The Story Behind Plating with Perel
My food journey started when I was in middle school/high school, and I would watch a variety of food shows from Rachael Ray to Diners, Drive Ins and Dives to Hell's Kitchen. Something about these shows intrigued me as I always had a love for food. As time went on, I would come home from school and I would be the one in charge of dinner. I would print off a recipe from foodnetwork.com with my parents approval (meaning they would try the dish), and I would cook it start to finish. This passion transferred into college, and I always looked forward to going home on school breaks cause I could not stand the dorm food. I was thrilled when I got my apartment junior year of college cause I could finally cook for myself!
Fast forward to second semester of junior year when I studied abroad in Paris, France. I spent a semester traveling through France and Europe (Spain, Italy, Greece and so many more). The food in France was by far my favorite of my five months there.
Let's move on to graduation in spring 2015: I graduated with a double major from Marquette University and had a full time job offer to relocate to Dallas, Texas for my first job out of college. I was excited to move to a new city to meet new people, experience a new place and most importantly try the food!
I would cook for myself on a regular basis, but nothing special since I was working full time. One day that changed.
It was a summer morning in August 2019, and I was on my way to work. I lived close to the office, and I could do this drive with my eyes closed. All of a sudden I had this sensation rushing through my body; I did not know what was wrong and if I should keep driving or pull over. I ended up getting to work, and realizing I suffered a panic attack. This was the first of multiple panic attacks over the next few months and what led to the start of my new journey.
I remember laying in bed all weekend with no appetite, anxiety, stomach aches, headaches and so much more. On Monday, I went to my eye doctor thinking I needed new glasses and that I was overly stressed. A few days later the symptoms came back, and I just tried to ignore what I was feeling and go about my life.
Fast forward to mid September and being on vacation with my family onboard an Alaskan cruise; we had just finished a day of dogsledding in Juneau and were on our way to the dining room. All of a sudden, I had a panic attack in the middle of the dining room. I had to get up and go to the room to try and calm myself down. I wondered how was I going to make it through the next five days of this trip.
I returned from Alaska, and I made a doctor's appointment ASAP. My parents thought it was acid reflux as it ran in the family. I went on medicine for acid reflux, reduced acidic foods in my diet and started feeling more like myself. Over the course of the next month, I tried to keep myself busy to stop my mind from wandering and thinking intrusive thoughts/questioning what was wrong.
In early November, I was out with friends and I had another panic attack. I had to drive myself home from this outing, and I questioned what was wrong. My anxiety was high, my stomach was killing me, and I had no appetite; I had to force myself to eat.
The next morning I took myself to the ER. The doctors thought it was an ulcer, prescribed me medicine and I made an appointment with a gastroenterologist for later that week. I was so relieved to finally be seeing a stomach doctor after three months of problems. We ran more lab work and did a sonogram to make sure all my organs were working properly.
The sonogram came back normal with just a lot of gas buildup from the ulcer meds, and one week later I got the call...my labwork came back positive for Celiac Disease. I had never heard the term before until the nurse explained it to me. I realized this is what my Grandpa Marvin had, and when we would always go out to eat he could only eat certain foods.
Four days after my labwork tested positive for Celiac Disease, I had a colonoscopy and upper endoscopy to confirm my diagnosis and ensure nothing else was wrong. The tests confirmed it and from November 18, 2019 onward I have been on a gluten free diet.
I was at a loss of what to eat, how to get back to my normal lifestyle and how to find the true me. I started therapy, tried to keep myself occupied and most of all got into cooking again. I bought gluten free cookbooks and started talking to friends who had Celiac Disease for suggestions.
Everyone I spoke with was so welcoming and supported me on my new journey. Covid then hit in March 2020, and I received the news that I had been furloughed from work for up to 90 days. I questioned what I would do with all my free time, and the first thing I did was go out of town to Lake of the Ozarks for the weekend to clear my mind.
During this weekend, one of my friends suggested I make a food page on Instagram as I had been sharing so much recently on my personal Instagram and on our drive back I decided to pursue this. Now is where the fun comes in...I wanted a catchy name and Plating with Perel stuck!
I returned to Dallas later that week, and Plating with Perel took off in April 2020 without me ever looking back.