Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Personal Experience with a Special Needs Diet and My Newfound Health


You probably noticed that all the dishes I have been posting have a tag next to the recipe indicating whether it's Gluten Free, Wheat Free, Dairy Free and Vegan. More and more people have been developing food intolerances, including me, which is why I wanted to share these recipes with you that cater to your dietary needs.

 I am here to seduce your palate with unique ethnic cuisine that will not only make you feel better, but you'll discover a whole new perspective on food.  I initially did not seek out a special needs diet, but was forced into an allergy elimination diet in my early twenty's when I became chronically ill. This is my plight from a sickly individual to a healthy vibrant cook:

In my early twenties I was traveling frequently to many different countries with New York City as my home base. The single lifestyle in the city and the constant allure to socialize with friends in restaurants or cafes was not conducive for home cooking. This all caught up with me when I became chronically ill, debilitated from a painful ulcer which compelled me to explore a new frame of food; a wheat free, sugar free and dairy free diet. Prior to my new way of eating, I went to see conventional gastroenterologists who vaguely guided my diet, suggesting I eat bland foods, like dairy and toast, and then pumped me up with tons of meds. Interestingly none of these MD's bothered to investigate whether I had any food sensitivities, which as it turns out I did.

Since I was not feeling any better eating “bland foods” with a side order of prescription pills, I sought out a holistic nutritionist, thinking this is my one last shot to health or else I will resign myself to the chronic pangs of my ulcer. Through months of investigating my health issues, diet, and lifestyle, my nutritionist suggested that I eliminate all wheat, dairy and sugar from my diet. He believed that these three ingredients were wrecking havoc on my immune system because my body was taxed from years of over consumption. No doubt, since I rarely ate home cooked foods, and was constantly on the run with a donut in hand and a cup of coffee. The thought of those days makes me cringe.... I could never eat a fried donut today. What was I thinking?? The point was that I was not thinking, I just wanted to fill myself with some fast acting energy and go.

I wandered what I would eat if I did not have wheat, sugar or dairy. After all it's in everything we eat so what's left? Since I was at the end of my rope, I was desperate to try anything, so complied with my nutritionists' suggestion to eliminate those foods. Interesting enough, I quickly felt better and was enthused by my body’s response to the elimination of these foods and my newfound health, that it propelled me to go back to school and get a Naturopathic degree in order to help others with health issues.

I opened up practice as a Naturopath in 1994 where I helped numerous patients with chronic health issues, many of which were related to food sensitivities. Many of my patients asked, “Well if I have to radically change my diet, then what’s left to eat?” That is when the idea was brewing for writing and collecting recipes aimed at eating tasty ethnic savory foods catered to the special diets of those that are Vegans, Gluten Free, Wheat Free and Dairy Free foodies. In the next few blogs, I will tell you a little about my cultural background to put into perspective the onset of these recipes.
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