Special Diets are Not Just Trendy
In 2023, it may seem "trendy" for people to have special diets and food allergies. From being "gluten free" to "dairy free" to "raw food vegan" to people who do not eat any carbs, and now with the World Economic Forum telling us that "you will eat ze bugs," there's a huge playing field for the special needs of individuals on a diet. The hardest part is that there's no "one diet" that works for everyone. In this blog, I explore some of these diets and my own personal journey in finding my own special diet.
Trust Science over "Experts"
When I was in middle school, I started developing bad acne. My face broke out all the time, and I had a lot of physical, emotional, and social pain from the experience. It all came to a head (no pun intended) just after Halloween in 8th grade. Some bully said to me "you look as bad as I feel." My dad noticed the connection to the enormous amount of sugar and candy I ate at that age, but when they took me to the dermatologist, the western doctor totally denied that diet had anything to do with acne. It was exactly what a teenager with a sweet tooth wanted to hear! So they put me on Accutane, which later turned out to be one of many dangerous drugs pushed by big pharma that treated symptoms while ignoring the cause. It gave them a nice profit though, which they would not have had if they simply told me to stop eating so much candy!
Hindsight is always 20/20
Accutane worked for a while. Minus the depression and clinically dry eyes the drug gave me (and who knows what other long term health issues), my acne was controlled through high school. However, as I grew into an adult, I still had issues now and then. Also however, as an adult, I became much more in tune with my body. As I monitored my diet, sure enough, I could make direct links to how diet affected my complexion. Literally within an hour of eating a Hershey's or some other low-grade milk chocolate, I'd develop a huge zit that would continue to grow the more I fed it. Once a zit started, it would not go away until I blocked these things from my diet for some time until it healed. Otherwise, it would keep growing bigger and bigger! As I kept monitoring the situation, I noticed the same thing would happen with any kind of cheap candy, as well as milk, certain oils, and cheap chocolate (but ironically, not the "good stuff" like high-quality dark chocolate). The moral of this story is to trust your body, even if the doctor doesn't trust it (or find a doctor who does).
Coca Cola Cunning
Sugary soda was another dietary thing that took me years to discover had a major impact on me. It not only impacted my complexion, but also my general health, energy, and feeling of wellbeing. In my 20's, I used to down fountain drinks of Dr Pepper at lunch like they were the fountain of youth. Unfortunately, they were slowly creating the fountain of death. My dental health was bad and I had a ton of cavities. I would catch any cold or flu that came my way. My face also showed the effects. Then, I took a long break. It must have been several months. But then, I went on a trip to Australia and for lunch, they sold the Coca Cola in the glass bottle. With that nostalgic fondness that gets people in trouble, I caved. Within an hour, I was totally sapped of energy and I started developing a faint sore throat. The sore throat had always been my "early indicator" that I was coming down with something. This, linked with the energetic loss made me realize -- it was the soda! I decided to totally quit soda, and I never looked back. It has made a huge difference in my life. Not to mention, I never drank soda with artificial sweeteners, but that's another rabbit hole for you to discover if you do!
Oil of Deception
Another food that took me years to realize was hurting me was cheap oils. Like anyone, I've enjoyed my share of fried foods over the years. One of my favorite dishes was eggplant parmesan, which I made at home with "general" vegetable oil that I got in the grocery store. That means, it's usually canola oil (if you use this, do your research about this history of this toxin including how it was invented, how it was named, how it is processed, and how it hurts you). Sometimes "vegetable oil" is soybean oil. Soybeans are one of the most genetically modified crops in the world and loaded with pesticides. Sometimes vegetable oil is made from GMO corn oil, or other things. Anyway, again, i wondered why i always felt so tired after eating my favorite dish. Then, I did some research about these oils and found that they are industry favorites because they are very cheap to make and highly profitable. Unfortunately, their chemical makeup is also very bad for our bodies and hard to break down. In time, I've come to be very strict about the oils I use.
I'm Gluten Free
My most recent dietary restriction has been another game changer for me. I always heard people use the term "gluten free," and I gotta be honest, I'm sure I've made fun of these people over the years. I didn't even really know what it meant. I grew up in Pittsburgh eating pizza and Mancini's bread on the reg (again, not knowing why I was sick all the time as a kid or exhausted after downing half a loaf of Mancini's). Not to mention, I was a HUGE farter my entire life. My farts had been the stuff of legend. Then, in 2021, I went to a doctor who did a panel of food allergy tests for me. One of the allergies he said I had was gluten. Basically, my body produced "gluten antibodies." My gut treated gluten like a disease that it needed to fight off. Well, since I trust my body, I became gluten free. My life changed forever. My flatulence pretty much went away. My health improved and I was sick less (besides a touch of Covid now and then). My afternoon energy level maintained, and the difference in how I felt was amazing. I had way more energy and generally felt happier. I would have never guessed this, especially with my history of consuming large quantities of gluten over the years. I won't go back. It's really not that hard to eat gluten free, espeically nowadays with the heightened awareness in society.
Cutting out One Food Problem Can Lead to Another
In my life of experimentation, this is one takeaway that hit me over and over. Ya gotta eat, so when you stop eating one thing, you have to eat something else. The problem is, that something else could also be harmful if it's the wrong thing. For example, I used to be vegetarian. However, this led me to consume a bunch of GMO soy and Seitan (pure wheat gluten). This was a game of whack-a-mole!! Another example is gluten -- tapioca. Most gluten-free foods contain tapioca because it helps the consistency of the food and makes it stick together. Unfortunately, this can also make things stick to your intestines! I know someone who was gluten free for years, but it took years for her to discover that the tapioca which replaced it was causing her major constipation! She soon became as strict with tapioca as she was with gluten and her problems subsided. This can be very very tricky to find, but with diligence, body awareness, and strict monitoring, you can find the diet that works for you. Again, there is no one-size-fits-all diet. You have to "trust your gut" and pay close attention to your body. Nobody else can do this for you. This is another example of how eating mindfully can be a meditation!
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