October 05, 2009

Speaking Her Voice: The Sassy Gourmet

Julia Gartland is a self described 20-something vegan obsessed with all things green and gluten-free. She is the creator of Sassy Kitchen, a blog and website sharing with her readers good food, good talk and as she likes to say "a bit of sass."

Julia is a gluten-intolerant vegan with a passion for health, cooking and baking. She started Sassy Gourmet Bakery as a response to the lack of gluten-free tasty baked goods out on the market. "I don't just want a cracker I can eat, I want a GREAT cracker...with some sass. So, with this dilemma, I realized I would have to make it myself."

On her journey through food intolerances, and chronic stomach pain, she's developed an intense passion for holistic health and gluten-free baking. Her blog, Sassy Kitchen, also features cooking recipes, vegan product reviews and personal accounts.

Please read below as Julia shares with the WCC community a bit of her sassy insight and delicious wisdom.

By Julia Gartland of Sassy Kitchen and Sassy Gourmet

I believe some people hold all their feelings in some part of their body, and for me, it's my gut. My "pain," we'll call it, started about 4 years ago and it's evolved about 100 times since then. I've seen about 8 different specialists in the meantime, none of whom could diagnose me with anything specific, which was always what I was afraid of.

For anyone with severe stomach pain, or any chronic illness, you know what kind of effect it has on your entire life. Getting up in the morning, being active, being busy, traveling, mood, etc etc etc. The ways it can hinder your life are often listless.

It's hard to even remember where and when it started because it has felt like a lifetime. It began randomly and stubbornly as my digestion is best known for its transformative nature. A chameleon, really. Sometimes it's horrible, sometimes it is OK, for months at a time. It makes diagnosis for a mystery illness very difficult. I've seen countless specialists and done every diet modification in existence. I've eaten all cooked, all raw, all green, all grain, no grain, no yeast, dairy, no dairy and the list continues. Over the course of these years, taking an unbelievable amount of herbs, probiotics and enzymes, only eating this before that, food combinations, taking 6 pills before eating anything, and NOTHING CHANGED. Not once were my symptoms relieved. It was almost comical the way my stomach was so abusive and yet completely unresponsive to everything. Some of you may understand when I say I resented my body, which is a horrible way to feel. I did everything I could for it, fed it all the right things, did yoga and every other exercise I could find, and it was still causing me pain.

Between the very beginning of this illness and now, I have little clarity on what the actual problem is. From what I can tell, I've had a heavy bacteria imbalance that is effecting my entire body, but most specifically, my intestines. I'm also hypoglycemic. I do little things everyday to help. but as exhausting and heart-breaking as this experience has been, most of it has been about LETTING GO. Stressing about the problem could have been causing the problem. I know now that the worry was hurting me and accepting it has done wonders. For me, it was about "releasing the demon" sort-of-speak, and letting go of the anger I had about the situation.

My life and priorities have completely changed. Through this process I became gluten-free and vegan. I learned about foods and nutrition that I never knew before through all the research. Most importantly, I've grown to understand my body. My body has become even more precious to me. Through food I have reached a clarity about health and what it means to me. It has been the worst and best experience and one that deserved it's very own post. I couldn't even fathom the way my stomach has changed my life, but I know without it, I wouldn't have learned all the things I now know. And that is my peace of mind. I now practice unconditional love towards my body, in all the ways I can. Some days are good, some days are bad, but either way I know I'll be OK.

Things I have learned:

aloe supplements are my savior
always drink your smoothie with a spoon, and chew
drinking during or after a meal does affect my digestion
ginger tea soothes me no matter what
raw onion or garlic are toxic to my body
yoga or physical exercise always help to keep my digestion moving
too many grains will give me "brick in the belly" syndrome
too much raw will also back me up
not enough water causes sluggish digestion and cramping
stressing about my digestion will make it worse, every time

(Reprinted by the author. All rights reserved).

For more information, recipes, words of wisdom or to purchase delicious treats from her bakery, please visit her blog Sassy Kitchen.

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