In this first post I've decided to include some details about how my gluten and dairy free diet came into my life, how I've adapted, and my inspiration for writing this blog.
1. Gluten Filled Life
This time last year I was living in Paris, eating lavish amounts of freshly baked baguettes and brie cheese. I also did some traveling to Italy, where I had pasta, pizza, and gelato. Needless to say, I very closely followed Elizabeth Gilbert's "no carb left behind" diet while traveling around Europe, much to my body's dismay.
When I returned from Europe I was EXTREMELY tired. Initially I thought it was jet lag, then maybe Paris withdrawl, but after a month of persisting exhaustion, along with the inability to lose weight (despite abandoning my rich diet and introducing a serious exercise regimen into my life), among other symptoms, I visited the doctor. Fortunately for me, my doctor treats patients very progressively, chiefly working to find cures through nutrition rather than introduction of drugs and supplements. It was at this meeting that I was first introduced to the word "gluten."
2. Weaning myself off of Gluten and Dairy
After an entire summer's worth of blood tests, elimination tests, and other hospital tests, my doctor and I came to the conclusion that gluten and casein was the source of my discomfort and therefore should no longer be in my diet.
While it may seem cut and dry, I by no means have had an easy time with my diagnosis. Chief among my frustration is the fact that while my body is intolerant of gluten and dairy in terms of how it is able to process food, I don't immediately feel sick after eating a bread crumb. Sickly, I am envious of people who do have such severe and definitive reactions.
I've also certainly had my "falling off the wagon." In February a friend and I traveled to New Orleans. I decided to have a "diet free" weekend (i.e. gluten and dairy filled, complete with King Cake, Po'boys, Fried Chicken, and Pizza) This is when I learned my lesson and had my intolerance re-affirmed.
Ultimately, I am grateful for this experience because it really showed me that I am, in fact, intolerant of gluten and dairy, and I really do feel better without either of these things in my system.
3. Inspiration for writing this blog
After my diagnosis last summer, I was desperate for any and all information. I spent countless hours googling "gluten" "dairy" "restaurants", etc., checked out every book there was on gluten from the library (I believe there were 6), and spoke to anyone who had ever even heard the word "gluten" before. Although I did learn A LOT, I still felt starved for information about being gluten AND dairy free. All of the research I did left me to discover that people who can't eat gluten eat copious amounts of dairy, and vice versa. I couldn't find any blogs about people with a similar experience, and all the information I found when searching "gluten and casein free" came up with information on Autism Spectrum Disorder (which I will talk about at some point in this blog). What I really wanted to learn was:
a.) Basic recipes that were gluten and dairy free
b.) Information on how to eat out
c.) How to go grocery shopping
d.) How I could go grocery shopping without spending exorbitant amounts of money, or feeling like I had to buy specialty products.
Mostly, I had to learn all of this on my own. Having been through the experience, and still learning every day, I want to share the information I have acquired.
Some facts that may inspire you to follow my example (I hope!)
a.) I have found (and made up) TONS of recipes that are really simple, delicious, and nutritious
b.) I am able to eat out regularly with my friends and let them choose the restaurants. Sometimes I run into problems, and oftentimes I don't have a large variety from which to choose, but I have even travelled to Istanbul, Turkey, and Cancun, Mexico (where I can't communicate my allergy) and have been successful in finding something to eat.
c. + d.) I easily go grocery shopping every week (I love it!), spend roughly $25 to $30 a week (which is relatively cheap), and, after many hours of studying ingredients, can quickly buy different delicious items with no problems!
*note - in my blog I use casein and dairy interchangeably. I'm still trying to figure out the distinction, but have been told by eliminating cow's milk, I escape my risk of consuming any casein.