When I first started this blog, I knew I would be sharing my family’s journey with food, searching for answers and a better understanding of what we are putting into our bodies. At the time, I wasn’t sure what that journey would entail. But as the months (and more recently, weeks) have gone by, that journey has taken a turn that I wouldn’t have expected. But in that turn, the passion and excitement for what I am doing has done nothing but intensify and become even more clear to me.
Let me explain a bit. In January when we decided to start following a Paleo diet. We cut out refined sugars, grains, dairy, legumes & processed foods from our daily eating habits. Essentially, we were looking to start eating WHOLE, REAL foods that our bodies were adapted evolutionarily to be able to eat and process efficiently.
There were several reasons that drove us to make that decision. One, as we became more and more “into” food, we started realizing just what went into our food and it wasn’t good. Two, we have two small children that we adore and wanted to set up healthy lifestyle for them to follow and build good habits from. And third, I had major allergy and digestive issues. I was constantly bloated, slightly uncomfortable and well, TMI, but didn’t spend much time in the bathroom. Like, ever, if you catch my drift. I also suffered from terrible, nearly debilitating allergy attacks out of the blue. One moment I would be fine, then the next I would be constantly sneezing. (And I mean, CONSTANTLY! It was incredible how many times in a minute, an hour, or a day I could sneeze.) In addition, I had itchy, red, stoner eyes and skin I wanted to peel off. In short, I was a hot mess for a day or two. After many trips to see various doctors, I was never given an answer as to what plagued me. All of my allergy tests came back clear. I was told that it must be environmental and that there was no way to know what it was. Grrrreat.
But we never wanted to be “those” people. People who swore off sugar for the rest of their days. Didn’t enjoy some egg nog at Christmas. The people who never drank anymore and told other people they shouldn’t either. The people who were always on this special, strange “diet”. Day to day, yes. Our standard way of eating was going to be dedicated to wholesome, nutrient dense food to fuel our bodies. But with room to be human and to enjoy the camaraderie that comes along with breaking bread with your neighbors.
Fast forward to today. Until the last month I have felt great! Have never felt better! Cleaning up my diet has given me so much more energy, a stop (minus one mild one) in my allergy attacks, better skin and nearly 20 pounds in weight loss. I consider it a win. Here and there we still have some things that weren’t aligned with the pillars of the paleo diet, and we’re ok with that.
I would still indulge in a beer, we ordered a pizza one or two times. I’d still have some cookies and sugar, but it was limited. I had drastically cut out so much from my diet. Mostly gluten, grains and refined sugars. To kick off the summer, I had decided to partake in a Whole30, essentially a “no cheat” version of paleo.
I love eating whole, real foods and eating this way has really been no problem for me. It’s been much easier than I thought it would be. When I’ve fallen off the wagon and “cheated”, it was a conscious decision. Not a last minute weakness in my will power. However, after eating so cleanly for nearly six months when I DO eat poorly my body now reacts terribly. And after four bouts of illness in the last month, I’ve narrowed the culprit down to gluten.
Yep, one of the trendiest terms around these days it seems. It was just last year when my husband and I would joke about how everything is “gluten-free” and how everyone has a “gluten allergy” now. We really didn’t understand much about it. But after becoming violently ill four times in as many weeks, I’ve started to take it seriously.
The last time I was sick was several Saturdays ago. My husband and I had a date night planned for months. We were going to see One Republic (NOT to be confused with One Direction 😉 ), one of my favorite bands. We had fantastic seats and my parents had the girls overnight. Our date night was ON! It was a beautiful night to kick the summer off, as it was nearly 100* during the day, setting the evening up to be one of those perfect summer nights. I had a new white summer dress, with some strappy sandals ready to go. I curled my hair and did my makeup the way I do when I don’t have two kids hollering at me in the background.
The plan was to pack our own dinner and tailgate in the parking lot before the show. I packed some paleo compliant snacks and planned to share a beer with Brad and have a bit of whiskey and Diet Coke (my go to). As the sun set on us, we sat in the back of my CRV yapping and goofing off and it was time to go in. At the show I decided I could go for one more beer. So that we (OK, so BRAD) didn’t have to wait in line again, I decided to go with the large one. Soon to be known as the gluten bomb.
(Here’s our tailgate selfie before the show and me with the beer that we shared. Little did I know what was to come!)
Soon after I finished my beer, my arms and legs started to itch like mad. You know that intense itch that you just can’t scratch? It was like that. I chalked it up to the warm weather and being a little sweaty (gross!). A half an hour later I excused myself to head to the bathroom and on the way back I started to get a familiar feeling in my body. Kinda tingly and my stomach started to cramp up. I headed back to get Brad and with him headed right back to the bathroom where I spent the rest of the concert violently ill. I was draped across the bathroom floor, in my pretty white dress hugging the dirty toilet for dear life. Immobilized by the pain in my abdomen, I was unable to get up and unable to cease vomiting. I heard everyone come in when the show was over and after that, the cleaning crew. From there the paramedics came to make sure I was ok and assist us to the car.
I was humiliated and ashamed. I’m sure I looked to everyone else like the dumb, drunk girl who got wasted at the One Republic show, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth as I wasn’t.
I spent the entire next day in bed, fatigued in a way I cannot explain with the itchiest rash you can imagine on my feet and ankles. It took me a solid week to recover and feel like I had most of my energy back.
Fortunately, I have already been seeing several doctors and am in the middle of trying to figure out what exactly is going on. But it’s been narrowed down to a gluten intolerance and to what extent that is, we shall see. I’ve been adamant in my avoidance of it since and haven’t gotten sick once.
But in the meantime I’m sad. I’m sad at the thought of me helpless and pathetic on a dirty bathroom floor instead of enjoying a warm summer night. I’m sad at the thought of not sharing a beer with my husband when the 49ers win the Super Bowl next year (YEAH BABY!). I’m sad thinking about the birthday cakes I may have to pass on. And I’m sad that I don’t have answers at this point.
However through that sadness I can see positive. I feel more dedicated to this blog and clean eating than ever before. I’m excited to create wholesome, paleo minded recipes that are satisfying and EASY for everyone to follow. And I’m happy to know that I will always be eating this way as I know it is the healthier alternative.
My mission hasn’t changed. I don’t want this blog to be about “gluten-free” this and “gluten-free” that and never indulging if you are able to. And I especially don’t want it come across pretentious and unatainable. I want it to be about nourishing our bodies with whole foods, feeling great and enjoying life. And if enjoying a cold beer is part of it sometimes, go for it! (I’ll just cheers you with some champs instead!)