I had been feeling hopelessly tired and worn down. I felt bloated and out of breath after every time I ate. Eating literally made me exhausted. I was convinced I was over eating and that I had self control issues. I tried counting calories, I tried weight watchers. I told myself that if I just lost ten pounds, then I would feel so much better; that when I could fit into my jeans from high school, then I would be happy.
I explained the way I had been feeling to a client one day at the salon. This lady was always talking about food. Her son was born with autism and they figured out that if they fed him purer foods, avoiding junk and common food allergens, his behavior significantly improved. Her stories always intrigued me and frankly amazed me. I never had heard that food could have such a major role in the way a person gets through life, that the type of cookies and pancakes and sandwiches you eat could make such a night and day difference in a human's behavior. After I told her how awful I had been feeling and how I thought I had tried everything, she suggested that I may, perhaps, have a gluten sensitivity. What's gluten? was my response.
She explained to me that gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley...wheat being the primary concern because it is in so many of the food products we consume day in and day out. She told me that many people have developed a sensitivity to gluten, because the seed of wheat has been genetically modified to grow larger, faster...a great thing for production rates except that the new wheat has way more gluten in it than when it is found naturally. Too much of anything is no good. Our bodies can't handle it anymore, they can't keep up. They're shouting NO MORE GLUTEN! (or so I would like to think)
So I said, okay, yeah, I'll try it...for one month. Then I'll see how I feel. When I took on the label of 'gluten free' in January, I was naive to the fact that there was a world thriving off of us food sensitive bodies. I'm talking about gluten free products. I had no idea they were a thing. I thought that by going gluten free, it meant no grains. I went for a couple months like that. My meals consisted mostly of eggs, fruits, vegetables, chicken breast, and sweet potatoes; and my belly was happy.
Slowly, I began to become aware of all of the glorious things gluten free had to offer. I discovered the gluten free aisle at the grocery store and tried to buy one new thing each time I went shopping. I bought pretzels and crackers, breads and bagels, chocolate chip cookies and hot dog buns. Soon after, I realized they made all purpose gluten free flour. Perfect. Any regular recipe could now be converted to gluten free by just switching out the flours. By the end of March, I had seriously figured out a way to be gluten free without missing a beat. Anything that normally had wheat in it, at least, I could find a substitute for, and it was marvelous. I made blueberry muffins and banana breads and peanut butter cookies and everything else at 350 degrees. I knew that these things were still dessert and still in fact, not good for the waistline, but they were gluten free and they didn't make me feel all of those terrible, awful ways I was feeling before, because they were gluten free...duh.
It started in March...right around St. Patrick's Day. I just felt easily fatigued and naps started sounding like a really good idea way too often. I kept telling everyone that I was feeling the best I'd ever felt since going gluten free but I was lying. The foggy thinking was back and I had no idea what was wrong. I played around with a few different things. I already told you guys about the protein mishap when I decided to avoid meat, and yes, I did feel better after I added animal products back in and started taking vitamins, but not like I did. Not like I wanted to. I knew how good my body and mind could feel and I wasn't there. I was craving balance.
Last Friday, I got up early to make gluten free blueberry swirl muffins and yogurt parfaits for my family before I went into work (decided to be nice). I obviously delighted in the goodness also. Five minutes after I took my last bite, it hit me. Dizzy, cloudy, numb. I wanted to crawl back into my bed and sleep off whatever had just happened inside every cell of my body. I felt angry and confused and weak in the most aggravating way. I hated blueberry muffins and I never wanted to see a cup of yogurt again.
I dragged myself to work and opened the store. I was uncomfortable and sensitive. I felt like I couldn't look the customers in the eye because they would know something terrible was going on inside of me. I wanted to put a sign on the window that said "napping, be back in 45" and lay on the floor until the spell has subsided.
I finally started coming around by two o'clock. It literally is like a piece of translucent paper is lifted from your eyeballs and your sense of simple function finally begins to be restored. I thought about breakfast from earlier...muffin, yogurt. Grains, dairy. No. I can't.
The first thing that came to mind was paleo. I looked up the basis of the diet and sure enough, no grains and no dairy (along with some other restrictions). I read further and learned that the paleo diet was created to simulate the way we were supposed to eat...before the agricultural revolution, before all of the processed food began, before the human hand got so involved - way back when we were eating what the ground gave us and the animals that were living on it. God's food.
Slap me across the face. Please. "I believe in food - God's food". Scroll to the top of this page. Read it. God's food. What is God's food? God's food is: pure, whole, energizing, fresh, medicinal, natural, healthy, organic, logical, essential, life supporting, simple, clean, unaltered, real, complete, satisfying, honest, healing, green, intentional, happy, seasonal, balancing. God's food is good food.
For the past seven months I've been walking around, proclaiming that I dream of a world where people come together as a community with an energy that God has provided through the food he has created. I have been drilling the phrase that our bodies are a temple of God; the food that we put into them directly relates to the energy being produced to serve our God. Meanwhile, I was snacking on Tostido tortilla chips and Glutino pretzels. Breakfast always had a piece of peanut butter toast and Chex cereal was becoming habitual before bed. I experimented with brown rice lasagnas and hawaiian style pizzas, all the while becoming way more lax on sugar and dairy and grain consumption in general. I was eating gluten free, but I wasn't eating in the way that I told other people they should be eating. I was doing what was convenient, what was easy. My mouth was speaking visions of bonding and community around big dinner tables with families sharing the foods that our creator had provided in their most pure form, while my mouth was allowing in the very opposite.
I was trying to have my cake and eat it too, but nature got in the way. I was telling everyone that we all should be eating God's food, while I was indulging in just as much of man's food. I wasn't emotionally ready to let go of my JIF peanut butter and my Hudsonville ice cream. I was trying to wave goodbye to the world on one hand while grasping on with the other. I didn't want to stick out too far. Being different is scary, and I didn't want to make things uncomfortable.
But that's when change happens. Advancements are made when we toss our emotions aside and pursue what we believe in, even if we look funny, even if people give weird looks. It's easy to be normal; it's comfortable to blend in. But that's not how greatness is achieved. Greatness is achieved by audacious faith and ridiculous work ethic.
The following foods have been the only foods allowed in my mouth for the past week: animal meats, fish, seafood, vegetables of every kind, fruits, nuts, seeds, dark chocolate, coffee, natural sweeteners, natural oils.
I have completely eliminated all grains, potatoes, dairy (minus butter), soy, legumes, and anything artificial. This literally leaves no room for anything other than God's food. And guess what? I feel good. So good.
I have a vision that one day I will live in a community where people rely on God's food for healing and for energy. I want to show people the connection between the foods we are eating and the effects they have. I want to be the flame that ignites a fire. But first, I need to be an example.
I believe in [total health]: a state of complete physical, mental, and social well being. I believe in food; God's food. I believe in simple; less is more. I want to create a hope to push for a change. My deepest desire is for the people I love to feel their absolute greatest.
You can't have your cake and eat it too...
...except for this one, because it's a flourless cake and it actually tastes more like a brownie than a cake, so eat up!
1 stick of butter
3/4 cup Enjoy Life chocolate chips
3/4 cup organic cane sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
Melt butter and chocolate chips on medium-low heat, stirring the whole time. Add the sugar and salt and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat. Whisk in one egg at a time. Whisk in cocoa powder until smooth. Add vanilla. Pour into a greased 8" circle or square pan. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Decorate with whatever toppings you think go good with rich chocolate. I chose coconut, pecans, and chocolate drizzle.