Today we’re talking all things Dairy and Gluten, specifically going dairy and gluten free. There are SO many different messages about the kinds of things we “should” and “shouldn’t” have in our diets that it can get a little crazy sometimes. I have 100% been to the place of being overwhelmed with messages regarding things I should or shouldn’t be eating. It’s challenging to know what’s right, especially with all the misinformation on the internet. However, I have been fully gluten and dairy free for the last 8 months or so and I want to let you in on what’s worked for me.
Let’s start at the beginning…. I remember being around the age of 10 or so and going to bed with stomach pains. I would always get stomach cramps after eating when I was growing up but never so badly that I couldn’t function. I would say they were severe enough to be causing cramping and pain but not painful enough to recognize as something as serious as celiac disease. As a child, my parents cared a lot about putting well rounded meals on the table for us, but I wouldn’t say they were always the healthiest. I honestly believe that this was because the knowledge we have now about what is truly healthy, wasn’t around back then! I definitely grew up drinking milk, and eating pasta. Not to say that there’s anything wrong with this, everyone is different. However, it definitely became a problem for me down the line.
All throughout high school, I pretty much remember eating whatever I wanted. I would go to Taco Bell on the way home from school and wouldn’t even bat and eye, ha! I do remember having stomach aches pretty regularly but I didn’t ever make the connection between what I was eating and those pains.
Fast forward to about 9 months ago. I was newly living with Dylan down in Newport Beach. I was working full time in Digital Marketing (my first job out of college) and was also involved in my Yoga Works 200 hour teacher training, along with some other family things that were going on. I remember being pretty darn stressed out, trying to complete the teacher training which includes lots of homework and extra work outside of the 12 full weekends that you’re training. So, it was basically a period in life where I was a little bit extra “stressed.”
I started having this very strange red rash along my chest and back. This was also right after we had adopted our puppy Murphy, so for a while I thought it was a ring worm I had gotten from him! HOW GROSS!! After visiting the doctor and taking PRESCRIPTION MEDICATION to get it to go away (something I’m not a huge fan of, learn why here), I still had the rash and it seemed to be spreading. So, I reached out to my amazing functional medicine specialist, Jane Kennedy, and she encouraged me to do a food elimination diet. She informed me that the most common food allergies that go undiagnosed are dairy, gluten, and egg.
She then told me that it’s actually very common in her practice that her patients will discover a food allergy later in life, during a time where stress is higher than normal. Apparently, your body has a sort of “line” where you can be allergic to a certain food and not show physical symptoms but still have symptoms that are more discrete (like a stomach ache). Then, if you go through a period of higher stress, your body can basically be pushed over the line and you will start having symptoms. This is exactly what happened to me!
I most likely have been intolerant to gluten and dairy my entire life, but didn’t know it until my body actually started to break out in an Excema rash!! Learning all of this information made me SO interested in how food allergies work and really got me thinking about how much of different conditions like “excema” or “acne” could actually be something like an undiagnosed food allergy. It’s CRAZY!!
If you think about it, both Dairy and Gluten are very inflammatory for the body. So, if you are having any crappy symptoms such as stomach pains after you eat, bad gas, acne, tiredness, (the list goes on), I would highly recommend doing an illumination diet and seeing how you feel.
SOOO, what exactly is an elimination diet, you might be wondering? Well, I’ll tell ya–Â
People will tell you different things, but my opinion is that you should cut the suspect foods out of your diet cold turkey and SEE HOW YOU FEEL! For me, I started to feel SO MUCH BETTER! Literally within three days, my ENTIRE RASHÂ cleared up, I’m not even kidding! It was so crazy because if I accidentally ate a bit of dairy or gluten out at a restaurant, I would wake up the next day with a rash (inflammation) and also would get a KILLER bloated tummy (and horrible gas, sorry if this is TMI HA) right after eating. I assume this still would happen to me if I ate these foods now, but I’ve found ways to be super specific at restaurants and very thorough with checking ingredients, so it hasn’t in a long while.
One thing that’s important is that you need to fully illuminate the foods you believe you’re allergic to for a good 8 weeks, according to my naturopathic specialist.Â However, for me I started to feel better right away! It was truly a miracle and I’m so happy to have figured it out at a relatively young age.
Oh, and I’m still mad that the darn dermatologist thought it was RING WORM!! Honestly, it’s a great reminder to always always always be playing attention to the signals your body is sending you. Had I stopped to listen to my stomach aches sooner, I probably would have figured it out much earlier!
Here are my tips for recognizing food allergies–
Begin to check in with how you feel after you eat a meal. Do you feel bloated, gassy, and crampy? This is something you should REALLY pay attention to. I remember thinking it was “normal” to feel this way after eating!! It isn’t!!!Â
Pay attention to sudden changes in your body such as a rash, dry skin, acne, etc. They can be an indication that something is going on internally, contrary to what some westernÂ medicine will tell you.Â
Does a certain food make you feel lethargic or exhausted after you eat it?Â
Keep a food journal or make a mental note every single time you don’t feel well after eating.Â
Talk to a naturopathic specialistÂ about taking a food intolerance test, for more tips on this kind of specialist check out my interview with mine here.
Honestly, once I started to tune into my body and listen to these signals it was sending me, I couldn’t BELIEVE I hadn’t realized sooner. If we are willing to stop and tune in, our bodies will give us much of the information we’re looking for.
I hope this has been helpful and that sharing some of my struggles in this department can help! I’m going to do a follow up post on how exactly I went about going gluten and dairy free.