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My gluten-free experiment

Wednesday, August 26, 2009 Leave a Comment

I think I need to stop reading all these books about how the food I eat is making me sick. The Unhealthy Truth about our Food; The Omnivore's Dilemma; Animal Vegetable Miracle... and now G-Free, A Gluten-Free Survival Guide by Elizabeth Hasselback.

I'm a sucker for a convincing writer, and Elizabeth had me convinced that I might be allergic to gluten (or at the very least sensitive to it) by the end of the first chapter. You see, gluten -- which is a protein in all wheat products, and is the glue that gives bread its moist, chewy, yummy consistency -- is also a neurotoxin that everyone can be sensitive to if you eat too much of it.

Being a mom to a newborn, my body is still fat, overheated, nursing, hormone-crazy, slightly hyper-thyroid, resistant to exercise, and a little bit out of control. So it seemed like a good time to try a little gluten-free experiment.

Three days. I can do anything for three days.

Three days with no bread, or pasta, or crackers, or cereal, or potato chips, or processed food of any kind. Three days with no pizza, pastries, or cookies, or toast, or sandwiches, or french fries. No problem.

Safe things? Eggs, cheese, yogurt, milk, rice, nuts, meat, fruit and vegetables. Basically, the zone diet. I can do it.

It was pretty easy, at first. But by day 4, I was irritable and grumpy, snapping at my poor 3 year old for anything and everything. I was foggy, forgetting my neighbor's name at the pool. I was exhausted and I had a headache. All I wanted to do was lay on the couch with a bag of potato chips.

Then my chiropractor explained that my body was going through a detox. Sure, I'd stopped putting gluten in, but my body now had to deal with getting all those left-over gluten molecules floating around my bloodstream out, and they weren't very happy about it.

And sure enough, a few days later, I was full of energy, alert, feeling great. I cleaned the closet out, put up the laundry shelving I'd been meaning to do for months, took the kiddos to the Children's Museum with no meltdowns from any of us. Having Dr. Oz poops. You know what I mean. And most importantly, for the first time since baby was born, the pooch wasn't so bloaty.

I can do this.

Breakfast and lunch were pretty much the same every day: Udi's granola (no gluten in it, but technically not g-free since it's processed at a facility containing wheat) with yogurt and fruit; Udi's gluten-free bread (hey, you can't go cold-turkey), which is pretty darn good, with a fried egg and salsa, or Whole Foods chicken salad. No deli meats, since they can contain gluten as a filler. Pirate's Booty and corn chips for snacks. Lots of carrots/celery/red peppers/cucumbers and hummus.

Dinners were easy, too. Rice or potatoes instead of pasta or bread.

Sixteen days, I made it -- and then it was my birthday, and my boy wanted to get me cupcakes, and how can you say no to a 3 year old when they want to go to the cupcake store?

And once I had the cupcake, this uncontrollable hunger for fast food completely overtook me, and I hit the McDonald's drive through for a Quarter-Pounder value meal. A Quarter-Pounder! I don't even like them normally. French fries. Coke. Yum.

Well, I had my birthday bender, then I went G-free for another week.

Three weeks to give my body a break. Hit the reset button, so to speak. Go on a little cleanse. But it's hard to be so vigilant, when gluten can hide in everything from stir-fry sauces to toothpaste, and you're trying to feed a 3 year old, and nursing. And after all that, I didn't even lose any weight.

I don't think I'm allergic to gluten, after all.

So what is gluten? And why should I be concerned about it?

-- What the heck is gluten anyway? Via Gluten Free Girl.
-- Gluten Free Fox -- the g-free search engine
-- Top Chef's g-free episode


  • Chef Jen said:  

    I too have taken the GF experiment and much like you I have felt amazing when I have cut the gluten from my life. But the last few weeks, I have fallen off the wagon. This week with the blahs, aches and tiredness returning I am climbing back aboard the gluten free wagon. Thanks for sharing your experience!