It was early summer 2013 and Jason and I had just returned from a fun Mexican restaurant here in Ashland. My body and emotions inflamed, feeling like a hurt little girl sitting in the corner with my head between my knees, as I often felt. Angry words passing through my lips. I knew this feeling. It had happened last time I had eaten at this same restaurant. It had happened, actually, many times in my life since I was little. Anger at dinner time. I thought of it as a way of life. That was just how I felt. Angry. Hurt and angry.
But this time too much was at risk. The man I loved and I were going our separate ways. Letting go seemed best, but we were still drawn to each other, and then the fights would happen. Silly fights that triggered old patterns, old wounds. I felt inflamed all over. What were we eating when we ate at that restaurant?
What were we eating when we ate at that restaurant?
For me it was corn chips, guacamole, salsa, and one of their vegan tamales. Wow, that was a lot of nightshades and alliums! I was able to see that right away. Many, many years before, as a teenager, I had a favorite cookbook, Cooking with Consciousness, that talked about not eating alliums (onions, garlic, chives, shallots, and scallions.) But what about nightshades? It was 40 years since I was a teenager. Now there was the Internet. I dove in trying to find out if others did not eat nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, sweet peppers, hot peppers, eggplant, ashwagandha, goji berries and garden huckleberries) and why. I knew from being a gardener that the leaves of these plants were poisonous and I also knew that Europeans were hesitant to eat the fruit of the tomato plant when it was first introduced.
And there it was. All over the Internet. Nightshades triggered inflammation and many people were experiencing relief from Rheumatoid Arthritis by avoiding them. I read about the work of Dr. Norman Childers who in the 1940’s noticed the connection between arthritis and nightshades consumption. And I read many current blog posts talking about the science of how nightshades contain substances which can interact with the body and trigger inflammation.
Alliums were a different story, fewer articles, but there were definitely people writing about enjoying living allium-free, references to ancient Yogi texts and Ayurveda, information on how onions and garlic are high in FODMAPS (difficult to digest carbohydrates than can trigger IBS and bloating), and the odor. I remember reading when I was younger how they had a negative energy and interfered with spirituality – but at that time did not understand what that might mean. I knew that Dr. Gabriel Cousins ran his Tree of Life Café allium-free. And I knew what I was experiencing when I ate them – a disconnection from my heart self.
That very same day I went off nightshades and alliums. It has been over three years now. So, how has it helped? Right away there was a dramatic change in my inflamed varicose veins. Deep vein thrombosis as a young woman, and three beautiful pregnancies, and my veins in both legs were bulging, legs swollen, and pain had become a daily event – especially at night after dinner when I had to put my legs up to relieve the pain and could not do the dishes. They would have to wait till morning. Without the nightshades, my legs quickly became pain free with only slight swelling and discomfort. And the dishes started getting done right after dinner! And what about my emotions? Without the alliums in my system, I was able to see patterns I had repeated through the years, really look at those patterns, and choose a more empowered response, evolve into a more empowered state of being, and create a much more empowered me. I was able to do the emotional growing I had never done as a child – a child being bombarded (lovingly) with inflammatory foods!
Without the nightshades and the alliums, Jason and I ended up doing a lot of growing over the following months. Rose, our dog, and he moved out to a cute place nearby. After a few months he invited me to live with him and make a home together. We have been able to work through the rough spots, see our difficulties as our own areas where we can choose to grow, and have created a magical small urban homestead together – a container for our growth, our creativity, and our love.
What is life like without Definitely hard to eat out!
So what is life like without nightshades and alliums? Well – it is definitely hard to eat out! But that’s okay, as I already do not eat so many other foods and prefer to prepare simple raw meals at home, often fresh from the garden. I have learned to adjust my seasonings and create dishes without nightshades and alliums – basic ingredients found in many cuisines. I find meals more flavorful without the overpowering taste of onions and garlic. Just smelling those foods can literally make my heart hurt!
I also began to notice connections between people’s consumption of onions and garlic and depression. We answered the ad of a farmer who was leaving farming and selling his farming materials. When we visited his farm he told us all about his depression and how he was not sure what direction to take with his life. When he took us to see his crops we were both amazed – he was a garlic farmer!
Rheumatoid Arthritis did eventually come into my life triggered by participating in an experiment on eating soaked grains and legumes! Being off of nightshades was not a cure all for me from arthritis or varicose veins, but has definitely helped, along with a diet free from grains, dairy, and beans and high in raw foods and superfoods. I don’t live in pain anymore, physically or emotionally. I think back on a childhood and an adulthood of inflamed overreactions and am so joyful to be free from those patterns, to be emotionally healthy and balanced.