Moderation doesn’t work when your immune system is bonker balls

We all grew up hearing “everything in moderation” which to me meant the world and all its food are your oyster just don’t reload your plate.  I think this message is fine if not a little ineffective (hello startling national health statistics) but if I took it to heart I wouldn’t be where I am today, remission.

You see the biggest step I’ve taken in my healing was finding out my food sensitivities and eliminating them from my diet. This meant I took out gluten/wheat, eggs, soy, corn, and dairy from my diet for an entire month and then one-at-a-time slowly added each ingredient back in to find out how my body responded. Turns out my body does not do well with dairy, eggs, and gluten aka a breakfast taco.

After the required mourning period, I got real about keeping those things out of my diet. Cooking at home is the best thing I can do because I know what is going in my food but when I go out to eat I have to be that person. You know the person we vilify in pop culture that makes the server swear on his mother’s grave that the food they are contemplating ordering hasn’t even so much as looked at gluten, eggs, or dairy? Yeah, now I get to be that person. At first, I always gave this fast mumbling excuse about my autoimmune diseases which just made things way WAY more awkward. But now I’ve been on this bandwagon so long I can’t be bothered to make anyone else comfortable because the stakes are just too high for me.

When I eat gluten my chest tightens up, my joints ache, and my anxiety increases often followed by depression. When I eat dairy I end up with a bunch of mucous and a migraine. When I eat eggs I look about 4 months pregnant and am not a fun to ride in a car with, if ya know what I mean.  These symptoms suck but they are really just the tip of the iceberg.

These sensitivities are an indication that I have leaky gut which means proteins from these foods leave my digestive track and leak into my body and my body responds-rightly so- by engaging my inflammatory response. One bagel could have by immune system going bonker balls for months.  There is just no room for moderation here.

Diet isn’t the only thing I have to watch, stress and toxins are important too, but if I’m not diligent with what I put into my body I suffer and suffer and suffer. This isn’t easy. It isn’t easy to schlep all the food I can eat across the state every holiday. It’s not easy watching everyone else eat at functions while my stomach growls. It’s not easy having to be on my guard around food all the time. But in the end, my quality of life is worth it.  Being in remission is worth it. And there is nothing moderate about that.

Yes you can be social even with a “weird” diet and bonus recipe

 

Maria from sound of music saying "Look at all the food I can't eat"

Some of my healing from autoimmune disease can be directly attributed to the food I eat and the food I don’t. A few years back, an elimination diet revealed I have a sensitivity to gluten, dairy, and eggs. While I wasn’t surprised about the gluten or the dairy I was so sad to see eggs go. I live in the land of breakfast tacos for cryin’ out loud! On top of all that I make it a point to avoid processed food and sugar.

So from a standard American diet point of view, I am pretty limited in what I can eat.

While my diet is health supportive (and delicious) it tends to be different from most people’s. Because of that I stopped inviting people over for meals as much or accepting dinner invitations. I didn’t want to impose my restrictions on others and I think I felt a little self-conscious about serving people my “weird” diet.

But ya know what, that’s no way to live. I love my friends and I love to eat with them and cook for them. And bonus: participating in the community keeps us health. So I started accepting dinner invites, although it took me awhile to stop apologizing profusely for all my dietary restrictions (maybe I’m not completely there),  and I started having people over again. Last night, in fact, my dear friend (and soon to be podcast co-host!!!) and her awesome kiddo came over for a cookout.

Here is the weird meal I made.

Grilled Tempeh* and Veggie Fajitas with Guacamole

  • Servings: 8
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Ingredients

grilled sweet potatoes, portabella mushrooms, red onion, bell peppers, and tempeh on a wooden cutting board with a white bowl of lime wedges. Tempeh

  1. One to two packages of tempeh (I really like Lightlife’s flax tempeh). You can easily replace this with any meat of your choice.
  2. 8oz of vegetable broth
  3.  One TBS of fajita seasoning or 1tsp cumin, 1 tsp chili powder, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp of coriander.

Veggies

  1.  Sweet potato peeled and cut into 1/2 inch planks.
  2. Two bell peppers cut into big wedges.
  3.  Two or more portabella mushrooms washed with stems removed
  4. Half of a red onion (keep intact)

Guacamole

  1. Two ripe avocados
  2. Three to five garlic cloves minced
  3. The juice of one and a half limes
  4.  Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Place the tempeh ingredients in a cast iron skillet on the stove over medium heat. Simmer the tempeh for up to 20 minutes, flipping as you go. Make sure to add a bit of broth if the pan starts to dry out. You could do this step a day in advance and let it marinade in the refrigerator.
  2. Coat the vegetables, onion, and mushrooms with either coconut oil (which is constantly melted in my house this time of year) or olive oil.  Toss with the fajita seasoning, about 1 TBS.
  3. Heat the grill to medium heat.
  4. Cut the tempeh in half, making two squares. Brush with oil on either side.
  5. Place everything on the grill starting with the tempeh. The tempeh goes on the top rack and I placed the bell pepper and sweet potato in a veggie basket like this Grillux Stainless Steel Vegetable Grill Basket (affiliate link). The mushrooms and onions (cut side down) go directly on the grill.
  6. Grill everything for about 15 minutes flipping everything but the onion in the halfway through.
  7. Make the guacamole by mixing all the ingredients together. This will make a really large batch, which is a beautiful thing.
  8. Once cooked, slice up the tempeh, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, and onion into long stripes.
  9. Pull out lettuce leaves, chard leaves, or a tortilla of your choice and make the best fajita ever!

We had so much fun eating and hanging out. My weird diet didn’t feel so weird and made me realize I was the only one making it weird. The adults had fun, the kids had fun, and just because I don’t dine on sugar and dairy didn’t mean the kids had to reframe. kids eating ice cream on a picnic table. A note on soy. Most soy we consume in the US is really not great for us. This soy is the by-products of GMO seeds from subsidized farming that is put into all our processed food or shaped into fake meats, soy dog anyone?  While this type of soy is not great for our health, fermented soy, like tempeh, has beneficial probiotics and has lots of vitamin K2.  While you don’t want to eat any soy all day every day, I believe fermented soy can be a part of a whole foods diet that supports our health. Check out what Dr. Hyman has to say about it here.  Or course, just like I am with eggs, you may not be able to tolerate soy and thats cool too. Stay tuned for more on elmination diets.