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Towards the end of November I wrote a post about changing my diet to being primarily gluten-free, as well as switching to cow’s milk alternatives, due to the motherfecking biatch that is stress-induced eczema. This I’ve had since the age of 7 but the year after uni along with the move to France made it take on a life of its own, the cretin.

Let’s start with the easiest change: Cow’s milk. This has been super easy to cut out because soya/almond/lactose-free milk is everywhere and doesn’t taste half bad either. In terms of cheese, which I know you’re all dripping with worry sweats that I haven’t eaten any, let me put your minds at rest. Happy there is virtually no lactose in brie, camembert, blue cheeses, cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan or stilton. The more lactose-y cheeses are feta, cottage cheese and Roquefort (even though it’s a blue cheese it still has a higher lactose content, it’s such a tricky nipper), and it’s not as if I have to examine the back of packets to see if the product contains traces of Roquefort so really, lactose has been peachy to avoid, and if I go somewhere which doesn’t have soy milk I just drink it black.

Gluten: I am not coeliac by any stretch, so if a little bit of gluten pops up here, for example when you know that pistachio croissant from Boulangerie Béchu is going to blow your taste buds’ socks off (please see my little ode to café BioSphère), I’m irresponsible but I live in the home of croissants, they taste incredible. Generally though, when something gluten-y is the main component like in bread, biscuits, pastries, pasta, cous cous it is easy to avoid, when flour more hidden in the ingredients that’s when things have to be ruled out.

Now when I do eat something as awesome-tasting as a pistachio croissant, my skin predictably reacts almost immediately and I’m itching and flaring up until I can get home and start applying cream. To be completely honest, I don’t remember it being this bad before I went gluten-free, just that it was constant, and I’m starting to question that by not eating gluten to this extent if I’ve increased my intolerance further but from skin looking like tomato-y pizzas to now being virtually clear, I’m sticking to clear.

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Details about this work of art coming soon.

Let me take you back to why I made this change in the first place, stress. I hope you’re all ready for a bit of a tangent: Moving here was part 1, part 2 is living here. In the beginning I thought I was going into a paid job, then discovered I wasn’t, so started down the road of going to interviews, some for crappy jobs, some out of my league jobs, some I-can-do-better-but-feck-it-it’s-a-salary jobs, some in French, some in English or a combination of the two. This of course made me more stressed about money, and then Student Finance needed proof that I wasn’t working to take me off their crazy ridiculous default repayment plan, but thankfully for babysitting and I wasn’t completely desolate and also met some lovely families. Needless to say that my elbows started to look like two tomato-y pizzas again which actually increased the stress. Then a miracle (Hayley) happened, and I started working at a job which is stable and totally in French which is an enormous relief. I need to keep reminding myself that it’s all ok because I keep forgetting, and this week Student Finance got off my back and back to their normal selves.

This is another thing, making friends in another language, or not even in another language, when you’re not thrown together at school or university is hard. My confidence when speaking French is really only just starting to properly grow, (which is stupid and irrational but there we have it), because when you’re trying to have the back-and-forth with someone and the vocabulary you have isn’t properly letting your personality shine through it’s frustrating, and when getting used to a new job and a country it’s really fecking tiring and also quite isolating. However, when we’re in a group and I end up having a really good conversation in French with a friend, whether it’s one I’ve had for years or not, the adrenaline rush is something else, so I’m getting better at just going for it because for ghads sake I moved here aaaaaaaand afterwards I can smugly drink tea and that’s fun. Also, working in a French company, it’s going to get ship-shape sooner or later and I would rather it be sooner.

It has been a tough couple of months, but without meaning to sound too cliché, each day that goes by is a day closer to feeling settled and happy here. It’s just one of those things where you have to really work at being in place were you want to be which I think we can all relate to.

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In a nutshell. Stress isn’t a smidgen as bad as it used to be but we’re about to start flat hunting (I’ve bought lavender candles in preparation), and as of now my skin is now looking much much clearer, so for the foreseeable future I’m continuing down this road.

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