You know those family friends that you call your cousins but aren’t actually your cousins? And even though you’re not made of the same blood, deep down in your core you know that you belong together and that you should share every single social family event together for the rest of your lives. So one day, the both of you officially decide that family status is of importance and you make the commitment to each other as “cousins” for ever and ever Amen?
That was Gluten and Dairy for me, my Portuguese-not-blood-relative-but-because-I-love-you-so-much-I’m-going-to-call-you-my-cousin-cause-i-want-you-at-every-dinner-event-with-me.
We had a pact. I look after you, you look after me. I eat you all the time, you make me feel real good. Cheese, Bread & Milk were #life. Seriously, I even worked at a Portuguese pastry shop when I was 13 for goodness sake. I made a commitment and I was sticking to it. Nothing could come between our relationship!
Until the age of 23, when everything changed…
But firstly, some background info. I have danced since the age of 12 and I have always been really fit and focused on what my body looks like externally. Everything was always about what I looked like on the outside. It was never of focus or importance to me what I felt like on the inside. To be honest I never really thought about it. Being young I was always full of energy so whenever I lacked it I just put it down to being tired from dancing, or if I was not feeling great mentally I would blame it on a silly fight with a friend or homework over-load. I honestly never gave it much thought.
I was also one of those lucky adolescents that didn’t get acne. And I counted my blessings. But then when I was 23 years old I started breaking out and I didn’t know why. I tried everything (except Roacutane). I stopped drinking cows milk, I used pro-active, I quit sugar, I checked my hormones, I changed my skin care regime, everything. And sometimes it would get better, sometimes it wouldn’t.
Later that year I flew to Bangkok for work. When I got home about a month later I got really sick and ended up in hospital for a week and the doctors could not find what was wrong with me. They ended up diagnosing me with a “Viral Infection”, gave me anti-biotics and sent me home.
That week was a pinnacle moment for me. And while I still battled with random acne outbreaks and looked healthy and fit, my regression in health will always begin from then onwards.
I started to get busier and had an influx of dance work and responsibility. I blamed not feeling well on stress & I blamed my bad skin on lack of sleep and lack of water. There would be days where I would eat “healthy” rye toast with avocado and cheese for breakfast and feel horrible and bloated for the rest of the day, not knowing why. Now looking back I can actually see that I constantly had a little bulge on my lower belly that was trying to tell me something.
For anyone who knows me personally knows that I am generally a really positive person. I will always look for the blessing in a negative situation and stay positive at times that can be testing. However I started noticing that when I would be alone at home or by myself in moments of silence I would feel glum. For absolutely no reason at all. I would wake up and I would feel tired and lethargic and I stopped being motivated to work on myself physically and creatively. Knowing this was not like me I asked for some form of guidance and direction to figure myself out!
One day I was in Target (Tar-jay) and I came across this book called “Heal Your Gut” by Lee Holmes. I have no idea why I picked it up, I had never heard about “Gut health” and I didn’t even know it was a thing. I started flipping through and decided to buy it. Once I got home I started reading more thoroughly and started read things like “Your gut health is directly connected to your overall health” and “The gut is the most neglected organ in the system” and “An unhealthy Gut can be linked to poor mental heath” and it really got my brain ticking!
And then life happened and I completely forgot the book existed.
So on with me feeling crappy and tired and my skin freaking out and I decided to give up meat thinking perhaps that might help. Nope, it made me worse!!! What I didn’t realise then was that I was filling myself up on breads and pastas because I couldn’t eat meat, which unbeknownst to me, was actually the bad stuff. So I decided I needed to go see someone about this. My intuition and also the way I have been brought up made me decide not to go see a local GP, instead I decided to go and see a Kinesiologist.
Funny enough an incredible Choreographer that I look up to had actually given me a number to a Kinesiologist that she had seen almost 2 years prior! For two years I had this number sitting in my phone! So I made the call and booked an appointment with the phenomenal Wendy.
When I went to go see Wendy I was so nervous I couldn’t stop shaking. But she’s just awesome so I had no reason to be stressed. She did many tests on me and immediately told me that I was Gluten Intolerant. Huh? Me? Gluten intolerant? “No, that can’t be you see Wendy, thats my cousin, we made this pact…”
I actually couldn’t believe it. She then proceeded to tell me that although I wasn’t Lactose intolerant, I was allergic to the proteins Casein and Whey, found in Dairy products.
And if that wasn’t enough I had a Parasite and a Virus hiding behind the inflammation in my gut. All of this led to me having Leaky Gut Syndrome and seemed to be about 3-4 years worth of damage. Around the same time I went to Bangkok!
Well as if that wasn’t a whole lotta information all at once.
So I went home and realised that although I knew what Gluten Intolerance was, I actually didn’t REALLY know what it meant to be Intolerant to Gluten (and dairy)
So I started my research and started learning not only about the foods I could now eat but also foods that could heal the lining of my intestine. (Remember that book that I forgot I had, it came in handy!) I struggled so much in the beginning. I had to re-learn how to cook, what to buy and what to get rid of in my pantry so I could avoid temptation. I started keeping a diary of the foods I would eat, journaling my journey with food.
I eat out a lot, and finding new cafes and restaurants to eat and also dealing with how waiters would un-intentionally make me feel like a burden when I was ordering food and asking for Gluten & Dairy free options was a challenge.
I want to remind you all that every body is different. Not everyone is intolerant to Gluten and Dairy and you shouldn’t make any drastic dietary decisions without getting checked up at a Nutritionist, Naturopath, Kinesiologist or your own preference of Doctor first.
I am still learning and continuing to research and find new information about being Gluten & Dairy intolerant, and all I hope is to help those who are going through the same thing.
So there ends and begins my story.
The name “Not in my Belly” came from my trip to Bali, where I was sure I was going to get Bali Belly because of my year with my gut health, so I began project #baliNOTinmybelly and then loved it so much that I decided “Not in my Belly” would be created!
So here it is! Welcome!