Close-up Cow, Nuremburg Zoo, Germany.  August, 2010.

I’m writing to you from my sofa (rather late owing to the awesome 13 hours I slept last night, thank you very much, jetlag) after reading a post on Nourishing Days that got me thinking hard about my diet.

As many of you know, I have been gluten- and dairy-free for over three years now.  I am steadfast in my gluten avoidance since it creates almost instant and long-lasting, very painful symptoms.  Dairy, I’ve let slip more often.  This is because a) my reactions aren’t as severe and avoiding both is really tough when traveling, eating out, eating at friends’ houses, etc., so I’ll let dairy slide in favor of avoiding gluten; b) I secretly wish I could have it and sometimes pretend I can; and c) M&M’s contain milk.  Enough said.

Seriously though, the truth is that dairy in its original state is nutrient-dense and delicious.  I miss mashed potatoes made with créme fraiche, or real yogurt with a spoonful of blackstrap molasses, or hollandaise sauce on my salmon!  I’ve learned to appreciate and even love some substitutes (coconut, I heart you) but…you know.

Lately I’ve been contemplating an intentional re-introduction of dairy into my diet.  The rules: 1. It must be fresh (unpasteurized), so that the enzymes and lactase abundant in fresh milk (but completely eradicated in pasteurized/homogenized milk) can assist my body in digesting it.  2. Most or all of it must be fermented or cultured, so that the enzymes are enriched further and sugars are naturally broken down to make the food even more digestible.  Last week I tried out some yogurt and didn’t notice any symptoms, so on Tuesday I got the go-ahead from my nutritionist to try fresh dairy only, with the understanding that I’ll monitor my body for symptoms of intolerance.  In the last two days, though, I have been having some wicked reactions in my gut – bloating, gassiness, and sharp pains.  I have had some conventional (pasteurized) dairy, but I’ve also started taking inulin, a high-fiber supplement that my nutritionist thought might help boost my immune system as I detox from the air pollution in Korea.  Too much fiber can cause these symptoms, too, so the next couple of days will be spent sorting out what is causing what.

Anyway, in the midst of all this discomfort and contemplation of the cause, I read Shannon’s post at Nourishing Days, and stopped cold in my tracks.  She writes about Ann Marie Michaels (author of the Cheeseslave blog) and her success in using the Gut And Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) diet to heal her gut and reverse her food allergies completely. What???

Needless to say, this got my attention.

Avoidance has been my motto for years, because it never really occurred to me that there was a way to heal the core issue.  It never occurred to me, apparently, because although I have owned Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD’s book Gut And Psychology Syndrome for almost four years now, and although I have voraciously read through many other books about food and health, for some reason I’ve never gotten more than a few pages into this one.  Well, you can bet it came off the shelf tonight.  I’m eager to read what it has to say.  Because although I’m happy to forego buttered sourdough pancakes if it’ll save myself a night like this one…it sure would be nice to heal my body so that I didn’t have to.

Ann Marie is offering a class called Reversing Food Allergies and although I would love to hop on that train, I recently joined another online class that is truly fantastic, and there’s not money for both right now.  Hopefully she’ll offer it again in the future.  If you’re suffering from food allergies and would like to learn how to free yourself from those restrictions, you might give it a look-see.  Wouldn’t it be great to be able to enjoy all the great foods nature offers us, without pain and other nastiness?  I agree!

Talk to me about your food issues.  Are you blissfully able to eat any and everything?  Have you avoided certain foods at times, or all the time?  Do you continue to eat foods that you suspect of causing problems, and why?  Have you healed your gut successfully, with GAPS or other means?