If there is one thing I have learned throughout the course of gut healing, it is that it looks different for everyone. The genetic makeup that God has given every single one of us is different. Even in the same family it may look similar, but it will still vary among family members.
When you first begin looking into an elimination diet or a restrictive diet it is overwhelming. Grocery shopping takes twice as long, because now you have to closely read food labels and even after you read the label you wonder if you can trust if there is an ingredient they didn’t have to disclose. Some of the time is spent decoding what the words mean, then you realize if it has more than four ingredients and you can’t pronounce just one ingredient, you can’t eat it anyways. You also wonder if what you are purchasing is going to cause a reaction, even though you haven’t reacted to it in the past.
Prepping the food takes longer because in Mark’s case his body responds best to whole foods or frozen food. Whole foods means veggies and fruit will need to be cut right before he eats them. If they are precut, histamines will grow and his guy will still react negatively to it. Meat needs to be kept frozen, any leftovers for meals need to be put in the freezer to keep fresh and to keep histamines off of his food.
It is a drastic change in not only diet, but forces you to change mentally and emotionally as well. There are emotional ties to food which create mental ties. The first three days and the last week of Mark’s elimination diet were the hardest. In the beginning it meant he could not have coffee. He is not a Folger’s kind of guy either. He is the kind of guy that would grow and roast his own beans if we lived in the right climate. He was thankful for the fresh ginger tea he was allowed to have, but it still was not his morning joe he looked forward to smelling, tasting and savoring each morning.
It was a challenge to keep his meals delicious and gut friendly at the same time. I whole heartedly believe meals have a function beyond the physical. They also have a emotional and mental impact. The list of what he could eat was shorter than the list of what he couldn’t eat. We have learned to appreciate how important it is to have fresh, quality meats and veggies. Ripeness, what the animal has eaten, the care in butchering and processing the meat all impacts how the food will taste from the skillet or oven to our dinner plates. When food is grown and raised with care then processed in care, Himalayan salt is about all you need for flavor.
I use to find online diet specific groups frustrating because I was suppose to be in a group were I could find help, glean ideas for meals and in theory make the process easier. It seemed I would only end up more frustrated. The reality was I had to spend more time in the kitchen, I had to get to know and understand which herbs paired well with which kind of food. I had to learn what I could substitute for which ingredient. I had to create meals I would be able to swap out with different meats and veggies, but would still be gut safe for Mark.
One of my goals through our journey is to document the successful recipes the Lord brings to my mind. I want to help someone else’s journey be a little easier. Yet, I know from experience, even the recipes I come up with would still cause someone else’s body to go into hives, possibly affect their breathing and other symptoms. Symptoms are not only physical, they can cause depression and symptoms that cannot be seen with the human eye, but are felt very deeply by the person experiencing them.
Everyone is unique in their makeup of what foods their body can tolerate, figuring it out is not easy, but in our experience it is definitely worth it. Even if it means no more coffee.