So I got a request to write this post. Guys, a request! OMG SOMEONE LOVES ME! No, but it is actually both awesome and an awesome request. So if you have Lyme Disease, or any other serious illness for that matter, you are very restricted in terms of diet. Sugar, alcohol, gluten, dairy are all usually big no-no’s as they feeeed those Lyme bugs, promote inflammation, tear apart your gut lining, and promote yeast overgrowth. Many with Lyme develop secondary allergies to all sorts of things- random food items, chemicals, you name it. So my goal with this post is to provide healthy, Lyme-safe alternatives to the normal holiday food fare. This post will not be perfect, so if you have anything to add that I missed out please comment and share! It is also long so skip around to the part that may be most prevalent to you. Some aspects I cut short because I didn’t want to write a novel, but I’d be happy to expand on it if you want!
I’d first like to start with saying, eating healthy around the holidays is hard for EVERYONE! But especially for those with Lyme because little slip-ups can cause a much bigger issue than it does for someone who is perfectly healthy (stomach ache vs. full on death sick feeling… yeah doesn’t quite compare). But I’m going to be honest, I cheat during the holidays. It’s hard not to, surrounded by deliciousness and wanting to try and seem semi-normal like everyone else. So let me start with some ways to cope if you DO indulge:
1. Tumeric. You can buy capsules at your local store or just sprinkle tons of this spice onto your food. It is a natural anti-inflammatory and also may contain anti-bacterial/fungi properties. It’s a part of the ginger family so no wonder it can be helpful. (source:http://www.bewellbuzz.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/turmeric-powder.jpg2)
2. Ginger. My roommate and I last year would juice fresh ginger and take ginger “shots.” Most helpful thing ever! Now if you don’t have a juicer you can drink ginger tea (cut a piece of fresh ginger and peel the skin off, place in a mug and pour hot water over top) or literally just chew on a piece of ginger (this is spicy and many people can’t stand the flavor, but if you can tolerate it, I’d give it a go). Ginger helps with inflammation and is an excellent stomach calmer- helps with nausea (although I always seem to forget that when I’m nauseous) and stomach aches.(source: http://www.reedsinc.com/wp-content/uploads/ginger2.jpeg)
3.Peppermint. Similar to ginger, very soothing and calming. According to webmd, sniffing peppermint oil can serve as a painkiller. I didn’t know that one. So yeah, drink peppermint tea and sniff peppermint oil (available at most health food stores).
4. Cinnamon. This baby is the bomb. Cinnamon helps with pretty much all health problems, I’m not going to list them all here. It is anti-fungal (fights candida like no other!) and the smell can improve brain function (go sniff some cinnamon, lymies!). It can also help stabilize your blood sugar. Don’t go too crazy, just sprinkle it on everything ;). I pretty much put this spice on everything, though, for reals. I sprinkle it in my almond butter, whenever I bake, even in main dishes! You’ll see what I’m talking about in a bit.
5. HEATING PAD. I couldn’t survive without it. When I’m feeling really terrible I climb in bed and wrap that baby around my stomach!
Now, I know there are a lot more but those are some of my favorites- feel free to share your ideas in the comments section or if you want me to research some other methods you’ve heard of and do a part 2 post I can!
ON TO THE FOOOOOOD! Now, I’m going to offer substitutes for various foods and ingredients Lymies can’t eat and then I will provide links to a few recipes. I’ll also be trying to post some recipes over the next week.
The Culprit: Eggs
If you are sensitive to or allergic to eggs, use flax eggs! Here is how to make one egg (just multiply this recipe if you need more then 1 egg in a recipe): 1 tablespoon flax meal + 3 tablespoons water. The key? Add the flax meal to the bowl first then pour the water over it. Let mixture sit in the fridge for 15+ minutes so that the egg can set and become the appropriate consistency.
The Culprit: Dairy
Honestly, for me, this isn’t a very hard one to avoid. I just don’t eat cheese much and I sub out milk in recipes with almond milk or even water if I don’t think that will alter the flavor. Now if you really miss your cheese, an option is to make a vegan- cashew version. Here is a great recipe from Oh She Glows, although there are many out there.
The Culprit: Sugar
Well, this is a biggie for us! And a tough one. It all depends on how sensitive you are, but for the most part Lymies should be avoiding sugar. I’m bad at this. Very bad. My substitution suggestions? Erythritol and Stevia. Other options include using fruit and fruit juices. Very ripe mashed bananas work well, although they do add a banana-y taste.
You can also use dates. Boil some water then pull it off the stove and throw your dates in. Let them sit for a few minutes, drain the water then puree the dates in a blender/food processor until smooth. Dates are mighty sweet and can be used a sweetener this way.
This is where cinnamon AND pure vanilla extract come in handy. When using less sugar I like to add extra cinnamon and a bigger dose of vanilla extract (not too much, maybe double what a recipe calls for) because these both bring out the natural flavors and sweetness in a recipe.
Honestly, some of your best bets since we can’t have traditional cookies and if you are extremely sensitive to sugar are no-bake cookies and truffle-type eats. Here are a few recipes (and the date-sugar sub would work well for the truffley ones):
bacon and peanut butter truffles by Katie K.
Pumpkin Butter Truffles (you could go no chocolate or if you don’t mind the strong taste of cocoa use 100% dark chocolate melted with coconut oil)
No Bake Pecan Pie Bars by Detoxinista
Lemon Macaroons by Composting Words (a fellow Lymie!)
This girl here offers some wonderful sugar free recipes- she can’t eat sugar at all!
Many nut butter based cookies or banana based cookies work well, too, and if those types of cookies call for a little sweetner it works just fine to leave it out. Here are a few options: one (just leave out the chocolate chips or use 100% dark chocolate bar chopped) and two (leave out the honey and use 2-3 bananas)
The Culprit: Gluten
Oh man, stay away! Even if you don’t have Lyme Disease, you’ll know I say avoid it!!! I’m not going to go into all the details here about why it is bad- it’s all over, you can read for yourself- but I’ll make a few points. It causes inflammation, feeds lyme bugs or any parasites or bad bacteria you have, it breaks down your digestive lining and can cause leaky gut syndrome, it makes you lethargic and can affect brain functioning, etc, etc etc.
For the basics, you can sub out normal flour for a gluten free flour blend you can buy at the store. That is the easy route. There are also many recipes out there that eliminate grains completely (paleo). I’m not going to go on a paleo rant here but I will say there are plenty of resources for paleo recipes (one of my favorites is http://www.fastpaleo.com)
OKAY, so now that I’ve reviewed some of the big ingredients, let’s just talk about general meal substitutes for the holidays.
Dranksss: Everyone is drinking champagne at Christmas dinner, what do you do?! My favorite is to mix sparkling water with a little bit of fruit juice (OJ or pomegranate juice, whatever you like). It’s bubbly and tastes better then plain water, plus if you put it in a champagne glass you’ll feel fancy just like everyone else :).
Eggnog? Okay, there are lot of dairy/sugar free recipes out there or fake eggnogs you can buy in the stores BUT most are still packed with sugar or you don’t feel like having to make your own. No problem- take your favorite type of milk (almond, soy, whatever you drink) and warm it up. Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg and stir gently. Sprinkle a tad more on top and you’ve got something a bit fancier then boring old milk but not as unhealthy as eggnog.
Main Meal: Honestly, this is the easiest! Meat and vegetables, heyyy. BUT, on Christmas Eve my family always has perogi’s. I’ve been sad I can’t eat them the past few years but I found this awesome recipe! We are making them this year and I’m so excited! Christmas dinner doesn’t have to be hard- pork roast, pot roast, roast chicken, pork chops and then a nice salad or sauteed green beans on the side. Maybe a brussels sprouts dish or roasted vegetables. Simple.
Dessert: I’ve basically covered this above with the no-sugar. Play with some of those sweetener sub ideas or look at a few of the recipes I provided links to.
Wow, this is longgg. Maybe I should of broken it up into two or more posts. Oh well, I didn’t. If you made it this far congratulations! If you fell asleep or got a head ache looking at the screen for so long, my apologies. Anyway, I have a gluten free cookie recipe coming up for you later this week.
If you have any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to comment. I hope this post was at least somewhat helpful. I’ll probably think of 20 more things later in the week, if so I’ll post more :)