The Body doesn’t Lie: Why I Choose a Gluten and Dairy-free Diet

by Rosie Bason, Mullumbimby, NSW

About 8 years ago I studied for a Diploma in Herbal Medicine, and part of that included two years studying Nutrition. I learned heaps, and I advised lots of clients to do this or try that, but I did not practise much of what I had learned. It’s amazing that we can gain all this knowledge, yet ignore it.

I thought I was healthy… but in truth I was often bloated, sometimes constipated, and almost always had a blocked nose to some extent. In fact, I had sinus issues my whole life. I thought it would be good to try to not eat too much cheese, but I loved it and couldn’t imagine life without it. I was never much of a milk drinker, but then again, I would have it in a cup of tea or coffee, although I never drank it on its own. So I just thought that a little bit couldn’t really be making a huge difference.

While I was studying I learned about gluten, gluten intolerance and coeliac disease, but I didn’t ever think it was an issue for me. I thought I could eat anything, and that is how I lived. I had never kept a food diary by writing down how I felt after eating certain foods, so I never even considered that the way I was feeling could be a result of what I had chosen to eat.

About 3 years ago, I was speaking with some friends who had chosen to not include dairy or gluten in their diet. I asked them why they had chosen to do this. They replied, because they felt better, and suggested I try it for a few months – if I did, then I would understand why it was worth it. Because you really needed to feel it in your own body – the effects of not eating dairy and gluten – to really understand and know it.

I had a moment where I thought, if I am preaching how they should eat to my clients, I should at least give it a go myself and see if eating gluten and dairy-free really makes a difference in how I feel, and if it’s worth the effort. I had tried giving up dairy in the past and failed terribly, so it was going to be a test for me. But this time I really made a commitment with myself to have absolutely none for 3 months.

At first it was a real challenge. What to snack on when you are used to having cheese and crackers? I had to change the way I cooked. I was used to eating 1kg of cheese between my daughter and myself in a week, so on the positive side of things I was saving money already. I used rice milk or soy milk in my tea and chose to drink herbal teas most of the time. I tried an olive oil substitute so I could cut out butter, and different rice pastas and flours so I wasn’t having the gluten. I found there are lots of alternatives in the supermarkets these days so it wasn’t as hard as I had expected – you just have to read labels, because milk products and gluten show up in the rarest of places.

Once I had adjusted to my new way of eating, I began to notice some changes. They didn’t all happen at once, but one thing I really noticed was not feeling so tired and heavy. My skin cleared up, I had less bloating and didn’t feel like I needed a cup of coffee to get me through the afternoon.

So I got to feel how the body never lies. What I identified was that I had not often stopped and listened to my body – then even when I did, I ignored what it was trying to tell me.

After my first 3 months I felt great so decided to stick with it for 6 months… then when I got to 6 months I carried on. Now it’s about two and a half years later and I feel that my body is really the healthiest it has ever been.

232 thoughts on “The Body doesn’t Lie: Why I Choose a Gluten and Dairy-free Diet

  1. Keeping a food diary is an awesome thing to do, to write down what is going on when we reach for a certain food, what has sparked that motivation, and getting really honest about this, and also clocking what happens after we eat certain foods, how we feel and what we feel like doing consequently.

  2. Your friends advise to try not eating gluten or dairy was sound advise, because as you found it is our bodies that tell us if what we are eating agrees with it or not. And so often we over ride what our bodies tell us because we like to eat what we like to eat regardless of the effect it has on our bodies.

  3. Brilliant Rosie. Many people believe they love their gluten and dairy so much that life without these things would be awful. I was one of those people and I can absolutely say that the exact opposite is true. Eliminating gluten and dairy from my diet has resulted in a body that is able to enjoy life.

  4. Isn’t that interesting how we could spend so much time on studying about our body, yet manage not to develop affinity with it as a result? When our ‘study’ is merely an intellectual knowledge accumulation exercise, it doesn’t go very far.

  5. The body never lies. How true. And so we can trust whatever it reflects back to us when it bloats, is in pain, has indigestion, a headache, feels heavy, we lack energy and feel tired etc. The body is like our most honest friend. Perhaps we should treat it accordingly.

  6. It is great to come back to this blog Rosie, and appreciate how much more I honor my body and the great long lasting changes this has brought to my life. When I was in my 20’s I experienced bloating from gluten and dairy but just passed it of as something that everyone experienced, was a part of life, and learnt to live with it. However it progressed to me feeling often foggy in the morning and lacking the vitality that I had as a child. So I began to question my diet. Consequently I found that excluding gluten and dairy in my diet had huge effect on my body and my clarity, and I realised then that my body had actually been communicating with me. However as the years passed I went in and out of honoring what my body was signalling to me, and as such went on and off gluten and dairy. Now I have come to a place within myself of consistently honoring what my body is reflecting to me, and now live with far more vitality, clarity, and well-being, and I continue to refine what supports me to continue to live with this connection through my every day.

  7. Often we don’t even know much about the effects of gluten and diary and we wonder why we are bloated and have sinus problems. Its so common to eat dairy and gluten. Being brought up vegetarian that was mainly what we were brought up with dairy, gluten, rice, wheat, vegetables etc. So I often felt bloated, tired and had colds. When I got more awareness about gluten and dairy, I began to cut it out and could see the difference. Now if I have a little cheese or bread, I can feel it straight away in my body.

  8. I, too, ‘adored’ cheese but similarly after a trial period of not eating any I felt so much better. When I did taste some once it tasted so foul I spat it out. It is now nearly ten years since I last ate any and to my surprise I do not miss it. Funny how we can say we ‘adore’ things yet when we listen to our body we discover we had made ourselves like something rather than coming from a truth.

  9. When I speak to people these days about eliminating things like gluten and dairy from the diet very often there seems to be a perception that it is a difficult thing to do. My experience has been, with due acknowledgement to my wife who has been a great support, that in fact it is quite simple. We eat meat, we eat eggs, we eat vegetables, we eat fish, and some fruits – and actually there is great variety in our diet. When we look at what we can eat rather than what we are choosing not to eat, there is a very different slant on our perception and eating well and in support of our wellbeing can in fact be light and fun.

  10. I agree – the body never lies, but the mind does, all the time! It tries and very often succeeds in overriding what the body is clearly saying. Just this afternoon, someone tried very hard making me eat chocolate – ‘it’s good for you’, ‘full of polyphenol’, ‘it’s so delicious’ – and it was interesting how they thought I was very disciplined and fighting off the temptation in order to say no to chocolate. It’s never about saying ‘no’ to certain food, it’s simply a process of becoming honest and loving with our body, and it keeps changing. I wish my friends would give it a try and be surprised one day.

  11. ‘I never even considered that the way I was feeling could be a result of what I had chosen to eat.’ It’s quite funny really. We continually make loads of lifestyle choices every day that affects our long term health but we still tend to focus more on the instant gratification and immediate return of our choices rather than seeing the accumulation of what we are doing may not necessarily be healthy for us in the long term.

  12. It’s also interesting with what you say about change Rosie. We live in a world that is so used to instant gratification that we expect change to be just that, instant. While indeed the process of change can be swift and efficient and felt immediately, sometimes it also can be slow and steady, and to appreciate its full effect it can take several months even years as your body rebuilds and heals. This is a fact we all need to accept.

  13. Everything I learned at university I can apply and continue to learn more – it is a flat level of understanding, but the most I have known about life has come from my body, and my Soul which is so much richer than strict knowledge.

  14. Thank you Rosie for sharing your experiences on giving up Gluten and Dairy and foods that they are added to, or are naturally in. I agree that I would not have thought just a little of something like dairy could have such a detrimental effect on my body.

  15. It is easy to get into the habit of overriding what we feel so that we stop listening to what our body is really communicating and because our awareness is dulled as a result we no longer realise the huge effect certain foods are having on our body. I have now come to appreciate just how much our body truly supports us.

  16. Thank you Rosie for sharing, I gave up on dairy long ago because of the bloated feelings it gave me, bread did not sit well in my tummy, so listening to my body made it easy to do away with these foods The body is so supportive with us when we listen to it and make the changes.

  17. Like you Rosie, for years I used to drop wheat for a bit and notice the difference in me, but somehow I still went back onto it again … until eventually I decided to drop it, it took time and I gave myself that time and reading this line ‘I really made a commitment with myself ‘ is in fact what I did, I committed to it, and I’ve now not had wheat or gluten for over 9 years and it’s made a huge difference in how I am. I lost weight, not planned and am less bloated and I just feel more myself, with a clearer head and less fogginess. With dairy, I gradually over the year reduced it until eventually it just stopped when I noticed I would get lots of sinus and stuffiness and stopped it and again it’s been a huge support. One thing I feel is very important with this is to explore, to take your own time and way with it and find a way that works for you – it’s not about a diet or a stricture but noticing how our body feels after we eat and how foods impact us and taking the steps we feel to take to change things. It’s being our own science experiment.

  18. I agree Rosie, it is amazing how we love gaining the knowledge of many things in life and it is only when we really experience something ourselves from how we are feeling in our body that we fully understand how something affects us.

  19. I love that instead of continuing to preach to your clients you decided to try it out for yourself, this is so missing among health professionals, for example, so many doctors drink but how can you tell someone the benefits of not drinking if you drink yourself? I love your approach here.

  20. Coming to the understanding that “the body never lies” was nothing short of life changing for me – eventually. Firstly I had to get past the fact that those messages it had been giving me for so long were actually wisdom that it was sharing with me and that it wasn’t just being a nuisance and trying to spoil my fun. Then I had to look at what had happened as a result of me ignoring those messages – there were a few moments of berating myself with this realisation but they didn’t last too long for as much as we would often like to, we can’t change the past. But once all these self-imposed speed bumps had been dismantled life definitely did start to change through the self loving choices that I felt to make, and still do.

  21. Why do people choose a profession that studies an issue they have an issue with?
    This is an important question since mastering the subject is always easier than mastering the livingness that honours the subject. The problem then becomes that without such livingness they do not have bodies really capable of delivering what is true regarding the subject they have mastered.

  22. Once I started to be honest about how my body was reacting to certain foods my awareness has opened up so that I have come to appreciate how much our body guides us the more willing we are willing to listen and understand.

  23. No our bodies never lie but as you have pointed out Rosie, do we stop, listen and respond. There is no doubt that listening to our bodies and its innate wisdom is the key to living a life of love, light, truth and purpose.

  24. It’s beautiful how a loving choice to commit to this has fed you back the health and vitality it has. So many of us are stuck in patterns of eating that we are completely unaware of how detrimental they can be until we offer ourselves an opportunity to stop and feel the difference.

  25. There seems to be so much conflicting advice out there when it comes to what is a healthy diet. For years I was a vegetarian and my health was appalling, and then when I gave up dairy and gluten things really started to pick up, and a lot of my health and weight issues sorted themselves out.

  26. With anything that you are presented, whether it is food advice or life style advice, the best thing is to experiment with it and find out ourselves. And not follow somebody’s advice, for example a diet, blindly. A certain food, diet, or life style might also work for somebody else but not work for us.

  27. It is curious how we tend to be very quick with telling others what to do but often do not apply the same advice to ourselves, a lot of the time not even aware that what we preach does not match our deeds. It makes such a difference to get advice from someone who himself adheres to that same advice, as it comes from a lived experience and they can give you a body experience of how it feels and this delivers so much more than just empty words.

  28. Super cool experiment. I know of many people giving this a go and noticing the positive effects on the body but then when the time they set themselves is up, they decide they’d prefer to feel worse and eat whatever they want, which is really interesting.

    1. I wonder if this has something to do with wanting to belong and go along with the crowd so to speak? Sometimes other people’s acceptance of our choices to care for ourselves can cause a little reaction. It’s possible we prefer to avoid these situations and put up with our own consequences than have to look at the ones coming from outside of ourselves.

  29. So true Rosie – sometimes it simply has to be tried to understand the difference with-in our bodies. It’s one of those situations where standing on the side-line looking in doesn’t give an understanding of what it actually feels like to our bodies to be free of gluten and dairy, when the symptoms of an intolerance are a little more subtle.

  30. Making decisions from and with our body will always be the most honouring decision for our well-being. Just relying on the mind, desires, wants and sensations often has the opposite effect.

  31. Linking what we eat to how we feel is key to resurrecting our true health and wellbeing. It is also an art we all need to learn, master and then share with others how to do it.

  32. When we make a commitment to being aware of what we are feeling in our body we discover that there is so much more to be aware of.

  33. I really appreciate now how our body communicates so clearly when we need to deepen our awareness and connection with ourselves and really listen to what it is telling us so that we can choose to make different choices that are truly supportive.

  34. Our body never lies and always tells us the truth of what is really going on. Whether we allow ourselves to be honest about what we are feeling enough to change our choices is dependent on how much we are willing to love and care for ourselves and value our true worth.

  35. Dairy products and the much touted calcium connection do not have a leg to stand on when examined more closely and after all, is it possible that cow’s milk is for calves and was not meant for humans? Japan for example has traditionally never been a dairy-consuming country and there are many other examples like this. Without the lobbyists, dairy products would not be as ubiquitous as they are now.

    1. Very true gabrieleconrad. I’ve noticed there have been many advertising campaigns for milk recently, but there is heaps more calcium in many green leafy vegetables. People are slowly taking note of the effects of certain foods on the body and removing them from their diet.

  36. I am currently studying a course on nutrition. It is fascinating to learn about food and how our body processes it. The best thing though is paying attention to how my body feels. No book or course of study can tell you as much as your body can.

  37. To have the knowledge but not being in the livingness of it, it is a fraud on everybody; a fraud that is not lived as such because it is based on a given up foundation that is also shared with those seeking help. So, we get the advice but on top of that we get a message from the body of the ‘expert’ who says: do not bother, look at me!

  38. It’s like the body has been communicating the same thing over and over and over, and it is very possible that we have been hearing it all along but just as some noise or chatter, and when we surrender we start to hear the truth in that. I definitely have more willingness to hear what the body has to say, but I have feeling that there’s much more to be appreciated.

  39. There was a stage in my life when I had asthma and sinus issues so bad that I was put on steroids, the side effects from the medication felt awful so I was determined to find another way. I decided to give up dairy and see what would happen and within about a month all symptoms had completely disappeared and now 12 years later I have never had asthma or a sinus issue since. Quite extraordinary how we can support our bodies by simply listening to its wisdom.

  40. Rosie your blog reminded me on how many professionals there are who don’t take note of their own words, I have been going to hospital regularly over the last 25 years and I observe how many of the staff are overweight and unfit, if we all start to make different choices by listening to our body, eventually more and more people will start making the same choice and learn the importance of listening to what your body is saying.

  41. ‘I never even considered that the way I was feeling could be a result of what I had chosen to eat’. I ate something with gluten yesterday which I never do having been gluten free for quite some time, and omg, I am feeling so tired and lethargic… and I am just up. That choice will not be made again.

  42. I think many, many people could relate to not knowing how they would live without cheese, I know I was a cheese lover once. Ironically, we do not question how we can live with constant sinus issues? When I first quit dairy many years ago my sinus issues cleared up completely and did so for an expansive time. Now, however I have found many substitutes and it looks like I am now responding to all the creamy dairy free substitutes in the same way as I did cheese! Sounds crazy but it might be time for another experiment by cutting out all the milk and creamy things, dairy free or not and as the body never lies I think I might not like the result of this test but I do not like having sinus issues either so it’s time for a change me thinks!

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