“Eliminating dairy, gluten and processed-sugar solved my tummy woes.”
courtesy Wild Mantle While it might be a popular choice these days, going gluten-free isn’t for everyone. However, Avi Loren Fox, the founder of Wild Mantle, had a compelling reason: When she was in her early 20s, she got a stomach parasite—probably from drinking well water. “It was like a bus hit me. All of a sudden, everything I ate made me sick. I lost weight and couldn’t eat anything at first, and then only really plain foods like rice and chicken with no salt or pepper,” she explained. Once they figured out her diagnosis, antibiotics cleared up the infection, but her gut never fully digested food in the same way it did before. “Foods that used to be fine started to make me sick. I would feel lethargic and tired when I ate certain things. I started to have other issues like acne flare-ups, indigestion, and inflammation,” she shares.
In fact, a 2014 study published in the National Journal confirmed the direct connection between consuming dairy and processed foods and lower immune system function. As Jim Curtis, author and president of Remedy Health Media, explains, “Often we fail to recognize that the food we ‘take’ has an even bigger, long-term effect. We literally are what we eat, despite a cute mascot or funny commercial. The science shows fresh, organic foods, free from pesticides, corn syrup and aspartame, will simply make you happier and more energetic.”
To determine what was shifting in her body, Fox started seeking the expertise of various dietitians, doctors, and acupuncturists, but everyone had a different solution. Frustrated, Fox decided to become her own health advocate by paying close attention to her body and reading a bunch of books to locate the source of her issues. Finally, via an elimination diet, she discovered that dairy, gluten, and processed sugar were all triggers.
She decided to gradually cut these items out and keep track of the progress. The outcome wasn’t overnight, but it was impactful. “This shift changed a lot for me. I still slip up and eat things that aren’t great for me every now and then, and when I do, my body immediately reminds me that wasn’t a good choice,” she says. “I think I’m a lot healthier now because I don’t eat a lot of inflammation-producing foods. The challenge is to get to know your body and listen to what it is telling you. Even if it means a lifestyle shift, you’ll be happier. Your health is worth it.”
“I tried the FODMAP diet and my IBS symptoms went away.”
courtesy Zlata Faerman Lifestyle writer and public relations professional Zlata Faerman has had tummy issues for as long as she can remember. After many years of tests, she was finally diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) but wasn’t offered any solutions to alleviate her discomfort. (These are the clear signs you have IBS.) It was the aftermath of an extremely embarrassing situation that motivated Faerman to start conducting her own research. This is when she discovered the FODMAP diet—an food elimination approach. (The acronym stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols; essentially, the plan means avoiding foods with simple carbs and sugar alcohols, additives in a lot of processed food.) Inspired by the idea, she became the first lifestyle writer to write about FODMAP in the U.S., which is now a popular diet, three years later.
“Once I started eating low FODMAP, I did not feel sick anymore. The feeling of being carefree about food—eating without fear—is not something that’s easy to put into words. While ‘normal’ people can just eat and not think twice, I wasn’t able to do that,” she says. “Food plays a big factor in everyday life, so you can imagine how exhausting that was for me. I no longer feel angst about how I’ll feel following a meal. I no longer decline invitations because of the ‘what ifs.’ Sure, I still have some times that my IBS affects me, but the low FODMAP diet truly changed my life.”