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Accidentally Paleo

| Wednesday, October 14, 2015

AccidentallyPaleoWEBLucy Du | The Observer

I am a dairy-intolerant cheese connoisseur. I am a gluten-intolerant pasta aficionado. I am accidentally Paleo. This is my story.

Anyone who knows me would probably tell you about my love of cheese. They’d say, “Oh, yes. I know Gabriela. She’s pretty cool. And she loves cheese.” As an example of my cheese devotion, I give this anecdote: I oft would be caught purchasing a bag of cheddar cheese cubes from the Huddle Mart and devouring the entirety of the bag before the day’s end. Also, random and what I thought was an unrelated fact, I oft felt terribly nauseous.

Don’t ask me how I got through almost a full 21 years of life not connecting the dots and doing the math. Cheese equals sick. Pasta equals sick. Pasta and cheese equals double sick.

Feeling unwell after eating was the norm for me since at least high school. I remember in the afternoons, leaving my choir class and heading to the nurse’s office due to overwhelming nausea. But I explained it away due to antibiotics I was taking or stress or the flu or etc. Then, my freshman year at Notre Dame, I understood true pain when I ate North Dining Hall pasta stir fry for almost every meal. Within 10 minutes of eating, I would feel light-headed and would need to lie down. An avid napper, I began to accept this as my pre-nap ritual, not fully comprehending that I was harming my body. It seems by brain cells were being used elsewhere.

Eventually, I learned to lay off the pasta stir fry, but the problem didn’t go away fully. It got to a point last year where I felt so sick after eating, I stopped going to the dining hall. I almost stopped eating all together.

It was only after this most recent period that I realized that all the way I was feeling wasn’t normal and shouldn’t be a norm for anyone.

An appointment at a Functional Medicine Institute and a few test results later, it seemed as if the problem and solution were simple. Problem equals dairy and gluten. Solution equals don’t eat dairy and gluten.

And that, my dear friends, is how I became accidentally Paleo (and by Paleo, I mean the Paleo diet, which is restricted only to foods early humans would have eaten — so no grain or dairy).

As I arrived on-campus for RA training this August, I began to make my transition to a dairy-free, gluten-free life. I wasn’t too intimidated by the transition, but I found soon enough that eating this way could be difficult. The RA training meals were pre-made and often included very few items that were both gluten and dairy free. I found myself forced into eating salad for at least one, sometime two, meals a day. This became frustrating.

But being accidentally Paleo hasn’t been all bad.

Since becoming gluten and dairy free, a few positive surprises have popped up along the way. First, friends have become very protective of me and my ability to eat. If a restaurant or meal don’t have anything I can eat, friends come to my rescue, offering up alternatives or standing up to a chef on my behalf. Second, Notre Dame’s dining halls are more gluten and dairy free friendly than I thought. Fresh vegetables, potatoes, rice, and meat await me every day. Additionally, the Huddle Mart is stocked with awesome snacks that I can eat without feeling sick.

All in all, though I miss cheese and bread and cheesy bread, I’m happy to go most days without the urge to vomit. My life is no longer a love story between me and cheese, but it is my story nonetheless.

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About Gabriela Leskur

Gabriela Leskur is Viewpoint Editor for The Observer. She is majoring in the Program of Liberal Studies and Anthropology. She works as a Marketing and Journalism Intern for the Notre Dame Alumni Association and sings in the Notre Dame Folk Choir in the spare time that normal people would spend sleeping or relaxing.

Contact Gabriela
  • There are many foods that are healthy that people overlook as Paleo foods, however, you will find their are many more waiting to be discovered: http://simplyptp.com/paleo

  • Captain Murphy

    I don’t think people really understand what paleo is. Paleo, while yes it is supposed to be what our early ancestors ate, it is literally anything they could find.
    That DOES include grains, legumes, and anything else that might have been foraged for.
    They couldn’t be picky thousands of years ago…
    And different foods grow all over the world. Some regions ate fish, others had inland game, some had access to berries and legumes, or neither of those things.

    • gkur

      Thank you, Captain. This article was written in jest and is not meant to be seen as an instructional manual on diet or a commentary on what Paleo really means. It is more me documenting the hilarity of my own ignorance to my dietary struggles. Though my issues with gluten and dairy are real, the Paleo comment is based more on the fact that I sang “Accidentally Paleo” to the tune of “Accidentally in Love” one day and found it funny. Feel free to follow this link for a better understanding: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22bK0C2obFc. All the best to you, good sir!

      • Captain Murphy

        Heh, I understand. I am glad you finally found what has been causing your stomach problems. It is sad that cheese and gluten (two of the best foods lol) cause you such discomfort.