I am going to come right out and say it. When you go to a restaurant and they bring out fresh, hot rolls with butter and you can smell the yeast, being gluten free totally sucks. I pretty much just try not to look. If it were socially acceptable I would be that girl from that show I used to love (blanking on the name) where the girl shouts “NO BREAD!” every time the waiter gets near the table. But really, that is pretty much the only time being gluten-free sucks. Actually no, there is one more time. When you are making mac and cheese for your kids and you can’t steal a bite out of the pot. Other than those two instances, being gluten-free isn’t so terrible.
So Why am I Gluten-Free?
The answer to this is two-fold. The first reason is that I am allergic to gluten, BUT only if I exercise after eating it. Weird, right? The technical term is called exercise induced anaphlaxis and gluten is my trigger. Basically if I eat gluten and then exercise within like 6 hours, I go into anaphylactic shock. It happens about 10 minutes or so into an aerobic workout. If I eat gluten and don’t excercise, I am totally fine. This “syndrome” didn’t develop until I was in my mid-twenties. My entire life prior to that I had no reaction to eating gluten when I worked out. Immediately after my diagnosis I went gluten-free, but back then pretty much everything that was gluten-free tasted like cardboard. A few years later I got pregnant and wanted #allthecarbs so I started eating gluten again and just didn’t exercise unless it was first thing in the morning before eating.
Fast forward until this past November, that is how I lived my life. I ate gluten, but always made sure that if I was going to work out, I would have to do it before eating. That can be pretty annoying, but I guess I just got used to it. In October I decided to do a 15 minute online aerobic workout at home and had already eaten something with gluten in it. I didn’t think the workout would be hard enough to really get my blood pumping, and sure enough, my entire eye swelled up like a golf ball. I immediately stopped and took Benadryl (stood by with my epi-pen just in case). Luckily it didn’t progress to anaphylaxis, but clearly the reaction was still there.
About a month later I decided that I should try to be gluten-free again. There is clearly something in gluten that my body doesn’t like. Besides, the gluten free world has come a LONG way these past 11 years. Who knew? The stuff no longer tastes like cardboard! I pretty much stopped eating it cold turkey. I didn’t notice any difference in terms of bloating or digestive issues, but that was really never the problem for me. But what I did notice was pretty profound…..
Did eliminating gluten help to reduce my anxiety?
I am going to err on the side of yes. In January I was driving in my car and it hit me. I hadn’t had a serious bout of anxiety since Thanksgiving! I immediately started racking my brain to figure out what I had done differently. Pretty much everything I had been doing remained the same, but gluten was completely eliminated from my diet . You should do your own research (and there is plenty out there), but I truly believe in the gut/brain connection and that what we eat can affect our mental health (anxiety/depression etc…) especially in people with gluten sensitivities. I am not saying that I am totally anxiety-free….. it does creep back every once in a while. But I am in a way better place than I was a year ago and I do think the combination of meds, therapy, meditation, exercising more and eating smarter (no gluten, more omegas, less processed foods and more dark leafy greens) has all helped to ease my anxiety.
In February I also started with Parsley Health which is a more holistic/functional approach to primary care. My doctor was very pleased when I told her I was gluten-free as that is one of their common recommendation for patients with a variety of issues. Side note, if you are interested in having access to this type of medical care, you can get $400 off any plan with code FRIENDSANDFAM.
I am not a doctor and not saying this will be the case for everyone who eliminates gluten, but if you are curious to see if it could help you, you can always try eliminating it for 30 days and see if you notice a difference.
What do you eat each day?
Being gluten-free is really not that hard once you get the hang of it. You might even be surprised that some of your favorite foods just might be gluten-free (potato chips, most French fries, corn chips, rice, popcorn… ok that’s pretty much it). ICE CREAM! Being gluten-free doesn’t mean that you are carb-free so it’s not neccesarily a diet that will make you lose weight, although it totally helps me from eating all of my kids snacks which are filled with gluten … goldfish, oreos, cheez-its I’m talking to you! Here is a typical day in the life of what I put in my mouth…,
Bird’s nest (an egg fried into the center of a piece of gluten-free bread)
Chia Pudding with blueberries
Scrambled eggs with spinach and cheese
Go Macro Bar
Avocado Toast (gluten-free bread)
Veggie Wrap (gluten-free wrap, melted cheese, chia seeds avocado, tzasiki sauce)
Popcorn, trail mix, cheese sticks, hummus + carrots, yogurt, chocolate
Some sort of lean protein (chicken, turkey, salmon), veggies (usually something roasted), and a gluten-free carb source (rice or quinoa). If we order pizza, I get gluten free crust. If we eat pasta, I make a separate pot of gluten-free. If we eat burgers, I just have no bun.
Favorite gluten free brands?
Banza pasta, Ancient Grains and BioNaturae are my favorite gluten-free pastas.
Mom’s Organic Market also carries amazing gluten-free muffins – Abes and Flax4Life are two brands they carry.
Here are a few gluten-free staples and snacks….
Favorite gluten-free recipes?
Ahh where do I begin? Basically you can make any recipe gluten-free with a few simple swaps. Quinoa, rice, gluten-free pasta, and gluten-free bread crumbs are a few pantry staples to always have hand. Here are a few tried and true gluten-free meals I love….
Black Bean Enchiladas (just use gluten-free wraps)
I hope this was helpful for anyone trying to eliminate gluten from your diet! Let me know if you have any questions!
Oh and one last thing, while beer isn’t gluten-free…. WINE IS!! 💁🏽♀️