Hooray! It was two years ago this week that I made the life-altering decision to give up gluten and dairy (and most refined sugar). I’d had some weird rashes and went to see a naturopath. She had me keep a food diary for a week before our appointment, and asked me about pretty much my entire health history. Then she suggested I cut three things out of my diet that were more or less, well, my diet. No more pasta (except rice or quinoa), no more bread (so long, breadmaking aspirations!), no more beer, no more gin, no more cheese, no more crackers, no more cereal, no more flour tortillas, no more lattes, no more ice cream.
Weird: it was actually not that hard. Okay, it was a little challenging at the beginning, but I quickly got used to what I could and couldn’t handle. I lapsed a few weeks in (on my birthday), and had a couple of beers. The results were… icky and uncomfortable, so it was easy to get back on track. In about a month, I’d lost a fair amount of weight — not by eating less, but by eating differently — and felt better. My mood was affected (for the better). I feel like a better person, not because I avoid certain foods, but because I have a better idea of what my body needs and wants and likes and can deal with. Not my mind (my mind loves gluten and dairy!), but my body. And after hanging in there long enough, I started to feel, for the first time, like my mind and body were connected. It’s nice.
I’ve lapsed at times, of course, but have been doing amazingly well these last few weeks (even on vacation!!). I did take a cooking class last week, and had a little bit of pistachio-and-bread-crumb-encrusted Chèvre, and a very little bit of ice cream in melon gazpacho for dessert (I ate all of the gazpacho itself, though, and so many potatoes you would not believe it). I should mention that I do still have some glutenous things occasionally, like: soy sauce, vinegar, and French fries fried in the same oil as chicken tenders, etc., etc. I can’t resist ALL holiday cookies. And at dive bars (and bowling alleys), where wine is too risky (how long has it been open?) and potato vodka non-existent, I resort to gin and tonics (working on acquiring a taste for rum and coke again). I don’t die if I have gluten. I also don’t die if I have a little dairy (like things cooked with butter, etc.) But if I have a lot of it, I can tell. Or sometimes if my immune system is crappy already, it doesn’t take much gluten or dairy to make me sick.
All in all, I thought this was something I’d give a try — kind of a last resort to get rid of a persistent, inconveniently-placed rash. I was a skeptic. I thought the naturopath’s diagnosis tied all of my health history together a little too nicely to be true, but, alas, she was on to something. I can actually say I’m happier and healthier for it.