimes the simplest recipes were the best tasting. I developed a system of making larger portions and refrigerating and freezing the leftovers for the time when I only had 5 minutes to prepare dinner. I invested in a good thermos for times when I was on the run and knew I wouldn’t find a restaurant that had gluten-free or dairy-free entrees. I began to really enjoy the process of creating my meals, and eating was more pleasureable than ever before.
Today, I have so much energy I feel ten years younger. Over time, some of the things I was allergic to don’t seem to bother me anymore, and I’ve found certain exceptions that I am able to tolerate, like cultured butter and sheep’s milk yogurt. I still have flare-ups from time to time with my acne and allergies, but usually only when I end up eating something I shouldn’t. I sometimes get stressed out when I am at a social event or somewhere where I’m not sure what’s in the food that’s available, but I am better prepared with my Larabar snack bars for those instances. For the most part, taking care of my body through preparing nutritious meals is truly an enjoyable part of my life. After all, we are what we eat, right?
Angie lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and two cats. She enjoys traveling, being outdoors, having a cup of tea with a good book, and watching Battlestar Galactica.