My life changed when I went gluten-free. I remember being in this semi-rundown Safeway (that I hope has been remodeled in Santa Cruz by now). I was perusing the aisles searching for a snack, any snack, that I could eat on busy work days.
I looked for granola bars, trail mixes, you name it. I can just remember everything yummy-looking having gluten, or some other "interesting" (to say the least) ingredient that I had never heard of before. Depressing.
I didn't really understand how it would work. I didn't know that conventional grocery stores by default were no longer my snack go-to places. I did not understand that my new "corner store" would have to be Whole Foods or Natural Grocers.
I felt lost.
Image: Mark Drouin via Flickr
Once I was able to collect myself and wrap my mind around the fact that once you go gluten-free you don't just heal and return to eating a deep dish New York stuff crust pizza at Pizza Hut (if there is a such thing), I began to add up the $2.00 granola bars (just for one: not a pack, silly!) and $6.00 mini-loaves of bread.
I realized that I would have to pay $13.00 for a personal thin-crust pizza or $6.00 for one box of gluten-free all purpose flour. I realized that one has to have a nice flow of cash to maintain this gluten-free lifestyle.
There seriously needs to be a tax write-off for this stuff.
I realized that I would have to reallocate funds to make this work. I wanted to feel good, right? When you want to feel good, you will do anything for your health.
But, I didn't feel good.
Yep, after all of that push to go gluten-free, and after all of that money spent, my husband and I just didn't feel good. And that is the point of this article today. Hear me out when I say, it is possible to do gluten-free all wrong! In other words, becoming gluten-free is not enough; ever. That is only the starting place.
It's not enough to find new restaurants that serve gluten-free food; to find gluten-free pizzas, burritos, donuts, etc. at your local supermarket. No, your troubles do not end just because you found a gluten-free label on the shelves. In fact, it could be dangerous "just giving stuff up," beyond the financial cost.
There have been countless articles, journals, and magazines encouraging people to go gluten-free, but these are the points that are left out. I hope they help you to get more out of going gluten-free.
Getting rid of gluten does not mean that you all of a sudden have a good diet. I had the toughest time initially explaining to people that this was not a fad, it was a lifestyle. And as with any lifestyle changes, it is not giving up one bad thing to trade for another.
You do not give up gluten to eat its gluten-free equivalent without moderation. So that means making sure you have variety in your diet. Yes, a lot of gluten-free people miss this. You are not just trading one grain for another. It is instead about trading what is not good for your specific body for that which is great for your body.
You need to eat more fruit, More veggies, more seeds and nuts, more legumes, more healthy proteins, less refined sugar, etc. You catch me. Remember, your battle is not with gluten. It is with creating and maintaining the healthiest body possible, inside and out.
When it comes to going gluten-free, you have to consider the "why." Why are you going gluten-free? Is it because of disease? Inflammation? A condition that can lead to malnutrition? Cancer? Autoimmunity?
With about 80% of our immune system being linked to our gut health, I think it is safe to say that restoring health in your gut is far more critical than finding your favorite Pop Tart brand with a gluten-free label now.
You need to make sure that you get lots of prebiotic and probiotics as well as naturally anti-inflammatory fresh foods and supplements, digestive enzymes, low to no processed sugar or foods.
Going gluten-free is like the first chapter in your book of wellness. It is not the end of the story (although you may feel that way when you first get the news of having celiac disease or being gluten sensitive). It is the start of a journey to considering what true health means and rewarding yourself along the way.
With that in mind, it is important to consider that going gluten-free is all about awareness. Awareness of what your body is saying.
Have you had unexplained: Fatigue? Muscle aches? Joint pain? Depression? Gastrointestinal distress? Bloating and gas? Unexplained iron deficiency anemia? Seizures or migraines? If you have, it's time to talk to your doctor and take charge of your health.
Going gluten-free means you also need to exercise more, lose unhealthy weight safely, get more sleep, practice relaxation, meditate on that which is spiritually inspiring, pray, read something uplifting, journal, and most importantly, seek the assistance and advice of your doctor before trying anything new.
The Bottom Line
As I said, going gluten-free is only the beginning of your story. There is still more to go – more chapters to write. Each chapter must move closer and closer to a happily and healthily ever after for you.
It's important to remember on this journey though, that for optimal digestive and immune health, it isn't just about dropping wheat, barley, rye, spelt, and/or oats. It's about taking a holistic approach to a life free of sickness and disease.
For more information I recommend you bookmark these links:
- What is Celiac Disease & Long Term Health Effects
- Symptoms of Celiac Disease
- Does Your Medication Have Gluten In It?
- Dr. Mark Hyman's Gluten Archives (A WEALTH of Information!)
- Gluten – What You Don't Know Might Kill You
Thanks for reading, and I would love to hear your thoughts!
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