I have loved you my entire life.
I never expected to have to give you up.
I didn’t want to give you up.
I still don’t want to give you up.
I remember when I first realised that we might not be compatible.
It started with a blueberry muffin that surprisingly left me energised – completely unheard of for me. I enquired with the waitress – were there were any special ingredients used? She informed me that there was nothing different in it, but it was gluten free. My brain started to make some quick connections, join the dots. Perhaps I had a gluten intolerance?
Next, there was a week when I couldn’t have any milk or cheese. By chance I seemed to be less bloated and my acne started to clear up. Perhaps dairy didn’t agree with me either?
I did an elimination test and realised just how much better my life was without them. My skin cleared up. I didn’t feel tired after every meal. I was never bloated; I lost that little lower stomach pouch. I had a stable level of energy – no highs and no lows.
I knew that I needed to avoid them both, but foods that contain dairy and/or gluten are some of the most comforting foods to me, with deep associations and happy ingrained memories.
…Cups of plain pasta with parmesan cheese during school holidays
…Glasses of milk with fruit cake at Christmas time
…Sunday morning pancakes
…Vogels multi-grain toast with marmite, avocado, or hummus
…Cupcakes and brownies that got me through my toughest exams
…Sweet Chilli Prawn Pizza on a Friday night, finished off with either triple chocolate cheese cake or a crème brulee
…Matcha Latte and a Starbucks muffin for breakfast in Singapore
…Authentic Indian Chai, topped up with extra milk
…Home-made scones, with fresh whipped cream and jam
…Indian sweets at Diwali
I could go on and on – those are some of my favourite foods in the entire world.
I tried to cut dairy and gluten but I would tell myself that my intolerance wasn’t THAT bad. Perhaps it wasn’t if I had been able to keep my consumption in small does or moderation, a little here and a little there. But moderation wasn’t for me. Small doses became full blown till I was eating dairy and gluten in large amounts. It became a perpetuating cycle. Every meal would leave me tired, I would then crave them some more, eat them again… and so the cycle would continue.
It took me a long reason to understand why I’ve never made a concerted effort and been able to fully let go.
At first, I thought it was that I didn’t have good substitute options. But that’s not true. Sydney is rife with dairy free and gluten free options. With a little bit of effort, it’s completely doable.
Instead, the reality was that I felt like people were going to be judging me, or think that I was making a big deal out of nothing. I didn’t want to be that person that always had to ask what ingredients were in a dish, or ask about alternative options. I didn’t want to draw attention to myself, or to come across as precious. I would tell myself that you don’t end up instantly ill, break out in a rash or end up vomiting… so it’s not that big of a deal.
But it IS a big deal.
Just last week, I ended up so unwell from an overload of Italian food that I had stomach aches for 3 days. Getting out of bed was a struggle; working out was not an option. I was so bloated I looked like I had put on 5kg. I felt nauseous, had headaches and felt almost flu like. It was agony.
For the first time, I saw it for how bad it really was.
I realised that it’s not other people that judge me for having food intolerances – I judge me. I am the one that thinks there is something fundamentally wrong with me for having intolerances. I am the one that tries to run away from who and how I really am. I am the one that is living out of integrity and authentic living.
I was living with the belief that denying your own needs – makes you somehow better, that it’s noble to sacrifice your own needs. I thought that it was selfish to put yourself and your needs first.
But that stops. Today.
I look around me and when I examined the world around me, I noticed that anyone that has sacrificed their own happiness or personal needs for others, ends up miserable and resenting others. In my case, it hasn’t brought me any happiness – only resentment. I can’t be my best self or show up if I’m worrying about others think of me or if I’m in a physical state that doesn’t let me be my best self. I often think that it’s better to not draw attention to myself because it’s easier to play small and fly under the radar without all eyes on me.
I end up suffering when I consume dairy and gluten, and for what?
So that some other people might feel more comfortable?
Or think I’m less weird?
Well, that’s flawed thinking.
I can’t control others, their responses or their reactions.
Not to mention, I know I’m weird – might as well embrace it 🙂
Dairy and Gluten,
It was really nice knowing you.
Making the choice to give you up is a difficult one.
I am doing this because as much as I love you, I love me more.
I don’t want to live a life that is less than the best, or less than what I deserve.
One day, I’ll have strong happy neural memories with delicious foods that are gluten and dairy free.
I know this is for the best in the long term, even if it is hard in the short term.
There will be a time when I know living without you will come second nature.
But for now, I’m taking it day by day, meal by meal.