Eating Less, and Gaining More

Photo by Kanko*

Six weeks ago I decided to give up soda, and I’m happy to say I haven’t had any since then.

What helped the most was not keeping it at home, drinking water, and fixing a cup of herbal tea when I wanted something other than water. I don’t miss it that much.

What I didn’t know when I decided to give up soda was that a week later I would also have to give up dairy, gluten, and corn. The baby was showing symptoms of food sensitivities which went away after I stopped eating those foods. And since I don’t drink my coffee black, I gave up coffee too.

It worked out so well to give up soda when I did, because otherwise I might have consumed more of it when I couldn’t have other foods.

My husband and daughter have those same food intolerances, so we went through that steep learning curve a couple of years ago. At the time I gave up several foods to match them, but I still had a few favorites I was hanging on to.

If I thought giving up soda might be hard, it was nothing for me compared to giving up milk. I gave away a brand new pint of Häagen-Dazs. (It was hawaiian lehua honey & sweet cream. Painful.) I gave away a block of cheddar cheese with crumbled bacon in it. Goodbye favorite snacks. Now it takes a lot of salad to fill me up the way a glass of milk could, but I’m eating more vegetables than ever.

I felt like I had a pretty good understanding of what it’s like to not eat those foods, but now I’m experiencing it first-hand. I was at a social event, and I looked at the huge table spread with food and realized that I couldn’t eat any of it. I didn’t feel excluded, but it definitely made me feel different to not be able to eat the food that everyone else was having.

That’s when I realized the real value of sharing meals together. Often when I think about meals and dinner, my mind is filled with meal plans, grocery budgets, nutrition, and preparation. No wonder it feels like such a chore sometimes! But that’s not what it’s really about.

Sitting around the table sharing food together gives a feeling of belonging. When we eat meals together, that’s what we’re creating in our family.

Now that I understand that, what could have been a burden became a blessing. It was so worth it.

About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. Sharing dinner around our kitchen table with my family is the absolute favorite part of my day. I know it’s important to the girls (teenagers) too because if we have a busy week where we’re eating on the run, they actually ask when we can sit down for a meal together. And on those days when we don’t eat a meal around the table, we’ll do a bed-time snack together. That together time provides for some strong connections.

    Nancy´s last post…bath redo

  2. yikes, wow – everything at once? I feel for you.

    I read on another blog last week – it’s not about what is on the table – it’s about who is around the table. I thought that was pretty good.

  3. Beautiful revelation, Rachel.

    That does sound challenging – hope you figure out your little guy’s sensitivities soon…


    steadymom´s last post…Our Children’s Changing Seasons

  4. I can not imagine giving up dairy and I’ve thought about it. I’ve also thought about giving up sugar and coffee. I am not sure I’m in the place to do this yet but who knows… I did give up soda a long time ago.

    Robin´s last post…When Avitable Crosses The Line

  5. Well done on your soda quitting – I knew you could do it!!! I had to give up a whole lot of goodies when nursing our first born and I just never re-introduced them, I reckon if one is sensitive then the others probably would be too. You are so right often something that seems to be an enormous trial initially teaches us a great life lesson!!!

    se7en´s last post…Sunday Snippet: A Christmas GiveAway…

  6. So sorry for you to have to take all of these things out of your diet! I am sure your husband now feels very blessed by your new understanding of what he has to go through. I can’t eat any gluten, and let me tell you there is nothing worse than being invited somewhere for dinner or dessert and watching everyone else enjoy the food while you’re starving. It means the world to me when someone takes the time to ask about what I can and can’t eat and prepare something accordingly! Hope baby starts to feel better!

  7. I like the attitude you have in facing this challenge! I can’t imagine giving up all those foods at once. Good for you!

    Greta @ Mom Living Healthy´s last post…Menu Plan Monday

  8. I also do not eat dairy, I am lactose intolerant. I also stay away from beef, and I recently stopped drinking soda and coffee as much as possible. I would love to give up sugar, but I’m not sure that is possible. I am trying to give up eating so many carbs too. Ugh. It’s hard! However, when I do it, I feel soooo much better and I have so much more energy.

    You are right about just sitting around the table…that is so important. I make things for my family that they love, and I usually have something different, but we are all still sitting around the table talking about our day and eating together.

    Michelle Traudt´s last post…Envisioning Greater Things

  9. what a way to show love! i know it will go a long, long way.

    hailey´s last post…Hopscotch!

  10. what a wonderful post. Thanks for sharing those thoughts :)

  11. I had to give up those same foods while breastfeeding, too. It was hard at first, but actually it wasn’t “hard” because I knew I was doing it for my baby. It helped him some, but actually we later found out he was sensitive to many other foods, too! Like, carrots, green beans, beef, oranges, etc. The good thing about this was I lost tons of weight and looked and felt great! It’s more difficult to stop eating all the “bad” stuff when you really don’t have a good reason to do it.

  12. I remember a teacher from Africa who was part of a teaching exchange telling us that breaking and sharing bread and engaging in conversation together was truest form of friendship and love for our fellow man. I have thought of those words many times and your post reminds me of them again!

    mrs. e´s last post…Ah, November…

  13. ugh. i just had to give up dairy for the new babe too :-( i never realized how present it was in our diet!

  14. I can perfectly see what you mean with turning this situation of special nutritional needs into a family experience.

    However, some things you don’t ‘have’ to give up. There’s latose free milk, and even though I have very limited experience with it in a breat feeding context, it works very well for us.

    • for us it’s not a lactose issue, it’s the casein, which is a protein in milk.

      • then there is no substitute, you’re right.

        its boils down to a more basic questions: why do we even eat dairy products. Men is the only mammal consuming other mammals milk and consuming milk way beyong the childhood stages.

  15. My parents have soda (or fizzy as I call it…not really a kiwi term, but more a “me” term hehe) whenever we have dinner at their place…and I’m sure I have sugar cravings for a few days after that! I’m so thankful I love water! (cheaper and healther…gotta love that!)

    Juggling Motherhood´s last post…Socks socks socks cont…

  16. My little ones have all had dairy intolerances as well, and although I’ve given up dairy 3 times before, it is still hard this time around! I think the part I miss the most is enjoying favorite meals with my husband and kids, since it doesn’t seem fair to restrict their dairy consumption as well. I need to do better at planning an alternative for myself because I’ve skipped more than one dinner at the table because I didn’t have anything ready to distract me from the main meal.

    Mandi @ Organizing Your Way´s last post…Preparing for Thanksgiving: Thinking Through Your Needs

  17. I gave up dairy and eggs after my body (in no uncertain terms!) told me that it was hving trouble digesting those foods. Hard? Nah. The torture I endured when I ate them was harder…

  18. Sometimes the best lessons come through some kind of loss (of what may feel like loss), though we’d often times rather NOT have to experience that. Thanks for the lovely post and great perspective!

    Carmella´s last post…Photos in the Woods

  19. Amen. :)

  20. I’ve struggled with sensitivities myself and thankfully seem to have outgrown them. I hope this is a short season for you.

    Juice´s last post…I Could Never Have Predicted This

  21. I love this post!!!! Thank you for sharing and for focusing on what is really important – family and relationships… It is good to be reminded :)

    angelvalerie´s last post…living authentically with your values (Part 1)

  22. Good for you!!! I gave up soda a year ago when I read some research about how cola’s (I was a diet Pepsi addict) were shown to irritate neuro-muscular conditions. I have a mild form of muscular dystrophy and was having a lot of chronic pain and weakness. I ditched the soda… my muscles improved. I’ve also saved money (4 diet pepsi’s a day at $1.49 a pop = $2,175). Being able to give up the soda gave me the confidence to give up other “not so good for me” things. Simplifying is contagious!

    Stress, soda and fast food are all bad. Read more about how to break those habits here:

    Christine Simiriglia´s last post…Do You CarShare?

  23. I was recently diagnosed with a strong allergy to corn along with mild allergies to cow’s milk, cocoa (good-bye chocolate), beef, eggs and some fruits and vegetables. It has been interesting and overwhelming to create a new diet, and I’m learning to make many things from scratch. But, I’ve felt bad for so long now, that it’s worth the change to feel better. I definitely understand how you feel.

  24. You are doing great. I gave up soda and all types of sweeteners and simple carbs on Sept. 1 and feel so much better. You’re doing better than I though because I have fallen off the wagon a couple of times. But I have noticed increased energy, alertness, and (ahem) digestion. I have come to think that sugar is the root of all evil. Here’s to a healthy mom and baby!

    Marti´s last post…Why Does It Matter?

  25. There’s a product we’ve used to substitute cream in some of our recipes called “Mimiccreme” & it works really well. You can even make ice cream out of it — and it’s good! (A small miracle.) It’s made of cashews & almonds though, so if you have a nut allergy (or just want to make sure the baby isn’t exposed) you’d have to avoid this product.

  26. Reading your blog has truly inspired me. I may be a young’n right now, still in my teenage years, but you make me want to grow up to become a mother like yourself. Some days, it feels as if I never see my family, but I can relate to your feeling of togetherness at the table. This is when my family meets and talks and bonds also. Somehow, you are one true inspiration to me and I hope to grow up to become a semblance to yourself.

  27. I should share this article to my wife, she will like it, and I like your blog design style, clean and read friendly.

  28. I just found your blog, and I have to say…it is as if I found my twin who writes a blog! I too have given up lots of foods for a nursing baby and
    now that the kiddo are no longer nursing we’ve realized that these diet changes will be a lifelong thing. Budget issues, feelings when sharing meals with others….. All I can say is ditto! :). Thanks for making me feel a bit more “normal”. :)

  29. Amanda S. says:

    Over the past year, I have had to go on a similar diet, abstaining from gluten, dairy and corn. I lost weight, about 13 lbs, feeling better, wearing my skinny jeans, but things are different now that I’m pregnant. I find it difficult to get the carbs I need. I find that if I don’t make GF muffins, pancakes or bread, that I eventually binge on high-calorie foods, like dark chocolate. I cycle through things like rice and potatoes, because I get so sick of the same thing. I probably spend nearly double what you do a month in groceries, though we don’t buy snackie foods, which are more expensive, but spend it on things that may be out of season but seem necessary, like avacados, and more meat. My children, husband and I are hearty eaters. I wouldn’t mind hearing your advice on spending less on GF, corn-free food items specifically. Next year my husband is planning on attending seminary, and we will need to live off a skeleton budget.

    Also, it really is a family thing. We’re very close-knit in the first place, being united in faith when all around us are people who don’t understand our old-world, Biblical values. But the allergy situation I do think has brought us closer together, especially when we’re out, and we have to abstain from the buffet table together, which is hard for adults, but very difficult for young children with the same allergies. It has brought me very far in my own spiritual growth, and I have seen the kindness and thoughtfulness come out in those around me because of it, especially in my husband, who has no allergies but never complains about my squash lasagna, spinach smoothies or anything else I toss at him.

    Most days I feel like I am facing this situation alone, as I have not personally met anyone else with so many restrictions. My church friends dub me as the worst case as far as allergies go. But it’s nice to know, since I’ve favored your blog, that someone out there is going through the same thing. Thanks for that, Rachel. ;)