Thursday, December 27, 2012

beginning of the holiday season with a restricted diet

The majority of my Christmas celebrations are over and I finally have some 'me' time. It's 6pm and I'm in my pjs, hiding in my bedroom and can finally hear myself think.

I imagined Christmas would be difficult as I am still avoiding wheat/gluten/dairy/soy/nuts. I knew I would be 'that' annoying person who'd hold up takeaway lines and waitresses at restaurants with a list of questions. I'd be that really difficult guest at family/friends' houses. I anticipated that everyone would hate me by the end of the holiday season.

However, I've gotten this far in my diet - I feel like I've detoxed my body from all those stuff and my eczema is slowly clearing up so I don't have to wear band aids as much. Eating any of that stuff would undo the work that I've done... and that's how I motivated myself.

Zefferelli's had a whole gluten-free menu which was an absolute god-send. I got a Chicken Valentino which was chicken breast in a sauce made of sun dried tomatoes, olive oil and caramelised onion with veges. Normally there's cream in the sauce but I requested that this omitted. There were also pine nuts that I clumsily gave to Dan, who dined with me. I also had a bit of a gluten-free garlic pizza. I was soo happy with this meal because it was the tastiest thing I had in days.

I half-lived on these muesli bars over the past few days. They have no wheat/dairy/nuts/soy.... but as they probably had a bit of sugar so I'm hoping they haven't created more harm than good.

Dan and I also baked gluten-free banana bread/cake. We used a simple recipe from the internet, substituting sugar with honey. I can't locate the recipe, but I remember it was a simple method - mixing dry ingredients with the wet ingredients. We used Orgran's all purpose plain flour which turned out to be very similar to normal flour. The cake was delicious, fluffy and tasty. In Sydney, I used to bake banana bread all the time, so I randomly crave wholesome banana bread and this did the trick. However, it was definitely best eaten on the day (moreso than other cakes) as it became very very dry over time. 

And before I cut soy out of my diet, I made a 'vege fried rice', using tamari sauce, mirin, sesame oil, ginger, and garlic to season it.

Holidays aren't over yet, and I hope my friends and family will be forgiving. I need these holidays to destress and I don't need any extra social pressure to do something I don't want.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

no gluten/wheat/dairy/nuts/soy

I was talking to my old flatmate about having chronic eczema and solutions for it. At that point I was soo fed up with my skin condition. As I discussed in a previous blog entry, my eczema has been the worst it's been in my life. Flaky skin, bleeding, pus. 3 types of hydrocortisone cream and 1 natural cream. A minimum of 3 band aids each day. The eczema was on functional parts of my body (right hand, arm, face, legs and back of my ankle). All of my daily activities were affected by it e.g. I couldn't touch objects properly (hand), couldn't walk freely (foot), couldn't cross my legs (knee) or bend my left arm for extended periods of time. This was happening for 3 months, and counting.

My old housemate suggested swapping all my beauty products for certified organic stuff as that worked for her eczema. I then realised how many chemicals are in my sorbolene cream, shampoo etc that claim to be suitable for eczema and sensitive skin. I was still a bit reluctant to do the swap because I have been using these types/brand of products for years and never had a big problem. Nevertheless, I'm slowly swapping all my beauty products for more natural/organic options. In the meantime, I've decided to eliminate foods from my diet. Initially I said I'd avoid wheat, dairy and nuts for one week and for the second week, I'd do soy and dairy. So this is how I went:

Even though I have this stupid skin condition, it doesn't mean I can't keep enjoying food. Why would I punish myself and my taste buds for inheriting eczema?! At work, I usually snack on nuts and fruit. I substituted the nuts for simply more fruit. After 3 days of this, I became more lethargic, really pale in the face and moody. This raw food bar with mango, chia seeds etc allowed me to feel human again. I also popped a few iron tablets.

Having boiled veges for lunch and dinner a few days in a row made me feel like I was trying to make myself anorexic. To fill up my cranky stomach, I made myself a soy hot chocolate... I put in dairy/sugar free chocolate which makes the drink as disgusting as the chocolate tastes by itself. So, I added honey to sweeten the drink. Beautiful.

I love eating out but WOW, this week I had to do indepth research and interrogating with every takeaway store and restaurant I ate from. Celiacs would find it incredibly difficult. There's wheat/gluten in almost every Asian sauce that restaurants use and even salad dressings. One salad bar gave me a list of their gluten free options but they had nuts/dairy in them. Out of frustration, I just had a fruit juice for lunch.

My friend and I went to a sushi/ramen restaurant near ANU so I did research beforehand. I thought I'd be safe with the salmon skin sushi as I interrogated the poor girl at the counter about the dish. But when it came out, I realised the skin was was battered (contains wheat). So in fact, celiacs would only be able to eat the sashimi and edamame beans in this restaurant. Not fun at all.

I still wanted to have options for breakfast, as it's my favourite meal of the day. Luckily the Freedom Foods company makes cereals with no nuts, or wheat. This was a god send. Later in the week, I decided to add 'soy' to my food elimination list. I only realised how stupid this was when I went to Coles. People must've thought I was crazy or mentally-slow as I stood in the long-life milk section for a good 5-10 minutes just staring at the shelf. Out of the 20+ varieties, I could only drink rice milk and lactose-free milk. I've had rice milk before and it's very sweet and flowery. So lactose free milk it was.
Thankfully, parts of my eczema are now clearing up. This could be my diet or as it was cooler in Canberra this week. I don't have to wear as many band aids now and there's no blood/pus. I think I'll continue this 'diet' for as long as possible. But I hope I can eat some gluten/wheat/dairy/nuts/soy again.

People who have known me for a while may remember that I did a similar thing when I was about 14. I said I'd have no junk food for a few weeks, then I kept pushing myself and lasted for 2 years. I don't think this diet will take the same path.
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