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.