Posted by: LakeIris | September 8, 2012

7 Book Club: Month 1 (Part 2 – My journey/struggle with finding food I love that loves me back)

Four years ago, I was diagnosed with fructose, lactose and gluten intolerance. This came after over a decade of doctors basically telling me I had Irritable Bowel Syndrome and to try to keep a food diary to see if I could work out what was causing me to get sick.

Problem was, just about everything I used to eat made me feel sick. Wheat. Dairy. Apples. Onions. Tomatoes. Anything with high fructose corn syrup. There was no simple answer to ‘what’s the culprit?’

Upon diagnosis, my first step was to replace all the processed food that was making me sick with equally processed food that made me somewhat less sick. An improvement, but still not ideal.

Then, I read In Defense of Food. It blew my mind. I started asking myself whether part of the reason I had such a crazy number of intolerances might actually be because of the food I’d been eating all of my life. Then I started wondering if there was a way to actually heal my digestive system, rather than just cut out a whole bunch of things that are incredibly nutritious for the rest of my life. Like onions. And apples. And milk. And bread. (REAL bread, that is.)

So I dropped the processed food, almost completely. I started getting a weekly fruit and vegetable box delivered and got meat, milk and a few other odds and ends at the supermarket. And I got started to get sick again, which was incredibly disappointing.

I told the fruit and veg company to stop sending apples, onions, pears and pretty much everything that’s high in fructose. And stopped drinking milk. This, combined with some input from a naturopath, resulted in normal iron levels in my blood. Actual iron stores in my blood. Normal Vitamin D levels. And Zinc levels. I’ve been sick so rarely in the past two years that I’ve started lamenting my lack of legitimate excuses to take sick days from work. I actually miss sick days. (That’s a bit sick in and of itself, isn’t it?)

Anyway, I was feeling so much better, I started experimenting, adding some things back in. Sourdough bread…okay! Milk…okay! (With Lactaid, but still.) Onions! Apple crumble! Hooray, look at all the things I can eat again!

And I started getting sick again. Too much, too soon. At this stage, it seems moderation is the best I can hope for. Milk in my coffee, sheep’s yogurt, occasional cheese and lots of butter – that’s about it for dairy. Sourdough bread once or twice a week, but fresh gluten free from a local bakery if it’s going to be more often. If I’m cooking, I don’t use onion. Or buy apples.

I still get some symptoms, but it’s almost always when I’m stressed. Which means that the original diagnosis of IBS was probably at least partially accurate. Good to know.

Some unexpected results from my ‘food journey’ these past few years:

  • I’ve discovered the joy of shopping at independently owned butchers and greengrocers. Of home delivered fruits and vegetables. Supporting local businesses. And farmers. Better quality food. Developing relationships with the owners, my neighbors. Eating fruits and vegetables I’d never even heard of two years ago, like silverbeet (chard) and tangelos.
  • I absolutely hate to waste food or having to throw out rotten produce. (The second reason why I’m jealous of friends who have chickens. The first, of course, is they get fresh eggs every day!) This never used to bother me, but now it makes me feel physically ill to have to throw things out. I just never want to take for granted the blessing it is to know that I will be able to eat my fill each and every day I choose to.
  • Now I read things like: “Swap butter for a scrape of low fat margarine” or “Swap regular spreads for reduced fat and low salt varieties” and it PISSES ME OFF. Those are exact quotes from the “Swap It – Don’t Stop It” campaign that were printed in our school newsletter this week. I’m considering writing an article for next week’s issue on the evils of margarine and the marketing of low fat foods and sing the praises of the glory that is butter. (I blame Michael Pollan for this.)
  • I still have residual junk food cravings: McDonald’s about once every two months. Hot chips (French fries) at least once a week. Coke maybe once a month. Chocolate? Every day, but almost exclusively dark, organic, fair trade.


  1. You sure do speak my language! I agree whole-heartedly with everything you’ve written, partly because I’ve shared some of your food-journey with you. I do find for me that NOT being intolerant of any specific foods means that I venture over into processed-food-land all too often (although, maybe I can blame pregnancy for that? Although, pregnancy should be all the more reason to avoid processed food actually…) Anyway…Ben and I owe at least part of our venture into hippy-dom (read: chickens, veggie patch, wholefoods) to you! Thank you for introducing us to In Defense of Food, and me to 7. And remind me to give you some eggs tonight 🙂 Love you XO

  2. Thankyou diana for sharing your ‘journey with food’ . In the past month I have become more aware of what I physically feed my body. I have reduced processed foods and ave recently moved to a suberb where I am in walking distance to fresh fruit and veg, and butchers.
    The desire to make this change is different from yours, I do not feel sick (except when I eat tkeaway or junkfood in excess). I really want to take care of the body god has gifted me with. I have been blessed with great health and rarely get sick or injured. I’m starting on the food aspect in looking after my body so let’s hope the exercise part will follow soon.
    7 has really spoken to me in terms of good food and being healthy. However it has also brought up that I need to apply this change to my spiritual ‘food’. It has me thinking about what I daily feed my mind and soul, at the moment tv, dvds, current music, just a whole lot of ‘noise’ really. And not much god…I say good Christian things to friends and the youth at my church but don’t really seem to apply it to my own life very well.
    I am aware of my ‘addictions’ yet continually give in to them despite my knowledge it isn’t healthy or lifegiving.
    A constant desire to simplify my life an live a more focused life is a deep part of who I am right now. 7 is speaking into my heart and life right now and I both look forward to and am scared to see where it takes me as we continue!
    Love you diana!!

  3. I know it’s late to comment but here’s what I discovered
    As to the food journey, I’ve been on a similar journey for quite a few years now. Applying the no processed and chemical free food, gluten free and dairy free (except for butter and cheese – can’t live without it) diet to myself and the children and to a lesser extent Nathan too. So not many surprises foodwise. On my retreat week I shopped only once, ate simply and made a risotto that lasted for 3 days of lunch or dinner. Remember, in Adelaide you don’t get a shopping bag and have to carry it all yourself if you forget!
    One point about food I did find out for myself * Junk food that is OK to eat has a hold on me and I have almost no self control button. As to the identity questions, maybe I’ll comment over on that post.

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