When you’re born and raised in what is known as the “Redneck Riviera”, aka the panhandle of Florida along the Gulf Coast within an hour of both Georgia and Alabama, you learn to love your coffee sweet, dark, and very strong, your iced tea syrupy sweet, grandma’s flaky and delicious buttermilk biscuits, and sun & surf! You just can’t grow up in the south without these things and learning to swim as well as fish. Coconut cake and Pecan Pies are two of the most popular desserts in the south, raw oysters eaten straight or on crackers with hot sauce, pretty much anything that comes from the ocean, fried chicken, potatoes and gravy. Waking up to the smell of fresh brewed coffee strong enough to make anyone grow chest hair, bacon, and eggs is like waking up in heaven! Once breakfast is pumping through your veins, summer time tends to be long, full days of sun and fun. For the most part! Shelling peas with your grandmother is part of it too and add to awesome memories. Nothing like getting delicious food to sustain you for a day of beach or pool, or even riding your bicycles all day with your friends and getting home in time for supper. Ah, supper! Our mama’s knew how to cook the best fried chicken along with mashed potatoes and gravy!
Trying to keep up the tradition of such wonderful cooking is a standard that has to be kept, if not surpassed, so our own kids will have wonderful memories of many of the same meals! But some women’s bodies don’t handle having babies as well as others. I know I am not alone when I say that after the birth of my third son, my body went completely bonkers. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (hypothyroid) and for nearly 20 years, my health steadily declined. Stomach problems, allergies, sensitivities, and spinal problems got way out of control. After having an upper & lower GI two days after Labor Day last year, I was given a list of foods to avoid if I wanted to feel better. It’s quite a long list! Thanks to digestive issues which prompted the scheduling of said GI check, I had managed to lose about 30 pounds. After the procedure and being handed a list of foods I needed to avoid, I didn’t listen right away. Instead, I would take Prilosec or something similar to ward off the stomach aches that came along with eating the foods I was to avoid. But I have no choice now.
Last few times I ate tomatoes, peppers, and other nightshade foods, I progressively had worse and worse reactions. The last time nearly sent me to the ER. Nothing like finding out in your mid-40’s what it’s like for those who’ve had lifelong food allergies! When you can’t figure out why it seems you’re gasping for breath, feel about to pass out while sitting,stomach churning, then the body purging for 24+ hours, you finally learn! So between learning what foods I need to avoid, which to limit, and the body purging itself, I’ve lost around 80’ish pounds over the course of a year. It’s a hard and unpleasant way to do it, but hey, I’m in normal size clothing for the first time since I was pregnant with my first son 22 years ago!
Which brings me to learning new ways of eating and especially cooking because, being southern, I LOVE to cook! But when you have to avoid nightshades (particularly tomatoes, peppers, and chili) and you love Mexican and Italian foods, it’s a huge bummer! I now have to read labels and avoid foods that people all around me are eating and enjoying. Here is my list of foods to avoid or only have a small amount on rare occasions (3*** means to completely avoid at all costs unless I want to make a trip to the ER, 2** means avoid if I don’t want to get a horrible stomach ache, 1* is for things I can only have in very small amounts on rare occasions):
*** Tomatoes and anything that has tomatoes in it (ketchup, marinara sauce, spaghetti sauce, etc)
*** Peppers (Bell, Jalapeno, Chili, Cayenne) – this does not include Black Pepper/Peppercorns
*** Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
*** Additives & Preservatives in deli meats and some canned products (labels read carefully)
*** Artificial Sweeteners
*** Tree Nuts
** ANY Pork
** Potatoes (I can, however, enjoy Sweet Potatoes as they are a different class and I LOVE)
* High Fructose Corn Syrup
* Any pasta that is not gluten-free and low-glycemic (I also have type 2 diabetes)
If I choose to eat non-organic fruits or vegetables, I make sure to soak with vinegar water before scrubbing or use baking soda to scrub well and peel off skin of fruits like apples. I’m not allergic to milk, but due to fact I’m highly sensitive and allergic to not just foods but chemicals too, I choose to eat and drink mostly organic foods. Berries are my favorite group (and they are absolutely wonderful for you)!
So follow me on this journey of new, clean eating and trying out new ways of caring for hair and skin! Maybe some of you have tips or recipes you would love to share! I welcome them!