I recently joined the holistic healthcare practice, Grand Rapids Natural Health as the resident couple and family therapist. So far this office full of healthy practitioners has been a great fit for me as I generally consider myself a healthy person. I try to live a healthy lifestyle, eating right and working out (almost) daily, but I have to admit I am not on the ball 100% of the time. I try to eat as clean as possible, which is more of a pleasant side effect of having a gluten allergy than actually being a health nut. So when the naturopathic doctor at our practice came up with the idea to for us all to participate in a group challenge regarding food and healthy eating, I thought it would be a great opportunity to challenge myself, food wise. Dr. Kelly Hassberger then told me the challenge would consist of us all eliminating three items from our daily diets for the month of March. Now I have done a cleanse or two before, so I was not yet intimidated. When she told me one of the items we would be eliminating would be gluten, I figured this would be a piece of cake! Not that I can recall what a really good piece of cake tastes like, but I do recall being quite impressed. I already avoid gluten so as not to suffer from some pretty annoying side effects, so I am thinking that I am already ahead of the game, and isn’t that fantastic!Just as I am feeling confident, Dr. Kelly tells me the second item we will be eliminating from our diet is meat. I realized I have never actually eliminated meat from my diet before, but it is not something I will be shying away from. I cook meals for my household on a regular basis and have actually been successful in making at least one or two meatless meals a week. I of course realize going meatless a night or two a week is a healthy habit to have, however if we are telling the truth here, I find meatless recipes take less time to prepare. I work a full day before having to run home and cook for my family, and sometimes the masses get hangry waiting for a meal that takes too long to prepare. For those unfamiliar with the term, hangry stands for the anger that develops when a person is hungry, a feeling that I know all too well. I find a quicker meal preparation lessens the aggravation of the members of our family on a weeknight, so meatless meals will be no problem for me! Particularly considering Dr. Kelly has decided to allow eggs, which frankly I am unsure if I could live without, as eggs are my favorite versatile breakfast meal.This brings us to the third item that will be eliminated, which is dairy. I might have actually had a physical reaction when she told me this. I am not going to lie about it, cheese is one of my absolute favorite things. This begs the question, is a month without cheese, a month worth living? Suddenly I am questioning my commitment to this challenge. I like to throw some goat cheese on my eggs in the morning, use it to jazz up a salad, or as a topping on pretty much any meal really. Cheese also happens to be a fan favorite within my household, which means I will most likely be surrounded by it as I embark on this terrifying challenge. Yes I said it, I am terrified of what a month without cheese looks like.I of course realize that there is a method to this madness and that I will come out of the month of March a lean, mean, clean eating machine. As I a couple and family therapist, I am not what one would call a food expert. I like what I like, and I try to stay properly fueled between client sessions. I am told this challenge will clean my insides and bring about pleasant side effects such as less allergies (one can only hope), less inflammation (whatever that means), and get me ready for spring (have you seen the snow outside? Trust me, I’m ready). I’ve heard that if you love something, let it go, and if your love was meant to be, it will come back to you. Obviously I fully expect to reignite my love affair with cheese promptly on April 1st. Until then I will lament my lost love in a weekly blog documenting my experience as a novice to these types of food challenges surrounded by experienced food challenge professionals.