Monday, January 13, 2014

Saying goodbye to gluten

I'll be honest, I secretly always wondered what was up with all the "gluten free" hype going on. I was bombarded with gluten free advertising in grocery stores and facebook posts warning of the dangers of gluten. I ignored it for a long time.

About 9 months ago I started getting frustrated with symptoms I'd been suffering from for about 10 years.

Decrease in energy
Brain fog
Tummy problems

I didn't used to always be like this. I was always so active, alert, energetic, acne free, and had a perfectly healthy digestive system. Once I went to college and started seeing my body and health change slowly, I kept attributing it to being in a new place. After all, I wasn't eating my mom's home cookin' anymore. I was stressed from studying. I was this. I was that.

Then I started going overseas more. Ghana. Togo. Cambodia. Thailand. Vietnam. India. Dominican Republic. Austria. Azerbaijan. Georgia. The United Arab Emirates. Then back and forth to America in between it all. Of course my body was out of whack! I was traveling and getting sick from foreign germs. This is what I told myself.

Then we moved back to America over 2 years ago and my symptoms stayed the same.

So that brings me to 9 months ago when I decided to cut out milk (and coffee creamer...*tear*). I still ate cheese and yogurt, but taking out milk drastically reduced my tummy problems.

For a while.

Then about 3 months ago I noticed my tummy problems coming back. What in the world?

In a desperate attempt for help, I clicked on one of the links on my facebook newsfeed a friend posted about gluten. I decided it was at least worth a read. I read the "symptoms" list and fell back in my chair almost dead. Basically every single symptom listed was what I was experiencing on a daily basis. For 10 years.

It was a no-brainer for me.

I went cold turkey. I stopped eating all bread/noodles/cookies/crackers immediately. Like, nothing. (Mind you, this was a week before THANKSGIVING. Bad timing right!?)

The first day was horrible mentally. I walked past the bread a million times a day (because I'm always in the kitchen cooking or cleaning or picking up toys that little people brought into the kitchen). It was torture in my head. Bread has always been my "go-to" food when I need a snack. We eat really healthy meals, but in between I always had toast, or crackers and cheese.

Day two I felt like I had the flu. I seriously kid you not. I am not exaggerating. I had chills, a fever, and after cleaning or taking care of the kids throughout the day, I would crumble into a ball on the couch with a blanket and sit in misery. I had no energy and felt like a truck hit me.

Day three I felt 1,000 times better than on day two. I didn't think about bread as much- just a little.

Every day after that got easier and easier.

By about day four or five I started to notice something extraordinary. My tummy problems completely vanished. My energy sky-rocked through the roof, and I could think more clearly than I had in 10 years. The added bonus? My acne started clearing up. When it came time for Thanksgiving and Christmastime, it wasn't hard for me to say no to bread. Of course once in a blue moon I would accidentally eat something with milk or gluten, or sometimes I would just eat it because I didn't want to offend the host or family member serving the food. But every time I slipped up and had milk or gluten products, I suffered. I would get a horrible headache, tummy problems, and start to feel loss of energy creeping up again.

I've never been into diets. They don't work for me and I don't really care. I eat healthy and don't have any food addictions or disorders, so it's never been a big deal to me. When I fast for spiritual reasons my only motivating factor is to draw near to God. So when I gave up milk and gluten, it wasn't a struggle emotionally. I don't care if it helps me lose weight (that would be cool though). It's purely to help me feel better. So when I pass by the bread or cookie, I might look at it for a second, but then I remember how horrible I feel after eating it and I walk away.

I've had to come up with some creative additions to my diet to compensate for the lack of gluten. I don't buy any gluten-free products (like cookies or bread) - I just eat natural foods more. Here is an example of what I eat in a given day.

Breakfast: Eggs with shredded cheese, water, coffee with almond milk, a piece of chocolate (I bite into the chocolate while drinking the coffee since I don't put sugar in the coffee), half a cup of kefir yogurt
Snack: Cucumber sandwich (cut in half, scooped out, and filled with hummus, avocado, and cheese), water
Lunch: Soup, water
Snack: Banana with peanut butter, water
Dinner: Spinach salad with cut up chicken, veggies, shredded cheese, hummus,  half a cup of kefir yogurt, water

Breakfast: Oatmeal (it doesn't give me symptoms so thankfully I can eat it) mixed with all natural greek yogurt, honey, blended up frozen strawberries and almond milk, coffee with almond milk and a chocolate, water
Snack: Veggies and hummus, water
Lunch: Salad or soup, water
Snack: Veggie crisps, fruit, nuts, water
Dinner: Stir-fry with veggies, chicken,  rice, half a cup of kefir yogurt, water

If I make a meal for the family that has gluten in it (anything with pasta or bread), I just eat something separate for myself.

I am not the expert here. I am definitely just starting. Eating like this is super easy at home. It's just hard when I go to other people's houses or out to eat. When I am at family or friends' houses, I try to be as courteous as possible and either 1. Just eat the parts of the meal that aren't gluten or 2. Eat it anyway and deal with it later

I went to Chipotle last week and got the burrito bowl without the tortilla, and it was sooooo delish. Then today when we went to a Mexican restaurant, I ordered a dish that came with scrambled eggs, sausage, brown rice, re-fried beans, and mozzarella cheese. Usually I would order an enchilada and tomale. Sad times in my Mexican loving heart :*(

I'm still learning as I go. It's only been 7 weeks, and I'm sure I'll learn more every day. I've received tons of advice from friends regarding recipes, and also learned that true sourdough bread won't upset my body like other breads. So I'm going to give that a try soon.

I'm a busy mom so I don't have hours on end to pour over my new diet. I'm just trying to make it easy as I go and work it into my life.

I have a doc appointment tomorrow and I will talk to her about all this. My friend suggested I get my thyroid checked as well just in case, so I am going to talk to the doctor about that. Maybe that will shed some insight as well!

I want to be the best mom, wife, friend, and photographer possible. I don't want my health getting in the way.

So I'm saying goodbye to gluten. Adios!

1 comment:

  1. Ugh, and I have since fallen off the band-wagon. You're re-inspiring me. I was trying to do it for Jake and I, but it was SO much harder keeping gluten/dairy from Jake while everyone else was having it. I want to start again. I do think I have more energy. I have been gluten binging lately..just going all out. Lol, I haven't had as much brain fog in forever. I seriously forget what I'm saying mid-sentence!!!! So bad. I know it's gluten. I don't know about dairy. I like what you're doing..cutting out the milk/cream, but keeping cheese for a while. That is smart. I also would keep butter for a while, b/c I LOVE butter. Haha. Well, thanks for re-inspiring me. I want to do the whole family...but that may be too much. First, I think I need to let go of my emotional love affair with artisan breads and just realize that it is a form of addiction - an attachement to a worldy thing that would be good spiritual practice to give it up. I could even offer it up for an end to abortion. Also, love the cucumber "sandwhich" idea. I'm stealing that one for sure. =)