When Food Becomes the Enemy

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I was sick for seventeen years. I faced every day with the trepidation that comes from not knowing just how bad things would get and worry over whether I was suffering from something horrible. That was my reality, and I came to accept it. But, that’s what happens when food becomes the enemy.

My symptoms, as I’ve now come to know them, were all over the place. Extreme stomach pain, dizziness, hot flashes, and other symptoms similar to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). But I also had other issues that were seemingly unrelated, even though I was seeing an array of medical professionals to address them. This included a loss of teeth enamel, heart palpitations, high liver enzymes, extreme fatigue, anemia, and joint pain.

While the majority of my symptoms reared their ugly heads around mealtimes, I stumped medical professionals. In fact, one gastroenterologist called me a medical enigma. That’s something everyone likes to hear.

It wasn’t until a last resort stomach biopsy in 2012 to find answers that I discovered I suffer from Celiac Disease—an inability of the body to properly process gluten, a substance found in wheat, rye, barley, and some oats. So, basically I was allergic to something I was ingesting multiple times a day. It was a habit I had to stop almost immediately.

Fast forward a whole gluten-free year and my symptoms are almost entirely gone. No more painful days or sleepless nights (except those brought about by my three-year old). The lesson? Food can be a culprit, yet it doesn’t often make the list of reference used by practitioners of Western Medicine.

In my personal search for answers and understanding, I stumbled upon the similar story of Danielle Walker, the now-celebrated author of New York Times Bestselling Cookbook, Against All Grain. After years of debilitating illness, Danielle began to connect the dots when it came to the relationship between the foods she was eating and the negative reactions some would cause. With a trial and error approach, she was able to successfully identify and eliminate all those products her body seemed to be rejecting.

The result of Danielle’s effort was a no-grain, dairy-free diet, that when practiced faithfully, almost completely eliminated her life-threatening symptoms. She now takes all she has learned and is teaching others how to improve life through a focus on their bellies while raising a family with a real awareness and respect for food. “My whole family feels better all-around,” says Walker. “We sleep better, we have more energy, and I personally have less aches, pains, and the migraines I used to experience frequently.”

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About Author

Amy Day

Amy Day is the Associate Publisher and a contributing writer for Strategy Magazine. She has an MBA in Marketing Communications and Strategic Leadership from Southern Methodist University and has been on staff with Strategy for nearly a decade. She is an award-winning business executive with customer service credentials from the Disney Institute. In addition to editorial oversight, her regular beat includes business, customer service, publishing, and family/child wellness.

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