When a good friend of mine was diagnosed with a disease of the gut and had to go on an everything-free diet, I thought (okay, maybe I said aloud), “I would DIE if I couldn’t eat what I wanted.” You can take the girl out of drama, but you can’t take the drama queen out of the girl. Living to eat, I’ve often thought about food restrictions as I’ve watched several friends and family members be – what I considered – ruled by them. “I may die of diabetes, but at least I’ll die happy, enjoying the foods I love,” is the attitude I’ve had for as long as I can remember.
Fast forward to the beginning of this year, which landed me in the offices of several specialists who scratched their heads as they attempted to diagnose a “medical mystery” that I was suddenly suffering from. I love a good mystery and all, but not when it’s in my body! There has been a lot of ruling out – thank goodness! – and I think (fingers crossed) that a diagnosis might be around the corner. In the meantime, my frustration and impatience led me to my favorite pastime: reading. I started researching different health issues that can cause the symptoms I’ve been having, and they all had one thing in common: an unhealthy gut. Thanks to the wealth of information we have at our fingertips these days, what I learned in May is that whatever is causing this “medical mystery” most likely can be improved by diet.
And thus, food-loving me is now free of grains, dairy, eggs, soy, sugar (including artificial sweetener), alcohol, and caffeine (with the exception of what’s naturally found in tea) – aka all the foods I love to eat. When I got through the list of everything I can’t eat, I figured I’d be living on water and air. This restrictive diet, known as the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP), is supposed to heal the gut within 28 days, after which time you can opt to reintroduce food groups one at a time to determine your individual sensitivities. I’m hoping to reintroduce cheese – because CHEESE IS LIFE – but after only five days, there are foods I already know I won’t be adding back to my diet. As it turns out, there are a lot of great foods I can eat that I previously ignored because there were so many more readily available (and unhealthier) foods to choose.
I’m not going to lie; the first 72ish hours were THE WORST. As my body naturally detoxed, I had a persistent headache, was fatigued and HANGRY, and felt miserable, thinking (and even dreaming!) about food pretty much 24/7.
What I learned (relatively quickly, thank goodness) through others’ experiences, which I’m grateful they documented online, is that the key to this lifestyle – and that’s really what it is more than a diet – is planning and thinking outside of the box. As I’m learning to do that, following others’ examples (and recipes), I’m actually starting to feel better, and I’m only one week in.
About midway through last year, I started exploring what it means to live intentionally. Between my listening to The Minimalists and using PowerSheets to cultivate my goals, I’ve learned a lot about being intentional from what I buy to how I spend my time, but I didn’t make the connection to INTENTIONAL EATING until now. That’s what this lifestyle is really about. While I do hope I’m able to enjoy some of my favorite foods in moderation once my 28 days are up, whether I add items back to my diet or not, I know that going forward I will be much more intentional about the food I consume.
If you have dietary restrictions, how are you dealing with them?
What is something that you learned in May?
Any images not attributed are CC0 Creative Commons from Pixabay.
This post is linked up with Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop.