I get asked all the time what it is I eat. People understand Gluten Free but anything beyond that and I receive a blank stare. So, let me begin with what I can’t/don’t eat: gluten, corn, dairy, yeast, soy, red meat, tomatoes, black pepper, peanuts, lettuce (yeah, I know, no lettuce sucks so I occasionally have it anyway), carrots (sometimes I sneak this too), nightshades, potatoes, rice of any kind, refined sugar, nothing processed. What I can eat: veggies other than those listed above, yams and sweet potatoes in strict moderation, fish, chicken, pork, nuts – except for peanuts (allergic to those), berries, some fruit, seaweed.
Now the why in my simple layperson terms. It’s all about inflammation and food triggers. When you have an autoimmune disease, inflammation is the enemy. It causes more damage and what is normally your body’s way of fighting infection becomes a battle in which your body attacks itself. So, for me, the best way to calm things down is to remove those inflammation-causing triggers. We started with what is typically considered inflammation-causing foods (gluten, red meat, refined sugars, etc.) and then removed those foods that cause inflammation in MY body. These foods were discovered via blood tests and I am regularly monitored because some of those trigger foods can change for me. The goal is to keep my body as calm as possible so as not to trigger another attack and, more importantly, so my body can heal. It’s very important to note that while there are some foods that are known to cause inflammation, everyone’s body is different. If you are dealing with an autoimmune disease, talk to your doctor and if you can get in to see an Integrative Specialist, even better. What works for me may not for you. I’m just sharing what works for me.
Being put on a very limited diet is a challenge. A challenge not only for me but for my family and friends as well. Luckily, I’m surrounded by people who want to understand what my dietary needs are so they can be supportive. It’s also lucky for me that I’m the type of person who wants to be in the know. Who will research things to death, because I don’t want to eat Styrofoam. I miss comfort food. I don’t want to just eat a protein and a veggie and maybe a carb. And you know what? I don’t. I eat lasagna, beef stroganoff, soups, pasta with meat sauce, hamburgers, bread, desserts… It’s just different now. And different doesn’t have to equal bad. Half the time, my family has no idea that the meat sauce I made really isn’t spaghetti sauce or that the “pasta noodles” in my lasagna isn’t pasta or that those oatmeal cookies I made aren’t oatmeal. Ok, I guess they do now… And here’s why. I like to cook and experiment. I’m also a curious type who likes to research. Through my research I discovered this wonderful woman, Danielle Walker of Against All Grain. She is a genius! She suffers from an autoimmune disease and also missed real food, so she set out to re-create the food she once loved. And she did. For the longest time, gluten free/sugar free/everything free meant gross. She found a way to change that. Look up her blog. http://againstallgrain.com/ , buy her cookbooks, follow her on social media, try a recipe of hers. Really, she is amazing. She has a recipe for FUDGE!!!! Honestly, we don’t suffer in the Canfield abode. And I say we because I only make one meal and the rule in my house is you have to try it. Very rarely will my family refuse to eat something after trying it. Is any of this easy? NO! There is a lot of work involved. Each week, I study recipes and create a meal plan for the week. Sundays are my prep days and I spend hours in the kitchen. And that’s ok because I enjoy it. The best part is the rest of the week I don’t have to worry about what’s for dinner or breakfast or lunch or snacks because it’s all prepped and ready to go. Really, anyone can do this. Now I could totally blow this off and not comply but I really don’t have a choice. I know first-hand what happens when I don’t and I don’t want to go back there again because each relapse seems to become more serious than the last. It IS possible to control how you are feeling through what you put in your body. I believe it. My family believes it and I have found doctors who support and believe it. And, trust me, not all doctors support this. And if yours doesn’t, find one who does. While you have very little control with a chronic illness, there are some things you can control and what you put in your body is one of them! Be your own advocate. Research. Eat a clean diet. Really, it does taste good and it WORKS!