Saturday, February 2, 2013


I LOVE FOOD. The savory, smokey sauces in Vietnamese Catfish in a Claypot, the crispy and tender fried veggies dipped in taziki sauce at my favorite Greek restaurant, the way melting butter pools int the tender and chewy gluten bubbles in a loaf of sourdough bread, and the bittersweet combination of fresh strawberries dipped in dark chocolate. I love it all. I always have. I am the quintessential NOT picky eater.

There was only one meal I remember not being able to eat because I didn't like how it tasted. The cook didn't like it either so I will just say, Peanut butter Stew was icky. But it doesn't count, no one liked it!

In college, I lived off of dinners of ramen with frozen veggies, dark beer and peanuts, beans and rice, and eggs and toast. I was a breakfast cook so that was covered. I don't even remember eating lunches back then...

Then I grew up.

Six years ago, shortly after my 40th birthday, I was having my typical lunch of apples, celery, and peanut butter. Later that afternoon, I discovered a rash all over my torso. Same thing the next day, and the next, and the day after that. The weekend rolled around. No rash. Then a rash every day the next week. HMMMM?

I stopped eating peanut butter, the rash went away. I have never been "diagnosed" with a peanut allergy. I just know it isn't good for me. Anytime in the last six years that I have eaten peanuts, I have reacted badly: swollen lips and tongue, rashes, stomach aches, intestinal problems. So, I don't eat peanuts.

Last fall, I got bit by a dog. The doctor prescribed a round of antibiotics which made a lot of sense to me. The dog was old, had dental issues, and ate her own poo. In the three months that followed, my intestinal system became a war zone between the good and bad bacteria. By December, I was no longer digesting my food and I had to know where the bathroom was in any establishment where I ventured.

Over Christmas Break, I contracted influenza and was on my back for a week. I was miserable and didn't eat anything. The upside? My gut felt better. That was a clue for me: something I was eating was making me sick. I rediscovered my book, UltraMetabolism, by Dr. Mark Hyman, and put myself on his  recommended diet. Within the first three weeks, I had lost 18 pounds. Yeah, much of that weight was water that was being stored in my cells as INFLAMMATION. I was thinking more clearly and best of all, I felt amazing.

The UltraMetabolism diet prescribes no sugar, caffeine, dairy, eggs, peanuts or gluten. No peanuts? No problem. No sugar or caffeine? No worries - I had not been eating those when I had the flu. I am not a milk drinker but I love cheese and yogurt, so that was a bit tough. Eggs and bread? Whew, they were the hardest ingredients to give up. But, I did it. When it came time to reintegrate these things in my diet, I did it one thing at a time. Eggs were first and they tasted good and my body was happy. Two days later, I added yogurt and cheese back with no bad consequences. Two more day and, with one piece of beautiful, homemade Pain de Champagne, I was down for the count. I felt horrible: stomach ache, head ache, tired, diarrhea - YUCK!

So now I join the ranks of millions of other people in giving up gluten. It is a bit ironic because I am the daughter, granddaughter, and niece of wheat farmers. Will I miss eating the grain that I grew up with? Yes. But not that much. I am a creative cook. I will discover the ingredients, recipes, and menus that I can eat and my family and I will be better for it.

I have dealt with a strange and rare skin condition since my early twenties called Granuloma Annulare. It is a painless but unsightly skin condition that, for me, gets much worse in the winter. Raised red lesions develop on my arms and legs and torso. The weird thing is that these erupt symmetrically: if I get a spot on my left knee, within a week or two, I will notice a spot on my right knee. I have dealt with my "spots" for a long time and have learned to accept them as a part of who I am. In the four weeks since I have been gluten free, I have noticed the spots are lightening. From what I have read, gluten intolerance has been linked with Granuloma Annulare. Could I have found a cure to GA, at least for me?

Discovery is a challenging process because it often comes with loss or pain or indignity. But, when you are on the other side of it, you realize that life is good. Life is precious. Life is to be celebrated. Giving up a little something to feel so much better is a good thing.

I am grateful for this discovery. I will live my life gratefully with compassion toward my body and I will celebrate the opportunities for more discoveries in the future.


  1. Cheryl, thank you for this. I'm glad you hung in there and are feeling better.

  2. Hey Diana,
    Yeah, me too. Thanks for being a reader for me. I will never be the writer you are but we all have things to aspire to!! -c

  3. Dear Cheryl, you are an excellent writer. Keep doing what you're doing! Love, Diana