Monday, January 19, 2015

Gluten is not my homeboy, and why I jumped off the bread wagon

I almost fell asleep at my desk once. Had it been in the middle of a particularly boring lecture in college, I wouldn't have been so surprised. Since it was in the middle of a busy work day, it was a little more alarming! I averaged 7-8 hours a night of sleep, I wasn't hungover or sick, and I exercised regularly, but I still couldn't shake the feeling of exhaustion throughout the day. After a couple weeks of feeling absolutely drained of energy, I decided to figure out what the hell was going on.

This guy knows how I felt.

Cue Mr. Google. 

You know how you should never google your symptoms, because the internet will ALWAYS tell you you're going to die? After a little poking around, I narrowed my potential ailments down to a brain tumor, mononucleosis, anemia, or a gluten intolerance. Always game for a challenge, I figured I might just try cutting gluten out of my diet completely for a week or two and see what happened. If I felt the same, it was back on the bread. If things changed for the better, I might as well keep going!

I ate more veggies and fruit, and replaced sandwiches with salads.
Three days in, I felt freakin' amazing. I was able to cut back on my coffee intake, stopped yelling at my coworkers for talking to me too early in the morning, ceased looking for hiding places so I could take my  afternoon nap, and my workouts felt better than ever. Yeah, it kinda sucked not to be able to have a wrap for lunch anymore or a piece of toast for breakfast, but the reality was, I felt great.

I asked my doctor if I should get tested for a gluten allergy, and she told me it didn't really matter, and that a gluten allergy (unless severe) is unlikely to show up on a test- if what I was doing helped whatever symptoms I was experiencing, then I should continue.

Yes, gluten free mustache cookies do exist, and they are delicious!

So for those of you wondering.. No, I have no idea if I am really, biologically allergic to or intolerant of gluten. Yes, I do know what gluten is (unlike these people) and yes, I am sure I don't just want 'a little bit' of whatever amazing gluten filled food you are currently enjoying. After testing myself again and again, one thing is clear- I feel better when I don't consume wheat or gluten containing products. 

Now I live in Spain, where pretty much everything revolves around bread. People's jaws drop in horror when I tell them that I don't eat gluten, and they almost pass out when I explain that I can't drink beer either. The path of least resistance might be to give in, have a little bit of bread, drink a beer or two, but I don't cave. I choose feeling good when I wake up in the morning, and when I go to sleep at night.. and lets be fair, cava is tastier anyways. 

**I am not advocating that everyone out there cut gluten out of their diets- for some people, it won't actually help anything, and for others, its not worth mourning the loss of toast. What I am advocating is that we start to listen to our bodies- if you feel sluggish, constipated, have constant heartburn, headaches or terrible gas- you might not be dying of a brain tumor either.. you might just need to look at what you're eating!**

Has anyone else tried experimenting with their diet? Did you find it was easy/difficult? What food could you 'never live without?'

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