I have been wheatless for one hundred days. The moment the doctor said you have Celiac Disease I went cold turkey. No tapering and no I’ll-have-just-one-more-cookie before I start my gluten-free diet. My obsessive need to please, do good, and rule-follow would not let me. If you tell me it will kill me I won’t do it. Seems reasonable to me.
It has been rough. Turns out, until you have been off the wheat for a while you crave it. I was addicted. The hardest things have been label reading, eating out, and pre-planning every dang thing I consume.
Being forced to read the label of EVERYTHING you buy is frustrating. Why? It takes forever because you have to look up every third word on the ingredient list and you look like one of “those people” at the store. Going to restaurants turns into a festival of stress. I worry about my dinner companions and try not to annoy them. I worry about whether or not the server took me seriously, knows what gluten is, or cares. Scary. Eating out used to be one of my favorite things to do and now it can be a hassle. Having to pre=plan all meals in advance is annoying and a big inconvenience. Never mind that the Celiac has caused me to be lactose intolerant. That is supremely annoying.
The worst, though, was when I realized, during a very busy work week, that I had no food. Literally (this can happen when you are a party of one). There was nothing at home or my office that could serve as a meal and I had no time to eat out. In my old life I would have just ran over to the fast food joint and grabbed lunch and carried on. No more of that, at least not without adding additional stress to an already stressful day. So, I was hungry. Now, I go to the grocery store a couple of times a week because I eat less things from boxes and more things that will rot in the fridge. That adds up, being wheatless ain’t cheap.
Going off the wheat is a major lifestyle adjustment.
Is there good news?
Yes. I am happy to say, yes, there is good news. In the book Wheat Belly, author Dr. William Davis states “[w]heat is the Haight-Ashbury of foods, unparalleled for its potential to generate entirely unique effects on the brain and nervous system.” It is an addiction. Wheat messes with your brain, guts, and figure. So, it’s absence while devoid of a lot of comfort foods is freeing.
The obvious improvements:
- My guts are no longer angry. I do not get instantly sick during and after meals.
- My BMI has decreased from 22 to 20.
- I weigh 134 pounds. I haven’t been within 4 pounds of 120s since I was in college. Hello!
- I no longer feel bloated and gross at the end of the day or after a meal.
- My stomach is flat again (I can happily see my hip bones, everyday).
The not so obvious improvements:
- I have more energy.
- The foggy-headedness is gone (unless I get glutened).
- I am less stressed/anxious on a daily basis.
- I eat a low-calorie, very healthy diet now without trying (meat, fruit, and vegetables).
- I no longer have insatiable cravings for sugar or carb-y foods.
Yes, I miss certain foods but I do not try to substitute gluten-free foods for my favorite gluten-y foods. There is no way to replace my mom’s biscuits or gravy, I can’t replicate Ethel Morgan Cake in gluten-free form, and I don’t care much for gluten-free bread. Instead, I have found alternatives that are my new favorites and I honestly don’t miss the old stuff, this has been a big surprise for me.
Would I have chosen this for myself? No no, never never, no no no. But here I am feeling pretty darn good. I am sure the next 100 days will get even better and maybe one day I can go to a restaurant without feeling uncomfortable . . . hope springs eternal.
You can’t always get what you want, But if you try sometimes well you might find, You get what you need. Mick Jagger & Keith Richards