Saturday, July 18, 2015

How I Embraced Dietary Change

Over time, I've had my fair share of dietary eliminations. If there's one thing that I have figured out and had to accept, it's this: You will never find a replacement for your favorite foods. You just have to learn to love new things.

Initially, as a vegetarian, I discovered that meat substitutes are not delicious. I don't care what you say, you're lying. They're gross. And on the rare occasion that you do find a delicious replacement, that chick'n patty probably has more chemicals and body damaging components to it than just eating the dang bird does. I missed meat. And considering how sick I was getting from malnutrition, I realized I didn't really need a substitute... I just needed the real thing.

When my doc took me off of dairy, gluten AND sugar (at the same time! jerk!), I had to figure that mess out. 

There were really only two major things I was seriously upset about giving up. Vanilla coffee creamer and sourdough toast (*sob). So I tried to figure out replacements

Trial and error x 285. ANY combination of vanilla syrup (homemade or not) + ANY milk replacement is just not the same flavor or consistency. Coconut milk, coconut cream, almond milk, rice milk, cashew milk, hemp milk. BLECK.

Pre-made gluten free bread is grainy, dry, and tastes terrible. Gluten free "flour" tortillas? Its a whole new level of unpalatable. I thought I could make my own replacement bread, so I scoured the Inter-web and found all sorts of gluten-free bread recipes. I tried and tried, but failed and failed. Coconut flour was too dense. Oat flour was too sweet. Sorghum was sweet, too. Rice flour was too sandy. Tapioca and arrowroot are more of a thickener, not really a "flour."

I had to accept it as fact:

I would never find a replacement for my favorite foods. I would just have to learn to love new things.

I was looking for a total replacement, and that was unrealistic. No two foods taste exactly the same. And instead of hating my coconut/vanilla concoctions every morning, I've just learned to appreciate the different flavor it offers. Instead of crying about bread, gravies, and breaded items, I've just learned to like something else. Nothing quite bakes up like a fresh batch of fluffy, gluten-y bread... 
...but I had to put on my big-girl panties and get over it. 

This is what makes me happy: in seemingly hopeless situations like this, there's one important thing we tend to forget: the glass can still be considered "half full." With our ever-improving diet, I'm excited about a few things:

I buy way less bread, flour, and cereal, so I have a few extra bucks to put towards quality meat. Hello, dehydrator, meet my friend grass-fed beef. Beef jerky - serious yum-ness and best hold-me-over-til-I-get-out-of-work snack.

Instead of worrying about purchasing preservative-filled dairy substitutes, I learned how to make my own almond milk. When I realized I was actually mildly allergic to almonds, I made my own rice milk. I replaced cereal with homemade granola. Figuring out snacks was daunting at first, but now, my dehydrator and I are pals. Meal planning was so stressful - it still can be, but I'm becoming much more comfortable in my ability to create intolerance-safe meals that satisfy everyone.

We can't always find what I want/need at the regular grocery store, so we branched out. We get the chance to experience our community through the hunt for the good stuff. I love to meet new folks and the farmer's market and try to use my networking skills to find the most cost efficient, quality, local foods. Need goat milk soap? I know a lady! Need a hand-carved spoon from local wood? I've got a guy for that, too! We go to new shops, discover new community events, and best of all, make new friends. New people, new experiences, new fun.

Because I read so much and converse with the people in my community who are living a similar lifestyle, I am constantly learning. I love gaining new knowledge, and I enjoy comparing that knowledge from one source to another, then experimenting that knowledge to see if it works for my family. To me, life is about learning, and when you stop learning, you stop living. Share your knowledge, people!

You can do it if you really want to. It's so hard to change your lifestyle - especially something as vital as your diet! But just remember, just because you screw up, fail, or can't figure something out, it doesn't mean that the next hour won't count. Don't wait until tomorrow to try again. Do it as soon as you fail. The only limit you have is yourself - ignore the nay-sayers who tell you you're being ridiculous. Like your husband who just wants some cake... *ehem*

... If it helps, Danielle Walker's banana bread in her book Against All Grain is pretttttty amazing.

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