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“Excuse me, do you have a gluten free menu?”, “Can they make that without dairy?”, “I’m actually not drinking tonight, thanks though!”

All three of these phrases come out of my mouth on a daily basis. One of the most commonly asked questions I get on email and Snapchat is, “Why are you gluten free?” In truth it goes far beyond gluten, and I have some really annoying dietary restrictions, some by choice, and some not by choice. I thought I would explain those decisions and why I eat the way I do in today’s post.

Currently I’m dairy-free, mostly gluten-free, and wine free. And on a whim, I gave up all alcohol last week until Thanksgiving. It seems like I’m on a crazy diet to lose weight, or just to be a total effing psychopath, but there is good reason for all of the changes! Read on to find out.

My issues with dairy: Growing up, I always had a stomach ache… like always. Back in those days, no one could seem to figure out the problem, even though now it seems so obvious to me! Through college I ate many a late-night pizza and still had pretty intense stomach issues, but thought that was just how I was built. It wasn’t until I went to school to become a health coach that I realized that dairy was the culprit.

How I gave it up: I gave up dairy cold-turkey for a week to see if I would feel better. That was in 2008. I have since learned that I have an allergy to whey which caused both my stomach issues and added even more symptoms to my already awful sinuses (more on that in a sec). Today, I can eat butter and ghee without any issues because they don’t contain whey, and a little parmesan here and there doesn’t kill me, but everything else is pretty much a no-go.

Relationship status: Single. Sometimes I say screw it and eat one too many bites of Anel’s ice cream cone or pizza, but I always regret it within the hour. So my current status with dairy is that I just don’t eat it at all. People always ask if I miss cheese or ice cream… Yes. I really do! Luckily there are a lot of great dairy-free options for everything from coffee creamer, to coconut milk ice cream, to yogurt, to cheese. And Daiya makes a pretty amazing gluten-free dairy-free pizza if you’re into that sort of thing (you probably aren’t by choice).

My issues with gluten: I didn’t know I had issues with gluten until I stopped eating it a few months ago. The reason I gave it up is because my acupuncturist thought it might help with my fertility issues so I thought I’d give it a go. Although I’m still not pregnant, I do feel a whole lot better which was a fun surprise. About a week after I gave it up, I started feeling more energetic. I woke up in the mornings for the first time (maybe ever?) not feeling exhausted, and I was more productive during my days.

How I gave it up: I promised myself I would try being gluten-free for 30 full days (one full menstrual cycle) to see what happened. I went cold turkey, the same way I did with dairy. Knowing that it was only for 30 days made it easier. I don’t really eat a lot of gluten anyway, but it still wasn’t easy. The best thing I’ve learned is to buy gluten free bread for things like toast with nut butters in the morning or to use for croutons in my vegan caesar. The best one I’ve found is Udi’s gluten-free millet chia bread.

Relationship status: On again off again. For the most part I’m eating a totally gluten-free diet now just because I feel so much better. That being said, if I’m at a party or event and there is no GF option, I’ll go for it. I might feel a little more sluggish the next day, but I’m okay so I try not to make a huge deal out of it. I don’t know if it’s permanent, but because I feel better, I don’t really want to go crazy with the gluten again anytime soon.

Wine-Free (for now)
My issues with wine: In addition to a stomach ache, I’ve always suffered from sinus issues. Everything from daily runny noses to pretty severe sinus infections, to polyps that I had to have removed. Giving up dairy cleared up about 50% off the issue but I still get stuffed up all the time. I’ve noticed that it gets worse when I drink wine, so I tried giving it up for a while, the same way I did with gluten. It has made a huge difference!

How I gave it up: I decided I was going to stick with clear liquors for a few weeks, tequila and vodka only, to see what happened.

Relationship status: It’s complicated. My nose is way less runny and I don’t get any headaches. But then I went to Napa so I basically had no choice. The holdiays are around the corner and my family is full of big wine drinkers so I know there is some vino in my future, but for now, I’ll stick to dirty martinis…

Alcohol-Free (until Thanksgiving)

My issues with alcohol: Um, none? I love alcohol… in moderation of course. I love wine even more than hard liquor but that had to go for a while. Giving up all alcohol kind of came about randomly. Last week, I had to go on antibiotics for a tooth infection, so I couldn’t drink for seven days. Even though I felt yucky from the medicine, I noticed that my head was clearer and even after dinners out, I woke up refreshed and without that swollen look that I sometimes get after drinking even one cocktail.

How I gave it up: Antibiotics forced me to!

Relationship status: On a break. I always end up over-indulging around the holidays so I’m giving my body a little break from the toxins of alcohol until Thanksgiving. There are definitely some nights when I really want a drink, and that kind of sucks, but the next morning I’m always really proud of myself for sticking to my guns! We’ll see if I last on this one, but so far, so good.

Giving up alcohol, even for the last week and a half, has been the toughest so far. If it were just me, I think I could handle it, but I’m realizing for the first time, how much people love to pressure other people to drink with them. It’s not a malicious thing but a friend will say, “come on have just one, we’re out!” or you’re at an event and someone just hands you a glass of wine. I’ve learned, in my short alcohol-free stint, to just take it and not try to explain if the situation is awkward. If it’s a good friend or someone you’re comfortable with, explain what’s up.

At the end of the day, some people like to make fun of the way I eat, some people love to ask a ton of questions, and some couldn’t care less. I’m at the point now where I don’t care what anyone else thinks because I finally feel like I’m living my most vibrant life, so it’s worth a little awkwardness here and there.

Do any of you have weird dietary restrictions that make your life complicated? I’d love to hear about them and how you handle it!

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  1. Dr Drew Brazier

    I don’t always like to view it as “restrictions.” There’s so much out there to enjoy that some things just don’t fit with what makes me feel best! I get where you are coming from and it’s good to normalize that it is okay have your voice for what you need!!

  2. Thank you for sharing. I also am mostly dairy free and I’m trying to be gluten free (I feel so much better with out it). It is hard and I admire and I am inspired by your cold turkey resolved. I recently convinced my mom to go dairy free for a week and her pain in her knees went away! I am definitely doing to try that pizza.


  3. Thanks for sharing 馃檪
    I don’t eat meat or fish. Trying to eliminate dairy and don’t eat much gluten. This can be frustrating to explain to people but totally agree with you that at this point it doesn’t matter what people say or feel, it’s my life.

  4. Julia Dzafic

    Oh yay! I hope that helps him. Keep me posted 馃檪

  5. Kristen Woolsey

    I really enjoyed reading this! I’m convinced my husband has an allergy to dairy, so after reading this I finally mentioned it to him. He agreed to try to cut it out for a week and see how he feels. I think it’s so important to learn about yourself and what works for you!

  6. Julia Dzafic

    I do acupuncture every two weeks. Yes, I go for fertility stuff but I’ve been going for years for everything from sleep to lower back pain actually. It really works for me!

  7. Joyce Novacek

    I enjoyed this post and appreciate anyone with the will power to give up foods in order to feel better! Glad you’re finding what works for you. Question (sorry if you’ve mentioned this before, I’m new to the blog): How often do you do acupuncture? I see you’re doing it for fertility reasons, but I’ve been considering doing it for back pain for a while now…but have been too scared to give it a go!

  8. Squiderous

    Red wine tends to have a lot more mold in it, because it is aged for longer. That could be why it bothers your sinuses! It bothers a lot of people’s allergies.

  9. Julia Dzafic

    Interesting. What is your blood type? I’m A+ so when I follow it I have to eat much less white meat and literally no red meat! Corn is in literally everything so that is hard but good for you for figuring it out!

  10. Julia Dzafic

    Good luck! It’s rough 馃檪

  11. Julia Dzafic

    Wow girl, good for you! Agreed that it’s worth it in the long run because I feel healthier and happier 馃檪

  12. Julia Dzafic

    Social situations are the only time that it gets tough for me too. Maybe bring your own snacks to the tailgate and scope out the menu for your dinner ahead of time?

  13. Julia Dzafic

    Agreed! Good attitude.

  14. I am GF & DF too, and find that when I don’t drink alcohol I feel even better. I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease 4 years ago, and most recently Hashimoto’s! The effect gluten and dairy have on my body are insane (inflammation, fatigue, brain fog). It is definitely hard and I get so much crap from people, but they don’t have to live in my body! I’ve just stopped explaining myself at this point, and agree with your advice about just taking it. I usually just nonchalantly put it to the side or leave it somewhere. Thanks for sharing your experience too. Good to know that there are others out there dealing with the same struggles.

  15. Lauren Schully

    Thanks for sharing! I am dairy free too due to stomach issues as well and it helps so much! And you are right about that pizza…it is actually good!!
    XO Lauren

  16. Love this post and you will find a lot of people are the same as you! I have a symptom called “leaky gut” and high inflammation so my doctor put me on Whole30 to try an elimination diet which helped me change my whole eating/living lifestyle for the better!

    I have learned to love quinoa pasta and raw goat/sheeps milk cheeses 馃檪

  17. CelebratingthisLife

    Last year I decided to follow the Blood Type Diet on the advice of my trainer. For my type I not only had to go gluten free, but also I had to stay away from corn. I can’t believe how many things on the market have corn in it! Especially GF foods! I felt great while I was off it, approx. 6 months, but I found it very difficult to stick with. Now I try and stay away from corn products and restrict the amount of gluten (bread) that I have during the week. I will make toast as a cheat and that seems to work for me! Thanks for sharing your journey (I am sticking to no alcohol during the week and might even go until Thanksgiving without any on the weekends too. You’ve inspired me! xx Rox-Anne,

  18. Brittany Cerminara

    Thanks for your dietary explanations. I am on a No Drink November until Thanksgiving just for a healthy detox too!

  19. Nikki Anderson

    I totally get you
    I compete in bikini competitions so I rarely drink (only very occasionally in the off-season) and I cook all my food and measure everything out. I get a lot of crap for it and made fun of. Sometimes its hard when my work team goes out for lunch and I’m sitting there sipping water – not hard because I want to order something but hard because everyone seems to pity me and continuously asking if I want stuff. In fact, I eat a lot for my size, but I just cook all my food and bring it with me.
    You have to do what is best for you! And social situations make it harder, but it is 10000% worth it in the long run – the way you feel is better than anything else! I always find if I don’t go into something restricting myself (like, I can’t have a piece of chocolate or whatever), then I’m much happier with my choice. I could order food with my team, but I choose not to. When you make it your choice, it feels so much more doable for longer periods of time.
    Kudos to you for going through this and discovering more about yourself and your body! Its the most valuable lesson we can learn!

  20. I actually love when you post about your dietary choices and restrictions…it makes me feel a little more normal and I find it interesting to hear about other people’s journeys with food. I was diagnosed with Celiac two years ago and quit gluten and dairy cold turkey, but have since found out about more food intolerances and another autoimmune disease. The social situations are the worst! As I type, I’m trying to figure out how to navigate an overnight work trip that includes a cocktail party and dinner, as well as a football tailgating weekend with my friends (both of which are really important to me). I have no problems following the strict diet, but the social situations cause me so much anxiety!

  21. Carrie Barnett Miller

    I follow almost all of these “funny” eating patterns. And I definitely get the weird peer pressure from friends to have a glass or eat from the bread bowl. I just have decided that I care more about how I will feel later than pleasing them in the now. But yes it’s hard!!!

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