Last summer something began to dawn on me. Whenever I would eat processed carbs I would get (this may get a little TMI, just sayin’) heart burn, gas, headaches, and achy joints. As time went on, these symptoms got worse and worse. After a lot of thinking, I think it all started after I’d lost about 80 pounds. Sure when I was at my heaviest I had heart burn all the time. All. The. Time. I was so incredibly uncomfortable in pretty much every possible way. The heart burn went away the more weight I lost. Then at about 80 pounds lost, that’s when I started noticing that processed carbs didn’t really agree with me. But I was in denial. So while I would attempt to abstain from them, it never lasted long. Usually I would abstain during the week and then on the weekends it was whatever goes. Burgers, pizza, you name it. I mean, I didn’t go hog wild, but I did allow myself to eat at least one meal of whatever I wanted to eat.
Last summer when my doctor switched me to a new medication, I no longer had the urges to shovel food into my face all day every day. I dropped about 25-30 pounds pretty quick and was totally in love with my body. One side effect of this weight loss? Increased sensitivity to all processed carbs. All of them. The level of my symptoms went up so many notches at this point. Then over the following months, my symptoms not only continued getting worse, but new ones started popping up. Now it seems I get eczema, or at least an eczema-like rash, on my hands. It’s itchy and scaly and I don’t like it.
I finally put 2 and 2 together and accepted the seemingly obvious fact that I have either developed a gluten intolerance or I had one the whole time but the symptoms weren’t obvious or whatever. It’s been a struggle to say the least. I did discover when I tried paleo for a little bit late last summer into the early fall that I felt fantastic. There are absolutely no processed carbs on a paleo diet. Lots of protein and natural carbs (fruits, veggies and the like). Due to another medication change I regained almost all of the weight I had lost over the summer, much to my frustration. The urges to stuff my face came back. The boredom eating, the anxiety induced eating. You name it.
Finally, the last few weeks, I’ve made an actual effort to be as gluten free as possible. I love gluten free bread. It’s so tasty and dense it’s quite satisfying. Also recently, those urges have gone away yet again. I’m down about 10 pounds and have just another 10-ish pounds to go to be where I was last summer. I’m starting to like what I see in the mirror again and am happy with my progress. I’ve noticed over the last few weeks as I’ve mostly abstained from food containing gluten that if I do eat anything with gluten in it, it hits me FAST. And it’s not pleasant. So I’m going to make a continued concerted effort to remain as gluten free as possible and truly embrace it as my new life.
I’ve found all sorts of gluten free substitutions for my favorite foods. Rice pasta is perfect if I want pasta. Or shirataki noodles are also a great option. Annie’s Organic has a fantastic gluten free mac’n’cheese! I’ve discovered that a nearby bakery has gluten free scones on Tuesdays…not sure how that’ll really work for me as I’m usually working overtime at work on Monday nights and am dead to the world Tuesday morning. Maybe I can figure something out. I’ve also discovered that so many places cater to gluten free, albeit for an upcharge, but it’s still nice to know and I don’t mind paying the extra money to make sure I’m not miserable. Jason’s Deli for instance has a gluten free option. There are multiple places where I can get a burger with a gluten free bun…Fuddrucker’s, Hopdoddy’s, Twisted Root to name a few.
It’s a completely doable life, I just have to embrace it and accept it as how my life will be now. Will I be 100% abstinent from gluten? Probably not. I will probably have the occasional item containing gluten and I will suffer the consequences as a result. At least until my symptoms get so bad that they are not acceptable at all.