Many people, but women in particular, obsess about the right diet. I am no exception to this stereotype. I have, however, shifted my goal from weight loss to optimal health.
My journey started when I was very young. I was constantly sick from milk, cheese, pasta, pizza, tomato sauce, shrimp, cantaloupe. You name it, it probably made me sick. It was at the age of six that we identified a threatening allergy. Of all things to have an anaphylactic reaction to, kiwi was (and still is) my killer. After licking a spoon to taste what kiwi tasted like, I spent hours scratching my throat and eating Halls to sooth it. Had I taken an actual bite, I most certainly would not be here today.
This prompted my mother to have me tested. Needless to say, a long list of allergies came back. My father didn’t believe my reaction to foods until I turned down ice cream. It was rare to have allergies in the 90′s. As an eight year old, you definitely have something wrong with you if you don’t want ice cream for dessert. But how do you begin analyzing an eight year olds food?
I painfully stomached through every meal. And avoided dairy, kiwi, honey, and cantaloupe.
Like many women, at an early age I developed an eating disorder. Bulimia was my preference. Seemed the best of both, eat what you like, and keep the weight off. The challenge with bulimia is the complete disruption of the flora in your digestive track and the overall toll it takes on your body. Add the mix of three jobs, diet pills, an unhealthy amount of sugar, caffeine, and processed foods – not to mention stress and bad sleeping patterns. Talk about a hot mess! Minus the hot, and quadruple the mess.
16 years later, I’m happy to report I am bulimia free. But during that time, how does one identify allergies, sensitivities and digestive abilities when you’re constantly pushing your system?
I tried no diet. Eating one-thing-a-day diets, the cookie diet, the Atkins diet, the South Beach diet and a few other diets. With each one I learned something new about my reaction to foods. It was eating mono-food meals that allowed me to start identifying sensitivities. With that I cut out all the things that gave me issues, specifically meat and dairy. I was a natural vegetarian. This made me feel better than I ever had before.
Three years later, I took it one step further and transitioned to a vegan diet for one year. I also started seeing a naturopath. Naturopaths test for allergies differently than medical doctors. Unlike the scratch test, naturos use blood work. To my surprise, there were a number of foods that came back as sensitivities, in addition to my list.
Let’s check out the lists.
The scratch test results
All dairy products
The naturos results
All of the above, plus
Needless to say, after that I crashed, burned and had an overhaul of meat. I came back to an omnivore diet. As a vegan, to cut out more than what I already was, was too much.
The last two and a half years I found a very healthy balance in life, work, and health. I’ve got a great support system of practitioners, friends, love, and of course, family. I’ve been refining and testing foods and fitness until I get closer to the overall lifestyle I’m looking for. Always missing the vegan diet, but enjoying my mix of foods and activity.
A new becoming came when I stopped my dependency to bulimia. I had never been able to focus on a good nutrition plan, because regardless, throwing up any kind of food, just results in an unhealthy system. A few days ago, relaxing on a day off I decided I was ready to delve into the world of planned nutrition. I watched Food Inc. and Forks Over Knives. Eye opening!
Both left me feeling utter disgust for meat-eating, how it affects your body and how awful those factory farms are to animals. Also I learned how unhealthy the North American diet really is. Of course, this is my choice and understanding of the information I’ve watched and read, not a judgement or recommendation for those who choose to have it.
So what does one do? I’ll tell you what they do, they confidently (and excitedly) take a new step in life. And what is that chapter?
For me? Transitioning to a raw food vegan. After the copious reading I’ve done, it’s what feels right for me.
I’m thrilled for this journey and excited to share and document my experiences that may hopefully help you in yours.