My dream vacation is over, which means a number of things. For one, it means I'm blogging all about my trip each day so you have to stay posted and read my Traveling with Sensitivities Blog! It also means that my diet has to change back to what it was prior to leaving for my trip. I literally ate whatever my big heart desired when I was in Italy. I don't regret it one bit. I was symptom free and enjoying some of the best food I'll ever eat in my life. I don't care what anyone says, the cuisine is a tremendous part of the traveling experience. I can say this now with 100% certainty. Fortunately for me, I traveled to a place where the wheat and other foods aren't as processed or genetically modified as they are here in the States. I know this played a role in my ability to eat what I wanted and still feel well. I also did a ton of walking each day when I was in Italy- way more than I ever have in my life. And of course, I danced my ass off every night at the discos/bars- whatever you want to call them. Although my pedicure is absolutely obliterated, my bunz and hamz are tight as hell and I didn't put on any weight in Italy- which is truly a miracle given what I ate each day.
It was very difficult to come back home and resist some of the foods I had been eating without a care for the past two weeks. In fact, I probably most definitely stopped for a Bedford House of Roast Beef sangwich on my way home from the airport. Oops.
I came home from Italy and it was as if I never left- my momma (who is an amazing Italian cook, herself) made pasta with homemade basil pesto and chicken stuffed with spinach, fontina cheese, cremini mushrooms, and shallots in a marsala sauce for dinner. It was so damn good. And I possibly most certainly enjoyed a cannoli from a Bedford bakery that night for dessert. I couldn't use the excuse that, "well I'm in Italy so...." but I could tell myself that the next day would be a new day- a clean slate, and the start of yet another possibly difficult detox.
<-- The following day I had this bowl of Heaven for breakfast. It felt good to have some fresh organic fruit. To be honest I didn't eat as many fruits and veggies in Italy as I would have liked. My body definitely craved the good, healthy foods I had been living off of for so long prior to my trip. Who would have thought I'd miss it with all the unbelievable food in Italy? I guess it just goes to show, when you have your health and you fuel your body with the right foods, you'll really feel it when those foods are suddenly missing from your diet. For lunch I was absolutely thrilled to have some brown rice with mixed grilled vegetables. I inhaled it, actually. I really missed my brown rice, too! But understand- I probably had pasta everyday when I was in Italy. I know I had sandwiches everyday when I was in Italy and I had pizza almost everyday when I was in Italy. That's a lot of bread and a lot of pasta- especially for one sensitive bitch like me. I hesitate to admit it, but I was definitely getting tired of the whole pasta, pizza, bread thing. I know I will look back on these words a short time from now and miss those foods terribly, but for now it's the truth.
Since I've been home I've gone back to a completely gluten free diet and I'm weaning myself off of sugar slowly but surely. I would say in the next few days sugar will be cut from my diet. I have a feeling that the withdrawals won't be as difficult as they were the first time, given that I only had sugar in my diet for two weeks. I've started my workout routine again, which feels great. Even though I got a lot of exercise on my trip, it's still more satisfying to break out the resistance bands and blast some profane music. We all know it can be a challenge to get back into the swing of things after two weeks (or however long) of living the fake life. God knows it can be depressing to come back to real life, but it's important to remember that you're only one workout away from a good mood. Fuel your body with the right juice, tell yourself you can, and just do it. No one has ever said, "I regret that workout" or, "I regret eating that healthy meal." Your body is a fucking temple. Learn to love it.
We're getting down to the wire! In just 3 weeks (as of yesterday) I'll be on a plane headed to Italia. I can't believe how fast the time is flying by. I must admit, the closer I get to July 1st, the more I find myself worrying about traveling with all my crazy sensitivities. While Italy is said to be celiac/gluten-free friendly, it's difficult enough trying to manage out in public at home in the States. This is mainly because I have more than just a gluten sensitivity, as we all know. My plan is to stay gluten-free during my trip and make smart choices where all my other sensitivities are concerned. It's all about the load of burden- that is, how much and how often. I've already started practicing my opening line of, "sono celiaci e non mangio glutine." Let's be honest, what I really want to learn how to say is, "I've been a caged animal for 4 months, let me eat my fuggin' face off in a judgement-free zone. GRAZIE!"
According to all the research I've done thus far, there are far more gluten-free options in Italy than there are here, in the United States. That's because Italy and other European countries seem to be lightyears ahead of our country when it comes to understanding celiac and other food sensitivities/intolerances. I can get a gluten-free cone with my gelato (which is loaded with sugar and not necessarily ideal to begin with......but when in Rome- right?) I can get gluten-free croissants, breads, pastas, etc. I also need to consider that in different parts of Italy, some foods other than pasta are enjoyed more often. For example, in northern Italy, they eat a lot of risotto, which is rice. In Venice, they eat a lot of polenta, which is corn-based. While I am sensitive to corn, I have reintroduced it. Again- allllllll in moderation.
Italians take celiac very seriously. In fact, children in Italy are tested very early on for the disease. Those with Celiac are given a stipend from the government each month and free time to do their gluten-free shopping, as well as receive free time to get necessary health services! Yes, I was born in the wrong country.
No matter how much research I plan to do between now and July 1st, the truth remains that I'm traveling to a different country all by myself for the very first time in my life. I booked my trip prior to my lifestyle change and I know that there is a reason for this. I look forward to sharing all that I will learn about stepping out into the world as the sensitive but strong person that I am.
So where will I be traveling exactly? Milan, Verona, Venice, Florence, Assisi, Pompeii, Sorrento, Capri, and Rome. I know- and the word, "excited" does not do this feeling justice.
I welcome any advice that any of my followers have to offer! Have you ever traveled with sensitivities? If yes, I'd love to hear about your experiences. Just comment on this post!
Over the next few weeks I'll be sneaking some Italy-related posts into my blog. You know, about the important stuff- wine, food, food, wine, and maybe a few other things.
So one of my best friends, soul sisters, and roommates from college turns 23 at the end of the month and naturally, I want to be there with her and the rest of our friends celebrating for the occasion. Again, this is another opportunity for me to "practice" being in a public, social situation where drinks, food, and a shit ton of dancing will be had. I did my homework and spoke to my nutritionist about possibly trying to reintroduce alcohol. Yes, alcohol. Initially we both thought that trying organic beer may be a good option, but the more I looked into the possibility, I found that if organic beer was not made with wheat, it was made with yeast. I went back and forth looking at this website and that, but without fail, there was always something (even in organic beer) that I couldn't have- like molasses and other random non-MRT tested ingredients.
I began taking a peek at the possibility of reintroducing hard alcohol. To my surprise, I found that there are a lot of BOTH gluten and yeast free hard-alcohol options! RAPTURE! Some of the liquors included select brands of rum, vodka, gin, and bourbon. The general consensus is that it's important to buy domestic brands of hard alcohol, as it is the law that all domestic alcohol must be pasteurized and filtered. This is not necessarily the case in some countries overseas. If you choose to go with imported liquor, do your homework first!
My liquor of choice has always been vodka. I've never particularly enjoyed any other kind of hard alcohol. Luckily for me, vodka is considered to be the purest of all hard liquors, so it's recommended for those of us who are extra sensitive and "thirsty." Apparently research also shows that vodka is least likely to give you a horrific hangover, which is always a plus.
My guess is, I will probably reintroduce vodka. While Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum is both a gluten and yeast free option, I personally don't think it goes well with anything other than Coke. I can't drink Coke, so that takes care of that. I can mix vodka (unflavored) with soda/seltzer water and some lemon or lime. It's important to go the unflavored route with so many sensitivities. If it's that big of an issue for you and you NEED your flavored beverage, always do your research to make sure it's free of your reactive ingredients. While my beverage of choice doesn't sound unbelievably tasty, I think I can make do. I plan to reintroduce alcohol a week before getting together with my friends just to see how my body handles the change. After three months without consuming so much as a sip of alcohol, I'm sure I'll be down for the count as soon as it hits my lips.
I'm sharing a bunch of links that I found useful in my research.
Gluten free alcohol
Top 10 yeast free alcoholic drinks
Yeast free alcoholic beverages
More yeast free alcoholic beverages
My gluten free USA
Gluten free for life- which ones are safe?
Gluten free booze
Gluten free beer
Gluten free ORGANIC beer
I had to do a lot of back-and-forth searching with my research. I'd find a gluten free brand of vodka and then research if it was yeast free, as well. A bit time consuming, yes, but extremely important! For those of you with fewer sensitivities it will be much easier to find something that works for you.
So tonight I went out to dinner at a restaurant for the first time in months. I know I need to start practicing eating out and being in social settings now that May is coming to an end. June will be here before I know it and then I leave for Italy on July 1st. I need to work on being comfortable with my decision making when it comes to ordering meals. Like I have said before, it's difficult because I have little to absolutely no control over what happens in the kitchen at a restaurant. I don't know who is preparing my meal, how seriously this person is going to consider my sensitivities, and I don't know what other food MY food may come into contact with. To be honest, I was a bit skeptical about going tonight. But if I can't do this now, how the hell will I be able to do it in a foreign country?!
I remained collected until the garlic bread came out. It looked so damn good and it smelled unbelievable. I'm salivating even thinking about it now. I anxiously bounced my leg under the table as I got angry with my circumstance. I just wanted to scream and accidentally happen to dump the whole basket of bread in my mouth. I was sensitive to everything in that bread basket with the exception of the olive oil. Looking over the menu, there wasn't a single food selection listed that I could have. NOT ONE. I knew this would be the case, of course. I had to look the waitress in the eye and tell her, "soooo I have a lot of food sensitivities and I was wondering if you could just give me a completely plain piece of grilled chicken- without any seasoning, and a side of steamed brocoli with nothing on it." She looked at me wide-eyed. I went on to explain that I can't have any butter, black pepper, garlic, or any kind of seasoning that would go on these two soon-to-be very naked foods. In an Italian food establishment, what I had just ordered was complete sacrilege. I knew it, she knew it, everyone at the table knew it.
I tried to focus on anything but the fact that I was in a restaurant. For whatever reason, it made me pretty emotional. The ravioli appetizers that got passed around the dinner table only added to my frustration. I was literally on the verge of tears- completely ready to start bawling, followed by me dramatically running away. I guess all I was able to keep saying to myself in my head was, "how the hell am I going to be okay in Italy?" I know I'm going to eat in Italy. I will enjoy those special Italian staples that everyone has to try on their visit to Italy. I will enjoy some in moderation and others may not be such a problem. Right now, my goal is to keep putting myself in these "practice" situations where I'm forced out of isolation. Who would have thought that this would be so challenging? I never would have thought that I'd be in this position in the first place. I keep telling myself, "health is worth all of this."
There is good news, though. Italy is like a gluten free Heaven! I couldn't believe it when I read it, but I did a lot of research about eating gluten free in Italy and found that it's a law that every food establishment must serve gluten free foods. Italians are tested for Celiac at a very young age. Celiac disease is taken extremely seriously in Italy. In fact, those with Celiac get a stipend from the government every month and free time off from work to do their special grocery shopping and receive health services! People can even study Celiac studies in college to go into medicine or a specialization in Celiac disease management. Perhaps I was born in the wrong country? While my gluten sensitivity is only one of many, it is comforting to know that gluten free options won't be an issue on my trip. Regardless, everything is made so differently in Italy. Foods aren't so over-processed and genetically modified in the ways that they are here, in the United States. Hopefully this will work in my favor!