The Age of Food Dyes and Processed Sugars
I was born in the 1980s and did a majority of my growing up during the 1990s.
This means I was primarily raised on boxed meals, TV dinners, fast food, processed sugars, and food dyes.
If you’re a millennial, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Naturally, I started my adult life by raising my kiddos the exact same way I was raised — including the food they ate.
While I did enjoy experimenting with ingredients as a young adult and slowly began the process of learning how to cook from scratch, our kitchen pantry was still filled with toxic ingredients and quick-fix meals for many, many years.
It wasn’t until my middle kiddo was in preschool and began struggling with major food sensitivities that things finally began to change in our home.
First, we started incorporating more fresh foods into our diets.
Then, we began introducing essential oils and organic foods.
Finally, we began the process of eliminating food dyes in our diets by making smarter choices like dye-free candy swaps.
Now, we lean on lots of whole foods at home while trying to make better choices outside of the home.
Are we perfect? Definitely not.
My husband still drinks his Dr. Pepper on occasion (while I grab a Kombucha) and I have a deep love for street tacos and french fries I simply can’t shake.
However, we do have a few strict rules that we stick to no matter the occasion.
For example, my kiddos won’t touch any food or drink if it contains # food dyes.
It is simply something we have eliminated 100% from our diets and we make absolutely no exceptions.
All that said, even after years and years of trying to better our diets and stick to healthier food options, going gluten-free was never a goal for our family.
The Gluten-Free Lifestyle
For the first 36 years of my life, living a gluten-free lifestyle simply wasn’t on my radar.
I didn’t have any extreme food allergies or health-related intolerances and I wasn’t celiac.
So why would I ever need to incorporate a gluten-free diet into my current lifestyle?
Long story short, after a terrible epileptic episode in 2022 that landed me in the hospital with a pretty nasty head injury (and 7 solid months of nothing but issues afterward) I was desperate.
I had bad days, I had worse days, and on rare occasions, I had ok days.
Good days? Those quickly became a thing of the past.
Then it happened.
I read something that forever changed my life.
While researching solutions for my vision issues, brain fogginess, vertigo, migraines, and dizziness I came across something called the Wahl’s protocol.
People were raving about Dr. Terry Wahls and how her methods have helped so many people struggling with severe MS symptoms.
While I was pretty sure I didn’t have MS, because my issues were very much related my head injury, I was still very curious.
Then, finally, after reading a review from someone with neurological issues (that were not MS) go on about how they used this protocol to alleviate their symptoms, I just knew I had to try it.
I was so desperate for help at this point that I would have tried just about anything, you guys!
The Wahl’s Protocol
While the Wahl’s protocol was originally created to help Dr. Wahls herself, while battling MS, it can truly benefit so many with or without MS!
To sum it all up in a tiny little package, the Wahl’s protocol includes a number of important (and sometimes extreme) diet changes.
First, and foremost, no gluten whatsoever.
Second, no dairy and no eggs.
Lastly, adding in lots of extra raw vegetables and greens
With that said, I no longer follow the Wahl’s protocol as a whole because I simply found I didn’t need to.
While I did cut out dairy and eggs at first, I truly found that cutting gluten from my diet alone was all I needed for my brain to properly heal.
While it took some time for my symptoms to fully go away, I definitely give all the credit for my current health status to the absence of gluten in my diet.
Living with Epilepsy
In order to fully understand how eliminating gluten from my diet changed my health drastically, I have to take you back to that fateful day in May 2022.
But first… My Backstory.
I was diagnosed with epilepsy at the tender age of 12.
It was a warm sunny day and I was waiting outside our brand-new local ice cream shop with my mom.
It was finally their opening day and I had been waiting for that first scoop for so long!
Little did I know, my first scoop would not come that day.
With a combination of being overheated and under-hydrated, my little body gave out.
Thankfully, there was a nurse in line just behind us.
She quickly jumped into action by turning me on my side — likely saving my life or at the very least, keeping me from injuring myself.
After some time spent in the hospital, many follow-up doctor appointments, and multiple medical tests later, I was officially diagnosed with epilepsy.
Looking back at my childhood and many of the strange things I experienced over time, I’m pretty sure I was having seizures from a very young age.
It wasn’t until I had a grand mal seizure in the parking lot of that ice cream shop that those strange things began to become very crystal clear.
After that day, I’ve had multiple larger seizures, many minor episodes, and likely even some that have stayed under my radar.
With that said, none of them have affected me quite like the one from May of 2022.
As you may know, our family RVs full-time while traveling part-time.
This particular day in May was a travel day for us and we had recently trekked a very long distance.
I was a little dehydrated and was extremely sleep deprived — 2 of the things that can act as a trigger to my condition.
Combine those two triggers with an inner ear issue I was having and boom, I had a full-blown seizure while alone in the bathroom of our fifth wheel.
I was trying to unclog my ear (or get it to pop) so I could finally get some much-needed rest and it was the final straw, you guys.
Being alone in an enclosed space was the worst possible scenario for me as it caused me to injure myself greatly.
This was by far the worst episode I had ever had.
Life with a Head Injury
The first couple of months after my head injury were the absolute worst.
It would take me a full 1-2 hours to get out of bed each morning because my vertigo and dizziness were both completely out of control.
I was bed-bound often with migraines so severe I couldn’t move without throwing up.
The changing of lights (reflections, a flicker, etc) would give me an instant headache or cause my vision to have a kaleidoscope effect.
It was never-ending.
Eventually, as time passed, my issues did get slightly better but they quickly plateaued.
Finally, 7 months after my head injury, and after reading The Wahl’s Protocol from cover to cover, I decided that I needed to try a gluten-free diet.
It wasn’t until about 5-6 weeks into my new gluten-free lifestyle that I began to notice subtle improvements throughout my day.
For instance, I was grabbing something from the fridge in my kitchen and spun around to place it on the counter behind me.
For the first time in months, this action didn’t make me dizzy or cause me to stumble.
At first, I thought it was a fluke, until a few days later when I noticed that I was awake and out of bed within half an hour 2 days in a row!
Something big was happening.
I was feeling more and more like myself again with each passing day.
Going Gluten-Free Forever
People often ask me if I will stay gluten-free forever and to be completely honest, I think it’s a very huge possibility that I will.
I simply feel and function better after going gluten-free.
While I’m not allergic, I truly feel like going gluten-free helped allow my brain to heal quicker and more fully.
With that said, I don’t think eating a small portion of gluten on occasion or even going back to a high-gluten diet would take me right back to where I was either.
The state I was in when I started living a gluten-free lifestyle was mainly because my brain needed healing from an injury, not from gluten!
With that said, I actually think I might feel better now than I did before my accident and that is 100% due to the change in my diet.
I have less brain fog and more energy than I did 10 years ago and it’s so good, you guys!!
Am I always 100% perfect with my gluten-free diet? Definitely not.
I’ve made some conscious decisions to consume some minor gluten on occasion and have also accidentally eaten some when it wasn’t intended (that stuff is hidden in everything, you guys!).
However, I always try to lean on gluten digestive enzymes for those rare encounters and am definitely (and will most likely always be) a mostly gluten-free girl.
Living a Gluten-Free Life
While my reason for going gluten-free may be different than yours, there are so many amazing benefits to this lifestyle change!
With that said, going gluten-free doesn’t always equal healthier.
There can be hidden toxins in gluten-free foods that I’m in the process of learning the ins and outs of!
Check back in with me here at Healthy Farmhouse to learn more about the gluten-free lifestyle, get info on some of the hidden toxins in gluten-free foods, and learn some of my new favorite gluten-free recipes all coming to the blog in 2024!!