In a world without onions...

In homage to the late, great voice over actor, Don LaFontaine, I figured I'd open my first blog post with the line that he was most famous for.  I suppose it was his voice that sparked my interest in doing voice over acting and having the ability to recognize most actors' and actresses' voices in commercials, documentaries, cartoons and video games.  After a false start years ago trying my hand at a commercial voice over demo, I'm back at it again, taking classes and doing practice reads, with the hope of doing another narration/documentary demo soon, but I'll get back to that later... (As you'll glean from my posts, I have a touch of ADD so I may jump around quite a bit.  I'll do my best to keep that at a minimum. :)) Now back to the onions... Who knew, least of all I, that it would be onions that have been the key to my health problems for years.  The lethargy, the bloating, the feeling that I couldn’t achieve the performance I expected of my body… even after dialing up the exercise quotient following the birth of my second child.   Looking three months pregnant on my little one's 2nd birthday was a serious issue.  I even fell into the clutches of CrossFit where I was this close to attaining the elusive six-pack, but I certainly wasn’t feeling that supercharged feeling other CrossFitters touted: “I FEEL AWESOME!  ONE MORE ROUND!”  If anything, CrossFit caused me more anxiety --- yeah, yeah, yeah, I know CrossFit is all about competing with yourself and not comparing yourself to others, but being a naturally hyper-competitive person, it would really annoy me whenever anyone screamed "TIME!" right before I gasped it out... PLUS being one of the last people to be sweating out the WOD in the box really ticked me off.  Perhaps it was that anxiety that held me back from performing as I thought I should (and you'll come to understand that the word "should" pops up frequently in my inner dialogue that I am choosing to share with you here).

So I thought, “Maybe it's my nutrition.”  In my teens and 20s, I was blessed with a super-fast metabolism so my daily diet of a Starbucks Caramel Frappaccino and Lemon Loaf slice breakfast, a Coke and cheese-laded sandwich for lunch, and a rotation of takeout for dinner didn't affect my weight one iota.  I was a Billy Blanks devotee on and off, punching air in the privacy of my own apartment as a bachelorette, but by no means a diehard fitness buff.  In fact, my periods of being fit happened to coincide with periods of unemployment since I could devote all of my time to obsessing over my own body and its flaws.  It was its own full-time job!  I miss those days.  But after having two children in my early to mid-30s, everything changed.  Maybe it was the hormones surging and receding in my body, maybe it was the birth control pill, maybe it was the white noise of fuzzy mommy brain, but that metabolism I relied upon so long seriously started to stall.

So about a year after the birth of my second child, when I turned 38, along with aforementioned CrossFit, I started eating Paleo.  Yes, I bought all the ebooks I could find on Paleo, Primal, Caveman, you name it, in an effort to emulate my hunting-gathering ancestors, eat meat like a saber tooth and give my canine teeth some purpose.   But even then, I still didn’t feel great.  Paleo soon fell by the wayside for both my husband and me because quite frankly, we got sick of steaming broccoli (our older son would ask us if we had farted), piling our plates with meat, watching everything we ate for cross-contamination, and reading articles about how bread and beans were the bane of our existence.  My husband stuck by it more than I did because I was still waiting for something… waiting for my stomach to stop bothering me every other day despite my efforts to “go primal.”

Every so often, I’d go to a doctor who’d either diagnose me with IBS or stress…. Or gluten intolerance even though an $800 blood test not covered by insurance confirmed that I did NOT have Celiac’s disease.  My husband also didn’t believe in IBS because he said that IBS was a symptom of an underlying problem, not the problem itself.  Hubs quite authoritatively said IBS was not a real diagnosis, but where did that leave me and my bloated belly?  He reminded me of my mother who insisted I didn’t have a peanut allergy, that I was just “crazy” (she didn’t believe in allergies until I ended up vomiting over my favorite red Mickey Mouse shoes when I was 5 years old and had forced myself to stuff down a PB&J at summer camp!).  She changed her tune then.  “Yeah, I guess you have a problem with peanut butter.”  You think!?  Just the very smell of peanut butter makes my skin goosebump and break out in hives.  Believe me, when my own 5-year-old tries to rub faces with me after having one of these vile sandwiches I’m forced to make him, I stiff arm him like a professional football player.

So finally, last year, 2014, a doctor casually threw me (literally threw it) a pamphlet about a Low-FODMAP diet, FODMAP being an acronym for “Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides and Polyols,” otherwise known as carbs that are poorly absorbed in the intestine, but pretty common in a Western diet.   The doc knew nothing about any of this, but had downloaded it from the Internet as a means of bridging the gap between a clearly painful stomach and his total lack of knowledge.  He prescribed me two daily medications to take for the rest of my life but I decided to explore the FODMAP thing instead!

I connected with a food coach who has her own amazing blog about FODMAPs called Strands of My Life and my life was changed forever.  Six weeks of elimination dieting and discovered horror of horrors that I bloat up like a puffer fish whenever I have onions and garlic! Those were the staples of Paleo dieting and always present in my favorite dishes. I grew up on Long Island, New York,  where I ate an Italian dish at least three times a week!  I also found out I’m not gluten intolerant but rather fructan intolerant which is present in a lot of wheat breads, especially those you can find in your everyday supermarket that have a lot of chemicals and gums listed after the sugar and the wheat flour.

My stomach was never as flat as when I went through that diet and although I have hiccups now and then (green beans smothered in garlic at a restaurant! beautiful hash browns laced with onions!), this is my life now.  A life of substitutions: spring onions (green parts only) instead of yellow or red onions, and asafetida powder (or as my husband calls it “Ass & Feet” powder since it does smell kind of gross) instead of garlic powder or even garlic olive oil.  It’s been a sacrifice but my belly thanks me every day by not blocking the view of my feet.