Hello Disney friends and family!
I can’t even believe that summer is gone and we’re already well into fall. Where did the time go?! Can we please get an extension on that warm, gorgeous weather? I’m not ready for another New Hampshire winter yet!
Anyways, I figured after my loooong break from posting on TheDisneyChef.com and my sporadic social media presence, I’d give you a little update on what’s going on behind-the-scenes. I know a lot of you have been asking for new recipes and wondering why I haven’t shared new content in awhile… One devoted fan even reported me to Facebook for not posting enough! I figured I owed it to you guys to explain what was going on.
As many of you know, in the summer of 2013, just before I ran my first Run Disney event (the Wine and Dine Half Marathon) I contracted Lyme Disease. While it took awhile, but I finally managed to get the disease and it’s symptoms into remission.
However, in the fall of 2014, just before running my second Wine and Dine Half Marathon, I started to experience stomach pains and digestive issues which were really impacting my quality of life.
Long story short, in the spring of 2015 I was admitted to the hospital I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis.
For those who don’t know, Ulcerative Colitis is an auto-immune disorder in the Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) family, similar in many ways to Crohn’s Disease. The symptoms include severe stomach and intestinal pain, exhaustion, anemia, and GI problems. While food doesn’t cause the disease, it certainly can trigger the symptoms.
Let me tell you, folks… Those symptoms are zero fun.
I had a very, very hard time managing my disease. Most of 2015 and 2016 were spent trying to find the magic combination of medications, diet changes, and lifestyle adaptations to help me recover. It was a long road filled with a few ups and a lot of downs. And while we can’t confirm it, it does seem likely that this autoimmune failure was brought on as a complication from the Lyme Disease.
I’ll be honest, the disease did the one thing I never, ever thought could happen… It robbed me of enjoying eating.
Since cooking and eating are pretty much my two favorite things ever, to not enjoy that as I always had made me incredibly depressed. I couldn’t even bring myself to look at my collection of Disney Parks recipes… It just made me too discouraged. Every time I ate, I would become very ill.
I spent a lot of time avoiding going out, avoiding restaurants, and even avoiding making plans to return to Walt Disney World because… Simply… I hated food, hated eating, and I couldn’t trust how my body would react to what I ate.
I mean, after three emergency room trips and two extended hospital admissions because of the symptoms brought on by things I’ve eaten, can you blame me? We were thinking I’d have to have my entire large intestine removed as a means to get my disease under control. Realistically speaking, it’s still something I may have to face sooner rather than later.
Now, almost two years into my disease, it looks like through a combination of diet changes and medication, I’m finally in remission. While I’m not at a point where I fully trust my body or enjoy eating like I once did, I’m really optimistic that those days will come.
However, this has brought up a new and interesting problem… Dietary restrictions.
A lot of the foods I used to eat and love (I’m looking at you, nachos) I have to avoid or else risk having a return of my IBD symptoms. I have really worked to restrict my intake of sugar, alcohol, wheat/gluten, and red meat, and I can’t have any form of dairy at all. Not even a little, tiny bit. Not even lactose-free dairy.
So when it came to developing new content for The Disney Chef, I really struggled with what to do… I wanted to keep making new, delicious, yummy Disney recipes, but I really didn’t want to trigger my UC and possibly send me to the hospital. So while that penne alla vodka looked incredible and while I really wanted to drop my face into an entire plate of mac-and-cheese, I simply… Can’t.
So, now what?
Well, after a lot of thought, I’ve decided to make a few changes to TheDisneyChef.com. Yes, I still love, love, love making those wonderful Disney recipes, and no, I have no intention of stopping, even if the recipe in question isn’t something I can actually eat myself. In fact, now that I’m feeling better, I plan on really diving back into sharing more new and exciting content. So that’s good news, right?
That said, I know I’m not the only one who enjoys the Disney Parks while trying to manage special diet needs. As anybody who has food limitations can tell you, the Disney Parks are actually super accommodating in designing foods that can be enjoyed regardless of allergies and intolerances.
Starting soon, I will start adapting some of the classic Disney Parks recipes you know and love into allergy and intolerance-friendly alternatives that closely resemble the recipes that those without food limitations enjoy. I will also add some inspired by the parks recipes that are sensitive to dairy, wheat, gluten, egg, and nut allergies. As Disney has numerous meals enjoyed by people with allergies, I plan on being more proactive in seeking those recipes out and sharing those as well. Eventually, it is my hope to go through all the recipes I’ve shared up until this point, identify, and clearly mark those that might be allergy and intolerance friendly.
My goal has always been to help people bring the magic of the Disney Parks home to their kitchen. I’m really excited to keep sharing the recipes of the foods people know and love as well as incorporating some new, allergy-conscious alternatives. There’s a reason that the Disney Parks has developed a powerful reputation as the best and safest place to eat for people with all dietary needs, and I hope that I can do the same on TheDisneyChef.com.
If anybody has any questions or comments, feel free to leave me a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You guys know me, I love hearing from everybody and I look forward to seeing what you have to say.
Also, as a side note, I’m not going to run in the Wine and Dine Half Marathon anymore… Just in case. After getting Lyme training for my first and UC training for my second, I figure better safe than sorry. Clearly, when it comes to that event, I’m jinxed.