A New Path Discovered

by Donna Hann on 10/11/2012

A few years ago I owned and operated a catering business called The Culinary Artist.  I was the marketing specialist, menu planner, event designer, human resources manager, chef, event manager, you name it.  As the business grew, I hired individuals to take on some of these roles, but in the end, I had to answer to the success of the business and the happiness of each client.  Looking back, I felt “at the top of my game” when I’d walk into a client’s home and set up a fabulous spread from the menu the client and I had worked out together.  Compliments were plentiful and I thrived on knowing I had helped create lovely memories for the hosts and guests alike.

Dinner in the Garden

After suffering for years with fibromyalgia and being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, a doctor, specializing in functional medicine, told me that I likely had some food intolerances.  I might need to avoid gluten and dairy, and a month long elimination diet would provide us with more definitive answers.  I left her office that day in total shock.  I remember saying to her, “but you know what I do, right?  I’m a chef!”.  I vascilated between feelings of relief, to possibly have a “cause” for my pain and exhaustion, and anger and disbelief, that my livelihood, my passion, my joie de vivre might actually have to be suspended.  Week 1 of the elimination diet found me feeling fantastic, week 2, even better.  No pain and tons of energy.  I wasn’t surprised, though, as I had eliminated the top 8 allergens, in addition to sugar and most meats.  My diet was really “clean”.  In week 4, I reintroduced the “questionable” foods back into my diet, one at a time, waiting three days between each new food introduction to see what, if any, delayed food sensitivity I might have.  You see, food intolerances don’t typically present their symptoms within minutes of consuming the food, like say, an anaphlactic peanut allergy might (which would likely show up on an IgE blood test).  They are often delayed reactions (showing up more often on an IgG blood test), which is all the more reason so many of us have not made any connection between the foods we eat and the symptoms we experience.  Some common symptoms related to food intolerances and/or sensitivity are chronic headaches, migraines, rashes, insomnia, fatigue, chronic pain, stiff joints, arthritis, chronic cough, asthma, sinus congestion, obesity, depression, bloating, diarrhea, upset stomach, candida, eczema, psoriasis, fertility issues, anemia and osteoporosis.  That’s a pretty long list, eh?  I can’t seem to find a way to sum it up any better than Hippocrates.

“Let Food Be Thy Medicine and Medicine Be Thy Food”

So where did that speeding Mack truck disappear to?  The one that hit me while I wasn’t looking?  Within 24 hours of consuming gluten, after having eliminated it from my diet for three weeks, my “fibromyalgia” was back in full force and with a vengeance.  I didn’t need anymore evidence than that.  The elimination diet and my own body’s reaction were more than enough to convince me I really did need, and in fact want (did I really just say that?), to be gluten free.

So, after pursuing a career in food (catering, cooking classes, event planning, food styling) for 15 years my vision needed to change.  I needed to “reinvent” myself.  I took some time off from catering after executing the jobs and events that I had committed to.  I fiddled in the kitchen experimenting with gluten free life.  Just as I committed myself 110% to being the best caterer/chef/business owner I could be, I committed that same amount of energy and curiosity into learning everything I could about cooking gluten free.  Through that process, and many dense, tasteless, gluten free brick treats later, I realized that I was chosen to be on this journey.  I was meant to take my enthusiasm for cooking, apply my interest in food science, add in my flair for entertaining, and become a culinary resource for those exploring or living a gluten (and dairy free) lifestyle.  Together we will make a tasteful life with beautiful food!

Hospital Grand Opening

Realizing that creating delicious food without gluten and dairy products takes a bit of artistry, I was excited to decide that my catering business name, The Culinary Artist, would be a perfect blogger alias.  And so it was!

Part of my objective in beginning this blog is to reach as many individuals as I can.  People who may be pursuing a gluten free life and feel overwhelmed, uninspired, and uncertain about what to eat, let alone how to prepare it.  I hope that you will share my story with those who may be on a similar journey.  Perhaps your physician, chiropractor, allergist, local celiac group, or your Aunt Lila?  You can subscribe here which will allow me to notify you with a quick email every time I post new content.  By subscribing you can be sure you won’t miss a single tasty bit.

You can also vote for me on a Circle of Mom’s (a website for and about being a mom) Top 25 Food Allergy Mom contest.  There is so much more to gain than votes, here.  If I am voted into the Top 25 Food Allergy Moms I will be exposed to Circle of Moms 6 million readers!  Now that would really boost my ability to help educate and inspire!  More visibility means more traffic.  More traffic means monetary support by sponsors of my blog.  More support means more recipe creation and more inspiration for you.  (You can imagine how expensive it is to experiment with gluten free ingredients every day.)  And more recipes means…a cookbook, an ebook, classes?  It’s a win win!  Please vote up to once per day.  Voting ends on October 17 – just a few short days away.

Simply click on the purple badge above, then find me, The Culinary Artist, on the Circle of Moms Top 25 Food Allergy Mom’s list, and click VOTE!  Thanks so very much for your support!

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