For those of us with food allergies or sensitivities, life can sometimes be a challenge. In a world where we are told we have to “live without,” I decided I wanted to think differently and count all of the blessings that my food sensitivities have brought me.
When I took the time to list ways that these sensitivities can be a blessing, I was amazed at how long the list was. Here's what I came up with.
1. I don't have to worry about pleasing others (by eating things I don't want to eat).
So many of us eat things we don't want to because of social pressures. There's junk food everywhere we turn, and well-meaning people are constantly saying, "Just have a little." Having food sensitivities or allergies gives me a reason to not eat the things I know won't serve me in the end. When I respond to people with how my body will react if I eat certain foods, they tend to back off.
2. It's a great "excuse" to eat healthy.
Let's face it, not everyone is predisposed to craving leafy greens. Having food sensitivities has forced me to try foods that I previously would have never considered but now love.
3. It forces me to eat foods that were out of my comfort zone.
Prior to learning how much my body was impacted by foods my diet pretty much consisted of gluten, dairy and refined sugar. Everything was processed and "fake." Having food sensitivities "forced" me to eat real, whole foods, and I'm much happier and healthier for it.
4. I no longer have a bloated belly.
When I used to eat gluten I could never figure out why my belly consistently looked like I was six months pregnant no matter how much I worked out. Within a week of removing it from my diet, my flat belly was back. The only time I've experienced a bloated belly since then is when I've accidentally eaten gluten. For me, having a flat belly is a wonderful thing!
5. My periods are amazing now.
Growing up, every month I experienced vomiting, diarrhea and severe cramps that would debilitate me for one or two days. I would miss work, school and have even missed a few holiday celebrations. Since switching to a plant-based, whole foods diet my periods come and go with barely a symptom.
6. It's helped me help others, and I've found my calling.
Since this journey of changing my diet has started, I've become a health coach and a natural food chef. Through health coaching and teaching cooking classes I have helped hundreds of women learn what works best for their bodies; I co-founded the country's first bakery that is 100% free of gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, corn and refined sugar and have been featured on The Food Network and The Cooking Channel. I've written a cookbook, Smart Sexy Sweets that has all of my decadent recipes of sweets that happen to be free of gluten, diary, eggs, soy, corn, nuts and refined sugar. Who knew having food sensitivities could be so much fun?
7. I save money.
Having food sensitivities taught me to cook for myself, which saves me a ridiculous amount of money and gives me the certainty of what's going into the food.
8. My body gives me early warning signs.
I know people who've said that they used to be able to eat whatever they wanted and be fine … then one day they had a heart attack or some other illness that seemingly came on out of no-where. Getting "signs" so quickly from my body lets me make instantaneous adjustments rather than having to make major corrections.
9. I understand what my clients are going through.
Have you ever worked with someone who said, "It's easy," making you feel stupid because you weren't finding it so easy? When I teach cooking classes or work with clients individually, they know that I've experienced and wrestled through feeling the limitations of my diet, and have come through on the other side. They also know that I won't allow them to stay stuck in their story of "This sucks, there's nothing I can eat," because I've gotten through to the other side.
10. I have an excuse to eat french fries.
I know what you are thinking: how can a natural foods chef and health coach eat french fries? I agree, they aren't the best choice in the world, but when you can't eat gluten, dairy, refined sugar and need to stay away from cold, raw foods, that pretty much takes away 99.9% of the items on any given restaurants' menu. When going out with friends pretty much always includes going to a bar or restaurant, I can feel somewhat "normal" when ordering fries.
I'm all about cooking your own food AND about having fun socially. What good is being healthy if you're isolated and alone? For me, as long as I know the food isn't going to make me itch, vomit, have diarrhea or think crazy thoughts, I've learned to give myself the grace to enjoy it.
The reality is that our culture is centered on food. Having food sensitivities can be a challenge but the more we see the blessings it brings the more fun we can have.
If you have food sensitivities, I'd love to hear in the comments below what are some of the "blessings" that you've received from them!