Gluten and dairy-free for a week? Will try

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
~ Thomas Edison

It’s interesting, what and how you eat, when necessity (e.g. travel, budget, health) dictates that you change something.

Years ago, I had abdominal pain and bloating that left me writhing on the ground or pushing my stomach against a pole in an attempt to soothe the pain. A doctor thought I had IBS, but he wasn’t sure. The episodes ended after high school. So who knows… maybe it was just high school – which can really be quite bad for health in itself ;-)

Then at university, changes in diet, weather, lifestyle, etc saw my weight hit an all-time high: something I disliked mildly but more or less ignored until one day I tried running across the road and experienced a sensation like that of my knees giving way. That was a little unsettling.

Still, diets were not made for people like me – force on me restrictions like that and I’ll do double the damage. After I graduated, 10kg of that excess weight evaporated. Not sure how. Maybe Wellington’s wind blew it away.

Most of the time, with travel, moving country three times and discovering new and exciting foods, health tends to come last when good food is in front of me. Luckily, I don’t tend to like overly oily / processed / creamy things anyway, but I avoid them solely because I don’t like their taste. Anything else, if it’s to my taste, I eat. Even if I feel terrible afterwards. I don’t think I’ve blogged much about this (if ever? Hmm) – it’s always just been so good to concentrate on the joy and beauty of cooking, food and all that. As I am sure you know!

So for a while now, I have been allowing many moments of eating anything I want and bearing any subsequent discomfort like a reluctant soldier. I haven’t experienced abdominal pain as severe since high school, anyway.

But over the last months, I’ve noticed changes yet again in my body. It hasn’t been so well. When I look into the mirror, nothing seems amiss. But I guess I’ve gotten used to just not feeling that great. For much of it I attribute it to other things – you know, change, work, sleep, etc (all of which certainly play a role) but lately I begin to wonder whether changing my diet significantly might make a difference.

Because when I list the symptoms – puffy eyes, bloating, a terrible fatigue that strikes at random, headaches, etc… I think, hmm, that’s not so good. Somehow I manage to carry on working and doing other things, rushing sometimes to make up for lost time spent lying down, but this last Sunday I fell in pain into a steaming bath for over an hour, and thought… I should probably do something now.

One of my dear friends has recently had to make huge changes in her diet due to an autoimmune disease – changes which I know other people have made for their own reasons too. These are changes that I understand… mostly… and imagine must be difficult to implement. In a world of fresh pastries, butter, milk-and-cookies and friends who tend to eat mostly anything, who would choose to be gluten and dairy-free? I have never seriously considered doing this, since I have not been diagnosed with anything that requires it.

Anyway. When I received the news from my friend, I was very sympathetic. It’s a way of eating that is easy to mostly ignore until you are a dinner host with a gluten-free friend to cater for. But what about being unable to take gluten and dairy (or any other things) without being ill? Having to learn a whole new way of relating to food and nourishing oneself? Having to cope with people thinking you are just being difficult or chasing after a health fad? Having to change the way you shop for groceries, spend more than you used to, stop eating at your favourite cafes and walk past bakeries without acting on your resentment?

Frankly, I almost think I’d rather keep on being sick.

But this week, I am going to try to stick to gluten and dairy-free eating in support of my friend, and so we can exchange notes too… so far so good, though the banana and chocolate muffins I made last night are getting increasingly hard to ignore. I’ve eaten, so far, Ceres’s brown rice cakes; gluten-free pasta spirals with zucchini, tomato, paprika, chilli and basil; coffee with almond milk… and, the VERY BEST THING… two fresh figs. Oh my goodness! Figs send me into a state bordering on wild frenzy.

While I don’t know if I want to totally change my diet right now, and actually I am a bit apprehensive if there ever comes a day when I NEED to do it to protect my health, if you don’t try – you don’t know, right?

Any health stories or tips for eating gluten and / or dairy-free? Do share.

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7 responses to “Gluten and dairy-free for a week? Will try

  1. Not sure I’d ever give up yogurt or kefir – these probiotic foods have so many uses in healthy eating. !

  2. Both gluten and dairy free at the same time would be hard to do in one week! Good luck to you! My mum is gluten free due to an autoimmune disease too (I wonder if it’s the same one) so for Christmas I cooked up a gluten free feast for her. I probably didn’t do it all that smart but I found it was very expensive compared to regular. I don’t envy people have no choice but to go gluten-free.

    • It’s definitely made me think a lot more about food than usual! Your lucky mum :-) – yes I’ve spent a bit more on this week’s groceries too, I wonder whether prices will change over time if there is more demand for gluten-free goods. It seems more people are getting diagnosed with intolerance / coeliac nowadays!

      • Yes, I think prices will go down as more people choose to eat gluten free. I was always amazed when a friend would go to our local cafe and get gluten-free toast and jam for breakfast. If I wanted toast, I’d buy bread and make toast myself. I think she paid about $6 for her daily toast. This was close to 10 years ago so maybe gluten free bread was hard to come by?

      • It’s quite a bit to shell out for bread! I think I’d make my own toast, too… bread is fun to make anyway. Though I imagine it’d be a bit more complicated to make gluten-free bread if you’re unfamiliar with all the different types of flour?

  3. What? Figs have come in season?? Where? I’ve not seen any at the supermarkets!
    So ok, now that we’ve gotten the important thing out first… kiddng. :-) Well done you on giving the gluten & dairy free thing a go in support of your friend. I’ve been thinking of eating less gluten (so not entirely gluten free) – mainly for more of a challenge to cook more vegetables. We lots of it anyway but I’d like to expand my repertoire! And of course there’s got to be health benefits in eating less bread – which we eat a lot of. Dairy-free might be more of a challenge & me thinks unless I have to give it up for medical reasons, I’m not likely to. I call ‘butter’ one of my BFFs!
    Anyway, does this mean no Little Penang catch ups then? :-))

    • Haha! Figs are supremely important. I got mine at Thorndon NW :-)

      I love butter too much too. Ahh… we can add the GF thing to our lunchtime informal discussion agenda, see you soon!

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