Like Martin Luther King, I have a dream; a dream where everybody on the face of the earth is given a homework assignment that they actually complete. The instructions are to remove gluten and dairy from your life for 6 weeks and observe how you feel.
I think that we are way too casual about what we eat and how we eat it. So when chronic inflammatory disease, like diabetes, cancer, asthma, or an autoimmune disease develops, changing your diet is the last thing you want to do. Most people don’t think it will help and if it might help, it’s probably not worth it. So you go to your doctor and get a prescription, thinking that it is going to solve your problem. It won’t. Over time, you will only feel worse.
Pharmaceutical medications suppress pathways in the body. I think of it like this. Have you ever held a large beach ball under water in a swimming pool? I have. I hold it down for as long as I can. It takes effort! And when I get tired, I let it go and the ball flies out sideways with an unpredictable force – WHOOSH! One time is goes to the right. The next time it goes to the left. Then, the third time, it hits you in the face.
This is what drugs do. They push down the vitality of the body, which is the very thing that is telling us that something isn’t right. And then the vitality has its way with us. It begins to express itself in other ways.
Symptoms of dis-ease begin popping up when we ignore vitality’s call for help. Vitality says, “Oh, you didn’t pick up what I’m putting down? You can’t stop me. I’m gonna show you now!”
Let me tell you how food allergies manifested for me. When I was a little baby, I had really bad diaper rashes. No one asked any questions. They just said, “Sometimes babies get diaper rashes. Here is your cream.”
Then, that diaper rash turned into repeated ear infections. No one asked any questions. They just said, “Sometimes children get chronic ear infections. Here is your antibiotic.”
Finally, I was diagnosed with asthma and chronic allergies. No one asked any questions. They just said, “Sometimes kids get asthma. Here are your inhalers, steroids and antihistamines. Maybe you will grow out of it. And if you don’t take these medications like I am telling you to, well, you will get frequent infections because your immune system is compromised.”
At least one thing my doctor told me was true: I was sick all the time, even though I took my medications. The rest is lies on top of lies. No, I didn’t grow out of it either.
And all this time, I had repeated rashes all over my body. No one asked any questions. They just said, “Sometimes people are susceptible to rashes. Here is your steroid cream.”
Your diet and lifestyle cause disease, and changing your diet and lifestyle is the only way out. Food sensitivities are often the root cause.
News flash: if you want something new in your life, then you have to give something up! Damn, I wish people could just understand that love is sacrifice, including self-love.
But people don’t want to give up these foods. First of all, they are everywhere. Second of all, there are physiological reasons why they are so difficult to remove. I discuss this in the book that I am writing, which will be hot off the press in January 2017. But in the meantime, I want to share another perspective of food allergies with you - something that I don’t hear anybody talking about.
Removing foods from your diet is a very difficult and significant loss. It’s like, those cookies that you turn to or that pint of ice cream or that bag of candy is YOUR FRIEND, maybe even your best friend, especially if you don’t have a healthy social circle to support you. When you feel bad, you turn to your friend the cookie, the ice cream or the candy. It’s ok. I understand! I used to do the same thing until I got so sick and tired that I had to change.
So when I say, I have a dream of a world without gluten and dairy and I want you to join me for 6-weeks, you say, “Fuck that shit. That’s too much! I can’t live without those foods.”
It’s then I know we have a problem! Because when you say, “I can’t live without THOSE foods,” you show me that you have sensitivity to it.
But you can live without those foods. You can live extraordinarily well without these foods. I am. I know other people who are. They are free.
That thing that nobody wants to talk about is the grieving process. Our culture sucks at grieving.
People die. Lose a job. Get a divorce. Give birth. And life keeps on ticking. People expect you to show up the next day, the same person, but you’re not. It can take years for the psyche to adjust to the loss of a loved one. People need to cry. They need space to feel.
And that is what I am asking you to do when I say: give up gluten and dairy for 6-weeks and watch your world change. I am asking you to grieve. Grieve the loss of these foods. It is real! The best model I’ve seen for naming this process is from Elizabeth Kubler Ross in her 5 stages of grieving:
Denial looks like this when giving up foods:
Remember, that conversation I shared earlier, when you told me to fuck off. Well, that’s denial. When I was 16 years old, my swim coach told me I had a problem with sugar. I said, “No, I don’t, but it sounds like you do!” Then, I jumped back in the pool. That’s denial. Yes, you can also apply this grieving process to removing sugar from your diet.
Anger looks like this when giving up foods:
“This isn’t fair!”
“How could this have happened?”
Yep, I went through this phase. I threw stuff. I screamed at the people I love. I was mad. I went on long walks. I let the anger move through me.
Bargaining looks like this when giving up foods:
“Well, I will just have a little bit of ice cream every now and then.”
“Not now. Maybe later.”
“I will just keep putting cream in my coffee. Is that ok?”
Bargaining is an attempt to avoid the grief. I bargained with my food allergies for years. After my health collapsed, and I was in the hospital, it took me 4 years to give up gluten and another 3 years to give up dairy. I just kept bargaining, until it hurt too much. I had to change.
Depression looks like this when giving up foods:
“This sucks. I’m not sure it’s worth it. Why bother?”
“I can’t go out with my friends for dinner. They are going to order a dessert that I can’t eat! I will just stay home.”
“Life’s just not worth living without these foods.”
Yep, I lost more than foods when I gave up gluten and dairy. I lost friends, too. I had a circle of friends that would binge on dessert (eat a whole cookie cake with icing all over it) and then go run it off. Those friendships didn’t last. I wallowed in despair for quite sometime, but it wasn’t pathological depression. It was a healthy process of letting go.
Acceptance looks like this when giving up foods:
“I think I feel some hope for the future.”
“I’m ready. I can do this. It’s going to be ok.”
Damn straight, it’s ok. It’s more than ok. It is the beginning of your new life – free of inflammatory foods and all of the unnecessary drama that they entail.
I believe in you because I believe in myself. You can do this. I’m not sure I have ever met another human being who loved wheat and dairy more than I did. If you’re out there reading this, I would love to hear from you. We can have a contest: who loves wheat and dairy more than me? I will win. And yet, these foods are no longer a part of my life.
I wrote a blog a few weeks ago about sugar addiction and received the following message:
“Thank you for this. Did I want to quit smoking? No, but I'm glad I did. Did I want to quit drinking? FUCK NO, but I'm ECSTATIC that I DID! I was scared to let them go but knew I had to if I wanted to live. I type this with tears welling up in my eyes. My time with sugar will have to come to an end before I'm pre diabetic like the rest of my family. I don't have to like it or to want to do it but it has to be done. I look forward to your next step.”
My reply: “Thank you. You are a badass! And you can take all that past experience and success and struggle and apply it to create the future that you want and deserve. My newsletter won't have all the answers but it will have some. Thanks for sharing your experience. I know that takes something.”
So you see, it could be sugar. It could be alcohol. It could be smoking. In my case, it was wheat and dairy. Giving up these things that take away our vitality is hard work, but it’s worth it. I hope you are inspired, and now you have some tools to work with it. Naming things help us deal with reality. You can acknowledge where you are in the grieving process of food allergies and you can keep moving.
The other night, I went out for dinner with my mom and son. She ordered a strawberry crisp with ice cream on top. I watched her enjoy it, and I smiled. Looking at that strawberry crisp was like seeing an old friend or even an old boyfriend. Yeah, we had some really good times but we outgrew each other. It just wasn’t working any more, and I had to move on.
That’s healing, and it took me years. You can get there, too.
Here are a few fun and oh-so delicious NON-DAIRY recipes to help you get started.
Pecan Nut Milk:
Also check out my other Videos on dairy-free treats - Whipped Coconut Cream Topping, and Cashew Creamer.
For new recipes, ongoing support and a more in-depth look at ways to reclaim your vitality, subscribe to my newsletter. I hope you'll reach out to share your story with our Eat in Peace community in the comments, our social media links or by emailing me directly.
Eat in Peace!