Andy comes to us from my favorite state, North Carolina but is originally from Jamaica! When I saw Andy is from Raleigh, I knew I needed to connect with him!
Check out Andy’s gluten free story below and connect with him! His instagram is full of great tips and information!
Your story…tell us a little bit about yourself!
My name is Andy. I was born in Jamaica and moved to the US when I was 14. Recently engaged (September last year) and living in Raleigh NC. Went to college in Florida originally to be a pilot but after a year decided I wanted to be an air traffic controller. Some how became a flight attendant for a US regional airline based in Houston. I train new flight attendants and teach existing flight attendants new airplanes that we get. I love barefoot hiking and being outdoors. I am an organizer for an LGBT group in Raleigh that puts together outdoor activities for members of the LQBT community. I love gardening. Grew up gardening with my grandma and she inspires my garden now.
Growing up I knew I was lactose intolerant and had eczema. My family has a history of autoimmune conditions among other things. My freshmen year of college (2008) I first found out about my coffee allergy after getting a Carmel macchiato and not being able to make it back to my dorm. In 2010 I got diagnosed with arthritis which I never thought at that age (20) I’d have that issue. Fast forward to 2016 after having a lot of digestive issues, weight gain, anxiety and dealing with brain fog I decided to try this thing called paleo. I had been looking for ways to eat healthier after I became a supervisor and was home more. I kept seeing paleo pop up on recipes I was looking at. I did a 3 week slow change to paleo and I noticed my symptoms starting to go away. A coworker told me about the whole30, which I tried and noticed when I reintroduced gluten all my problems cane back. After describing my symptoms to my doctor he thought I had celiac but did not want to risk doing a traditional test. They did a blood test that was able to determine I had celiac. Since then I’ve been diagnosed with psoriasis also. After I started eating gluten free I lost just over 65 pounds in 4 months and have held the weight off since.
Why do you eat gluten free food?
I get sick if I do. Usually get sick within 30 minutes of a gluten encounter.
What is your favorite gluten free snack? Where can we find it?
Hard question! I am a huge grazer. I am really loving plantain crisps from Trader Joe’s right now. Chips are my kryptonite.
What’s your favorite gluten free recipe?
Another hard one. My favorite recipe to cook is the plantain stuffed chicken thighs on my page. It’s something I’ve been cooking since I first started eating gluten free and is a huge hit with my close friends.
Otherwise I usually cook with a few staple veggies and meat products I keep on hand. I typically cook a veggie an green and a protein in healthy fat. Keep it simple.
What’s one thing you wish you knew when first went gluten free?
How to navigate eating outside my own house. For a long time I brought food to work and cooked for my friends. I didn’t eat out much and if I did I got the most boring salad on the menu and always brought my own food to a friends place. I’ve learned how to go about these better without risking getting sick. And ask learned that my friends are awesome and go above and beyond to make sure I have food to eat that’s not boring.
If you could only eat one gluten free meal for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
I’m Jamaican so I have to pick Jamaican food. There are a bunch of Jamaican dishes that are naturally gluten free and others can be easily modified to be gluten free. My favorite Jamaican dish is tripe and beans. My grandfather was a butcher and we grew up eating a lot of interesting parts of different animals. This was one of his favorite dishes and I’ve always enjoyed eating it. Sounds a bit unappealing but it’s so good!
What advice would you give someone who is about to go gluten free?
Take things slow, give yourself, find support and don’t feel bad saying no. This pretty much how I go about living my life gluten free. Take your time, read labels and do research before (google is your friend here). If I mess up I use that as a learning opportunity. You can find great support online if you don’t have that in person. And whenever someone offers me something I can’t eat (at work or anywhere socially) I simply say no thank you. You don’t have to explain why if you don’t want to.
What’s your favorite thing about being gluten free?
Having to be creative! I love experiments so I really enjoy trying to substitute things and see how it turns out. It gives me a lot of joy when I can take a traditional gluten full meal and make it gluten free and have my gluten full friends enjoy it. And I’ve learned a lot about nutrition and learned a lot of cooking techniques.
Also, you get your own cake at weddings.
What is one thing you dislike about being gluten free and what do you do to mitigate it?
I’d have to say education on cross contamination. This can be either at a restaurant or at a friend/family’s house. Some people just don’t realize the small ways in which cross contamination can happen and until it’s widely known that risk still exists. I personally mitigate it by choosing to dine where I know the kitchen is gluten free or has a gluten free area or by eating at home first then getting a salad at the restaurant. When it comes to eating at a friend or family’s place I typically bring my own food. Fortunately my friends love potlucks so that works out. Also I have a few friends that eat gluten free and the ones that don’t have done a lot of research on gluten. They label things that are gluten free at potlucks and are very vigilant on cross contamination.
How can other people find you?
My Instagram page @triangletravelingcaveman.
My website is coming soon!
Andy, thank you so much for taking the time to share with us. I drive through the Raleigh/Durham area frequently via I-85… I need to get the details on the best gluten free spots there and grab some lunch with you one of these days!