What It Feels Like To Be Gluten, Dairy, & Sugar Free
Being twenty-five years of age, one should feel full of energy and healthy, right? That's what I thought but reality was in complete contrast just a few months ago.
Just to give you a little background story of my health, let's take it back a notch. Although I never took the time to realize it, I wasn't always taking the best care of myself. Like most, throughout university, I got introduced to a lifestyle of high alcohol intake, poor eating habits, and minimal sleep. This continued on and especially progressed when I started traveling. As a student traveller, spending extra money on nutrition just didn't seem logical. It was far more important to be able to see an extra destination so my food intake consisted of bread, cheese, and cheap liquor. Gotta love looking back on those highly intelligent choices we make, right?
Throughout these years, I would also dedicate myself to a series of yoyo dieting in a silly effort to stay thin. Eating everything I wanted for a few weeks to being on some new calorie restrictive diet became my normal. Little did I realize then how unhealthy this actually was for my body and overall well-being. About four months ago, it all added up. Everything felt as if it was falling into a serious rut. My skin was at its worst, my mind in a constant state of fogginess, my energy was extremely low, and my body just didn't feel like everything was working as it should.
I couldn't pinpoint what was going wrong but after visiting a homeopathic doctor and doing a whole lot of my own research, I decided to focus on changing what I put into my body to see how it would affect things.
Since then, this has been my food philosophy in a nutshell:
- no gluten
- no dairy; other than goat milk kefir
- no sugar
- no alcohol for the first two months; now still highly limited
- mono meals when eating fruit
Now it has been over four months on this lifestyle. So, how does this feel?
Before, it would take everything just to get out of bed in the morning. The snooze button was my best friend. Now I have more energy than I know what to do with. I don't drink any caffeine and yet still, I'm constantly filled with this amazing energy that lasts throughout the day. No midday crashes. No naps needed. Nada.
I also used to strongly dislike working out. I would constantly push myself to do it since I knew it was good for the body but it was a constant battle. Now, with all my energy, I find myself genuinely excited to exercise and actually enjoy it. It's definitely an amazing feeling I never thought was possible!
My mind is now more clear than ever before. I've realized now how what we put into our bodies affects the way we think. Sugar especially has a big effect on how the brain functions. It's like a drug and the more we have it, the more we crave it. I went through some bad detox periods from cutting it out completely, which was a crazy experience to say the least. It involved full days of migraines, not being able to keep food down, & extreme fatigue to the point of not being able to move from the bed.
This was a really tough one at first, especially with the alcohol part. If you haven't been completely sober at a party, I highly suggest it. You not only see things from a whole different perspective but also start to rethink how you want to be spending your time. At least from my experience, I realized more of the type of people and places I want to surround myself around.
At first, I thought my social life would go in a downwards spiral but actually it improved for the better. When you focus on bettering yourself regardless of what others might think of you, the right kind of people and opportunities start to be attracted to you while the others fall away. That has been an amazing experience in itself that I never expected.
While this journey has led me to now feeling as I've always wanted, it was defintiely not an overnight transformation. There were countless moments, especially when I wasn't seeing any results, that everything was telling me to just give up.It's been far from easy but I can confidently say that it's been 100% worth it.
It also still isn't always perfect each day now. There are still those moments here and there that I'm not feeling my usual best. Ups and downs will always come though but it's learning to focus on learning from your body and adapting that makes the difference.
Overall, it has been life-changing to realize feeling this good is even possible. And now that I've gotten that feeling, there is nothing that makes me ever want to go back. I keep getting asked when I will be off this 'diet'. For me, this isn't a diet though, it's my change in lifestyle to feel the way our bodies are intended to feel: amazing and full of energy. I believe each of us is different and what works for one person doesn't necessarily work for the other. It's all about experimenting to find what makes you feel good. In the end, that may take some effort but we are the only ones that have the power to choose what goes in our bodies to make them feel the way they do. And when we feel our best, we can do our best in everything else we want to achieve.
I'll be posting more about my health journey, the things I'm learning along the way, what I eat, and even some recipes so stay tuned!
Photography by the talented: Carli Taylor