March 19, 2018

My gluten and dairy free eating journey and dealing with emetophobia

Today I thought I would talk to you about something a little bit different, I’ve been going back and forth on whether or not to post this blog, but I think its so important to talk about these sort of things. Instagram and most social media platforms always show the ‘perfect’ life, and I must admit, I am one to always post the good things, isn’t everyone? But I guess there’s always much more going on in a person’s life than just the best bits they post on social media.

So as the blog title suggests, today I’m going to talk about my gluten & dairy free eating journey and how/why I’ve ended up eating this way, including all the symptoms I had and how they affected my life. I’ll also be talking about my journey with dealing with anxiety and emetophobia. It’s been a challenge but I feel like things are definitely on the up, and I hope by sharing this I can help at least 1 person out. Here goes..

Throughout my first few years of secondary school I never really had any problems in terms of my health, in fact I felt healthy 99% of the time. My attendance and grades were good & I was just a normal teenager. This changed when I was around 15, I remember starting to feel unwell at school, and it never really went away. I constantly had a stomach ache, felt really sick and exhausted which really started to impact on every part of my life. I started to feel anxious about going to school in case I was sick and constantly worried about being sick, or people seeing me be sick. This led to me not wanting to go to school, my attendance dropped and I remember being called to a meeting because it was so low. I went to the doctors so many times and always got sent away with numerous tablets, none of which helped. The constant sick feeling was getting worse, and the anxiety about being sick got worse.

I remember feeling so low, I couldn’t do anything without worrying about being sick, I couldn’t go out for meals, public transport was a big no no, and just trying to get through a lesson at school was awful. After researching on the internet and going back to the doctors, It was discussed that I had anxiety and emetophobia, which is basically a huge irrational fear of feeling sick, being sick, or seeing anyone else be sick.

The fear of being sick sounds silly, you’re probably thinking, surely no one likes being sick? But it’s a lot more than that, if anyone else has suffered from the same thing, you will know just how much it impacts your life. I know now that the reason I started constantly feeling sick in the first place was because of my diet (I was still eating gluten & dairy at this point), and if I had been diagnosed sooner, maybe this fear wouldn’t have got so out of control. I wouldn’t cook meat because I was worried about getting food poisoning, I couldn’t go into the cinema because I was worried I’d be sick in front of people, I wouldn’t eat out because I would get myself in such a state and not be able to eat anything. If i ever went anywhere, I would scout out the nearest toilet in case I was going to be sick. I was pushing away my friends because I didn’t want to tell them what was going on, so I would make up excuse after excuse as to why I couldn’t go out for a meal, or why I couldn’t go to the cinema. Looking back on it I wish I had just been totally honest.

I was back and forth from the doctors a lot, and my symptoms were always put down to my mental health, anxiety and emetophobia. However as Coeliac Disease runs in my family (including my Mum, Nan, Uncle and Cousin) the doctors tested me too and led to my Coeliac diagnosis at the age of 16. It was definitely a relief that there was a reason I had been feeling so unwell, and eating a gluten free diet did make me feel a lot better. I finished my GCSEs and A Levels but the emetophobia and anxiety never really went. I wasn’t feeling as sick any more and I was dealing with social situations better, but something still wasn’t right and I ended up having CBT as well as medication to try and help the anxiety.

Thinking back, this feeling never really left, I went to University but still struggled, I started working full time and still struggled so after many more trips to the doctors about my stomach issues along with awful adult acne I had started dealing with, the doctor suggested to trial eating dairy free to see how I felt. Cutting out dairy (along with already not eating gluten) was pretty overwhelming to start with, no gluten and no dairy, what was left to eat?! But with cutting out milk, my skin started to clear up, my stomach felt 100 times better, and I felt a lot happier in myself. I only wish I had figured out what was causing my problems sooner. It’s crazy how for me and so many other people, consuming certain foods (gluten and dairy in my case) can cause you to feel SO poorly and your body to react the way it does. I’m just so glad I’ve got to the root of the problem, because not eating gluten and dairy really isn’t much of a price to pay for feeling so much better.

So what now, I’m 9 years into eating gluten free and 3 years into eating dairy free and Its honestly the best thing I have ever done. Obviously I still struggle with my stomach at times but I think that occasional bloating and a sore stomach is just something I’m going to have to deal with. I still feel anxious at times and my emetophobia still crops up occasionally, but it’s no where near as bad as it used to be. I now travel on public transport, I work full time in a crowded office where I was recently promoted, I go out for meals without any issues. I really never thought this would happen. Changing my diet really has changed my life for the better. It’s helped me physically and mentally and looking back now it all seems so simple, maybe if I’d cut out gluten and dairy when I first started feeling sick at school none of this would have happened? However I have learnt an awful lot and I guess It’s made me the person I am today.

Creating my gluten and dairy free Instagram page/blog to help out people that may be going through a similar situation is such a passion of mine. I absolutely love showing that eating a gluten and dairy free diet doesn’t have to be boring, as well as getting across the message that a gluten free or dairy free diet isn’t a ‘Fad’, for a lot of people its due to serious medical conditions. I recently had a comment on one of my Instagram photos asking me ‘What’s the point in eating a gluten and dairy free diet’, and this is something I really want to get across to people. Myself and many other people are not eating this way to be healthy, to loose weight, or because a celebrity has claimed to be gluten free. It’s a medical condition which should be taken really seriously.

Hopefully this has been a helpful post, to give you more of an insight of what led to me changing my diet and my background. If you have found this useful or have any other questions, please drop me a message. I’m hoping to post more like this in the future.

Alice x

16 responses to “My gluten and dairy free eating journey and dealing with emetophobia”

  1. Fiona Wrisberg says:

    Loved reading this Alice x

  2. JustSoElina says:

    I also have emetiphobia and have had it for many years, it can be so debilitating.
    I was amazed reading your story as I have gone through many of the same things. It’s made me realise even more I’m not alone in all this. Thank you Alice for sharing your story ❤️

    • says:

      Thanks so much for your lovely comment. So glad that my post had reassured you that you aren’t alone. It’s such a horrible thing to go through and it’s difficult for people to understand unless they have been through it too. Sending lots of love. Alice x

  3. Donna says:

    I was diagnosed last year with Coeliac disease. I’ve been struggling with the diet although I’m beginning to feel more positive towards it as time goes on. Lately I’ve still not been feeling right in myself and feeling really lethargic. I have 2 young girls to chase after so this isn’t an option!! Having read your post I’m wondering whether I should try cutting out dairy. I have a follow up meeting with my specialist so I’ll have a chat but reading how you felt, this might be the solution I’ve been looking for. Thank you for sharing!

    • says:

      Thanks for your lovely message about my latest blog post. 😊 I hope you are ok, it may be worth going to the doctors and seeing what they say? And the potentially trying out dairy free. It has helped me so much! Alice x

  4. Jade says:

    Really enjoyed reading this Alice xx

  5. Peta says:

    A really interesting read Alice! I can hugely sympathise with how you felt as a teen at school, as I can’t eat dairy, refined sugar or gluten and was constantly being sick. I’m so glad you found out what the trigger foods were early on. Gluten also caused me to break out in incredibly painful cystic acne!
    Peta x

    • says:

      Hi Peta,

      Thanks for your comment and hope you are now feeling ok since cutting out dairy, refined sugar and gluten! It’s amazimg how cutting out certain foods can make you feel so much better and change your life!
      Thanks again, alice x

  6. A great read and very relatable. Giving me courage to explain my journey too! You go girl, glad it’s a lot more positive for you now!! x

    • says:

      Aw thanks so much! Would love to hear your journey as well, when you are ready to tell it 💗 sending lots of love x

  7. Louise says:

    I am currently on month 4 of going gluten and dairy free and my anxiety is so variable – some weeks I am totally fine with the changes and other weeks I’m in tears out of frustrations, but like you I feel so much better than I did before that I know deep down it’s working but sometimes I question It when things feel like a hassle.
    So thank you for sharing your story to show it can get better 🙂
    I am 28 and have had horrendous stomach issues since I can remember and it took going to a private nutritionist to find out I am gluten and lactose intolerant as the doctor just kept turning me away saying it was IBS and sending me away.

    Thank you Alice your blog and Instagram has helped me so much these last few months x

    • says:

      Hey, thanks so much for your comment. Hope you are ok! 🙂 I’m so glad that I’m able to help you a little bit and glad that you are starting to feel a bit better. It can be so frustrating but once you find out what is causing it it’s all up from there xx

  8. Ally says:

    Wow, i live in the U.S. and i am 18 years old. I have been experiencing many of these symptoms over the last couple years. I am the only person in my family who has a gluten/dairy intolerance. I’m so thankful to have come across your Instagram. You are an encouragement to me! Thank you so much for telling your story and for helping me find the silver lining to the difficulties of this lifestyle!

    • says:

      Hey, So happy that you find my blog and Instagram helpful and glad I can resonate with you! Let me know if you have any questions about it all as I’m very happy to help! Alice x

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