Going gluten free can be a huge challenge, but the challenge is SO worth it for the reward. It was one of the best things I have ever done for my body and mind. I used to be sick all the time in multiple ways. I had stomach pains that felt like there was a huge sticky mass in my stomach that wouldn’t digest (which I did and I called it my gluten baby). I had hives and weird rashes all of the time. I had acne. I had chronic sinusitis (pretty much constant sinus infections). I got urinary tract and yeast infections way too often (once every month or so). I would exercise like crazy and never lose weight even when the rest of my diet was healthy. I was always tired and lethargic. I would catch colds numerous times per year, and the worst part… I couldn’t poop. I would sometimes go a whole week without pooping . Throughout my challenges with gluten I had to go on antibiotics numerous times and was on and off the birth control pill. Both of which caused extreme imbalance in my body. I went to the doctor to be tested for Celiac Disease and the results came back negative but I knew how eating gluten made me feel and I knew that I didn’t like it and it was not a healthy option long term. I needed to do something drastic to reclaim my health.
I decided to do a two month intensive diet. The diet was based on the Candida diet to cleanse the excess Candida yeast, sugars, and waste from my body. I chose this diet as the majority of my symptoms seemed to be caused by the extreme imbalance in the bacteria in my stomach due to the gluten causing digestion irregularity and the stagnant waste feeding the bad bacteria and yeast. I chose two months as it was the minimum recommended time according to the books I was using for reference (I used the book as a reference only combined with other books and research I had done)
The basics of the diet were:
- Absolutely no sugar. This includes fruit, honey, maple syrup, refined sugar, natural sugars, etc.
- No fruit (except bitter/astringent apples and lemons)
- No gluten (including wheat, oats, rye, spelt, etc)
- No dairy products
- No soy
- No corn
- No peanuts
- No white starches such as white rice and potatoes
- No vinegar
- No pickled or fermented foods
- No alcohol
most of all… no cheating.
One of the books I was using as guide referred to it like this….. If you are trying to starve a person to death, but you continue to provide them with little bits of food each day, its going to take a much longer time to kill them then if you just cut them off completely. You must do the same to the unhealthy yeasts and bacteria in your body….. A bit harsh but I definitely took it seriously by thinking about this aspect.
Another important factor was that my boyfriend had to do the diet as well. There is no way that I could have had other food in the house that I wasn’t able to eat. I also had to be cautious of the bacteria in his body transferring into my body. I am extremely lucky that he was willing to do it, but he was a bit more flexible about cheating than I was.
The first week of the diet was pretty rough and filled with mood swings, headaches, and cravings. Gluten mimics an opiate in the body so it is actually addictive (Read Wheat Belly by William Davis for some serious motivation). When you cut it from your diet you literally go through withdrawals. Once the first week and a half passed the cravings started to disappear (this is because my taste buds were regenerating.. they regenerate every 10-14 days). Progressively throughout the two months, all of my symptoms disappeared. I had energy, my stomach didn’t hurt and my gluten baby had pretty much disappeared. I was pooping! No more yeast infection, my skin was clearing up and glowing, No congestion and my body felt strong and resistant.
Over the two months my diet consisted of:
- Vegetables (steamed, raw, sautéed, roasted)
- Brown rice
- Almonds and almond butter
- Lean organic chicken, pork, and bison
- Local organic eggs
- Beans and lentils
- Brown rice cakes and crackers
I knew once the two months were over I had to be very careful about reintroducing foods. Over the two months my taste buds changed so drastically that I really enjoyed most of the food I had been eating and didn’t feel the urge to reintroduce a lot of the ones I had cut out. I knew that I didn’t want to reintroduce gluten since it was such a big part of the problem in the first place.
It has been 2 years since I finished the diet and my health has continually improved. My digestion did a complete 360 and is now super efficient. I haven’t had a yeast infection since. My skin is much less reactive and I no longer have acne. Since I don’t eat gluten I don’t get the cravings. From time to time I will have a bit of gluten and I can feel my bodies reaction. I get intense cravings, my skin breaks out, and my stomach gets in a knot, and I feel lethargic. I stay motivated by remembering how my body feels when I eat it. Going gluten free is worth it!! (In the past year I have also switched to a vegetarian diet which has also improved my health but I will save that for another blog post)
Through studying a bit of Ayurveda through my teacher training and through home study I now understand that I was suffering a serious Kapha imbalance. The diet that I did reduced the Kapha increasing foods (Sweet, Salty, and Sour) and increased the Vata increasing foods (Bitter, Pungent, Astringent) to increase my digestive fire and to dry out the excess moisture, mucus, and yeast in my body (If you want to learn the basics of Ayurveda, check out Natalie Rousseau’s online Yoga For Life Program here). I still have to be careful to watch the Kapha increasing foods I eat as it leads to congestion and lethargy but my body is sooo much more balanced!
I know that many people have similar symptoms to what I had but my method of reaching better health may not be possible for everyone. I am very lucky to live in a city that offers a huge array of fresh, local, organic produce and meat. I am so blessed to be in a financial position where I can afford to purchase these foods. I think no matter what your situation you can make small steps towards a gluten free life. You just have to really want it and let go of the excuses!
Be very cautious that you understand that just because something says that it is gluten free does not mean it is healthy. Do not just replace gluten for gluten free options. Instead, replace the gluten with healthy vegetables, quinoa, brown rice, and legumes. Nourish your body. Food is your fuel and has a direct relationship with every process in your body.
Stay tuned for future blog posts regarding gluten free products that I recommend and other tips and tricks for staying motivated and going gluten free.