The definition of a foodie (according to Collins dictionary):
According to The Google (I like this one the best):
Foodies don’t just eat a meal, they revel in it and regard all facets of the dish in the process: the ingredients used as well as how and where they were sourced, the preparation (and skill related thereto), taste, texture, smell and presentation.
You probably know someone who fits this description– or maybe you are a foodie yourself.
If so, here’s a fun fact about me.
I’ve been a foodie for so long I can’t remember when or how it started. Might have had something to do with the fact that we grew up poor and didn’t have a lot to eat (which is putting it mildly.)
Won’t go into that story today (maybe some other time) because I have a different one to share with you. I simply love delicious food that’s well prepared, and I’m fascinated with flavors and textures of food.
So, today I want to talk about how I deal with being a foodie when there are whole food groups I can no longer eat (for medical reasons):
— anything containing gluten
— all dairy
— all processed foods
Oh, and I can’t use microwaves.
What this means is that I have had to learn how to:
— cook everything at home (which I was pretty much doing already, so that wasn’t too big a stretch)
— substitute ingredients (and let me tell you, I’ve become a real expert at this after 3 years of doing it)
— read labels closely (they put wheat in the darndest things — like, for instance, licorice! Who knew?)
— prepare large quantities of foods I can eat, to freeze for days when I just don’t have time to cook (or too tired to think about what to make.) Ask me about my space-ship-sized skillet. . .
It’s an entirely new lifestyle — very different from how I used to live (and eat.)
I can still enjoy many kinds of foods I love, but I now have to think, plan and shop very carefully in order to produce them.
This has added a layer of complexity to my life, for real — but it’s given me back so much in return:
— more complete nutrition that makes me feel wonderful
— more energy and stamina, to wake up rested and ready to rock the day
— way less inflammation and pain
And honestly? I’m living a foodie’s dream!
In case you’re curious about how this all came about, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1996 — a very bad year in which I had every symptom you can have, most of them simultaneously, until new medications kicked in and I began to recover. It took a few years to get there, but eventually I recovered in full and blessedly have been in remission every since.
Fast forward to 2021. I was still having some joint pain from inflammation, and my doctor recommending something called the Wahl’s Protocol, created by Terry Wahls, a medical doctor who herself has primary progressive MS.
Terry’s MS had gotten so bad that she had to stop practicing medicine and was confined to a standing wheelchair. Before MS struck, she’d not only been a successful doctor but also a competitive runner. MS was an unexpected curve ball that almost derailed her whole life — as it did mine when MS hit me.
The traditional medications they gave her didn’t work for her, so she stubbornly decided to use her considerable skills as a researcher to find out exactly what it is that creates a healthy, high-functioning body in humans.
Her research led her to understand precisely how food and food combinations either support optimal health, or create illness.
She used what she learned to turn her own health around and recover from the worst kind of MS you can have. Today her medical practice thrives, and she has her life and medical practice back. For her and other autoimmune disease sufferers, this is a miracle.
She calls her method The Wahls Protocol. It’s for people with any kind of autoimmune disease — but also for anyone who wants to live a high-functioning life with great energy.
Many libraries carry her book (and a companion book filled with great recipes) that you can also purchase at bookstores or on Amazon. (I’m sharing because I know there are readers who will want this information; I receive no compensation for telling you about it.)
I’ve been doing the Wahls Protocol for the better part of three years, and I am thrilled with the results. The hard work of making the change from “ordinary” cuisine to the Wahls Protocol has paid off handsomely for me. I’ve lost 35 pounds so far (without even trying to lose weight) and my body feels wonderful.
Gone are the nagging joint pains and other effects of inflammation, but even better than that, the food I’m preparing is the best I’ve ever eaten (and that’s saying a LOT.)
On the Protocol, one of the requirements is that we are supposed to have a minimum of 9 cups of leafy greens every day (along with other foods.) It’s all carefully explained in her book. Most days I hit that mark, but not always. There are ways to make up for it, and I’ve learned how to be creative so that I get what I need.
Do I cheat sometimes? Why, yes I do. But not by eating any of the forbidden foods — only by substituting things that are not strictly on the Protocol, but aren’t forbidden either.
For instance, there are snack bars made from nuts and dates I sometimes eat between meals if my energy starts to dip. Lara Bars is one brand that has a lot of choices without actual sugar or other ingredients I can’t have, but nothing in it is forbidden either. It’s kind of a healthy cheat, and very satisfying.
But I have to say — I had to search long and hard to find products like this! They aren’t always easy to find. And sometimes they are expensive when you do, so there’s that.
Other times if I’m hungry between meals (very seldom, since I get really full from the meals on the Protocol) I eat a veggie snack with some nut butter or a piece of fruit.
If I do “cheat” during the day, when my next meal comes along, I make sure I’m eating a lot of leafy greens and good quality protein to balance it out. I call it eating strategically, and for the most part it’s working for me. (I don’t cheat often, because usually I can tell the difference in how I feel when I do. Even though the foods are not forbidden, neither do they deliver the nutritional value my body really needs, either, and I am always very aware of that now.)
This story is about confessions, but also redemption. It holds a lot of meaning for me, because it’s how I have learned to thrive despite one of life’s toughest health challenges.
There’s not a lot to confess, unless you include how hard it was to stop eating the forbidden foods, and to get everything out of the house that I’m not supposed to eat. True story: it took a year.
Along with confessions are an awful lot of stories about redemption. That’s been a huge theme in my life, one I’ll be writing more about this year because of the changes that are predicted for our world.
I wrote this particular article because people who come into my orbit now don’t often know what it took to get me where I am. You would never know by looking at me that I’d gone through a journey like this. I’m also telling it now because it might help someone else. I hope it does.
The headline of today’s article is Confessions. But I have an important message to share along with it. That message is:
1) You can find ways to turn even the worst events into something much, much better than before.
2) Even when you eliminate things you used to love (can we say sugar, for example?) you can bring your creativity to the party and create amazing results.
3) Even when you have major restrictions on what want to accomplish, you can make that work for you in astonishing new ways.
There will be happy surprises. It’s up to you to discover them.
Happy 2024, and bon appetit, my friends!