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fluxing all around

2013 October 10
by Rachel Turiel


The kids are more excited about the annual city-wide fall clean up, in which people toss trash-goodies to the curb for the city to dumptruck away, than the actual, breathtaking, changing of the leaves. We drove to the high country last weekend, passing through the rise and fall of an entire season at once: from still green, to every combination of red and yellow as if each tree were decked in tropical parrots, to naked and gone. “It’s fluxing all around,” Dan said, which feels like the truest truth of fall.


Also fluxing all around is my health. I’ll start by saying “I’m OK,” in the same way I prefaced the “Col concussion” phone call to my parents with “Everyone’s OK,” because we humans are nervous enough without having to wait for a long explanation involving words like ladder, fall, and unconscious to hear that ultimately, everything is OK. As opposed to Col who came running in from playing with the neighbors, announcing, “I have some bad news.” Turns out our chickens have been launching themselves into David’s yard, which, after unclenching our nervous systems, Dan and I explained really isn’t bad news.


The Western docs have one diagnosis, the upshot being: there is no known cause or cure to my symptoms (thus, medication forever). My other current medical practitioner, a gorgeous Vietnamese wholistic kinesiologist who falls between totally out there and amazingly, inexplicably right-on believes my body can heal itself. She has determined, through muscle-testing, that the following foods are, for now, part of the problem: grains, fruit, sweeteners, dairy and white potatoes (and anyone who can identify an alcohol made with none of the above gets my undying gratitude).


How has it been? Motherfucking hard as hell. My seasonal compass has lost its bearings. Our peaches have swelled, ripened and been eaten by family and friends, juice pooling on their apologetic chins. Dan will say casually, “let’s go check on that pear tree on West 3rd,” while the house goes silent and a big N/A registers on my face. Our weekly raw milk, from which I make yogurt teeming with probiotics? Off limits.

Some nights, I eat an entirely different meal than my family. Other nights, I have what seems like a dreary knockoff of their meal. They eat thick-crust, cheese-dripping homemade pizza, I eat, er toppings. After one month I’d told myself that the repetitiveness of all the fried eggs, onions and kale I’d been eating isn’t so bad because of the spicy pizzazz of my fermented tomato salsa. Then, Hottie Healer decreed no more nightshades (“don’t shoot the messenger,” she reminds me). At the same time, my entire garden looked like a nightshade factory: potatoes, jalapenos, tomatillos, tomatoes and eggplants, all shining with ripeness.


Having restrictions has made me feel isolated and even a little embarrassed (Paleo? So trendy). Although I’ve long been a “healthy eater,” I’m reassured by the fact that I could find myself hungry at say, the Albuquerque airport, and order any fried hunk of hydrogenated corn-syruped gluten without any ill effects. I’ve always loved Natalie Goldberg’s advice to writers to take what is offered to you and taste the story of it, whether it’s a steak, a brownie or an old shoe. Now, I have to decline old shoes made of grain.

Still, I’ve been freezing eggplant dip and roasted green chiles; I’ve been canning tomatoes, tomatillo salsa, and pear sauce; I’ve been boxing up apples for the root cellar, all somewhat robotically, because this is what I do in fall. My aunt-in-law, the wonderful Barb Platt, once sent me an article postulating that seasonal depression is due to us “advanced” humans no longer spending autumn in a frenzy of food preservation, filling our larders with the literal fruits of our labors, once translating to nothing less than survival. I’ve felt that sense of buoyant security, that sense of meaning, of satisfying some molecular itch, going into winter with the pantry stocked. And yet, much of what I’ve labored over this fall is currently “part of the problem.” Talk about seasonal depression and confusion. Also, through all these changes, my symptoms raged on.


At my most optimistic, I’ve enjoyed what I can eat. My taste buds have reincarnated; I swoon over the caramely sweetness of roasted onions. My appreciation of animal flesh is near holy. There are a lot more vegetables on our table than ever before, and tonight I marveled at my kids enthusiasm over dessert of unsweetened applesauce. I make a lot of soups, in which meat, onion and garlic are the flavor base, and then every vegetable that gets through Hottie Healer Security goes into the pot. I travel with an avocado and spoon in my purse. Two cans of coconut milk, weekly. I bought some James Ranch pork fat to render into lard, and came home yesterday with ten pounds of local grassfed beef bones my friend Melanie gave me, all aflutter over the gut-healing properties of gelatin. I’m not casual about eating: we found the last forgotten package of elk sausage in the freezer and I hugged it.

There is no longer anything to binge or numb feelings on, which is disconcerting and also illuminating. I’ve dropped a size, despite eating loads of healthy fats, leading me to believe it’s sugar and carbs which stick to our ribs and thighs and bellies. It’s possible that I’ve become a bit of a pain in the ass to live with, like last night when I quietly returned a bottle of ketchup to the fridge after it appeared at the table like a beacon of tomato-flavored sugar. And I don’t want to be a militant zealot, body-blocking the neighbors’ cheddar bunnies, but I’m also the tiniest bit dismayed about the machine of American food production, and what’s marketed to kids, to all of us.

Also, I am wildly happy to report that after 40 days on this diet, my symptoms are receding. My decade-long symptoms. Receding. I’m so wildly happy about this, I’m like a postpartum mother, so awed with tiny miracles that I’ve already forgotten  the month of protracted and wrenching labor. My belief is that, despite the fact that I’ve never had digestion problems, my gut has been compromised by grains and sugar. There’s loads of evidence to support this, so I won’t recount it here. I also believe that eventually I’ll be able to bring some of the exiled foods back into my diet with no problems. But, I’m not worried about that now. Right now I feel like the sun is rising on something new and beautiful.

*Huge gratitude to Phuong, whose crazy skills I bow down to.

*And gratitude to my friends who’ve supported my darkest moments, and to my parents, who are visiting for TWO MONTHS and are brave enough to cook for me and act like it’s no biggie.




44 Responses leave one →
  1. Jaime Becktel permalink
    October 10, 2013

    Rach, I’m with you lady. I’m all meat and veggies at the moment as well. No grains, alcohol, sugar, dairy, nightshades or fruit either. BO-RING! Yet….delicious! It’s forcing my taste buds away from the obvious draws and getting them connected to other parts of the palate. I’m on this business for another couple of weeks and am thinking of rolling it right over into the holidays, building some immunity before I lose all control at my folks house this November and December.

  2. Lacey Jean permalink
    October 10, 2013

    I hear you and I feel your pain, Rachel. I went through a full year where I had this strange rash appear around my eyes. My naturopath concluded that along with this symptom and my digestive and hormone issues that I was sensitive to all the same things as well as no caffeine. For 6 months I stayed completely hooked to the diet you described above. I lost weight. I slept deeply. My digestion became a well oiled machine. My face cleared. My HEAD cleared and I also felt a little crazy every time I left the house and saw the coffee shops and brew pubs and bakeries all calling for me like drug dealers on the corner (do they stand on corners or am I thinking of something else?… both analogies work). I thought to myself… just one cinnamon roll. Just one day of eating everything I want, just one week. Just every other day… and days blurred together and here I am eating scones, coffee and beer every day. And my digestion is back on the roller coaster and I know… I KNOW that if I went back to the no-fun but really great-feeling diet that I would be in much better spirits and shape. So you’ve challenged me to re-evaluate my diet. Again. Is there such thing as food rehab?

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      October 11, 2013

      “(do they stand on corners or am I thinking of something else?… both analogies work)”

      I know exactly what you mean.

  3. October 10, 2013

    I have a feeling you’ve just opened yourself a nation of disorders in your comment section. I won’t discuss my diet or medical history here, but I will say I TOTALLY get hugging a piece of elk sausage. Sometimes, when I can’t eat somewhere, I actually start to cry. I try to tell myself it’s no big deal, but we all know that’s not true.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      October 12, 2013

      bring on the Nations of Disorders!

  4. October 10, 2013

    So glad to hear it’s working for you. I was on that same diet (I actually did the GAPS diet, intro phases for ever…) to deal with some life-long issues too… I haven’t had any success however. Years later, I am finally finding some answers to my health problems by cutting ALSO onions, garlic, most spices and so. many. other. things. But I am finding relief. It is tough, but so very worth it! Keep the good work!!

  5. Melissa permalink
    October 10, 2013

    Rachel, sending you much love and support for continued reduction of symptoms! Ps. As a pregnant lady who has been off alcohol for awhile (well, mostly), I have decided it is a bit overrated. Like the idea of it appeals more than the actual experience, if that makes sense. We fight against what we “can’t” have, like Avi jones ing for dessert even when I announce that dessert night will no longer be every night. He’s pissed but then lets it go eventually. I’m rambling but I hope it makes sense. And I’m glad your parents are coming to help!! So important to have good support! Xoxo

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      October 11, 2013

      I hear ya. I used to feel very happy about my ridiculously small beer habit, and still would if I could. But it’s not THAT big of a deal. *crying just a little*

  6. Ellie permalink
    October 10, 2013

    I hope you feel better soon, Rachel. Love this sentence:”And I don’t want to be a militant zealot, body-blocking the neighbors’ cheddar bunnies, but I’m also the tiniest bit dismayed about the machine of American food production, and what’s marketed to kids, to all of us.” xoxo

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      October 11, 2013

      Ellie, you are so lovely and kind to so often find something worth quoting in these posts.

  7. Emmanuelle permalink
    October 10, 2013

    Wow, Rachel, your endeavour is indeed worth while – and it makes my own frowned-upon, year-round restrictions sound fun and easy. (I eat approximately 4 apples a day, plus unsweetened applesauce. Not to mention yogurt every other day).

    But you know what? Although migraines and other debilitating, chronic conditions have mostly disappeared with a gluten-free, sugar-free diet, I still feel “high” somehow when eating fruits (unless mixed with a good proportion of something more solid, like a full salad or tuna) and every single time I think: maybe that wasn’t such a great idea.

    So thanks for giving me the kick to switch to full-time green and root vegetables! And I’ll sprout my quinoa from now on (great article from Wellness Mama :o)

    Cheers et bon courage !

    • Emmanuelle permalink
      October 10, 2013

      P.S. – Sky, aspens and lake: what an intense combination – almost hard to believe, and yet as if each was made specifically to enhance the other two.

      Col and Rose make it look more real :o)

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      October 11, 2013

      I’d send you some of our ironically most-copious-ever-backyard-apple harvest if i could. And love when you speak French to me.

  8. Michell permalink
    October 10, 2013

    Does honey count as a sweetener in your restricted diet? If it doesn’t, Mead is made with honey, yeast and whatever fruit you have available…or no fruit if you prefer. It takes around 4-5 weeks to make “small mead” and a few months to make stronger mead. So worth it! You can make it in your house. That is all I have, so there you go…hope it helps.

    I really appreciate the look into your family’s life, and your heartfelt day to day stories. It makes me miss Colorado sooooo much!


    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      October 11, 2013

      honey is currently out.

  9. October 10, 2013

    food is so tied into identity and community and family – ah, the challenge! but! the new year is creeping up and i have the *tiniest hippie inkling* that the Diet isn’t just about diet, but opening new possibilities inside of you – planting new seeds. love love love you you you.

  10. October 11, 2013

    the alcohol you’re looking for: it’s called weed.

  11. October 11, 2013

    Oh bummer :( We’ve gone round and round with food stuff here too. For different reasons, but we seem to finally be in a good groove. Not any sort of specific diet….. but a mindful approach to balance that seems to be working well. *fingers crossed*
    Wishing you good health… lots and lots of it.

  12. October 11, 2013

    My husband and I were having digestion issues as well. Having really good insurance we started going to Dr.s & not being satisfied with the answers we were given I finally booked an appointment with a specialiast that after a outpatient procedure at the hospital discover we have or had pin worms. Needless to say I was shocked and embarrassed. I started doing much research and found that 90 percent of the population has them and not aware of it. The can be spread by going airborne as well as other various ways. They feed on sugar & grains and the waste they produce then cause a lot of digestion issues and I was having muscle issues also. While we were prescribed a very strong and hard to come by prescription strength human wormer I found that “Fresh Green Black Walnut Wormwood Extract’ extract works. I found several medical journals that advise humans should be wormed twice a year. We worm every domestic mammal except humans. After I started taking a dose of the extract twice a day for two weeks all my problems went away and I got my energy back. It is a bit harsh so I took mine adding it to a shot glass of sweet tea to get it down. I will give you a link and you should read the reviews at Amazon that many people have left about the extract, the issue they had and that were resolved. I am not questioning what your are doing or your specialist just thought I would share this info. My specialist Dr. told me that most vegans have pin worms because it is normal for them to eat a veggie or fruit without washing it. Anyhow, Just thought I would share this info with you. We eat whole foods, what is in season and I have been known to pluck a fruit from a organic tree or bush and pop it in my mouth not taking into consideration that a wild animal may have been in the tree that may have needed wormed ;)
    Fresh Green Black Walnut Wormwood Extract check it out at Amazon. One woman cured her dog of heartworms using the tincture.

  13. October 11, 2013

    I forgot to add that the tincture is clove based. they have it in capsule form as well. Here is what I purchased but they have several parasite cleanse products.

  14. October 11, 2013

    Just know that you are certainly not alone and it sounds like you are taking the right approach… though the muscle testing results sounds a bit too broad and non-specific. I’m an integrative MD and I work with food sensitivities constantly due to their amazing prevalence (affecting my family as well); and many stories are just like yours! Most of the time we can identify very few foods that are causing the problem and patients get much better. No need for a vastly restricted diet long term. So be optimistic, I predict things will get much better for you!

  15. Sara Parks permalink
    October 11, 2013

    Indeed. It’s all been said. I started my diet for reasons concerning digestion and ill-willed moods. Pain. And after being on it almost 2 months? I love it. I love feeling like myself. Keep on even though it’s tough. The world if full of fake goods. I’ve started in on offal now. Chickens livers are the best! :)

  16. October 11, 2013

    Oh god.
    Yay for improving health! “They” always say it’s the most important thing and they’re probably right, but giving up all that good stuff? Fucking A. Sooooooooooooo hard.
    I had to do this when Echo was nursing and couldn’t process those foods and I was ravenous and thin. It definitely works for dropping sizes but it also turns you into a fiendish carnivore feverish for every possible drop of fat or protein in an ENTIRE WORLD of refined wheat and sugar. I mean holy shit it’s EVERYWHERE. It’s so prevalent that they give it away for free! Free bread at dinner, free candy at the hardware store. It’s crazy. And creepy. And worrying.

  17. Sarah permalink
    October 11, 2013

    Cynar. It’s an italian liquor made with artichokes. It tastes awful, but it’ll getcha drunk :)

  18. October 11, 2013

    You are AMAZING! I tried the paleo diet for 2 weeks (before I fell off the wagon) and it was SO HARD. But even in that short time I had more energy and felt, somehow, lighter. I want to try again, and you are inspiring me. Trendy or not, this meat & veggies diet makes sense and I’ve read countless success stories like your own. Please keep us posted on your progress!

  19. Amy Carney permalink
    October 11, 2013

    Oh I’m sorry to hear you’ve been plagued by this…I struggle from time to time and if I let my diet get crazy I pay and have to allow my body time to heal…..I am not friendly with the bagel anymore but oh do I miss them….well wishes to you and your family

  20. October 12, 2013

    This past few months I had an inflamed gallbladder after a tummy bug I think? Still waiting on the doctor but I cant tolerate any fat. But eating healthy, cutting down on fat and trying to eliminate processed food has been illuminating. I’ve dropped a size, I have more energy unless I cheat and I realise my portion sizes was for about four people. Also things taste more flavorsome. I realise that what we put into our body really does heal or harm us.

    I hope you continue to get better :)

  21. Carly permalink
    October 12, 2013

    We’re going on 4 months of our gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, sugar cane-free, nut-free, additive-free + 34 other allergens-free (incluing those nightshades) diet here. Ack! But after crying over cooking disasters for a few weeks and wondering just what the hell Dr. Gut Healer supposed I should feed my kids, I soon realized we were on the right track. My 2-year-old size 4-year-old has had the mother of all growth spurts, and all tummy-aching lethargy is gone. My 1000mph 6-year-old has lower gears, including concentration and kindness previously undiscovered. I haven’t been so even-tempered or energy-steady ever. It’s hard, but it is worth it. And I get so exasperated thinking about the fact that so much of what’s labelled as “food” is so undigestibly adulterated that we have to take a break even from the good stuff in order to heal the damage it causes.
    Raising my herbal teacup to your health (since I also can’t do alcohol or caffeine dammit.)

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      October 13, 2013


      Seeing the results makes it worth it, right? Also, if yours is a gut healing diet, you should be able to add many of those foods back in. Are you drinking bone broth? Raising my cup back to you!

      • Carly permalink
        October 14, 2013

        Yep, lots of good bone broth. Bonus that my kids love it like the yogurt they used to gobble down by the quart. And adding a bunch of that stuff back in is exactly what we’re hoping for. Crossing fingers.

  22. Heather permalink
    October 14, 2013

    Two years ago I did muscle testing and got similar restrictions. I was breastfeeding and my little guy was proof in the proverbial pudding because all our issues were gone almost in an instant. We follow the blood type diet loosely, with more specifics offered by the muscle testing. I did 30 days of severe restriction and then added back in a few things. I felt great and it doesn’t take me long to feel like poo if I stray too far. I’m no longer nursing that baby but that was enough to convince me to keep our family on it.
    It takes some time to find a balance between wellness and the stress of trying to stay well. But some how you know in your gut and eventually the struggles subside. Truthfully after some time you go and you get a big latte and a roll and you feel like total shit. Now you know what it’s like to actually feel well. And you might get that latte ten times before you finally condition yourself enough to realize latte = asshole. The one day, you just drive on by paying no mind.
    And the next fall, you repeat the whole process. :)

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      October 14, 2013

      That is the silver lining, right? That you actually have a good reason not to eat food that doesn’t support your body’s health. Otherwise, it’s all intellectual and theoretical and that doesn’t stand up against the allure of a chocolate donut for me. :)

  23. Harriet permalink
    October 14, 2013

    Rachel, I really feel for you as I need to be on the same diet. After an extended period of being on the diet I allowed myself some milk and some fruit as I was feeling sooooo deprived. I could take it for a while but not on an every day basis. I’ve been paleo 98% of the time but with too much fruit for me. However my multiple auto-immune diseases are at a very low ebb (ie not totally gone, but almost even with the fruit), I am no longer grossly obese, my diabetes has gone as had my high blood pressure. Now to drop the fruit, again.

    Go well. You are not alone in all this.

  24. Mary permalink
    October 15, 2013

    You are speaking so strongly to me – would you by any chance have the article Barb Platt sent you and be willing to email it to me, or a link to it?

    Thanks a million.
    Mary – happy because my wife and I just started a batch of sauerkraut yesterday! ! ! And canned more tomatoes!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      October 15, 2013

      Mary, I bent backward all over the internet to find that link Barb sent me. Also, I thought I had linked to it somewhere in my blog, so searched here for another five years. If I ever unearth it, I will repost. It was from an autism website, incidentally.

      • Mary permalink
        October 16, 2013

        Thanks Ms. Mama Rachel! You’re dedicated to your readers and followers and I appreciate it.

        Hugs, take care,

  25. Sara Parks permalink
    October 16, 2013

    Lily ponds at Potato Lake?

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