In my twenties I used to brag, “I’ll eat anything. I can eat anything.” Everywhere I turned, it felt like someone was intolerant to gluten or nuts or dairy. The list went on and on, but when I went over to people’s houses for dinner, I proudly boasted that I was an easy-to-deal-with individual and would eat anything prepared for me.
For the first two months after my first child was born, he had terrible cholic. He’d have a messy diaper all the time and would never stop hollering, especially at night. Then, suddenly, he was better. I shrugged my shoulders and went on with life until the cholic and the messy diapers flared up again. I had no idea what was going on, but I’ll never forget standing in the kitchen with my husband’s gaze piercing mine. “Stop eating whatever it is you’re eating.”
I wracked my brain, going through a checklist of foods I’d been eating (I was nursing at the time.). Oh yes. I’d recently gone through phases of milk and Greek yogurt… that coincided perfectly with my baby’s cholic. But was that really a thing? Dairy was supposed to soothe the tummy, not upset it. So I ran it through the ole’ Google machine, and, sure enough, found dairy to be the culprit. Life was awesome for both me and my baby once I cut it out. While it was difficult to live dairy free, it wasn’t the end of the world.
Six months after my second son was born, at exactly 11:00 every morning, I began doubling over in debilitating stomach pain that lasted for several hours. It took two excruciating weeks to figure out that the culprit was eggs- something I had been eating literally every day of my life for the past ten years.
By this point, I was scratching my head, wondering what was going on with my body. I still made jokes that I wasn’t like those “other” people. Those special people who loved the gluten-free trend.
And then four months later, I once again had immobilizing stomach pain along with the feeling that my body was sick and shutting down. This time, it took me about two days to target gluten. From that point, my relationship with wheat was like a rollercoaster. I didn’t really believe that I couldn’t eat it (I was in denial), so during my third pregnancy, I convinced myself that food intolerances went away during pregnancies. Turns out I was dead wrong.
As the months rolled by, I realized more and more that I couldn’t have any of it. Not even a bite. And something that year changed for me. For the first time in decades, I no longer battled winter colds.
Let me pause and give you a little history about myself. Colds were my “thang.” I had them mastered- nasal decongestants in combination with neti pots, NyQuil, and immune-boosting powders dragged me along in life. The colds would start in October and wouldn’t leave me alone until April. They were one after the other, often ending in sinus infections. I actually dubbed myself, “The Queen of Colds.”
Now I was gluten-free, and as fall faded into winter, then winter to spring, and I kept perfectly healthy, I realized I’d cracked the code. Could it be that for years gluten was toxic to my body? I think the answer to that is a resounding “Yes.”
It was then that I asked myself this question: “If so many people are developing allergies and intolerances, then what does that say about our food?”
Now I’m not going to stand on a soap box and tell you to only eat organic. But what I will tell you is that I firmly believe something’s wrong with the way much of our food is processed.
So I made a point to begin eating more natural and whole foods. I began reading books about the Earth and how to be a good steward not just in the way we take care of the world, but how we live in it. (Gardening Eden by Michael Abbate). I also read a life-changing book called Super Immunity by Joel Fuhrman. In it, he explains how an excellent immunity can be achieved by eating a plethora of greens and by cutting out animal-based foods such as meats and dairy. He even has diets that have helped people be cured from lupus.
That food had the power to heal was an eye-opening revelation, and I made a point to incorporate fruits and vegetables into every meal that I made. Last winter was the first winter in my memory where all three of my children barely got a cold. Of course we had the occasional puke, but it began and ended in a matter of hours.
Through my food intolerances, I learned that food is more than just something to taste. It’s life. It’s what we’re made of, and it can be the difference between a healthy home and one full of ailments.
(Reader, please understand that I know every home is varied, and even homes with a high consumption of fruits and veggies still gets sick. Everyone’s body works differently, but ours reacts dramatically to a healthier diet.)
My point is this. Food allergies brought on enlightenment. I used to eat whatever I saw that looked good, regardless if it was good for me. Now I know better. I LOVE being gluten free, and I’d never go back. I have better health and better energy than I did before being gluten-free, and, more importantly, I’m constantly aware of the nourishment that goes into my family.
If you’ve been blessed with intolerances, hopefully you’ve come to this powerful conclusion as well.