• Jenny Ingles, CFCP

Holiday Blog: Queen of Alternative Diets

I am the queen of alternative diets... according to Karoline, that is. And she’s not wrong. I can pretty much handle anyone’s dietary issues if they come to eat at my house. But it isn’t a diet fad or even a choice. In our family of 6 we have 2 people with food allergies (the legit kind that cause death), 4 with autoimmune diseases and 3 with diabetes. The food allergies alone (tuna, banana, plantain, wheat, dairy, egg, soy and tree nuts) limit us substantially. Throw in the low-inflammatory and low-sugar aspect and you basically have banana-free/plantain-free/tuna-free Autoimmune Protocol Paleo diet. If you want to get fancy we can call it BFPFTFAIP diet....


Holiday cooking is interesting. And I’ve all but given up on Halloween candy. Seriously. You can only eat so many Dum Dums. But we’ve managed to make some amazing foods for the Holidays. The trick is finding suitable alternatives. For example, arrowroot flour does not make good gravy. Unless, of course, you like your gravy to resemble Jell-O. In that case, go for it! But cassava flour does make good gravy. And pumpkin makes great pancakes. I’ve pretty much mastered the whole alternative food thing.


But the reality is that I didn’t just wake up one day and start cooking everything from scratch. I’ve been accumulating skills (and kitchen appliances) for nearly a decade. I’ve had some really good successes and some really bad failures. Key: pay attention to alternative milks. They come in some pretty funky flavors. In case you’re curious, vanilla mashed potatoes are not a legitimate food item. Ask me how I know this. Better yet, ask my husband.


My food journey began with 7 years of infertility and finding Creighton. We were introduced to NFP (and subsequently Creighton) during our Convalidation process. My Creighton practitioner suggested going gluten-free and dairy-free to start addressing my infertility. That was the final piece of the puzzle that allowed us to get pregnant. 11 years, 7 pregnancies and 4 living children later, we’ve learned even more about healthy food choices. We’ve slowly removed unhealthy foods from our diet and added in healing foods. I am a firm believer that health starts in the gut. It’s been my firsthand experience. Initially, giving up foods was difficult. But reframing it as “finding awesome, healing foods” has helped. Do I miss certain foods? Yup. I’m thinking of you Black Tie Mousse Cake from Olive Garden. But what I don’t miss is lying on the floor with vertigo for an entire summer because of an out-of-control autoimmune disease. I don’t miss blood sugar roller coaster rides. I don’t miss an empty, childless house. Food has been healing.


People want to know if I cheat. Do I relapse and eat junk? Yes. But I pay for it. My autoimmune diseases flare. I hurt, I feel nauseated and I get terrible acne. I’m not perfect. It’s easier not to cheat with my allergy kids. The punishment for a banana walnut muffin, you ask? Death. Avoiding death is a good motivator. So what do we do for the Holidays? How do we celebrate with food? We just do what everyone else does. We have our favorites. Prime rib is amazing. Pair that with mashed sweet potatoes and roasted veggies and you have yourself a bona fide holiday dinner. We also do more traditional things like turkey and ham. The meat is the centerpiece. The sides are just that. Sides. We even ventured out into baking a pumpkin pie this year. We had to use sugar in the homemade coconut condensed milk and in the AIP graham cracker crust, but it was mostly on track. It was really good. And you never could have guessed that it was BFPFTFAIP.


So for my holiday special blog post I offer this... that unforgettable holiday must-have food can be foregone. Once we learned to reframe meal choices as “we get to” instead of “we can’t have”, life became a lot less stressful. So whatever your stressful holiday thing is, try and reframe it. From my family to yours – Merry Christmas!

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