Victoria Young lives in East London with her husband and son. In her guest blog for woman&home, she shares the ups and downs of living with food intolerences.
Ten years ago – although I’m ashamed to say this now – I was really quite impatient about any kind of ‘food faddishness’, as I thought of everything from vegetarianism to food intolerances (which I genuinely thought were invented by hypochondriacs at a bit of a loose end).
Then, as fate would have it, I was diagnosed with colitis, which is truly the world’s least glamorous condition, especially for a 20 something single girl, as I was then.
At first, medication allowed me to live life as normal – which in my case meant a diet that was joyously carb-centric.
But as I started reading more about diet and colitis, I saw the link between the two was indisputable and I started making changes. It was really, really hard at first – being so fond, as I was, of pasta, pizza and Pringles. But, for the past seven years, I’ve been medication-free – and healthier than I’ve ever been.
Admittedly, at times it feels like I’m following the most restrictive diet in the universe. This is what I avoid: all grains (including rice, quinoa and corn), plus potatoes, parsnips, chickpeas, butter beans (although haricot beans are OK), soya, sugar, milk and soft cheese (although hard cheese is OK).
It’s complicated and confusing and it took me several years to get my head around it and if I eat even a tiny amount of the food I have to avoid, I can get quite sick for what can become weeks or even months, so I have to be uber strict.
For ages I stopped eating out and refused invitations for dinner, or weekends away, for fear of being ‘that’ guest: you know – the high-maintenance one who comes with a list of demands so long that you feel resentful rather than welcoming.
But life got much better when I learned to focus on what I CAN eat (all protein and most vegetables, plus spices and herbs – I can also eat nuts, seeds, honey and fruit plus cheese (as long as it’s hard) and yoghurt as long as I make it myself using the right cultures, over 24 hours, which is obviously a bit of a faff, but worth it) rather than what I can’t. I also started writing a food blog, How to eat (when you can’t eat anything at all).
Every month, Victoria will share her experiences of living with food intolerences and being on a special diet on her guest blog for woman&home.