Introducing a guest post by Stephanie Berryman with her personal story.
How I finally managed to go Gluten and Dairy Free, and Why
I love food. I’m the kind of woman who moans over butter melting on to hot fresh bread. I’ll drive across the city at eleven at night for a good plate of pasta. I kept a local bakery in business for years with my addiction to their ginger cookies. And, don’t even talk to me about the Whole Foods Belgian Chocolate Chip Cookies. At $6 for a pack of 6, they just about bankrupted me. I love food. And for the past six months, I haven’t been eating most of what I love. No warm bread with butter melting on it, no deliciously creamy pasta, none of those soft ripe cheeses that are heaven on the tongue, no ice cream or cookies. Surprisingly, I’m feeling really good about not enjoying all of these foods that bring so much delight to my life. I’ve actually been considering spending the rest of my life abstaining. Crazy, right?
Let me tell you why I’m thinking this way. When I was nineteen, I did a wild and wonderful six-month backpacking trip through Europe and the Middle East. I got sick in Egypt. Classic food poisoning that leaves you wrecked and drained but then you bounce back. Except I never quite bounced back. My doctor diagnosed Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and told me I was in for a challenging time digestively. She was right. I kept eating what I loved and spent much of my life doubled over with cramps, running to the washroom in a panic or severely constipated. At some point in my 20’s I went to a naturopath who suggested I do a cleanse for six weeks – no sugar, no dairy, no wheat (they didn’t focus on gluten as the specific problem back then). I suffered through it and swore I’d never do anything like it again. Too much sacrifice. ‘Life is short, eat dessert first’ has always been my motto.
Fast forward to last summer when, at the age of 42, I had emergency gall bladder removal surgery. The surgeon assured me it wouldn’t impact my IBS and that I may have a few weeks of adjustment period to digesting fatty foods but then my body would compensate. Let’s just say it didn’t turn out quite that way.
After crapping my pants twice, once in a Starbucks after treating myself to a delicious chai latte, I decided maybe it was worth seeing a naturopath again. I even went as far as to take a food sensitivity test. Turns out that as much as I love them, dairy and gluten really don’t like me. We have a toxic relationship. I keep loving them and they keep hurting me. So I figured maybe we should take a break. That was early December. Right before Christmas. I didn’t eat wheat or dairy over the Christmas holidays. My husband kept commenting on how amazed he was at my self control. Whenever I looked at the (insert amazing food that I love here – brie, pie, cookies, etc), all I could see was the end result – the cramps, the pain, the race to the washroom, the exhaustion. This looking ahead has helped me to live gluten and dairy free for months, a feat I never would have considered possible before now.
I have faltered, I’m not going to lie – it’s been a lifetime of toxic love, it’s hard to walk away from that kind of dynamic. This Easter I slathered my turkey with gravy because what’s the point of turkey without gravy? Gravy is made with flour. I regretted my indulgence for days. A few months ago, we went to visit family. My brother-in-law makes a mean mudslide, a drink that involves Bailey’s Irish cream. It’s tradition. We visit every year and every year he makes us mudslides. I couldn’t resist. The next day we had to abort a trip to the beach so we could drive to the nearest washroom. I barely made it.
In addition to considering the likely results of consuming dairy or gluten, I’ve also found some delicious replacements. I’m lucky enough to live in a west-coast hippy city so gluten-free bread and pasta are readily available, both in stores and restaurants. I’ve also rekindled a long-lost love – Soy Delicious Chocolate Velvet Frozen Dessert. We spent a few months together in my early 20’s when I was attempting to be a vegan. It’s almost as good as the real stuff with none of the bad results. And we have this donut store that’s literally a block away from my house that has gluten-free and dairy-free donuts. Salted caramel is my new great love. I love it and it loves me. Goat cheese brie and I are also flirting. There’s a bit of a spark, nothing like what I felt with Cambazola but it’s close enough and goat cheese brie likes me way more than Cambazola. I’m finding new sweets and treats that I enjoy, focusing on the way they nourish me.
Starting new habits is never easy, neither is restricting your diet in any way but focusing on the results – both good and bad and finding delicious replacements has helped me embrace a gluten-free and dairy-free lifestyle.
Nicole here: I have to share Stephanie’s story with because it is similar to my own. My girls are gluten intolerant and food sensitivities change their behavior, and ultimately, the way we cook. I’ve written about it here, and here.
Food sensitivities, can be life changing. Share a food story, or sensitivity needs, in the comments below.
Stephanie Berryman is a a writer, a leadership consultant and coach, a teacher, a parent, and a spouse amongst other things. Her mission in life is to support people to have good lives in spite of the stress and overwhelm they may be experiencing. On her blog she writes about the various ways we can create more meaningful, more connected, more relaxed, and happier lives. She can be found at stephanieberryman.com. if you sign up for her newsletter, you’ll receive a free copy of her e-book, ‘The Good Life Manifesto: The 7 Essential Elements of a Living a Good Life’.