I am grateful that I don’t have Celiac disease, but I do have a wicked intolerance for the stuff. What does that look like? Well to start, if you haven’t already read Part 1 of ‘Gluten Free Me’, please do.
When I eat gluten, I feel like I have a big ball of dough in my belly – which, I guess is true. I feel poofy and gassy, topped off with a dose of sluggishness and dopiness.
Snow White’s dwarves have nothing on me!
Worse, since gluten is found in so many products, I end up feeling like that most of the time, and not just after eating pizza or Italian bread. A lot of people complain of feeling like I do after eating gluten, so I thought I was, ya know, ‘normal’. Then a nutritionist friend suggested I do a gluten elimination diet, and so I rose to the challenge.
Holy gluten free transformation, Batgirl! I felt like a new woman!
I committed to eliminating all sources of gluten for one full month. In addition to the obvious sources such as breads, crackers, cereals, cookies and pasta made with wheat, barley or rye — I was careful to avoid the hidden sources as well. Can you believe that there can be gluten in:
- Deli meats
- Dressings and sauces
- Beer. Sigh, beer
- Flavored coffee and tea
It was tough for the first few days, but I started feeling great fairly quickly, which motivated me to keep it up. I had much more energy, less brain fog, more regular bathroom habits and a tummy that was no longer feeling like the Michelin man’s twin sister.
The kicker at the end of an elimination diet is to do a ‘challenge’ – eat some gluten and see how you feel. Well, it was like someone stuck an air hose in me with sleepy gas. The bloat and fatigue came back with a vengeance.
My take on eating gluten-free is fairly simple. Instead of focusing on what I can’t eat, I make a list of what I can eat, and find, easily.
Here’s what I had to eat for the last 2 days of living gluten free:
- Nonfat Greek yogurt, blueberries, gluten-free (GF)d granola.
- Cashews and an apple
- Kale salad with chicken, oil and vinegar
- Peanut butter and a banana
- Grilled fish and asparagus
- Ice cream…oh yes you can, but only the good stuff!
- Omelet with spinach, mushrooms and tomatoes
- Salad with walnuts and feta
- GF protein bar
- GF sausage with cauliflower and potatoes
- More ice cream
For a more comprehensive list of foods containing gluten, check out this article by WebMD.
I do try to make the best of available food choices always, but I also try to balance that with living a full life – and for me that sometimes includes an amazing loaf of Italian bread slathered in butter, a big slice of pizza from a New York City street corner, or ice cream two nights in a row (it’s summertime people!).
Life is so damn short, and I want to eat it all up, literally!
To keep that balance in check, I try to go gluten-free for a month a couple of times a year, and that really works for me. But remember, if you have Celiac disease, you MUST avoid gluten at all times.
Best of luck, let me know how it goes!