April 25, 2017

Why A Girl Who Loves Cupcakes & Donuts Went Gluten-Free (And Why You Should Too!)

I have a little bit of a sweet tooth.  And when I say little, I mean huge.  I have been known to Door Dash Susie Cakes cupcakes and stop by Sprinkles cupcakes at least once a week.  While pregnant with my son, I was obsessed with Strawberry Shorttcake from Whole Foods and ate at least one cake a week.

I blame my mom and grandma for my fondness for sweets.  Both had stashes of sweets that they maintained in their homes.  After dinner time, the sweets would come out.

When cupcakes became trendy about 13 years ago, I thought, duh! Cupcakes are little bites of heaven!

But as of February 15, I am now gluten free.

Prior to making this huge lifestyle change, I simply did not understand people who didn’t eat gluten.  I may have uttered the words, “but why?!?!” with a confused look on my face more than once promptly followed up by a “but how?!”  I just want you to understand that I really like sweets and other gluten containing foods so that you understand that yes, you too can go gluten-free.

I chose to give up gluten for a week to see how I would feel.  My mom did a 21 day cleanse in January with my accupuncturist who had a whole group doing it.  After the cleanse, my mom felt amazing!  She looked good, had more energy.  She seemed happier and more radiant.  And yes, she lost some weight.

Losing weight did not inspire my gluten-free experiment though.  Rather, I am allergic to casein.  Casein is one of the two proteins found in milk, along with whey.  I have always had a problem with dairy, but I didn’t find out until about 2.5 years ago that I am actually allergic to dairy.

Going completely dairy-free was a huge game changer for me.  But still, something still seemed off.  I kept trying different things, but I often felt really bloated and uncomfortable.  This had been going on for years, and removing dairy didn’t completely solve the problem.  I went through test after test, found out I had a thyroid issue two years ago, and yet still, these symptoms remained:

One day, I read that casein is almost the same molecule as gluten.  I was SHOCKED.  The book discussed how many people with an allergy to casein cannot tolerate gluten.  But again, I thought how could I give up pasta, couscous, cookies, cupcakes, and donuts?  I love food, cooking and baking.  I just didn’t see how I could go gluten free.

Until one day, when I woke up and decided I would try it.  I was not prepared (please don’t do that!), and therefore was only able to make it until about 2 pm until I dug into some warm, delicious Italian bread.

So the next day, I woke up even more determined.  I could do it!  I made a trip to Trader Joe’s and picked up their gluten free list (it’s LONG!).  A super sweet employee took me around the store to show me staff favorites.  I was so surprised to find gluten-free bagels, pizza dough, cookies, tortillas, bread and even pancake mix!

It took a few days to notice a change.  During the next few days, I spent a lot of times who had experimented with going gluten-free.  When you are making a massive change, it feels so nice to be surrounded by others who understand and can support you on your journey.

I kept asking, “how long until I notice a chance?”  The answer was always around a week, some people said 10 days.  But they said I would just wake up, and feel incredible.

I waited patiently to wake up and feel like I was walking on clouds.  Day 2, no change and I was craving sweets.  My new ones were okay, but not the same.  Day 3, I was no longer craving sweets or bread, but still no change.  Day 4, I started to really crave vegetables and healthy foods.  I did not miss my old foods with gluten in them.  Day 5 I really started to notice I had more energy, was feeling less bloated.

But it was Day 6 that I woke up, and had that walking on clouds feeling.  I wanted to sing, “I’m walking on sunshine” mixed with a little “Zipadee do-da, zipadee ay, my oh my what a beautiful day.”  My entire body felt different.  I was bursting with energy, my head felt clear, I felt happier than I had in a long time, and my whole body felt less bloated.

I knew at that second that my days of eating gluten were in the past.

Over time, eating gluten-free has gotten easier.  It is still very new to me, as I have only been gluten free for a little over two months.  I have had many cases of accidental gluten ingestion.  It’s called being “glutened.”  And that day and the next, I often feel terrible, sick, gassy, sometimes my body actually aches.

This is a journey, and not an overnight change.  But I have found delicious cookies, bagels and even dairy-free “cream cheese.”  I have found the foods that are easier to eat outside of the house like Mexican and Asian (just watch the soy sauce!).

If you have been feeling badly, if you get tired after eating pancakes, or haven’t been able to lose that baby weight, it’s something to consider.  If I can do it, I promise you that ANYONE can do it!  While I have always eaten pretty healthfully, I have always eaten gluten and never thought it was an issue.

But here’s the thing, the gluten-containing products we are eating today are NOT the ones our ancestors ate.  And wheat, barley and rye and relatively recent introductions into our food supply.  It takes generations for people to adapt to major changes.  So even before GMOs and other major changes to our agricultural system came along, many people could not tolerate gluten that well.

But now with genetically modified wheat, barley and rye, the molecules can literally not be digested properly by ANYONE.  Even if you don’t experience noticeable issues, these molecules pass through our digestive tract undigested.  We just don’t have the right enzymes to be able to break them down.  This leads to inflammation and a whole host of problems.  From what I have read, many gluten-intolerant people can actually eat pasta in Italy, because their wheat is not genetically modified (this is not allowed in Europe).

While I haven’t tried that (yet!), it’s just something to keep in mind.  Inflammations causes issues like heart attacks, auto-immune diseases, and it can trigger changes in the body that can create the right circumstances for things like cancer.

So maybe it’s time for your own gluten-free diet experiment?

And the flip side?  I haven’t looked this good since before I got pregnant with my son almost 6 years ago!  The bloating, the fat, etc are all gone!

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