Guest Writer Rachel Rinehart Johnson
It’s midnight, and for the fourth night in a row, I can’t sleep. The nasty head cold I snagged during spring break has moved to my chest, and I hack up mucus for a few hours before falling into an exhausted stupor for a few hours before it’s time to wake up and go to work.
I would feel sorry for myself, but it’s my own fault. I knew better, but I made a choice last fall to have dairy at Bunco, which made it easier to have it for the holidays, and the next thing I know I am eating lasagna and ice cream on a regular basis again. After being dairy-free and gluten-free for around ten years now, I forgot what it was like to have so much mucus in the chest and throat, and I don’t like it.
Same thing goes for the skin allergy rash I developed from eating gluten again. I don’t like it at all, and it’s no fun.
Seriously, I don’t remember having a much of a cold in the past ten years. Perhaps I had a bit of a sore throat for a night, or maybe I had a fever for a day; however, since giving up wheat and diary, I am rarely sick. Once or twice a year, I might feel off for a day or two, but I bounce back fast.
The reason I cut wheat and dairy completely out of my life all those years ago was because I felt better without them and felt crappy with them. Trust me, it’s better to go cold turkey with these two because, otherwise, you become hooked again. Once you start eating gluten or dairy, your body craves them, which makes it even more difficult to resist.
For instance, the cold started last Wed, and the last day I consciously ate dairy was on Friday when I ate the steak and rice at a Japanese steakhouse even though I watched them cooked in butter in front of me. And I ate gluten a couple of weeks ago, even though I still had the itchy skin rash.
This time the cold is lingering, and nothing has completely cleared up the congestion. I’ve tried over the counter medicine, including the Musinex that three people recommended, but it didn’t do the trick.
I’ve surfed the web late at night during coughing sessions that chased away sleep to find natural remedies and tried gargling both apple cider vinegar and salt water, drinking tea with honey, lemon, and cinnamon, and most recently swallowing garlic capsules. All of those things are healthy and helpful, but it takes awhile to clear out dairy once it’s in our bodies.
The best remedy for a cold (or how to lose a cold in ten days or less): don’t get one in the first place! And not eating gluten and dairy is one giant step in that direction.
I have given up gluten and dairy again. Gratefully. Thankfully. I would rather be healthy than eat wheat and dairy. It’s a choice that I am happy to make. Plus there are so many yummy substitutes nowadays.
It’s a challenge knowing what to eat these days, but I know I don’t want to eat gluten or dairy products. They are not worth it.
Rachel Rinehart Johnson writes narratives, poems, and children’s stories, and her work has appeared in publications such as Florida English, New Plains Review, Circa Review, Lumina, Rocking Chair Reading: Family Gatherings, New Madrid, and Country Extra. She earned an MFA in creative non-fiction from Murray State University in Kentucky. Rachel and her two daughters reside in Florida, where she teaches composition, creative writing, and English as a second language as an adjunct Instructor at Brevard Community College and Florida Institute of Technology. Her other passions include nature, photography, and travel.