Prevention magazine has written their spin on it, Huffington Post has, and various others, but I haven’t. It’s about going gluten free.
I decided to share with you today a little about my journey to discovering and assuming a gluten free diet, while bridging between also being plant-based.
I was speaking with my mother today and she told me that she had decided to assume a gluten free diet a couple weeks ago. Wahoo! Likewise, many people I know have made a similar decision – my sister-in-law, friends, friends of friends…
Is it just a “cool” thing?
Please hold that thought.
To some, yes. To most, no.
Just one month gluten free and your bank account (if you are not wealthy) will tell you that going gluten free is a real responsibility, a challenge, an adventure, and a wallet stretcher that is not easy.
So why did I go gluten free? Why might you consider it?
I’ll share with you a quick timeline and move right into the five points you came for. You will want to hear this, I am certain!
It all began in…
1999 – I decided to take the plunge as a pre-teen and become vegetarian. That meant giving up meat, which was not hard for me at all. I am not one of those vegan protestors, but I could see the logic in protecting animals, the environment, and my health.
2000-2005 – I will admit, I thought I was doing well. My AirHead candies were vegetarian, my favorite potato chips were vegetarian, my favorite veggie meats were vegetarian, and my favorite snacks were as well. Easy as pie – and I loved pie.
2006-2008 – I thought I knew what it meant to be vegetarian. I didn’t. In 2006 I decided to try harder and give up dairy as well. That was hard! I mean, you want to talk about a struggle? I lost my favorite pizza “hut”, and me and my mom’s traditional Breyer’s ice cream dates over a movie? Gone! It was hard, but I felt good. Into 2008, that was the first year that I learned that my friend’s wife was gluten intolerant. What did that mean? I don’t know. I learned that it meant it was hard to go out to eat with her, and that she had mean stomach issues. It seemed to be a rare issue since it was new to me though, right? So sorry Ana.
2009-2010 – I was well on my way with health. I began to learn what a vegetarian diet was supposed to look like – plant foods. I was excited about it especially since by that time I lived on the beach of California – the land of dairy-free milk and organic raw honey. I was in my element. I had began a whole foods diet, and began shopping regularly at Whole Foods. Coincidence?
2011 – Like a boomerang it hit me square between the eyes – and my hubby! For the second time I would learn that a new friend was gluten intolerant while over lunch after church. I asked her what she could eat anymore, and all I can remember was hearing, “quinoa, quinoa, quinoa, rice, rice, rice”. It was terrible. Glad no family member of mine had that issue! Wrong! Someone did. Someone very very close to me.
Now for what you have been waiting for.
Five Reasons Why I Went Gluten Free
1. To Support My Husband. In 2011 by an elimination diet “sanctioned” by our osteopathic doctor and friend, my husband learned that his symptoms of: depression, weight gain, voice loss, hair loss, stomach cramps, muscle pain, hip pain, and bloating were all interconnected – gluten. I remember the day he told me he felt like a 60-something year old man in a 20-something year old body. Not good! We decided to give this gluten free lifestyle a try, and no kidding within a month, he felt like gold. I love seeing him smile and feel good. I live for that.
2. To Support My Own Health. For years I knew I was iron-deficient. I was told this since I was a child. No one ever told me why. I don’t know why it is, but sometimes well meaning doctors forget to explore the “why”. I don’t know why he didn’t but I did. After all it was my health. There had to be a real reason why I was anemic all of my life suffering from extreme fatigue, diffused body pains, etc. I learned that gluten could indeed affect iron absorption and thus cause iron deficiency. Need more? Google :)
3. One Cause, Many Diseases. I read an important article by Dr. Mark Hyman, a well known and respected functional medicine doctor and author of several popular books on wellness. Here is a snippet of what made me decide to explore deeper and make lifestyle changes, although one should always consult with their doctor *before* making any lifestyle changes:
“A review paper in The New England Journal of Medicine listed 55 “diseases” that can be caused by eating gluten. These include osteoporosis, irritable bowel disease, inflammatory bowel disease, anemia, cancer, fatigue, canker sores, and rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and almost all other autoimmune diseases. Gluten is also linked to many psychiatric and neurological diseases, including anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, dementia, migraines, epilepsy, and neuropathy (nerve damage). It has also been linked to autism.
Gluten sensitivity is actually an autoimmune disease that creates inflammation throughout the body, with wide-ranging effects across all organ systems including your brain, heart, joints, digestive tract, and more. It can be the single cause behind many different “diseases.” To correct these diseases, you need to treat the cause–which is often gluten sensitivity–not just the symptoms.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that ALL cases of depression or autoimmune disease or any of these other problems are caused by gluten in everyone–but it is important to look for it if you have any chronic illness.”
**Reference: Hyman, M. Gluten: What you don’t know might kill you. Retrieved from, http://drhyman.com/blog/2011/03/17/gluten-what-you-dont-know-might-kill-you/.
4. Why Go On (More) Meds? I know many people who are afraid to explore the unknown. That’s understandable. They hear about people with celiac and non-celiac gluten sensitivity and say in their minds, “hmmm I might have that, but I could never…” Why? Why manage your symptoms when you can focus on having a real healthy happy life? I would encourage you – don’t just cover symptoms. Ask your doctor about solutions to “fix” what is apparently breaking or broken.
5. I Can Still Make GOOD Food! As you can tell Sweet n’ Savory Life is all about good gluten free, plant-based eating! I have a wonderful collection of recipes that continue to expand because I love eating well and enjoying life. Most people who go gluten free think firstly about what they must sacrifice: pizza, donuts, cupcakes, muffins, pie, etc. I would say to that, which sacrifice is greater? Your health or those foods? Secondly, you still can have these and more! Now more than ever gluten free foods have popped up in almost any and every store. You no longer have to pay a premium either, as even large companies are opening their market to gluten free foods with more affordable prices.
I look back over the last several years and I say, I am glad I know what I know now! I couldn’t imagine trading my health for anything.
Is it still an upward climb? Sure!
But it’s a journey I am open for. How about you?