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Part 1: Gluten-free, dairy-free, corn-free, peanut-free, chocolate-free eating

gluten-freeAbout ten days ago, I took a new step on my journey to take better care of myself.  I visited a certified lifestyle educator at a naturopathic practice in Columbus called Leaves of Life.  My reason for going was that I’ve just not felt great in a long time – and not necessarily just because of too much illness, but more, I think, because of not enough underlying wellness.  I love my doctor and believe she takes good care of me, but I’ve never felt that she (or any doctor, or Western medicine in general) has all of the answers. Hence, I’m trying a new path on my self-care journey.

I’ll spare you all the gory details, but the result of the visit is this: adrenal fatigue and possible food allergies.  To test for food allergies, she recommended an elimination diet – eliminate likely allergens for 30 days, then add them back slowly after that point and wait for something to cause a reaction.  The lifestyle educator was really nice and did a great job of explaining the rationale for this course, and I was excited about her recommendations until she said those three little words that nobody wants to hear from their health care practitioner’s mouth: “gluten free diet.”

Say what?

And in addition to those little words, there were others.  Like “dairy free,” “corn free,” “peanut free” and “no more chocolate.”  And, “limit caffeine.”

SAY WHAT?

It turns out that dairy, gluten, peanuts, and corn are the most common food allergens and can cause a nebulous array of possible symptoms for those with sensitivities.  She threw in “no chocolate” because I was very allergic to it as a kid, and though I believe I’ve outgrown that, it could be that I’m still sensitive to it.

So, now what?

Have you ever noticed that when you’re on a diet and instructed not to eat something, it becomes the only food you can think of? The entire focus of your existence?  That’s what it feels like at first when you learn that you can’t eat gluten, or corn, or dairy.  It’s hard to fathom what you can eat.  But actually, there are a lot of great foods that contain none of these suspected allergens (meat, veggies, fruit, almond milk, honey, gluten free oatmeal, eggs, potatoes, rice, etc.).  And there are a number of other great foods on the market now that meet these criteria.

Gluten-free, dairy-free, peanut-free, and corn-free eating isn’t a death sentence, but it does require some lifestyle adjustment.  I’m ten days into it and have found it much less difficult to stick with than expected. And, there do seem to be some positive changes happening as a result.  Stay tuned.  I’ll keep you posted as the month goes on and share a few of the foods I’ve tried that have really turned out to be just as delicious as their common counterparts.

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