Living Gluten/Dairy Free

2012: My Blog definitely needs to include a section on my quest to find tasty meals that even may encourage second or third helpings.  When I first realized I needed to stop eating gluten and dairy in 2003 I was devastated.  I remember just eating plain rice, vegetables, meat, and potatoes because I had no idea what to eat.  I thought I would never experience a savory comfort meal again.  Thank goodness I was wrong!  So before I launch into my favorite recipes, I’ll give a little more background on why I had to go through a painful “divorce” with my relationship to gluten and dairy.

I grew up in Northern Michigan, the land of hearty meals full of bread and cheese.  I also had several family members with various stomach/digestive illness such as Crohn’s disease, ulcers, cancerous polyps, and colon cancer.  All of these diseases are linked and may predispose one to digestive issues genetically.  However, I had “a stomach of steel”, or so I thought.  I decided to travel to South America in 2003 after I graduated from physical therapy school.  Within one week of travel the diarrhea began.  By one month I was losing weight and by 6 weeks I was in a hospital in Mendoza, Argentina.  I had taken too many self medicated rounds of ciproflaxin in an attempt to kill the parasites I had contracted.  Unfortunately I also had amoebic dysentery which needs a different antibiotic treatment and so I mistakenly destroyed my own good stomach bacteria, leading to a condition known as dysbiosis, candida, as well as a parasite infection.  The long story short is I thought I was going to die in South America.  I was so weak and ill.  However I eventually did gain enough strength to fly back to the States.  My stomach illness did not seem to improve much even after treatment so after dozens of various doctor evaluations and testing I was found to have elevated antibodies both gluten and dairy.  I thought the condition would be temporary but it has not been.  The good news has been that by avoiding these foods my stomach has mostly recovered and I am a much healthier person because of it.  I often wonder if the sensitivity has always been present since so many family members have also been sick.  My daughter also seems to be developing various issues that have a link to needing to abstain from eating gluten.  Either way, our family is gluten and dairy free, except my husband who loves to indulge in his gluten and dairy from time to time since he has no issues with it.

For those of you that are new to the world without bread and cheese, I am here to proclaim and testify that life gets better!  Really!  I too had to go through the grief of loss of eating favorite foods.  And the frustration that comes with travel eating or social gathers can really make the emotional process of changing one’s diet difficult.  I tell everyone the first year is really hard.  After that you know what you can and can’t eat and it becomes more of a decision rather than a feeling of loss.  Eventually, I can honestly say that after almost 10 years I have completely lost my appetite for gluten.  Dairy is another story, I’m still grieving.  It’s in my Midwest blood to eat large quantities of cheese daily, but I can’t.  The tricky thing about the cheese is there is no cheese alternative that truly masks the real thing, unlike with gluten free foods.  My prayer is that in time my stomach will miraculously heal and I can eat cheese again.  I really don’t care if I ever eat gluten again and that is a feeling of freedom from a “relationship” I thought I could never live without!

Update Jan 2013- We are going to be starting something known as the GAPS diet.  This is explained in further detail under GAPS diet.  It’s my hope to be able to reverse many of our health issues, and to eat CHEESE!!!

Update Jun 2013- I’ve learned that some of my gut/immune issues have to do with a genetic glitch in methylation known as MTHFR.  See my page to learn more.  I’ve also decided that a mostly grain free lifestyle will be my diet of choice from this time forward.  The more I come to understand food intolerance and immune issues, the more I realize that the Paleo diet of our past will be the ideal diet of our future (however I don’t agree with the amount of meat consumption in the Paleo diet.  I think it’s best to keep meat consumption under 25% of total intake).  Really I am leaning more to a ketogenic/paleo diet where the primary source of energy comes from healthy fat consumption and training the body to fuel itself from fats more than carbs.

Update Jan 2014- Finally learned the underlying issue of many of my health challenges-Lyme disease.  I am just so grateful I have been inspired to eat gluten/dairy free the past 10 years as most doctors recommend this diet while treating Lyme.  I know that my diet has helped me to function as well as I have all these years with Lyme.  I’m so grateful!

Update May 2015- I now eat CHEESE!  Thanks to treating SIBO, clearing allergies with NAET, and rewiring my beliefs/fears around food allergies with a variety of mind/body techniques.

Update Dec 2015- I am not obsessed with diet restrictions any more.  I don’t eat gluten, I don’t eat GMO’s, I don’t eat sugar.  I try to eat what my body tells me it needs.  Thats about it!

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