Food Allergies, Intolerances... and Eating Disorders?

I think there's an issue that needs to be discussed when it comes to food allergies, intolerances... and eating disorders?

Ever since I was in high school I have had IBS. I was diagnosed by a doctor, learned it was primarily caused by anxiety, and adjusted my lifestyle accordingly. Although my IBS was anxiety derived when I first figured out I had it, I realized it could also be triggered by different food groups - onions, mint, dairy, caffeine, alcohol, spicy food etc etc etc.

For years and years I've dealt with all the symptoms that come with IBS and food intolerances. I have horrible bloating that makes my stomach protrude like I'm pregnant, awful lower back pain that makes it hard to even sit still, excruciating migraines that knock me off my feet, stomach cramps... the list goes on. These symptoms aren't daily, but when I eat too much of a "trigger food" they're pretty horrible. I have altered my diet in response, but I'm also not depriving myself of food I love! I will take precautionary measures when I know I'm eating something that might make me feel bad, such as carrying around migraine relief pills and probiotics... but I still enjoy myself and I know that if I eat these things I am making a bed that I will later lye in. I won't turn down a big bowl of queso or a scoop of mint chocolate chip ice-cream... anyone that knows me well can vouch to that!

The thing that I want to discuss is the issue of covering up an eating disorder with an imaginary or non-life-threatening  "intolerance or allergy." I have read so many articles on this topic lately. Fake food allergies and intolerances are now comparable to anorexia or bulimia. It's actually pretty scary, and very common!

These so called "valid excuses" can give people an easy cover up. When people suffering from this disorder are out with friends and family they can avoid the nachos, chips, or whatever is served by saying "Oh I have a serious dairy allergy" or "I have an alcohol inolterance that makes me feel awful" ...but do you really? I can list at least 4 girls I'm close with that do this regularly and it is taking a toll on their life. Real food allergies are serious. They make people break out in hives, they cause throat swelling and can cut off someones breathing and they can even send you to the hospital. There is a significant difference between not eating a piece of garlic bread because you're "allergic or intolerant" and not eating it because you just don't want the calories. If you're sitting at a restaurant listing off everything you're allergic to, just because you don't want to feel bloated later and workout a little harder in the morning... think again.

If you DO have an intolerance, I am not calling you a liar. I promise, I get that "I don't know if I believe you" look from people too! You will be fine in moderation, I'm sure of it. Find out the perfect formula for your ideal digestion! What sets you off the most? For me it's gluten! I've been gluten free for 4 years now, and even a mini milky way will make my stomach blow up. But a little dairy won't kill me! I can eat some cheese or have a tiny bit of milk, and the side effects will definitely be tolerable... and it's so delicious and totally worth it.

Let's encourage each other to focus on fueling our bodies with heaps of healthy foods and vegetables... but also treat ourselves and indulge in life's little joys. Eat that big, chocolatey brownie. Scoop up that giant nacho packed with cheese and peppers. Stick that spoon in that decadent gallon of rocky road! If you're allergic, please don't eat it. But if you're calling yourself intolerant or allergic just to avoid the questions and calorie content, you're headed down a dangerous path. 

GF/DF Pear & Balsamic Pizza

Every Wednesday night I go to small group with a fantastic group of ladies. We chat about life, faith, and always seem to feast on some delicious food. This week I was in the mood to whip something up a little special, so I decided to make gluten free / dairy free pear and balsamic pizza. I came up with the "semi-homemade" recipe on my own, and man did it turn out great! Here's the breakdown...

INGREDIENTS

1 box of Simple Mills Pizza Dough

Balsamic Vinegar

Honey Mustard

Pure Maple Syrup

3 Ripe Pears, chopped

1/2 Red Onion, chopped

Kite Hill Chive Cream Cheese

Olive Oil

Salt

Pepper 

Onion Powder

Garlic Powder

Cinnamon

Arugula

HOW TO

CRUST: Follow directions given on the back of the Simple Mills GF crust box. 

SAUCE: In a small bowl combine 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 4 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons of dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder. Whisk until smooth - set aside.

While the crust is cooling, add the chopped red onion into a skillet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder and salt and pepper. Sauté on low until onions are caramelized. Remove the onions from the skillet and place them in a bowl for later. Add the chopped pears, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of brown sugar, and salt and pepper to the skillet where you cooked the onion. Stir, simmer and caramelize until golden brown. 

While the pears are caramelizing, spread a thin layer of the dairy free chive cream cheese over the top of the crust. Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of sauce over the top of the cheese. After adding the sauce, pour the caramelized red onion into the skillet and mix thoroughly with the caramelized pears. Cover the cheese and sauce with the entire skillet of pears and onions until the crust is completely coated. After adding the pears and onions, top the pear mixture with chopped prosciutto. Add 2 tablespoons of balsamic drizzle over the top of the mixture, and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

Once the pizza is ready, cover the top with chopped arugula or micro arugula, to taste! Feel free to add more balsamic drizzle... Eat up and enjoy!

Digestion Essentials.

*NOT SPONSORED* When I was a senior in high school I started to have various stomach issues. They made me feel awful, gave me anxiety and effected my relationships and my day to day life. My doctor told me my symptoms were most likely IBS, and unfortunately the prescription medicine they gave me made me feel even worse than before.

After getting to college, where I ate way too much unhealthy food, I started to realize I needed to make a major change in my diet for my stomach troubles to subside. I saw various gastroenterologists and had tons of blood work done, and although I wasn't diagnosed with any particular allergies, I decided to become gluten free. Over the years there have been a lot of things I've added or subtracted from my daily diet, and after meeting with a nutritionist in NYC I had a health breakthrough! The doctor I met with helped me learn that my main culprits are slow digestion and fructose and fiber malabsorption. Since that day I've adopted a couple "digestion essentials" I definitely cannot live without! Here is a breakdown... (starting from the left)

Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar

Unfiltered ACV is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. It aids in healthy digestion and it also helps break down food you've already processed. I usually take 2 tablespoons a day, and to get rid of the strong taste I'll mix it into a smoothie or a juice. It has been life changing!

Daily Probiotics

Every probiotic supplement is made up of different "cultures" that mix with an individuals body chemistry in unique ways. After sampling a couple different kinds, I've come to the conclusion that my go-to probiotic is Spring Valley. It definitely takes a little time to figure out which heathy bacterias react with your body in a positive way! I usually take 1 pill at night before I go to sleep, and by the time I wake up in the morning my stomach is feeling less bloated and ready to begin a new day of healthy and easy digestion! 

Natural Vitality - Calming Magnesium Tea

This calming tea is one of my favorite supplements that I take on a daily basis! It's fizzy, delicious, and helps me relax and get my stomach pumping. It comes in a variety of flavors and it never fails to make my anxiety seem to disappear. When I get halfway through my nightly mug of tea, my eyes begin to droop and I know I'll sleep great and feel fantastic in the morning!

Flax Seed Oil

Since one of my biggest hurdles is breaking down fiber and fructose, I quickly realized that eating flax seeds whole was too harsh on my stomach. After adding 1-2 tablespoons to my daily smoothies or even to granola, I started to feel so much better! It gives you a decent amount of fiber without the uncomfortable side effects.

 

I cannot live without these digestion essentials! They may not work for everyone, but they have helped me feel so much better over the years. What is your "go-to" supplement for feeling happy and healthy?