Gluten and Dairy Free? The "Why" Behind Leaving Certain Ingredients Out

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Because I’m a food blogger, people tend to ask me a lot about my diet.

To which my knee-jerk response goes something like “I don’t eat healthy all the time! I eat junk food too!” #Relatable. Just because I blog the “good stuff” doesn’t mean I’m the face of dietary perfection. It’s more like, since I struggle with healthy eating myself, I’ve created a resource to help me and others like me with it. Ya know? But here’s the thing: I do cook a lot at home now, much more than I used to. And since home is the place where I have the most control over ingredients, I tend to make a lot of my meals with quality, pastured meat sources, lots of fresh organic veg, and without wheat/gluten and dairy. Why?

Well for starters, have you ever heard a person be like “wow, I really could use some more dairy and wheat in my diet -- it’s really lacking in those areas!”

...I haven’t. In fact, before I changed my diet for the better, dairy and wheat/grains in general made up a significant portion of what I ate (shoutout to cheese and cracker snacks, yo). Dairy + grains are convenient, tasty, and can be found in abundance in most restaurants, convenience stores, and kitchens across the nation. So my aim is to make my food blog a place where people can go to get new ideas for alternative, healthy, anti-inflammatory recipes to feed themselves and their families, whether they’re going through a strict Whole30, have certain food allergies, or just want something to balance out their pizza nights out.

Speaking of Whole30, tons of my recipes are Whole30 approved. I entirely support the Whole30 and any other elimination-style diet that aims to help you identify the foods that make you feel crummy and the foods that make you feel your best. If you have any sort of symptom that is affecting your life negatively, whether it be physical pain, high blood pressure, anxiety or depression, etc, I beg you to try and get your food right before popping prescription pills. This is alternative health 101, even though there is nothing “alternative” about it. People using readily available foods and herbs as a first line of defense against disease and degradation is a practice as old as time. In fact, a problem I have with western medicine is the complete lack of acknowledgement that some people simply do better without certain food groups in their diet. Paying attention to how your body reacts to certain foods is admirable. You aren’t “crazy” or “wanting attention” just because you feel better cutting out something like gluten even though you aren’t a full-blown Celiac.

The thing is, there is no one diet that is right for everyone. Let me repeat: no one diet. Is right. For everyone. You can watch 20 different Netflix food documentaries and be convinced that VEGANISM, GRAIN FREE, no, KETO is right for you. But you know what each one of these documentaries doesn’t do? Provide well-rounded, non-biased evidence. Nothing rubs me the wrong way like a documentary that starts out with the absurd comparison of serving your children cigarettes for breakfast as a metaphor for the eggs (I’m looking at you, What the Health).

Here’s a secret: your ancestry and genetic makeup usually plays a huge role in what types of foods you’ll thrive on.

Where are your ancestors from? What were some traditional foods that your ancestors ate, before boxed cereal and other readily-available foods were a thing? Most people ate some sort of fermented food (kimchi, fermented fish, or sauerkraut, anyone?), most probably ate an abundance of locally grown vegetables and yes, animal products (which kinds and how much totally depends on local availability). Got eskimo heritage? You’ll likely thrive on lots of oily fish. Are your ancestors from the tropics? Lots of fresh fruit and coconuts might make you feel your best. In any diet, veggies are your friend -- but should they be cooked? Raw? Take a look at how your ancestors likely prepared them and try that.

Here’s another secret: your intuition is much more powerful than you think.

Really tuning into how your body reacts to the things you feed it is a skill that will serve you well for the rest of your life and will leave you less reliant on things like counting calories or macros. When we’re feeding our bodies the whole foods it really craves, we are giving it the building blocks it needs to heal and repair itself, and it will not do things like hold on to excess weight. You know who the masters in intuitive eating are? Babies! Although I don’t have experience with this personally, I’ve heard they are really in tune with what foods they want based on the different nutrients they need at the time, at least before their taste buds are hindered with the more addictive processed sugars and prepackaged snack foods. The more whole foods we eat, the more we will connect with our bodies’ intuition about what we really need. Addictive, processed foods throw that intuition out of whack.

Me, personally? Despite my abundance of gluten-free recipes on here, I surprisingly do pretty well with most gluten/wheat! While it’s is no longer a staple in my diet due to other healthier foods taking its place, I do still love bread and eat it from time to time. As for dairy, I WISH it didn’t affect me negatively but alas, it does. I’ve struggled with acne my entire life and the biggest thing that affects it is dairy. (I wish I knew this when I was a teenager!) Also -- crazy thing -- symptoms of anxiety/depression go hand in hand with dairy for me. Weird, right?? But I still eat cheese from time to time. I’m lucky that I do not have a life-threatening dairy allergy and can still indulge without facing too many negative consequences (unless I go overboard and have cheese like everyday for a week)!

Gluten and diary can be inflammatory ingredients for many people, especially those with compromised gut health. Are they bad for everyone? No! But my blog is a place for people seeking different options. A resource for people who are looking to cut down on processed foods in their diet, people embarking on a Whole30 for the first time, or people who, due to their dietary restrictions, get asked “what can you eat?” all the time. This isn’t me saying avoiding gluten or dairy is the way to go for everyone. Heck, I don’t even eat this way 100% of the time! This is just my way of providing a helpful resource in an area I see a gap (aka recipes that don’t involve cheese, wheat flour, or noodles). As for universal approaches to nutrition, how about drink more water? Eat more veg? Now those are some one-size-fits-all approaches I can 100% get behind!

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September Enrollment for the Nutritional Therapy Association is now open! If you are interested in learning more about nutrition and have any questions about their program or about becoming an NTP or NTC, feel free to shoot me an email, I'd be happy to answer any Q's :) dinnerminimalist@gmail.com