I ditched being gluten free to save my social life

Eggs on GF toast

Homemade eggs Florentine on gluten-free toast, courtesy of my lovely man.

“I don’t think I need to be gluten free anymore.”

I announced this to my boyfriend a couple of weeks ago through mouthfuls of avocado smothered gluten-free toast.

Three months prior, my fabulous dietitian Marieke Rodenstein had recommended that I ditch gluten to see if it would help heal the gut issues I had been experiencing. The list of reasons Marieke gave for this suggestion were long and hard to refute (and I was sick of feeling sluggish, bloated and generally not great) so I happily accepted the idea and after leaving her clinic, headed straight to my local organic grocer to stock up on all things gluten free.

After about a week of my new diet I found that my symptoms were starting to lessen and I was feeling much more energetic. I was still getting bouts of nausea and bloating but over the following weeks, these symptoms also started to fade.

For the next couple of months, I continued to adhere to a gluten-free diet and reaped the benefits. I had more energy than I’ve had in years (albeit, my iron levels were also on the way up, which would absolutely have contributed to this) and I no longer had to struggle to button up my jeans over my bloated tummy. In short, I felt great!

So, why did I decide I no longer needed to live out my days sans gluten? At the time, I told myself it was because I was about to embark on Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar program and that I wanted to only eliminate one thing from my diet at a time to really determine the cause of my issues. Sounds reasonable, right? That’s what I convinced myself, too.

It actually wasn’t until a couple of days ago (yep, you can call me Laura “Ye Ol’ Slow On The Uptake” Miller) that I sat in discomfort (and not just from the Mexican wheat-flour burrito I had just devoured) with the realisation that I had been lying to myself. I didn’t revert to eating gluten because of any misguided nutritional belief that if I gave up both gluten and sugar I would never know what was causing me grief. No, I started scoffing the stuff again because I was scared of having yet another food label slapped across my name.

Social functions were already fraught with uncomfortable moments of not realising that the delicious-looking arancini ball actually contained mince meat until it was already in my mouth. Now, they’d be even more stressful as I faced the choice of either accidentally chowing down on something with gluten in it, or dealing with the embarrassing prospect of being handed a Glad wrapped plate of special-needs dried out food, while everyone else swanned around with canapes.

When eating out, not only would I have to scour the menu for that elusive little fella called ‘v’, I’d also have to hunt out his even more rare cousin ‘gf’. My friends would groan as I’d say to the poor waitress, “Yes, I know porridge is made of oats but are they gluten-free oats or just oat oats? I can see that the bacon dish is gluten free but I don’t eat meat.”

Not only would I be Laura: that vegetarian woman, I’d now be Laura: that vegetarian, gluten-free, pain-in-bum, can’t-take-her-anywhere woman. Me, dramatic? Surely not.

Nope, it wasn’t happening. Not on my watch. It turns out my desire not to be a social outcast was far stronger than any urge to rid myself of the physical discomfort I was experiencing – at least it was, until last week.

Last week, when I finally found the courage to dig a bit further into the real reason behind my decision, I was shocked (and if I’m being really honest, I was disappointed) at myself. Here I was, studying to be a naturopath, passionately espousing the importance of listening to your body and finding out which foods make it sing, and I was doing the opposite. The exact opposite.

Isn’t it funny how these contradictions creep into our lives without us noticing! I am endeavouring to be more aware of when this happens so that my reality more closely matches my ideal life. In psychological terms, this is called congruence and achieving it is an important part of being a natural therapist. It’s also kind of critical to living a happy life. Sticking to gluten-free fare for now is the right choice. I feel it within every cell of my body.

So, I’m back on the gluten-free bus. I’m still giving up sugar (more on that soon) but I’ll resume my gluten-free ways and then reassess once the I Quit Sugar program is finished. I’ll take an honest look at how I feel and decide then whether I truly can go back to eating gluten or not.

And this time, the decision will be based on love for myself, not fear.

Laura xx

How to travel wellness style

Hawaii 1

Our goodies for the flight.

I’m back! Despite being a bit tired from the long flight, I feel great. The trip was exactly what I needed. It nourished me mentally, spiritually and physically. Not all of my holidays have been like this one though and I often find it hard to stick to my wellness regime when I’m travelling. Unfamiliar food choices, different restaurants and a lack of knowledge of what’s available in the area, can lead to my healthy diet being derailed.

It doesn’t take long for me to start feeling the effects of poor eating (I end up sluggish, moody and bloated) and this is not how I want to feel at any time, let alone when I’m trying to enjoy my holiday.

Here are some of the ways I kept on top of my health game while in Hawaii:

Pack food for the flight

Loving Earth's Luvju bars are the perfect travel snack.

Loving Earth’s Luvju bars are the perfect travel snack.

Plane food generally tastes awful and is loaded with salt, sugar and flavourings to make it more appealing. I packed a tonne of snacks for the flight to Hawaii but completely forgot about including a more substantial meal! Next time, I’ll be more prepared and make something like a quinoa salad. So, what was in my pack?

  • Raw kale chips
  • Brown rice and nori chips
  • Loving Earth Luvju bars
  • Pana raw chocolate
  • Coconut water (to drink while waiting at the airport)
  • Homeopathic jetlag-ease tablets
  • An assortment of herbal teas (just ask the flight attendant for a cup of hot water when they come around to offer tea and coffee)

I also had a huge green juice (cucumber, lemon, celery, kale and green apples) when I first woke up, to fill my body with nutrients and chlorophyll, in preparation for the onslaught of toxins I was about to ingest at the airport and during the flight.

Research your destination

The Beetbox Café breakfast burrito was scrunch-your-face good.

The Beetbox Café breakfast burrito was scrunch-your-face-up good.

A key criteria when choosing where to stay was whether or not there would be organic cafes and restaurants nearby. I jumped on Google and checked out my favourite blogs before to find recommendations of places to eat, and discovered Beetbox Café, which is a tiny café tucked in behind a health-food shop. Beetbox Café offered all-organic, vegetarian meals (including their famous acai bowls) and it was by far some of the tastiest food I have eaten.

Stay somewhere that has a kitchen

Organic salad, made with fresh veggies from the property and farmers' markets.

Organic salad, made with fresh veggies from the property and farmers’ markets.

We booked a house through AirBnB so we had access to a kitchen to prepare some meals in. We picked up fresh produce from local farmers markets and then created delicious and healthy meals with it. I get sick of eating out pretty quickly so it was great having the option to do our own cooking. We were fortunate enough to pick a place with an organic veggie patch. It doesn’t get much fresher than that!

Find ways to move your body

Trail riding along the beach.

Trail riding along the beach.

Sitting on a plane for hours wreaks havoc on your body, not to mention the negative effects of jetlag. The quickest way to start feeling good again is to do some gentle exercise like walking, yoga or swimming (you get extra props if it’s in the ocean). I always feel so much better when I’ve headed outside and got my heart rate up a bit. As you know, exercise helps flush out toxins, which is great for when you’ve been around airports and on planes. Jet fuel only does bad things to you!

Flush out radiation

Airports and planes are cesspits of radiation. I prepared my body by upping my dose of chlorella in the days leading up to travel, drinking green juice before and after the flight and taking zeolite tablets.

All of this might sound like hard work but it took barely any time at all and made such a difference to the quality of the trip. Instead of coming back with a couple of new friends in the form of kilos, I arrived home feeling fit and healthy.

Hawaii, I’ll be back.

Laura

The importance of taking time out

I can't wait to be hurtling through that clear blue sky.

I can’t wait to be hurtling through that clear blue sky.

You guys, GUESS WHAT? I’m going to Hawaii! (Queue internal happy dancing.)

Only three more sleeps before I’m on my way. I can’t wait. This trip is long overdue. I haven’t taken a holiday that is purely for recharging my batteries since, well, ever.

Sure, I take holidays but they’re always packed from start to finish with activities. I have this  compulsion to get the most out of every minute because I know I’ll only be on holiday for such a short time. I stress myself out in my pursuit of planning the perfect holiday. Have you met my friend, Counter Productive? We’re tight. Anyway, this time I’m doing things differently. My holiday will be all about sitting on the beach, reading, catching up on sleep and maybe a bit of shopping and hiking. Oh and eating incredible food, of course.

So much of my day-to-day life is lived at full speed that I really struggle to put on the brakes unless I have physically removed myself from my regular setting. You too? This is not an ideal way to live and I am very aware of that but whenever I start trying to address it, I freak out about the seemingly insurmountable task before me. What do I cut out? Which of my friends should I see less of? Should work, study or my blog suffer? Can I survive on less sleep (clearly, for anyone who knows me, this one is rhetorical. I need my sleep.)? I’ve well and truly thrown it in the too-hard basket for the moment. Instead, I’ve decided to take smaller breaks more often because I know it is so important to rest.

Here are my top three reasons why I think taking time out from your regular schedule is critical for your wellbeing:

  1. You will be more productive. This seems counterintuitive but it’s not. If you’ve ever pushed through the point of exhaustion because you need to finish a task, and then realised the next day that you made a tonne of errors while doing it, you’ll know what I’m talking about. There’s a reason why companies give us an annual leave allowance. Study after study has shown that employees who use their annual leave are more productive, happier and healthier employees than those who don’t. So, leave the guilt behind when you board that plane!
  2. You need some sun. The sun is not something we should fear. Of course, I’m not advocating lying for hours in the sun until your skin blisters but that big ol’ ball of fire plays a hugely overlooked role in our health and wellbeing. We are a nation of vitamin D deficient people and it is causing us myriad issues, including depression (explains a bit about our office-working depressed society, right!). The best way to get vitamin D is from the sun. And you need to get out there without sunscreen covering every inch of your skin to get the benefits. (Sunscreen is incredibly toxic but that’s a topic for another time.) Spending just 20 minutes in the sun will give you your daily dose of vitamin D.
  3. You need to get grounded. We spend most of our lives in high-rise buildings and in shoes, completely detached from the earth. This is a relatively new way of living and it isn’t doing us any good. We need to ditch the shoes, or sit on the ground, and connect with the earth to absorb negative ions. These guys help us counterbalance the toxins in modern life and they help reduce inflammation. Remember: inflammation = illness.

On that note, I’ll be taking a break from blogging for the next week so that I can live my message. I’ll be back next week to share my top tips for staying healthy while travelling.

Aloha!

Laura