June 8th, 2012
My life consists of more than just refraining from Gluten. Having multiple food allergies, intolerances , and sensitivities has led me on a journey of LIVING FREE. When you are first hit with news of having Food Allergies or having your spouse or children hit with the news, you almost immediately feel overwhelmed. You are flooded with thoughts of all the things that can no longer be enjoyed and how drastically your eating lifestyle must change. If you are like most Americans on a Western Diet of processed and refined, quick and easy foods than you are even more blind-sighted by the now Massive List of Limitations you are supposed to abide by. You may have broken down and cried a little, or a lot.
Maybe you don’t have food allergies, intolerances, or sensitivities, but you are working on living a cleaner-eating lifestyle and making some major and necessary food changes. Whatever brought you to this place of change, HERE YOU ARE!
The question that stifles us next is:
Where do I go from here?
Maybe that’s not your question. Maybe you have it all figured out. Maybe you have always eaten clean and are just now having to eliminate a thing or two. No biggie for you! That is most definitely NOT my story though, so if it’s not yours either…STICK WITH ME!
Before Food Allergies I have always dealt with some sort of digestive issues or sensitive skin issues. It wasn’t bad enough to be looked into by doctors (other than a big, “we don’t know what caused this”) and it wasn’t debilitating enough to make me change what I ate. My remedies consisted of Oatmeal Baths, Calamine Lotion, and Benadryl. Beginning my life on the East Coast and moving to the West Coast changed the types of foods my family and I ate. Living these past 16 years in the Southwest has brought even more changes, especially after meeting my husband. I did not grow up on Southwestern foods and spicy flavors, nor was I familiar with authentic Spanish and Mexican dishes like I am now. We ate like what I presume most families in the 80′s ate like, a mixture of wholesome cooked meals with a few handy helps like prepackaged gravy mixes and canned fruits and veggies, and not forget the few easy to grab prepackaged snack items. I learned to cook at an early age and developed a love and passion for surprising the family with meals and new creations. Junk food was a once in awhile treat, unlike what I see today as being the main ingredient in many peoples diets. Sadly, I too have indulged in my share of junk food while still trying to balance eating somewhat healthy, or so I thought I was healthy. Over the years my loved for junk developed and although I have never been an overweight person (by most peoples standards) I definitely failed to live up to a truly healthy standard for myself.
During my teenage years I would always dream of one day being THAT HOUSE. You know the one. That House where my pantry would always be stocked full of every snack imaginable, all the ones I never had growing up. I wanted to be THAT MOM! The COOL Mom with all the COOL eats. The place everyone wanted to be. I surely wasn’t THAT house as a kid.
Soda WAS however always in our house and I developed a rather large attachment to it (ok, addiction maybe). Water? What was that? Soda, or before my East coast lingo changed, Pop was the only thing I ever wanted to drink, that and juice (not the natural kind).
Pregnancy really threw my body for a loop as well and that was when the Lactose Intolerance kicked in. It wasn’t until several years later (like 7 or 8 years later) that I finally gave in completely and accepted my No Dairy Fate! It was a slow progression of No Ice Cream and Milk to No Cheese to Not even a drop of Dairy or I’d bloat up like a 5 month preggo. It was like having contractions and feeling like your stomach was going to explode if it stretched any further. All this while NOT being pregnant I might add. The more I pushed the envelope with the dairy, the worse my symptoms got until one day I was hurled over in so much pain that only after crying and taking a Colon Cleanse did I finally experience relief. After that I became very acquainted with Cleanses and Detoxes. I don’t know how I lived like that or why I put myself through that. Looking back now, IT WAS NOT WORTH IT!
That really was only the beginning of what would later become the drastic food changes I now live with (and to boot, I’m not even allergic to dairy).
Warning: It’s about to get a bit more graphic!
As a child I struggled often with bouts of constipation, diarrhea, un-officially & un-diagnosed IBS symptoms, irregular bowel movements, eczema, hives, rash outbreaks, blotchy skin patches, and other issues. My worst nightmare of a memory was when I was in the 3rd grade. It was during a school day and I was already feeling a bit “off”. While on the playground during recess and in the sun, I began to break out with a horrible case of hives. It was so bad that I even had them all inside my mouth, tongue, and throat as well as covering what appeared to be every inch of my body. The sun made it worse and I was brought inside to wait for my parents to come. The tears burned each of the painful, puffy, and extremely welted bumps, but I was only 8 and couldn’t help BUT to cry! I went to the ER and the doctors made me gargle with Perioxide, you know that stuff in the brown bottle that bubbles when you put it on a cut or scrape, yep that in my mouth! I had to make sure and get it all the way in the back of my throat and proceed to do say for days following. YUCK!!! The doctors never could figure out what caused it and never seemed to suspect FOOD. It was always questions about our detergents, soaps, and beauty products, which never changed, and possibly being allergic to certain fabrics. I had to change my wardrobe and avoid any obvious (to the doctors) culprits.
What About The FOOD!
Looking back now, that seems to me to be the most logical and reasonable cause. HELLO PEOPLE!!!!
No one ever pinpointed foods that bothered my stomach, yet I always struggled with Reflux, Indigestion, and Gas. After all my experiences one would think a Food Allergy Diagnosis wouldn’t come as a shock, but it blew my mind. It also gave me some sense of peace to know there actually WAS a reason behind all my issues and so I could finally experience relief. The shock was in eating or drinking something for years seemingly fine and then BLAM, eat it and break out in an infectious rash all over your body.
I think I was most frustrated because I had already begun to make significant diet changes. I began eliminating flour (wheat was the only flour I knew of at the time) and completely (with some cheats) giving up dairy, eliminating all Soda, Juice Concentrates, and High Sodium Beverages (drinking only Water, Coffee, and Tea). I was incorporating more roughage and healthier food choices, but yet I still ate processed foods and still couldn’t identify causes for digestive and skin issues. Everything negative seemed to be random because I wasn’t making changes to my foods or beauty products all that often. My skin was so sensitive that at one point my ears broke out and swelled up like elephant flaps because my earring posts weren’t made with pure gold. Any cheap metal and even stainless steal would cause immediate itchiness. I worked for 4 years as a Teacher and Lead in a Day Care and thus battled cases of ring worm right along with my random outbreaks. The times when I did not have health insurance were the worst because the treatments were always antibiotics, anti-fungals, prescription anti-histamines, and oral and topical steroids. Expensive visits to the ER and expensive prescriptions during dire situations would become a much too common reality. My kids also journeyed some of the same issues un-diagnosed as well, but that is a different chapter! Lol!
Fast Forward to TODAY and my life looks tons better. I make most of my own food from scratch and have learned an incredible amount about eating clean and healthy, what REAL Healthy actually looks like, making my own beauty products and household products (this is new learning), becoming my own personal chef and baker, and LIVING FREE from all the limitations placed before me. Instead of viewing my life with all these barriers, I changed my focus to an unexplored world of NEW. New foods, New tastes, New experiences, NEW!!! The best thing about this journey is there is always something NEW to discover. Whenever I find myself feeling bored I just go exploring and find new inspiration.
This journey has truly brought healing in ways I never would have imagined or experienced otherwise. For all of the negatives I have faced, there are plenty of positives that have made my life 1000x better NOW than ever before!
My heart is to share my journey with you
in hopes of helping you
Stay Tuned For Part 2 and learn all about how after one time of Juicing Beets I have discovered a connection between my Food Allergies, Outbreaks, Dental Hygiene, Moods, and Digestive Health I never realized was there. I even am learning how to naturally reverse some common ailments and heal my body through foods.