'Free From' – is it Worth it?

From the outside looking in I get the impression that people feel a little sorry for me when I tell them that I am intolerant to/choose not to eat this, that and the other.  At least that’s how it seems when I’m met with the poor you's and how awful's.  I often find myself blurting out random words, trying my best to say is that it really isn’t that bad and that there’s a whole host of things I can eat, but not quite managing to get the words together in time. 

When I was asked 'is it worth it?, the answer was simple (and I managed to say it!)...

 Image source: www.inredautreda.se

Image source: www.inredautreda.se

YES! Every time.

My decision to give up gluten, dairy, refined sugar and nightshades, once and for all, came as a last resort.  It should’ve been the first.   It was after I’d spent a fortune on ‘solutions’, quick fixes and ‘miracle cures’.  Deep down, I always knew the problem stemmed from within, I just had to fight the mental battle first; the thought of not being able to eat a tub of Ben & Jerry’s, go for afternoon tea, enjoy a cheese night with my boyfriend or pick a chocolate bar off the shelves somehow seemed worse than living with the debilitating eczema I was covered head to toe in.  Crazy, right?  I know it's the same for so many people... if I had a penny for the amount of times I've talked to someone with a chronic health condition about my experience, only to see the same doubt in his or her minds that I once had, I’d be a very rich woman. 

We have a huge emotional connection to food and are so familiar with the feelings we experience before eating, but easily forget the way we feel afterwards - Ben & Jerry’s being my case in point.  I used to lust after the experience of a tub of Half Baked, a film and a blanket - my idea of the perfect cosy night in.  I wouldn’t even remember that after eating the tub, I’d have the shakes, feel sick & guilty, have trouble sleeping and then flare for days afterwards.  Hindsight is a wonderful thing and looking at it now, weighing up the pros and cons of a life ‘free from’, it's clear to me which wins out. 

Going ‘free from’ has given me freedom!

- I now have good health (and some)
- I have more control over what happens within and to my body
- I have knowledge of the effect food has on my body and health
- It’s opened my eyes to a world full of food that makes me feel good and that I love
- Increased energy, motivation and hunger for life
- The knowledge that I’m 99.9% certain I’ll never have to ‘diet’ again (as long as I don't overdo it!)
- A sense of achievement – I see satisfying results every day for which I know I’m responsible
- My self confidence has returned
- I am my happy self again!

Of course, as with everything, there are a few downsides;

- It’s more difficult to eat out, but becomes much easier with time and I always feel like a nuisance when I order food at a restaurant.
- It can be more expensive and time consuming. 
- I have to remember to take snacks everywhere I go, just in case.  
- I need to read the label on everything (which actually isn’t that many things as I don’t tend to eat heavily processed foods). 

We all have different breaking points.  Mine was when I knew I couldn’t go another day feeling as ill as I did.  I can’t guarantee that cutting any of the above foods from your diet will be your solution, but it was mine and it is for so, so many people.  A quick Google search will tell you that.  I can guarantee, however, that it’s absolutely, definitley worth giving it a go.  As I’m always trying to tell people, it really isn’t all that bad…