I believe that my body is continually trying to tell me something by rebelling in the form of an upset stomach, headaches or even adult acne. If only I would listen more often, then I would probably be much better off. Enticed by wafting aromas of fresh baked breads, glistening pastries, and delectable treasure troves of ice cream, it’s a wonder I’m still able to walk some days. Physically I can get around of course, but it’s those subtle cues my body is sending that I’m beginning to realize actually mean something, and ultimately could affect me negatively in the long term if I don’t shape up. There’s a lesson to be learned in the small details.
Thanks to a recommendation from Tigger, I decided to read the book Wheat Belly. While not agreeing 100% with the entirety of what was talked about, the book did open my eyes to certain knowledge that was being hidden by big industry food companies. Just to put the theories of the book into perspective and find out if the wonders of eliminating wheat were true, I decided to be my own test subject and go gluten free for a few months.
Have you ever realized how much wheat is hiding in processed foods? Take a look at the label and you’d be surprised by how much wheat, or wheat byproducts exist in the foods you’re consuming. It’s staggering. Once I got over the initial shock of not consuming most processed foods, I was able to tough it out. I learned about some amazing new products (most of which I could make at home) and in the end was able to realize that I do have a slight intolerance to gluten-y products in the form of bloating and general lack luster. It wasn’t make or break for me in that I had to say goodbye to sandwiches and pasta, but that I could make better choices by substituting over processed goods and white flour for organic versions and locally grown grains. There was truth in that modern wheat has been altered drastically, and my body has trouble digesting it.
Now we fast forward to today and I’m battling adult acne. Stubborn, and fighting my dermatologist who wants to recommend harsh chemicals, I decided to journey out and see if I could figure out internally what’s causing my skin to be so unhappy. I looked up the acupuncture points of where the acne was cropping up and it pointed to stress in digestion. My husband was quick to note that milk is my enemy. I won’t go into detail, but it definitely isn’t something my body digests flawlessly. I guess in my mind I figured if I’m not producing a rash, how can I be allergic? Silly, silly me. The first thing I did was take notice to how much dairy I was consuming. Because I opted to eat less wheat (see above), I started to include more dairy into my diet to fill the gaps of my meals. This lead me to realize just on the surface I was consuming way too much dairy and not in a balanced fashion.
Figuring what could it hurt, I went on elimination diet number two. The first days of any elimination diet and your sad, frustrated and angry to not be eating everything you desire. Then you quit having a pity party and decide that it’s time to shape up and find some alternatives. Most salad dressings are a huge no-no with many additives and main ingredients coming from dairy. Here I thought I was beating the system when I came up with mayonnaise to put in my wild tuna salad. Not so much. While free of dairy and seemingly very basic in terms of ingredients, mayonnaise does include something called calcium disodium EDTA. Intrigued, I fired up my computer and typed the name in. What I found next absolutely disgusted me.
“Calcium disodium may sound like a salt, but it is not, the proper name is the EDTA which is short for Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid. It is made from formaldehyde, sodium cyanide, and Ethylenediamine.” WHAT?!? Oh yes my friends, when you bring out a jar of Hellman’s, you’re asking for a big pile of yuck.
While I’m still on my lactose free journey, I have been able to reflect on what reading food labels and ultimately my elimination diet experiences have taught me. In steps here’s how I went about learning about what works for my body, and what doesn’t.
1. Learn what’s normal. What’s normal for you, and what’s normal for me are completely different. Signs of acne, gas, indigestion, and bad breath are all signs of internal imbalances. While seemingly minor, these could be signs that you’re body is trying to subtly tell you something is up. Learn what those are.
2. Make a plan. Notice something isn’t quite right in your body? Document your food for a few days, and how you feel after a meal. Look at overall trends. You could also talk to a professional, have bloodworm drawn, or try an elimination diet.
3. Be one with the site: What is that Ingredient? Maybe it’s not lactose you or I have an issue with, but it’s all the non-food items you’re consuming which are synthetic and chemically based. Could you be having reactions to the crud in your foods you didn’t know you were consuming?
4. Learn balance. When you eliminate one thing from a diet, the natural progression is to fill that gap. Be sure any gaps you create are balanced when you fill them back in as you may be creating new problems.
One step at a time, and you could be on your way to better health you never knew existed. Any lessons you’ve learned about your body that you want to share? What role has diet played in making your health better?
Author Kat Nielsen is a horse enthusiast turned food blogger. She has spent time at the grassroots level riding and competing, and has also cared for Pan American and Olympic medal winners. She obtained a Bachelors degree in equine science and management and has even trained and raced harness horses. Today she maintains a day job in the horse world handling marketing and brand support for BioStar US while enjoying her evenings and weekends writing recipes and blogging all about her culinary experiences.