Breakfast was one of the hardest meals for me to wrap my brain around no longer being able to eat sugar, dairy, or gluten. Endless searches down the cereal aisle in multiple markets came up empty. Omelets were no longer an option, the gooey cheese I used to love to singe as it oozed out of my omelet onto the skillet seemed only a distant memory. In the beginning I soft boiled eggs and mashed them up on gluten free toast with no butter. I quickly fell in love with grapefruit forcing myself to forget that I used to sprinkle sugar on top of it once I had halved it. No more maple syrup (for now) or powdered sugar on homemade waffles or pancakes and bagels weren’t even an option. Slowly friends would recommend gluten free products, I no longer craved the sweet syrupy flavor of sugar, and I began to fall in love with fresh fruit and coconut milk. My latest and greatest find is Ancient Grains. A hot cereal that when heated up with coconut milk and topped with fresh raspberries is both filling and delicious. It is gluten, dairy, and sugar free. It’s perfect with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top.
Why such an extreme way of eating? If anyone had suggested that I would be eating this way even a couple of years ago I would have shrugged them off and laughed at the notion. I’m imagining most of you would now, until one day you found out what sugar, gluten, and dairy can and have done to our diet and those who over consume it on a daily basis. This just happens to be my story and why I can no longer choose to keep them in my diet.
The knowledge that you have to change your entire way of thinking in an instant seemed overwhelming and daunting. If it was just me, I’m not sure that I would have attacked the idea that I could and would do it with such ferocity. As I sat and continued to listen, my body grew heavier and my mind tired from its endless questioning of why I wasn’t feeling like I knew that I should for the last six years. It hadn’t been a constant in my life. The symptoms would rear their head two or three times a year and then subside within a few months. If they became too much to ignore, I would make an appointment or go to the walk in clinic thinking I had a cold I couldn’t shake or even the flu. My bloodwork always came back the same, incredibly anemic. My blood cell count was low and my cells were misshaped. Inevitably I would be asked to do more blood work and go back on iron supplements. Just two years ago the symptoms became so extreme after having appendicitis I was ordered to have a colonoscopy with the thought that it might be cancer. Still everything came back normal. They had tested for celiac, lyme, and everything I had ever heard of. I felt as though I was creating my symptoms in my mind, somehow manifesting them at the most inopportune times in my life.
As I sat listening to the results of my colonoscopy, bits and pieces of me came together and decided that I wasn’t imagining my low blood levels and all the symptoms that seemed to come with them. I looked up across the front of the Doctor’s desk and asked him if being anemic was a disease or a symptom. He smiled at me and said “you know I have med students who can’t correctly grasp that anemia is a symptom.” It was in that moment that I knew there was a reason that I was feeling the way I was, something was causing it. For me, in that office, I finally felt validation. I just wasn’t any closer to finding out what was causing the anemia and my host of daunting symptoms.
Being sugar, gluten, and dairy free hasn’t just impacted me, it has the people around me thinking about their relationship with sugar. I’ve been holding myself back, trying hard not to make my journey everyone’s journey. The FDA just recently came out with the new recommended daily intake of sugar is 10-12 grams a day. It seems doable and realistic until you start to read labels and wake up to the choices you are making each and every day. The other night my husband shared that my step daughter had ordered a rootbeer at dinner. She picked up the can and began reading the nutritional label. “Dad did you know that this rootbeer has 50 grams of sugar?” Sophie is eleven and just by living with my journey and watching as my life transforms in a physical, mental, and emotional way she has already began to wonder what role sugar is playing in her life. Take a minute today and read a few labels. I used to love putting Sigis yogurt in the kid’s lunch or any kind of yogurt. Go ahead and take a look…remember the FDA recommends 10-12 grams a day.