Welcome to my January Renewal Series, where I talk about changes I’ve implemented in my lifestyle to better my health and well-being. There will be a new post each week for the month of January.

Toward the beginning of December 2017, I went to see an allergist. For a couple years, I have struggled with my weight, and for about four years, depression and anxiety. I’ve taken multiple RX drugs, changed the way I work out, took sleeping pills to sleep better, and even cut out toxic relationships – but nothing had worked. I was miserable and constantly sick.

I’ve always known I have allergies. Being sick is pretty much the norm. However, I never had allergy tests done, and so I thought it would be a great way to get things in order for 2018. My biggest resolution is to have more self-confidence, and I know that to do so, I want to lose weight. I figured having an allergy test done could help me figure out what, in my diet, may be causing me to gain weight.

Sure enough, it turns out I have a terrible reaction to wheat, dairy, and egg – three things I consumed almost every day. When my doctor told me this, I had no idea what to do. Was I supposed to starve myself, now?

My doctor explained he wanted me to implement the changes slowly for the rest of December. Then, come January, he wanted me to cut out wheat, dairy and egg, completely.

I’ll be honest, I don’t have a great track record for diets, but he made it pretty clear this was no diet; this was a lifestyle change I had to make to keep from getting sick. I could choose to be miserable, or I could maybe be happier. Suffice to say, I chose to be happier, if I could be. One can only take Misery’s company for so long.

Groceries

The first thing I did was throw out any food I had that I couldn’t eat. It was wasteful, and I felt like a terrible person, but it had to be done. When it was finished, my fridge and pantry were basically empty. So, I needed to go grocery shopping, but for what?

I did three things.

  1. I began a grocery list. I wrote down some smoothie ingredients, such as strawberries, bananas, and raspberries (my favorites) and spinach (for some veggie intake). I also wrote down coconut milk, knowing I consumed milk everyday and would need a substitute. Then, my brainstorming cam to a halt. Besides salad, I wasn’t sure what else I could make.
  2. I downloaded the Yummly App, which can also be accessed on a computer. The best thing about Yummly (and this is NOT sponsored, btw) is that you can insert your allergies, and it will filter out recipes for you. So, I inserted dairy-free, wheat-free, egg-free into my filters, and I found some recipes I thought I’d enjoy. I didn’t want to spend too much money, considering I’m on a freelance budget, and went for recipes that integrated with each other. For example, if a recipe included chicken, I tried to find two other recipes that had chicken. If a recipe included onion, I tried to find two other recipes that had onion. And so on..
  3. After Yummly, I took to Pinterest and searched my specifications. Pinterest can be hard to sort through, especially when you’re looking for something as specific as I was, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t great finds. I realized I could purchase a flour alternative and egg alternative and still make things like muffins or pancakes.

Once I did my research, I headed to Fresh Market. Alternatives to Fresh Market would be Whole Foods, Trader Joes, and I’ve heard Publix has a great selection, too. My main tip for going grocery shopping with specific dietary requirements is to not go into it rushed. Go grocery shopping when you have time to go down every aisle. Because I took my time, I discovered pastas, cookies, snacks and more that weren’t on my list but were nice to know about for the future.

Great and Awful

 

When you’re stuck with restrictive dietary requirements such as my own, there are going to be hit or miss recipes and products. For example, I attempted to make Banana Chips. It did not work. I ended up with gooey, rotten slices of banana and had to throw them out.

Now, I should also say, I am no cook, by any means. My expertise begins and ends with cooking noodles. Most of the recipes I chose from Yummly and Pinterest pushed my culinary skills to the limit, which may have resulted in terrible quality food. Nevertheless, I persisted. When you’re making a huge lifestyle change, you cannot expect it to be all great.

That’s why, I started a list. I have a dry erase board in my kitchen, and I separate my recipes into either “Great” or “Awful”. This ensures I don’t waste time or money on those ingredients or recipes in the future. It’s a good idea to keep a copy of this list in your phone, too. Then, you’ll always have it on you.

Results Aren’t Quick

 

If there’s anything I’m absolutely sure about myself, it’s that I’m extremely impatient. This lifestyle change has not been easy, and that’s mainly because I’m two weeks into it, and I haven’t seen a whole lot of results. What I’ve had to remind myself is this: I’ve been eating harmful crap for years. My body isn’t going to magically adjust overnight or even over a few weeks. It may be a couple months before I really start to see a change in myself.

As I mentioned at the beginning on this article, though I needed to eliminate dairy, wheat and egg due to allergies, it was also because I’ve struggled with weight loss, depression and anxiety. Food plays a huge part in body chemistry. So, my doctor thought eliminating these things I’m allergic to might help in those departments. However, it’s just as likely that my weight gain, depression and anxiety are a result of something else entirely.

For me, this truly is a lifestyle change and, as cliche as it is, a journey. Though eliminating harmful allergens may not get rid of all my problems, it’s a great start toward, hopefully, a happier, healthier lifestyle.

Goals

 

Like with everything in life, it’s great to set some expectations for yourself. That’s why I created my own list of goals to work toward, and I thought I’d share it, in case you have a similar problem and would like some inspiration.

  1. Do not cheat. No matter how hard it may be, do not cheat on your diet. If you do it once, you’ll likely do it again. Instead, find alternatives to what you want. For example, I found wheat-free, dairy-free, egg-free cookies. Whenever I need something sweet, I pop those in the oven or just eat the cookie dough.
  2. Drink more water. Switching from a filling diet to a diet that consists mostly of leaves can leave you feeling pretty damn hungry, all the time. To curb that craving, I’ve opted for drinking a lot more water, AKA the normal amount I should’ve been drinking already (78 oz / day). If you’re unsure what your water intake should be, weigh yourself and divide that number in half. Drinking more water, as I’m sure you already know, aids in a lot more than curbing cravings, too, such as weight loss and better skin.
  3. Workout twice a week or more. This workout can be for however long you want. I try to do at least 30 minutes each time, consisting of a light ten minute run, squats, crunches, push-ups, etc… You can do whatever you want to do. For me, I make it more about what I’m feeling up to than forcing myself to do something. That way, the workout feels more fulfilling. If I’m feeling like I need to work on my legs way more than my stomach, then I’ll do that. Don’t get too caught up in what you’re going to do, and instead just focus on getting up and doing it.
  4. Eat out less. For me, this is hard, because I’m not home a lot. However, when I do eat out, I’ve made it more of a point to let my waiter or waitress know I have diet restrictions, and I’ve also become more and more comfortable about asking questions. I hated it at first, because I hated making them feel like I was too much work, but at the end of the day, I didn’t go home feeling like crap because I ate something I wasn’t supposed to.
  5. Walk more. If you’re like me and work a desk job or are constantly sitting, try and find creative ways to incorporate walking into your routine. For example, I purposefully park further away from my workplace, making myself walk longer. Also, I take the stairs more. Just by making this little adjustment, I’m more active, increasing my metabolism and mood.
  6. Tell people your goals. This is a simple goal to have. Telling others about your goals will keep you accountable. I’ve told almost all my family I’m dairy, wheat and egg free, and because of that, they are learning along with me what I can and can eat. this keeps me from cheating on my diet, and it keeps them from dangling things within my reach.

So far, these are the goals I’ve actively implemented and have felt make a difference in obtaining my new lifestyle. I’m hoping to report back to you guys in the near future with good news about my health. At the very least, I hope to lose weight. Any new steps I take, I’ll be sure to keep you informed, in case you’re wanting to change your lifestyle in a similar way. Even if you don’t have the allergies I have, these goals can still benefit your lifestyle and help you work toward a happier, healthier you.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below, and don’t forget to come back next week for another post in my Renewal Series.

Always,