I went gluten-free in May of 2008. I was studying Chinese Medicine in Chengdu, China, and it was a really happy and exciting time in my life. Not only was I almost finished with acupuncture school, but for the first time in as long as I could remember, I didn’t have any digestive pain. I kept calling back to the States to share with Nate (my now husband and then boyfriend) my disbelief in how good I felt.
I came back from China, and Nate asked me what I wanted for my first meal back in the U.S. “Mmm, I’ve really been wanting a burger.” He obliged, and within an hour of eating it, the pain was back. “Liz,” he said, “I think you have a gluten problem.”
It wasn’t the first time I had heard that. One of my herbalists in school had told me the same thing, and recommended I get tested. I declined. A life without gluten wasn’t a life I wanted to envision for myself. I loved cookies. And bread. And cake. So I stopped seeing that herbalist. But this time, the evidence was too obvious to ignore. I quit gluten for the next 10 days. I felt great again. And then I bit the bullet and took a gluten tolerance test. But not before having a quesadilla the night before. After all, I needed to make sure some gluten was in my system, right? The test showed severe gluten sensitivity, but thankfully not celiac.
A few years later, the intestinal pain started to come back. It happened each time I ate corn chips. I thought that restaurants were lying to me about their chips being gluten-free. But then it happened after I ate grits. And then after eating a gluten-free cake I later found out had corn starch. So corn got scratched off the list.
A year after that, rice was the next offender. At that point, I quit all grains. Some other health shifts had been happening as the grains started making their way out of my diet. I had been plagued by allergies my entire life. I grew up on allergy pills and shots, and neither made a discernible difference. But every time I dropped another grain, my allergies improved. And the residual facial paralysis I had as a result of Bell’s Palsy started to become less noticeable after quitting grains. At that point I still ate dairy and legumes – but these two would soon fall by the wayside for the same reasons.
At the end of 2013, I did the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol (AIP) for 60 days. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that I felt awesome. I was able to add back most of the foods (nightshades, nuts, seeds), but I kept dairy out for a full year. And spring 2014 was the first spring I had ABSOLUTELY ZERO ALLERGIES! This was a huge deal! Even with the previous dietary changes, I had some spring allergies. But now I had none! Everyone around me was telling me what a horrible allergy season it was and I had no clue!
So this is my story, or at least a little piece of it. My body has been my navigator toward better health, and toward wanting to help others feel better – whether it be to be allergy-free, free of digestive issues, losing weight, avoiding disease, or having better mental health. I bring an attitude of appreciation for the way I have to eat. Because really I don’t have to eat this way. I choose to eat this way because it makes me feel better. It makes me feel empowered. I focus on what I get to eat, not on what I can’t eat. And it’s my passion to help others feel that way about their diets as well.
Thanks for being a part of this journey. I hope this blog and these recipes help you as much as it helps me to live this way and share it.
With love and gratitude,