Giving up Gluten and Dairy - My Story



Today I'm going to tell you all about my relationship with food and some changes I've made to my diet to help improve my health. I've always loved food, well that's a lie actually I was incredibly fussy when I was a child, but as an adult I've always like food. I'd much rather spend my money on a fancy hamburger than a fancy handbag. Simon and I eat out a lot, we pick a new restaurant, talk about our day and share delicious bites.

Despite my food romance, for the past few years my digestive system has been incredibly unhappy. Every morning I began to suffer through terrible pains in my stomach similar to very bad heartburn. The pain was so horrible it made me want to be sick. Not a nice thing to visualise I know.

At the time when the pain was at its worst I had a job as the manager of a creative events company and my working hours were very erratic. I also wasn't eating properly or at all as there never seemed to be time. It got to the point where even thinking about getting on the tube to central london everyday to get to work gave me terrible physical discomfort and anxiety. I didn't seem to click that these pains were connected to my stress levels. I'm sure you have experienced felling nervous or a little worried and your digestive system protests a bit, its a sign to calm down.

( I have spoken quite frankly about my panic disorder and anxiety here if you'd like to read. This post is directly linked to that one so I suggest having a look.)

One Friday Simon and I were going to be leaving London for a weekend break in Surrey and when I woke up my stomach was in agony. I was being very sick and I thought that I might have appendicitis. Because I'm a stubborn idiot I didn't go to A&E instead I made my way to the train station to meet Simon and we decided to go to the emergency clinic the next day in Surrey if things didn't improve. I was told by a lovely nurse there that I had gastritis and a stomach infection. She also told me that my flare ups were most likely caused by my stress and panic disorder alongside eating foods that irritate the stomach.

These days I'm taking real steps forward with battling my anxiety and panic attacks which I'm feeling very excited about but for this post I wanted to address what dietary changes I've made recently. With regards to my physical discomfort I am feeling so much better now, finally!

After doing lots of research, some of it was a little overwhelming as there's a lot of contradictory information out there, I settled on cutting out all gluten, diary and foods with high acid levels. I also try not to drink alcohol, refined sugars and caffeine as they are all stimulants that are pretty terrible for you if you have anxiety. Something else that I wanted to address was my hormonal balance, I wanted to make sure that my hormones and body were as in sync and happy as they could be. If you're thinking of trying out a dietary change yourself you must do what is right for you and do your research.

I marked the beginning of my new way of eating with a week long detox. Don't be put off by the word detox as it was basically a week of eating clean healthy food. The week went like this:

Breakfast - Green smoothie for four days, then the last three days I had homemade guacamole on gluten free bread. 

Lunch - Steamed or grilled fish with various leafy green salads like kale or spinach, tahini dressing. 


Dinner - Veggie soups. I had a mix of three bean minestrone (no pasta) and vegetable broth. I made huge batches that lasted the whole week. 


Snacks - Plain nuts (no more than a handful) and fruit.


Drinks - Green juice and smoothies, water and fresh mint tea. 


After that week I felt blooming amazing, in fact after the first day I felt amazing. I got used to feeling hungry as I realised that I wasn't really hungry just craving food which is totally different. After a week of eating like this a plate of gluten free pasta with puttanesca tasted like the most indulgent thing imaginable and I was so excited about all the new foods I could try out.

These days I mainly eat vegetable based meals with some naturally gluten and wheat free grains on the side. For example this week I've had two veggie curries, creamy avocado and pine-nut pasta and an amazing Budda bowl made by my lovely friend Sarah. I occasionally eat meat (avoiding red meat) and if I really want dairy I'll have some goats cheese. The one thing I miss is coffee but whenever I have it I go a little mental!

I'm rarely hungry, if I want a snack I reach for nuts, fruit or Nakd bars. This weekend I made some 100% cacao brownies that were amazing but still definitely a treat! Don't trick yourself into thinking that because something is gluten, dairy and refined sugar free that its really healthy. Sweet treats still contain natural sugar so be careful with the sweet stuff!

My stomach is so much flatter, in the past after eating and in the morning I would look six months pregnant due to all the nasty acid reflux and gas going on in my stomach. Over share sorry! I feel so much more confident now my stomach looks flat (ish). My general comfort levels have massively improved too, no more pains hurrah! My energy levels seem to be normal now, I don't have heaps of boundless energy but I have the right amount for me and I'm sleeping very well. I feel a lot "cleaner" and more healthy, which in general makes me feel proud of myself. My body seems to be working really efficiently and doing exactly what it needs to do which I think is because I'm eating natural foods that are easy to process.

Here are some websites I found super useful:

Hormonal dietary advice - www.floliving.com

My favourite veggie food blog - www.greenkitchenstories.com

My favourite low acid / alkaline food blog - www.honestlyhealthyfood.com

My favourite healthy food on a budget blog - www.agirlcalledjack.com

My Pinterest recipe board - www.pinterest.com/nancystraughan/food

I hope that you found this post interesting / useful /  inspiring and best of luck with your new eating choices! Let me know in the comments what you think about anything I've written as I am so interested to hear what you think.

The amazing gif at the top is by Lan Truong.



The Twinkle Diaries

7 comments

  1. This is really interesting, and I'm glad these changes have helped so much. I've always been in the 'everything in moderation' camp, but as I get older I notice that I can eat and drink much less of certain things, so I am mindful of what I'm eating. #twinklytuesday

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    1. I think its a real balance of eating right and being happy. I know if I limit myself too much I would become pretty unhappy, hence the occasional goats dairy and meat. Its still important to treat yourself too, I'm finding myself buying a posh face mask or something rather than ice-cream these days!

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  2. Wow what a change! I'm so glad that eating healthily has helped you. I started experimenting more with healthy food when I was diagnosed as coeliac 18 months ago. It was so hard at the beginning because I really enjoyed eating out too, and some places just have no idea how to cater for gluten free! But you can create the most delicious things cooking at home :)
    I've also cut down on alcohol this month and my anxiety levels have gone down SO much. I had no idea they were so directly linked. The hardest thing I find is cutting out sugar. I'll check out those websites you've mentioned. I love Deliciously Ella as well - her curries and black bean chilli are so simple and delicious! xx

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    1. I do get annoyed at more generic / cheaper restaurants that don't seem to have anything on the menu that is gluten free. Lots of places even coat their chips in wheat! Alcohol and coffee for me are both catalysts for anxiety so cutting down is becoming pretty important now. My friend recently made a vegan Deliciously Ella chilli and it was amazing. I had no idea it was vegan, I thought it had meat in it! Duh. Hope that your Coeliac symptoms more under control now. xxx

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  3. This is so interesting Nancy. I suffered with anxiety for a while — now I've got older I've realised that mine was definitely related to changing hormones. They can also be affected by food too, of course. So very glad you've found something to make you feel better :) Thanks so much for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday — hope to see you again next week! x

    Caro | www.thetwinklediaries.co.uk

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  4. This post was an absolute revelation to me, as you have described exactly what I've just been through for the last year. For years I have had stomach problems but in the last year they became so acute I couldn't go to work. I lost two stone as I couldn't eat, was in constant agony, and subjected to every kind of test my hospital could offer. They produced no results, apart from some slight inflammation. The doctor didn't have any answers.

    I gave up gluten and dairy too and it helped me a lot but I was still falling poorly- it was only when I realised that my anxiety levels were directly influencing my health that the penny finally dropped. For years I've been experiencing the episodes of anxiety, but never realised what it was and how it was making me so ill. The next step is going to be learning to control it, but I'm so glad I finally know what it was- I didn't realise mental health could affect you in such a significant way physically. Thanks so much for writing about your experience- it's so good to see that someone else understands what it's like. I'm so glad you've found a solution that works for you! xxx

    www.crownofflowers.co.uk

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    1. I've realised that my stress and anxiety levels effected all sorts of things. My whole body seemed to start to break down if if my metal health wasn't on top form. I'm really glad that you're starting to look after yourself and listen to your body. Best of luck!

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