My Journey With Gluten

Being Gluten Free Is Not Easy And I've Had A Constant Battle With It

My 6 years and counting journey...

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I can remember sitting in my biology class in high school when I first heard about gluten. My teacher and a student in the class had Celiac disease. When I heard about everything they'd gone through, I began to research Celiac disease to better understand what they had. I saw that when you Celiac disease, you have red bumps on your arms and legs, like Keratosis Pilaris (what I have), and so I thought that taking gluten out of my diet might help with the bumps. I was gluten-free for seven months and in that time, I felt like a brand new person and the bumps on my arms and legs had calmed down a little bit. But this is a decision that has changed my life.

When I tried to go back to eating gluten, I began to notice how badly my body would react to it. Whenever I would eat it, I would get tired and sluggish. I would have sore muscles and joints as well as constipation and diarrhea. It makes my stomach hurt so badly that it hurts to move or breathe. When I eat anything containing gluten, I had to go to the bathroom with twenty or thirty minutes of eating. But not many people know.

I don't usually tell people that I have a gluten sensitivity for many reasons. The first reason is I don't like to draw attention to myself. When I'm out with people at a pizza restaurant, I try and see if they have a gluten-free option and if they do, then I'll get it. This situation changes if we're all going to split a pizza and just share the price when this happens, I just suck it up and deal with it. I don't mention it because when people hear that you have a food allergy, they can get annoyed. It can feel like an inconvenience and a chore. I just know when I eat gluten what I've gotten myself into.

Another reason why I don't tell people about my allergy is they don't know what gluten is. Whenever I tell someone that I am gluten sensitive, they ask what that means and what gluten is. Gluten is a substance present in cereal grains, especially wheat, that is responsible for the elastic texture of the dough. The third reason is every time I tell someone I am gluten sensitive, it feels like I'm defending myself. It's like I have to prove that I'm allergic to gluten. I end up having to tell them everything that happens when I eat gluten just so they will believe me.

I know that after I went from being completely gluten free to trying to re-introduce it into my life, I went through some anger. I was mad that I could no longer eat a handful of crackers without regretting it an hour later. I was angry that I had to constantly defend my body and what happens when I eat gluten. Over the past six years, my feelings towards gluten have changed. I am now thankful that I tried not eating gluten and realized just what it was doing to my body. I am also thankful for the support that I get from my family.

This is my journey with gluten and the far from over struggle with gluten. I am so glad that there are so many options in grocery stores and in restaurants. I hope that this has told you something I don't normally share with many people about myself and maybe shone some light on gluten sensitivity. I hope that this has helped someone out there and can help you understand something that maybe you are going through.

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The Unspoken Dangers of 'Mukbang' Culture

Ever wondered why you can't stop clicking on these addictive, self-made eating shows?

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Unless you've been living under a rock for the past five years, you've probably heard of the internet trend commonly referred to as a mukbang, or "eating show." These self-produced video clips typically involve one hungry individual, their filming device, and an obscene amount of delicious foods.

Though these broadcasts originated all the way from South Korea (hence the foreign vocabulary), the growing popularity of eating videos has taken the internet by storm. Nowadays as you scroll through YouTube, you'll find an outrageous amount of uploads with titles like "10,000 CALORIE PASTA MUKBANG," "EATING EVERYTHING ON THE MCDONALD'S MENU," or "THE ULTIMATE CHOCOLATE CHALLENGE."

Popular 'mukbangers' such as Peggie Neo, Megan McCullom, and Steven Sushi have made a sizable profit off of their viral eating shows, some collecting tens of thousands of dollars in revenue.

So, what's the big deal you say? You order a large quantity of food, indulge in said food, film yourself completing this menial task, and upload to the internet for money and fame. On the outside, this may seem like a luxurious lifestyle, but behind the camera lens sits an individual battling their own demons and influencing the world of social media to partake in their harmful behaviors.

Mukbanger Livia Adams ("Alwayshungry" on YouTube) has opened up about her unhealthy relationship with food in the past, praising herself for fasting several hours in order to justify her over-indulgence on camera.

Similarly, internet sensation Trisha Paytas claims to diet and starve herself for weeks just to be able to satisfy her subscribers with epic mukbangs, which are essentially binges.

In all actuality, these social media celebrities are negatively impacting (and possibly triggering) vulnerable viewers.

Many fans only see the highlight reel of YouTubers shoveling bowls of cereal or boxes of doughnuts into their mouths, yet remain completely unaware of what truly goes on behind-the-scenes. Messages saying:

"I'm on a diet... watching this is giving me some sort of satisfaction, like as tho I ate, you know?"
"I watch these videos because I know I physically can't afford to eat like this because I gain weight too easily."
"When having an eating disorder, watching Trisha's mukbangs is sorta comforting in a way omg"

flood the comments sections of Paytas' videos. Quite obviously, fans young and old are heavily influenced by this content and continue to support these creators to fulfill a self-destructive need.

Additionally, famous mukbang accounts never seem to include the painful after-effects of their ginormous feasts in videos. Fitness model Stephanie Buttermore flaunts her slim physique just days after consuming over 10,000 calories for a challenge, giving the impression that her previous overindulgence had no repercussions on her health whatsoever. Because Buttermore is a trained, athletic young woman, she was able to quickly bounce back after a series of workouts and low-calorie meals.

On the contrary, if a sedentary woman of about the same age were to attempt this challenge, she would most likely feel sluggish, irritable, bloated, stomach discomfort, and even vomitous post challenge. Eating regularly like this could lead to bigger issues such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain types of cancer. Unfortunately, because topics like these aren't glamorous and attractive to subscribers, mukbangers often edit them out.

Now don't get me wrong. Though not everyone who uploads a mukbang to the internet has an eating disorder or an evil agenda, they have to realize the kind of audience they're appealing to. This generation is more susceptible than ever to emulate the actions and words of their favorite celebrities. Young boys and girls look up to successful adults, and influencers should be remembered for the change they inspired, not the disease they encouraged.

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30 Days Of Meat Taught Me About Emotional And Spiritual Eating

Emotional eating is actually a very good thing.

ChelseaC
ChelseaC
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I wrote about my experience with the Carnivore diet here—two and a half weeks of only beef, and then the remainder of the thirty days on just meat.

The Carnivore diet has a myriad of reputed health benefits and definite physical benefits (it's the easiest way in my experience to lose weight), but what I found most fascinating was how it illuminated my emotional and spiritual relationship with food.

I've heard all my life (from family, friends, articles, memes) that emotional eating is a thing. But I've only heard it mentioned in a negative way—eating away my feelings is bad, dealing with a breakup by gaining 10lbs of Ben & Jerry's is understandable but bad, snacking because I'm bored is bad.

Let me tell you, I was not motivated to eat in response to any emotion on the Carnivore diet. When you can only eat unseasoned meat, it does not taste good enough to eat as comfort OR as celebration. During this time I dealt with normal school stress, financial stress, and personal stress for weeks, and became acutely aware that I would have turned to food for comfort, stress relief, distraction, happiness, and more.

Rather than seeing this emotional eating as a bad thing, I actually began seeing it as a very, very good thing. Life is stressful and difficult and sometimes just plain bad. Why would it be a bad thing to find comfort, distraction, and even joy in something I already need to do?* It seems, actually, a great blessing that I can find such happiness in a part of my inevitable daily routine.

*Of course, like all things, emotional eating can be extreme. If I eat an entire cake every time I'm sad, that's a different matter. But if I eat well overall, and eat unhealthy things with moderation, that's a sustainable balance. And you will never know the joy that blueberries and kale can bring you until you only eat meat for 30 days.

This element of food bringing joy—be it enjoying slices of fresh mango, fresh cheese on toasted bread, or homemade kettle corn—leads us into the spiritual and communal aspect of food.


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Sharing in food is a highly communal—almost primal—part of our ancestry: sharing our resources was integral to our very survival. Sharing food is incredibly intimate and is one of the most bonding things we can do in a social setting. If you've ever gone out to eat with friends and not been able to eat the foods they're eating (because of a diet, intolerances, or even just not being hungry), you will have felt the impact of not participating in this social bond. Even if we're not hungry, if all our friends are eating, we feel this strong urge to be a part of the group too—to eat something. And those around us also feel this pressure—think of how often people have offered you food, especially if you weren't already eating something, even to the point of pressuring you to eat.

Food strengthens (or weakens) our bodies, it strengthens our social bonding, and it nourishes our soul. Food can be incredibly powerful—the right food at the right time can bring happiness to even the most broken of hearts. Every single one of our ancestors spent time preparing food; and doing so ourselves makes us more mindful of our health, taking care of our bodies, and honoring an age-old routine of the process of making and enjoying food.

Realizing the joy that the presence of food brings to my life--and the utter emptiness I experienced without it--opened my eyes to food's presence in my life in both an emotional and spiritual way. There was nothing that could compensate for the thrice+ daily habit of enjoying delicious food or snacks; there was no substitute for sharing food and mealtimes with other people. Even when I was present during mealtimes, I wasn't able to share the same food the others were eating. There was simply no substitute for everyone eating together.

We can't live without food, and it's incredibly beautiful that an unavoidable part of our day—a thing we literally can't live without—is a thing that can bring us such joy, comfort, happiness, companionship, routine, consistency, health, and community. We're caring for ourselves when we eat good food, and our bodies get that. And even when we eat ice cream and cookies, we're enjoying delicious tastes and textures that bring us happiness—even if they may add to our waistline.

I was the most fit I'd ever been on the Carnivore diet—and the most food-relatedly unhappy. I love food. Before the Carnivore diet, if you had mentioned emotional eating to me, I would have thought you were speaking of a negative thing. Now, when I think of emotional eating, I think of how food pairs so well with so many different emotions of the human experience--and how absolutely wonderful that is. Being able to go out with friends and enjoy amazing cheeses and tea and salads and ice cream makes me incredibly grateful for the powerful social bonding experience of breaking bread with others and even just breaking it with myself. Are you sad? Lonely? Wanting to celebrate? There's a food for all of that. Feeling any strong feelings—with other people or by yourself? There's a food for that too.

in the words of J. R. R. Tolkien: "If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."

The Carnivore diet removed almost all pleasure from food and distilled it down to just physical nourishment. After 30 days of self-exclusion from one of the most ancient, beautiful, and powerful rituals (both social and solo) known to man, I wouldn't trade food for anything--including hoarded gold.


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ChelseaC
ChelseaC

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