“Excuse me, do you have a gluten free menu?”, “Can they make that without dairy?”, “I’m actually not drinking tonight, thanks though!”
All three of these phrases come out of my mouth on a daily basis. One of the most commonly asked questions I get on email and Snapchat is, “Why are you gluten free?” In truth it goes far beyond gluten, and I have some really annoying dietary restrictions, some by choice, and some not by choice. I thought I would explain those decisions and why I eat the way I do in today’s post.
Currently I’m dairy-free, mostly gluten-free, and wine free. And on a whim, I gave up all alcohol last week until Thanksgiving. It seems like I’m on a crazy diet to lose weight, or just to be a total effing psychopath, but there is good reason for all of the changes! Read on to find out.
My issues with dairy: Growing up, I always had a stomach ache… like always. Back in those days, no one could seem to figure out the problem, even though now it seems so obvious to me! Through college I ate many a late-night pizza and still had pretty intense stomach issues, but thought that was just how I was built. It wasn’t until I went to school to become a health coach that I realized that dairy was the culprit.
How I gave it up: I gave up dairy cold-turkey for a week to see if I would feel better. That was in 2008. I have since learned that I have an allergy to whey which caused both my stomach issues and added even more symptoms to my already awful sinuses (more on that in a sec). Today, I can eat butter and ghee without any issues because they don’t contain whey, and a little parmesan here and there doesn’t kill me, but everything else is pretty much a no-go.
Relationship status: Single. Sometimes I say screw it and eat one too many bites of Anel’s ice cream cone or pizza, but I always regret it within the hour. So my current status with dairy is that I just don’t eat it at all. People always ask if I miss cheese or ice cream… Yes. I really do! Luckily there are a lot of great dairy-free options for everything from coffee creamer, to coconut milk ice cream, to yogurt, to cheese. And Daiya makes a pretty amazing gluten-free dairy-free pizza if you’re into that sort of thing (you probably aren’t by choice).
My issues with gluten: I didn’t know I had issues with gluten until I stopped eating it a few months ago. The reason I gave it up is because my acupuncturist thought it might help with my fertility issues so I thought I’d give it a go. Although I’m still not pregnant, I do feel a whole lot better which was a fun surprise. About a week after I gave it up, I started feeling more energetic. I woke up in the mornings for the first time (maybe ever?) not feeling exhausted, and I was more productive during my days.
How I gave it up: I promised myself I would try being gluten-free for 30 full days (one full menstrual cycle) to see what happened. I went cold turkey, the same way I did with dairy. Knowing that it was only for 30 days made it easier. I don’t really eat a lot of gluten anyway, but it still wasn’t easy. The best thing I’ve learned is to buy gluten free bread for things like toast with nut butters in the morning or to use for croutons in my vegan caesar. The best one I’ve found is Udi’s gluten-free millet chia bread.
Relationship status: On again off again. For the most part I’m eating a totally gluten-free diet now just because I feel so much better. That being said, if I’m at a party or event and there is no GF option, I’ll go for it. I might feel a little more sluggish the next day, but I’m okay so I try not to make a huge deal out of it. I don’t know if it’s permanent, but because I feel better, I don’t really want to go crazy with the gluten again anytime soon.
Wine-Free (for now)
My issues with wine: In addition to a stomach ache, I’ve always suffered from sinus issues. Everything from daily runny noses to pretty severe sinus infections, to polyps that I had to have removed. Giving up dairy cleared up about 50% off the issue but I still get stuffed up all the time. I’ve noticed that it gets worse when I drink wine, so I tried giving it up for a while, the same way I did with gluten. It has made a huge difference!
How I gave it up: I decided I was going to stick with clear liquors for a few weeks, tequila and vodka only, to see what happened.
Relationship status: It’s complicated. My nose is way less runny and I don’t get any headaches. But then I went to Napa so I basically had no choice. The holdiays are around the corner and my family is full of big wine drinkers so I know there is some vino in my future, but for now, I’ll stick to dirty martinis…
Alcohol-Free (until Thanksgiving)
My issues with alcohol: Um, none? I love alcohol… in moderation of course. I love wine even more than hard liquor but that had to go for a while. Giving up all alcohol kind of came about randomly. Last week, I had to go on antibiotics for a tooth infection, so I couldn’t drink for seven days. Even though I felt yucky from the medicine, I noticed that my head was clearer and even after dinners out, I woke up refreshed and without that swollen look that I sometimes get after drinking even one cocktail.
How I gave it up: Antibiotics forced me to!
Relationship status: On a break. I always end up over-indulging around the holidays so I’m giving my body a little break from the toxins of alcohol until Thanksgiving. There are definitely some nights when I really want a drink, and that kind of sucks, but the next morning I’m always really proud of myself for sticking to my guns! We’ll see if I last on this one, but so far, so good.
Giving up alcohol, even for the last week and a half, has been the toughest so far. If it were just me, I think I could handle it, but I’m realizing for the first time, how much people love to pressure other people to drink with them. It’s not a malicious thing but a friend will say, “come on have just one, we’re out!” or you’re at an event and someone just hands you a glass of wine. I’ve learned, in my short alcohol-free stint, to just take it and not try to explain if the situation is awkward. If it’s a good friend or someone you’re comfortable with, explain what’s up.
At the end of the day, some people like to make fun of the way I eat, some people love to ask a ton of questions, and some couldn’t care less. I’m at the point now where I don’t care what anyone else thinks because I finally feel like I’m living my most vibrant life, so it’s worth a little awkwardness here and there.
Do any of you have weird dietary restrictions that make your life complicated? I’d love to hear about them and how you handle it!
PS You better vote today!!!