You Think No Flour-Sugar Is Hard? Try This

by Bill Brenner on April 8, 2011

This week at the CSO Perspectives conference in Naples, Fla., I gained a whole new level of respect for Akamai CSO Andy Ellis. Without meaning to, he reminded me that my abstinence from flour and sugar is pretty easy compared to how it could be.

Mood music:

Andy is allergic to dairy. Just a trace of it will make him sick. An Air Force veteran, he ties it to an anthrax vaccine shot he received several years back.

This kind of allergy is particularly tough to manage at a conference, where it seems every scrap of food has some kind of dairy in it. But the man didn’t complain. Not once. He made the hotel food providers get him something he could eat, but he didn’t cuss or fuss.

I’ve been so immersed in this no flour, no sugar thing that I had forgotten I was once banned from all dairy.

In the 1970s and early 80s, when my struggle with Crohn’s Disease was at its roughest point, I wasn’t allowed to have anything that has milk in the ingredients. It wasn’t just abstinence from a glass of milk or cheese. If bread had milk in the ingredients, no dice. A little trace of dried milk in a pot pie recipe? Forget about it.

Part of it was because doctors didn’t know as much about Crohn’s Disease back then. Since dairy is typically associated with the occasional stomach discomforts, I was banned from it.

In a turn of events both irritating and comical, the doctors decided around 1986 that I could have dairy after all. Other Crohn’s cases showed them that there was no direct link between milk and a flare-up. In some cases yes. But not all.

I’ve mentioned before how I think the forced fasting during flare-ups tilted me toward binge-eating as the ground-zero addiction later on. Thinking back, the dairy ban contributed as well. Without dairy, there was little I could eat. So once I could have it, I was going to have it all.

Now, I do envy Andy a little bit because he can enjoy a good glass of wine while I have to be sober. But in the grand scheme of things, he has it tougher than me. You’d be surprised how many non flour-sugar food choices are out there.

I always suspected the CSO of Akamai was tough as nails. Now I know he is.

Andy Ellis Akamai CSO with George

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sandee November 11, 2013 at 11:46 am

If you think he is tough as nails, try being his parent! Then you truly know how tough (and stubborn) he truly is 🙂 Once again thank you for the amazing things you write and the perspective it puts on things – usually just when I need it the most.

Kyle Rose November 14, 2013 at 1:01 pm

It’s actually remarkable how much easier than even a few short years ago it is to find gluten-free options, even at parties and conferences. It’s by no means universal, but I’m no longer surprised by the presence of such options. Remarkably, though, I think dairy-free is harder, which makes me glad I don’t have that problem.

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