"If it wasn't so easy, this would be hard." Sounds like a Yogism, doesn't it? But it's not. Nope. I said it. And Will laughed. But I meant what I said.
Three months ago, we, as a family, went gluten free. It was a trial. Would it make a difference with the increasingly bothersome symptoms? Would it be too difficult to give up the gluten-laden foods? Would we have trouble sticking to a limited diet? We now have answers to those questions.
It has made a remarkable difference. It has not been hard at all. We don't feel as if we are giving up anything. And if I'd known I'd feel this good and it would be this easy, I'd have gone gluten free years ago.
One of the best and most unexpected results is no more migraines, which I've experienced since I was a teen. A few other added bonuses; I've dropped a pants size and I'm not always craving food. But the reason it became necessary to try a gluten free diet was the joint pain, the painful skin rash and the painful bloating after every meal; that's a lot of pain.
Gluten Free Trends
Interestingly, I have begun to see articles online, in parenting magazines and in news magazines discussing the pros and cons of being gluten free. Many of the articles I've read are clearly written by people who have not experienced distressing medical issues and found relief by eliminating gluten from their diets. Some of the articles seem to think that going gluten free means withholding all whole grains; which is unhealthy. Many of the articles are written in the tone that I used to have about the idea of gluten free; that is, slightly hostile.
The hostility stems from a feeling of "Do you think you're better than I am since you aren't eating gluten?" "I mean we all have some digestive issues, aches and pains, skin conditions, etc., but that doesn't mean I have to stop eating baguettes and croissants and pasta and pastries full of gluten-based flour." "You do whatever you want, but I'm just as healthy as you are with my gluten!" "And really, is that kind of diet even healthy – whole wheat is healthy!"
I know this because these are the hostile, defensive feelings and thoughts I had about a gluten free diet for several years prior to throwing in the towel when my health issues continued and intensified.
The truth is that our diet has actually improved since giving gluten the old heave ho. While we always avoided artificial colors and flavors and processed foods and ate fresh veggies and fruits and whole grains and limited meat, we had become stuck in a rut with meals and snacks.
We now eat even more fresh and varied (and mostly organic) fruits and veggies, and we eat other types of nutritious whole grains. We read labels with renewed vigilance. We eat flavorful and delicious foods. We have given up only ill effects caused by gluten.
Another common thread in these articles is that there are so few choices at the grocery store that it will mean giving up whole grains or making everything from scratch with a complicated blend of non-gluten flours. Here's the truth: there are a plethora of gluten free choices out there.
I do live in a large metropolis with lots of grocery store and restaurant options, including a variety of natural food co-ops, Whole Foods and Trader Joes which all offer lots of choices, but more and more companies are offering gluten free options. I can get my hands on muffins, breads, cookies, pizza, pasta, bars, cakes, basically anything my gluten free heart desires. There are flour blends and mixes and pre-made options galore.
Many of those pre-made gluten free "junk" food choices are expensive and not necessary for a healthy diet. So, we opt for fresh and from scratch most of the time and splurge every so often, just as we would if we were eating foods with gluten.
A Lesson in Gluten
I'm certainly not advocating for everyone to go gluten free, but if you are experiencing digestive issues, unexplained aches and pains in the joints or skin conditions, even migraines, problems focusing, then you may want to talk to a doctor and/or try ditching the gluten. There are even some articles citing studies that show that going gluten free may also help those who have ADHD/ADD or autism.
Now the thing is that with gluten free you either go big or go home! There is no wiggle room; no just taking one bite here and there; no cheating for one night; even a little can wreak havoc on your sensitive system. It can take several months for your gut to heal. So, give it a fair trial of 3 to 6 months and DON'T even think about cheating! But my guess is if gluten is your problem, after a few weeks you'll feel so much better that you won't want to cheat; it won't be worth it!
So, what is gluten? Where do you find it? What symptoms might tip you off that you should give this a try? What should you avoid? What is gluten sensitivity? What is celiac disease? What's the difference? Check out these sites:
So, if it wasn't so easy, this would be difficult! I do wonder what kind of difference it would have made if I would have tried this several years ago, but the simple fact is I wasn't ready then. In January, in the throes of my influenza induced fevers I had a gut feeling. I was ready to give it go. And I'm so glad I did.
What does your gut tell you? Over and out...