Disclaimer! I’m an open book – ask anybody who knows me. I’ll tell you like it is, detail and all. Many of my posts related to the GF lifestyle might have some details about things you may not want to read (i.e., poop). So, feel free to skip those parts if you want. I put them in partly because it’s who I am, partly because its directly related to food issues, and partly because it might help someone else feel like they’re not alone in whatever they’re dealing with. However, I pinky promise that I’ll try to keep the poop talk to a minimum in recipe posts. You’re welcome.
Jenee was the one who (after many late nights filled with wine and conversations about weird and gross body stuff…) suggested I try a gluten-free diet. I have had digestive problems (i.e., bloating, gas, pain, extreme constipation, hemorrhoids, fissures, bleeding, etc.) for as long as I can remember, and when things got really bad in college, no doctor had any decent advice for me, or any real insight into what was going on with my body. Major bummer.
I will tell you up front that I do not have Celiac Disease, nor do I have an allergy to gluten. I’m pretty sure I’ve got a sensitivity to gluten, but haven’t had a test done, so I cannot say for sure. I will tell you that I suffer from chronic constipation (or so my medical records imply) – and I have been medically instructed (for years now) to take an osmotic laxative (Miralax) every day to help with that. I also take a fiber supplement (Benefiber), which helps immensely. However, I have come to notice that these supplements don’t help me a whole lot if I don’t also watch the food that I put into my mouth.
It honestly took me about six months just to fully commit to the whole GF thing. I would try, then give up, then regret it, then try again, then give up… and so on. Jenee can attest to the many messages I sent her with things like, “WHY DID I EAT THAT PASTA????” or “[insert expletive of choice] I hate my life!!!!!!!!!!!!” or “OMG this [insert food with gluten] is amazing but I’m gonna regret it tomorrow”
I could go on, but you get the point.
However, once I made the decision to commit to the GF lifestyle, it only took me a few days to feel better, and only a few weeks to really see and feel a difference in my body and it’s level of functioning. I quickly learned that as soon as I ate something with gluten, many of my digestive issues came right back (mainly, gas, bloating and pain). As a lover of statistics, I cannot ignore the strong correlation there, folks.
Today, I would say I’m about 95% gluten free.
I truly believe that I have a gluten sensitivity – but I also believe I have a tolerance level (“the line”, as I call it) for certain types and amounts of gluten. I also have a sensitive digestive system when it comes to other types of foods (I can’t eat black beans, for example. Weird, I know – but they mess me up, bad). I’m still trying to figure it all out, but I can have little bits of gluten here and there (in the form of dessert or beer, usually) and feel totally fine. However, if I have too many “little bits” over a short enough period of time, it’s no good, so I generally just try to stay away altogether. I’ve learned that “cheating” isn’t really worth how gross I’ll feel for the next several days.
I understand that compared to individuals with Celiac Disease, allergies, or major sensitivities, I have it easy. I don’t really have to worry about cross-contamination, and I can enjoy things like soy sauce or salad dressing without hesitation. I also have the luxury of being able to have that piece of pie or fried whatever (hey, I live in the South, people), or bottle of beer, and be mostly okay. For that, I am thankful.
My point here is that while I don’t have a serious medical or life-threatening reason why I can’t eat gluten, I have still been able to see and feel the incredible benefits of the gluten free lifestyle, and I want to share them with you. We have become accustomed to eating such a large amount of processed and refined food that people are starting to develop sensitivities and digestive problems and feel like they just have to “live with it” – when that totally may not be the case.
Obviously, I’m no doctor – and if you are thinking about changing your diet or lifestyle, you should always consult one before doing so. I’m just here to share with you some of the things I’ve learned.