I suppose the best way to start is at the beginning.
This is kind of the story of how I got to the point of having this blog. The background, if you will, of my interest.
The Short Version
The short story is that when I was growing up I was always sick. I constantly had stomach aches and no doctor could explain why. I was also an incredibly picky eater. My family just thought I was weird, but fast forward to after college—I constantly had terribly bloating, still had acne (which I had hoped to have grown out of by then), and headaches nearly every day. A friend of mine helped me see that I was eating quite a bit of dairy, helped me change my diet, and having had a complete turnaround in my health, I’ve never looked back!
Not satisfied? Read on for the longer version. Ready for some delicious and (mostly) healthy recipes? Let’s get started!
The Long Version
When I was a kid I was always just a little bigger than all my friends. I grew up enduring stomach aches (often keeling-over-in-pain type stomach aches) nearly every day and no doctor could tell my parents why. Not only that, but I was an extremely picky eater, surviving most of my childhood and teenage years on Velveeta shells, grilled cheese, and chicken strips.
When I got to middle school I pored over fashion, health, and fitness magazines (just as many young, impressionable girls do) and hated myself for not being like the girls on the pages. I had acne and was still bigger than my friends. But I decided I wanted to learn everything I could about health and nutrition so I could feel better about myself.
That’s what got me so interested in nutrition. Although I majored in print journalism (my love for those magazines stayed strong), I wanted to minor in something health-related, so I took classes on nutrition, exercise, and public health.
I lost quite a bit of weight throughout my freshman and sophomore years without changing much. It should have been a sign, but I was just excited about the way I looked. Graduating college and moving home took a toll and I gained some of the weight back. I had headaches on the regular and my acne was returning. Just what every young adult needs when they’re trying to start their career.
In December 2011, I moved in with a friend who happened to have recently lost a lot of weight after changing her diet and getting into fitness competitions. I mentioned that I’d been having terrible headaches lately and stomach aches for as long as I could remember. Having recently found out that she was allergic to gluten, she asked what I’d been eating on a daily basis. Although I thought I’d been eating pretty healthy, we realized that I ate quite a bit of dairy. Food allergies had never been something I thought of, other than peanut allergies, because I just assumed people were diagnosed as kids. But I decided I’d try cutting back on the amount of dairy I was eating to see if it would help.
A few days later I went on a double date. Being the dairy-lover that I was I ordered a pizza. Plus, I’d eaten yogurt and string cheese during work that day. I became so ill at that dinner that I had to excuse myself to the restroom several times just to maintain my composure. That day I decided it had to be the dairy, and I vowed that if cutting it out fixed my problem, I’d give it up forever. I have not eaten dairy since that day.
Shortly after that, I confided in my roommate that I’d like to lose some weight. She helped me develop a carb cycling plan and I started eating very healthy. Naturally, though I didn’t realize it, there was no gluten in my diet, either. She set up the plan to work toward losing about 25 pounds for an upcoming trip to Florida 10 weeks later. My stomach aches and headaches began to subside almost immediately.
Two weeks in to the plan, I was on a high carb day and my then-boyfriend (now husband!) and I went to get pizza for dinner. We ordered a pizza with vegan cheese and about 30 minutes after eating I became terribly ill, just as the dairy had made me feel for such a long time. It was obvious that the first introduction of gluten in two weeks was throwing my body for a loop. I decided then and there that I didn’t think I needed gluten anymore, either. Quite the change-up for someone who demanded bread and cheese as main sources of nutrition during childhood.
Honestly, it hasn’t been that hard for me. In fact, I lost the 25 pounds in 10 weeks just as I had wanted and realized that if it was that easy by just taking a couple things out of my diet, then I didn’t need them anyway. My acne cleared up after a couple months on my new diet, and I was thrilled to finally love the way I looked.
Fast forward to that fall. I started incorporating some types of dairy back into my diet—kefir (lactose-free) and goat cheese (low in lactose)—and decided I must just be allergic to lactose because those things didn’t seem to give me a stomach ache. But my body was telling me differently. My skin started to become puffy and the headaches and acne were returning.
It was time to lose all dairy completely. Forever. And I’m kind of an all or nothing gal. I don’t like to mess with things, so then and there I stopped eating all forms of dairy in perpetuity. And I’m much better for it.
In fact, my roommate took my measurements at the start of my carb cycling plan, and again six months later, and we found that in my waist alone I had lost 6 ½ inches. That was all with changes in my diet.
Most often when people find out I don’t eat gluten or dairy they ask, “So, what do you eat?” I assure you, there is plenty. But I do try to avoid that conversation because most people just can’t understand. Plus, in March 2013 I decided I would no longer eat meat as well. But that’s a story for another time.
So that’s the long story of how I got to where I’m at. Nutrition is a huge passion of mine, and as a journalist, I’m the type of person who loves to learn about things and tell others about it. My goal is to help you learn to listen to your body to find out what it needs. And I’m still struggling with my own battles, too. There’s a history of emotional eating for the women in my family and that will always be a struggle for me. But making yourself aware of those struggles is what helps you get through them. Everyone’s body needs different things. When you learn to listen to your body, that’s when you can start to live your best life!