Gluten-free is now a common way of life. The need for a gluten free diet and the number of non-celiac people experimenting with it has increased greatly in the past five years. Perhaps you have wondered if you should also. After all, many people on a gluten-free (GF) diet have rejoiced at results of weight loss, less bloating, better digestion, fewer headaches and more. But is it for everyone? Is it for you?
I was strictly gluten-free for about four years, but now I am starting to bring it back into my life. I will tell you why.
Why I Went Gluten-Free
About five years ago, I was struggling with panic attacks, weight loss, heart palpitations and asthmatic symptoms. I attributed it to stress and being a run-down, sleep-deprived Mom. However, I knew something severely amiss when I unexpectedly lost 12 lbs. in 2 weeks. Additionally, my asthma resurfaced, hives appeared, panic set in, and I started reacting to foods I had eaten most my life. Anorexia in its true sense flared up – I was terrified to eat! If you have never experienced this, let me just say it is “HELL.” I had NO idea why my body was breaking down.
After many visits to several doctors and a plethora of tests, I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue, chronic fatigue, anxiety disorder, leaky gut and heavy metal toxicity. I also tested positive for parasites – four types of little buggers, along with elevated E.coli and other nasty things.
After intervening with some medication, I started to repair my gut by reducing the inflammation in my intestines, sealing up those leaky points and replenishing my body with nutrients lost. To repair the gut, you need to be on a limited diet for a while, eliminating harsh or hard to digest proteins, such as gluten (found in wheat, rye, barley) and casein (found in dairy). Bacteria and parasites thrive on these foods as well as sugar, so to be sure everything stayed in check, I wanted to avoid them and did so for about four years. Now I am starting to re-introduce gluten into my diet but in very small, high quality doses, while carefully monitoring my reactions.
Why Maybe You Should Too
I wanted to tell you my story to demonstrate a purpose for going gluten free. If you suspect something is off with your digestion (or have had that confirmed by lab work), are dealing with inflammatory issues (diabetes, asthma, IBS, Crohn’s, etc.), or have a difficult time losing weight (perhaps due to a thyroid issue), then going gluten free may help you. You would need to give it about six months to a year to encourage healing, and you do need to be strict about it. Reducing may not help, but completely removing it may. Of course, if you are celiac, then you need to strictly avoid all exposure to gluten.
But Be Aware….
However, be aware that while following a gluten-free diet is much easier today than it was ten years ago, there are many gluten-free JUNK foods on the market. If your intention in going gluten-free is to heal the body, then these foods won’t help you. Make sure you stay the path of whole foods, concentrating on high quality meats, vegetables, fruits and whole grains like quinoa, millet, certified GF oats, buckwheat and sorghum. A whole foods diet will also help avoid any hidden gluten in so many processed foods (think soy sauce, ketchup, soups, candies, etc.)
To make the shift to a gluten-free diet, the emphasis must be quality and nutrition, not just eliminating this or that. It’s not so much about what you take out, but what you put in!
How to Make the Shift
Adopting a gluten-free diet can be challenging. Gluten-free cooking is a new way of life, especially if you are not familiar with the products. Before making any change in your diet, make sure you do your prep work: gather recipes (check out what I have on my blog here), read up on what you can/can’t have, determine appropriate substitutes and always focus on your WHY. What is your goal? Why are you doing this? Finally, know that you see results immediately, or you might need to commit to six months before noticing any changes. Everyone is different.
Most importantly, remember to love your body every step of the way, thanking it for all it does for you.