I’m not on a diet. I’m not a gluten-free fad dieter. I’m not on any kind of special diet like the Paleo Diet or the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. I don’t cut out whole groups of foods just because I think they’re somehow inherently unhealthy. I’m not a vegetarian or vegan. My dietary restrictions are not by choice.
Other than the foods I restrict out of necessity because I react to them, I try to allow myself basically everything in moderation. I eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, meats, nuts/seeds, beans, gluten-free grains and pseudo-grains, and anything else that my body can tolerate. I try to buy organic when I can, but I don’t always. I’m also not terribly worried about GMOs. I splurge on sodas and candy. I love Snickers bars, Reese’s cups, M&M’s, Raisinets, York Peppermint Patties, Dove dark chocolates, dark chocolate Hershey Kisses, and Dagoba dark chocolate bars. I love to eat ice cream either homemade or when I can find something at the store that doesn’t have guar gum in it, like Turkey Hill Natural. I love to eat baked treats like cake, brownies, and cookies. I love to eat pizza. I occasionally eat processed meats like pepperoni. Sometimes the foods I select to eat may have hydrogenated oils, especially if the alternatives that don’t contain these oils contain my reactive ingredients. They may sometimes have a lot of sugar or sodium. I don’t keep myself from enjoying these treats because they’re unhealthy. Knowing they’re unhealthy, I limit my consumption of them. I want to be healthy, but I also want to be able to enjoy life as much as I can with my dietary restrictions. If I had to cut out all of these things too, it would make my life even more unbearable than it is now.
I don’t believe that gluten is somehow inherently bad or unhealthy. There are people who can’t tolerate gluten. They have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Those with wheat allergy basically eat gluten-free as well. Gluten is definitely unhealthy for those whose bodies react to it. Those reactions can manifest in a myriad of ways. They’re not always immediate, and you may not always be able to tell by looking at a person whether or not he/she is having symptoms from exposure. I’ve always tried to plow through the day and get things done that I needed to get done in spite of my symptoms. As much as I might want to lie down and do nothing, I know there are things I need to do, so I press on anyway. Thankfully, antihistamines can make dealing with the symptoms a lot easier, but they have their own side effects. For those who can tolerate gluten, I don’t think gluten is inherently unhealthy for them. It’s possible that some of these people just consume too much of it. I know before I went gluten-free, if I didn’t have some kind of wheat product at every meal, it was at least everyday. Branching out and trying other grains is a great way to add variety to one’s diet. I would love to be able to have my previous diet and expand it to include new and different foods. I would love to be able to try and eat different things without having to worry about ingredients and how they were prepared. There are processed breads and flours that are unhealthy for other reasons, but there are solutions in organic flour products like what King Arthur makes, and Food for Life has a line of nutritious bread products in the Ezekiel 4:9 line. I think I tried their 7 Sprouted Grain bread before I went gluten-free. If I could eat gluten safely, there’s no way I would cut it out of my diet completely. Perhaps I would consume less of it and try to consume other grains to get more of a variety, but I would still make room for gluten in my diet. Many of the foods I enjoyed contained gluten. If I could have the option to eat those again, I would definitely enjoy indulging in those foods.
As for the special diets that exist out there, like the Paleo diet, many of them have provided benefits to a lot of people suffering from certain ailments or who just want to be healthier. It’s always a possibility that going on one of these diets may help me with symptoms yet to be discovered. I’m certainly not ruling out that I may have to go on one of these diets someday. However, because they’re highly restrictive, I don’t plan on going on any of them unless I feel it’s absolutely necessary or unless my doctor suggests it. I would definitely want to work with a nutritionist to make sure I’m getting all the nutrients I need and that my diet is as varied within the restrictions of the diet as possible. I would rather not restrict my diet that far if it’s not necessary to do so. Also, since my exposures of late have been due to mishandling of things I ingest, I would be under a lot more stress trying to prepare foods because it’s a lot harder to find pre-packaged foods that work under these diets. Figuring out what I can and can’t eat on these diets would also be very stressful.
Basically, my philosophy on food is to enjoy eating all that I can within my restrictions in moderation. It’s important to have a varied and nutritious diet whatever dietary restrictions exist, but I don’t believe in restricting or eliminating foods from one’s diet unless it’s absolutely necessary to do so, for example, due to allergies, intolerance, or autoimmune diseases. Also, having treats and junk food on occasion is not a bad thing if it’s not overdone. Gluten itself is not unhealthy, but the overconsumption of it or any other food is unhealthy. I’m open to trying any of the special diets out there but only if medically necessary, if suggested by my doctor, and with the help of a nutritionist.
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