Disclaimer: I had submitted this as an article for the Healthy SELF Newsletter and was not published. I had forgotten to write that I officially have a gluten-intolerance and am being watched for Celiac’s Disease due to already having one autoimmune issue (Hasimoto’s).
First, Happy Celiac Disease Awareness Month!
Being gluten-free is a major part of my life.
Imagine for just a moment that you feel physically and emotionally drained. You’re always tired, achy, and have a general feeling of malaise. Migraines plague you on a regular basis. You have unexplained vitamin and iron deficiencies and you can’t lose weight to save your life. Well, that was me.
In the fall of 2009, gluten-free wasn’t as popular as it is now. So, without going to a doctor, how did I even get the idea to try it? It came down to one fateful evening where I couldn’t stop eating pasta and my boyfriend at the time (now husband) commented on the sheer amount I was eating. It was then that I remembered that my cousins were diagnosed with Celiac’s disease and gluten-intolerance. A two-week experiment of no bread, pasta, or pretzels began and I’ve never looked back. The results after a prolonged absence of gluten are as follows:
- Vitamin, electrolytes, and iron levels are all currently normal.
- Less need for changes in thyroid medication.
- Decrease in migraine frequency.
- Body and joint pain were gone within the two week trial period and haven’t returned since (well, except for being sore after running a marathon!)
I’ve obviously lost some fluff from the left hand picture to the right hand picture. I am not saying that just going gluten-free caused me to lose that weight. Although I do eat more whole and less processed foods, abstaining from gluten has allowed my body to un-inflame so I could enjoy being active! I ran in high school, not so much in college, and since dedicating myself 100% to the gluten-free lifestyle, I have achieved a lot in terms of fitness.
To be honest, I love food. And, more recently, I’m trying to explore the gluten-free culture a little more. But, gluten free doesn’t mean that you’re sacrificing. I mean, look at these gluten-free treats!
There are two ways to look at cooking and eating. The first is finding foods that are naturally gluten-free such as meat, vegetables, fruits, beans and some grains (like quinoa and corn). The other is finding foods that have been modified so that their glutenous components are replaced. The first school of thought is actually much, much cheaper than you think. The second one is where costs are raised. For example, a pack of gluten-free “oreos” are around $5-$6 per box. In order to cut costs, I’ve started baking a lot more using cake-mix bases. Although these are also semi-expensive, the cost per cupcake is much less than what you would pay for pre-baked GF goods. I’ve also found a lot of enjoyment in trying to adapt normal recipes I find using gluten-free flours and ingredients. The best compliment I can get is when C can’t tell it’s gluten-free.
Is going gluten-free right for you? Well, it depends because symptoms are fairly individualized. I’ve met people who get really tired when they eat gluten all the way to having major GI issues. Gluten has an inflammatory affect on me (joint paint, stomach aches, muscle aches, migraines, etc). After years of trying to convince my dad to go gluten free (those cousins at the beginning of this story? His side of the family. Three out of four of his sisters have gone GF and have had great health success), he recently has and he says he’s never felt better. He told me that once he had some normal pretzels and the next day, he felt like “a truck had hit him”. Does that mean my gluten-intolerance is genetic? Maybe. I’m not sure.
While I am an advocate for the GF lifestyle, I am not a dietician, so if you have any health concerns with going gluten-free, then you should definitely consult a doctor or a nutritionist.
Eat well, my friends!