this is how I feel when I’m gluten-free!
I’ve noticed gluten free eating in the news again and this time for not so fabulous reasons.
It seems restaurants (exhausted by dieters with gluten free! demands who end meals with gluten-filled, decadent desserts) have grown slack in being certain foods are truly prepared gluten free.
While a it’s a terrible thing for restaurants to do, I can see how “gluten-free for quick weight loss” special orders could be a challenge for the industry (not to mention the fact it doesn’t work).
I was gluten free for 15 years before I blogged about it for that very reason.
Now, close to 22 years later, it still surprises me when people remember/associate me with that approach to eating.
I received this email last week:
My doc asked me to eat gluten free to manage rheumatoid arthritis. It’s helped, but I’m obsessed with wondering if there’s hidden gluten in foods. I’m terrified of gluten. The stress is pushing me to rebel/overeat. How can I eat GF & not stress/obsess?
A gluten-free diet eliminates the protein gluten. Gluten is found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye).
Gluten causes inflammation in the small intestines of people with celiac disease. Eating a gluten-free diet helps people with celiac disease control their signs and symptoms and prevent complications.
I don’t have celiacs disease (never tested). I just felt consistently like crap (technical term) & knew something needed to change. Swollen, rashy, achy, joints hurt, constant exhausted. I focused on my food, eliminated a few things, shed about 35 pounds, felt FANTASTIC and carried on with my life. It was 14 years later I learned what Id eliminated was gluten.
swollen, gluten-filled living.
Eating gluten free is not for everyone. If it’s for you—then I believe you’ll know fairly quickly. Not from weight loss, but from swelling reduction, full body rash-ridding, and an increase in energy/depression mitigation.
Right after I released my e-book I received a of flurry emails asking for tips on how to start eating gluten free.
While I don’t advocate GF eating, I began eating this way when there existed no processed substitutes. As a result, my “diet” mainly consists of unprocessed foods which is something I believe we could all benefit from.
I also feel compelled to add I didn’t struggle when I went gluten-free.
I didn’t miss my gluten foods.
I’d no idea what I’d eliminated, but I felt so much better I had no temptation to return to old eating habits.
gluten makes me feel like this!
Which brings me to my response to the email (and the fact Id love for you to chime in below):
4 steps I took to transition to gluten-free eating:
- I got excited. I was swollen, overweight, achy, lethargic, and rashy. After I eliminated bread/pasta I felt so much better I couldn’t wait to see what else I could change to lessen my symptoms. My excitement eclipsed any feelings of deprivation. I wont say I didn’t feel, at times, mentally exhausted (trying to figure out meals etc. No one had thought of using lettuce leaves as sandwich wraps back then) but I was excited, energetic again & it felt worth it.
- I became empowered…LATER. It really was close to 14 years down the road when I realized what Id eliminated from my food plan. Once I figured it out I read voraciously on the subject. Some of the reading matter applied to me. Some did not. I empowered myself through education. (This is a great post on getting stated with GF eating).
- I listened to my body. Since others weren’t yet talking about gluten my only option was to try foods & pay attention to how my body responded. For example, many who are gluten sensitive can not tolerate oatmeal. I can tolerate oatmeal. For a short while I kept a food journal (what I ate, how I felt immediately afterward, how I felt hours afterward) which was tremendously helpful in creating a list of foods which worked for my body (this is a fab list of common places gluten can hide).
- I kept it simple. I still keep it simple. With a few deviations I eat foods my grandmother would have recognized. Whole grains. Veggies & fruits. Lean proteins. My daughter has noticed I eat differently from her dad and asked why. I have a simple answer: This is how I feel my best. These are the foods which give me energy. (and, since she’s noticed times when Ive accidentally glutenized myself) These are the foods which keep mom’s skin swelling away.
she’s not gluten free. she doesn’t need to be!
- I only buy/consume gluten free foods.
- I don’t order anything at restaurants which could potentially contain gluten/eat anything potentially gluten’y at friends homes.
- I’m fortunate I don’t have to worry about cross contamination (manufacturing or restaurants) because while I swell & rash my gluten-reaction is neither debilitating nor life threatening.
All I know–and can share with my emailer– is what has worked for me.
Which is why, as always, I look to *you* in the comments below.
- If you eat gluten free how did you stop *obsessing* and start living a GF life? Links to your writing on the subject are welcome!