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Why I am Gluten-Free and Why It Doesn’t Totally Suck

April 23, 2020

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…,

Breakfast //

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

Lunch //

Avocado Toast (gluten-free bread)

Veggie Wrap (gluten-free wrap, melted cheese, chia seeds avocado, tzasiki sauce)

Snacks //

Popcorn, trail mix, cheese sticks, hummus + carrots, yogurt, chocolate

Dinner //

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?

Canyon Bakehouse and Udi’s are my go-to for bread, bagels, buns etc…

Bob’s Red Mill has great flours and gluten-free baking products, rolled oats etc….

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….

Quinoa Risotto

Black Bean Enchiladas (just use gluten-free wraps)

Power Lunch Salad

Turkey Quinoa Bowls

Sausage and Peppers

Zucchini Lasagna

One Pot Chicken and Quinoa

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!! 💁🏽‍♀️

  • Katie Theriault
    April 24, 2020 at 9:08 am

    Love this! I try and live Gluten free too, as I am sensitive, but I fell off the wagon BIG time last week and have been feeling awful with the craziest symptoms that when you google can all be attributed to gluten!!! I am back on the wagon this week and starting to feel better! One more tip! I know “bread” chicken cutlets with almond flour instead of bread crumbs and even the kids don’t notice the difference! We used almond flour in meatballs too! So true that once you get the hang of it, it really isn’t that hard to adjust! Thanks for some more alternatives!

    • Lindsey
      April 24, 2020 at 11:13 am

      Love that tip! yes, many times I give my kids gluten free stuff and they dont even notice!

  • Tricia
    April 24, 2020 at 9:38 am

    That is the same reason I’m GF. Exercise induced anaphylaxis with gluten as one of my triggers. I would agree with you about the smell of the rolls in a restaurant but would also add birthday cake. I miss gluten filled birthday cake. I have some good GF cakes but it’s not the same to me.

    • Lindsey
      April 24, 2020 at 11:12 am

      ahh no way!! and yes bday cake is hard to come by but I have had some that are pretty close!!

  • Vanetta
    April 24, 2020 at 9:41 am

    I have been gluten free for over six years and it was life changing for me. I was very skeptical but decided to try it in solidarity with my daughter (age four at the time) who was diagnosed with gluten intolerance. I had had stomach problems my entire life and they virtually disappeared, as did joint pain and weird rashes on my hands that started appearing in my 30’s. Initially we didn’t eat gluten, dairy or eggs, and that is a tough combination to get used to. We have since reintroduced dairy and eggs and I find just avoiding gluten to be very easy to manage.

    One note for anyone thinking of trying this. It takes a LONG time to completely get gluten from your system so trying it for a week or so isn’t likely to give you a great idea of how you will really feel if you give it 6-12 months. Also, in my experience, it’s hard to dabble in being gluten free. Cutting back isn’t enough…you have to avoid it entirely to get the full benefit.

    • Lindsey
      April 24, 2020 at 11:14 am

      Yes totally agree! it’s def best to completely eliminate for best results!!

  • Mary
    April 24, 2020 at 10:48 am

    I would suggest being tested for Celiac Disease before trying a gluten free diet. Once you go gluten free, you cannot get an accurate test and you may be ignoring a total body autoimmune disease you could also be passing along to your kids. Many people with Celiac do not have the “typical” symptoms but internal damage going on. Please get tested first if you think you have a problem with gluten.

  • Janet
    April 24, 2020 at 11:21 am

    Hi! I find eating Gluten Free bothers other people more than me. Funny but true! I would tell people that If eating Gluten Free makes you feel better go for it, it’s not really bad!

  • Jo-Lynne Shane
    April 24, 2020 at 2:48 pm

    That is crazy, I know you’ve shared this before, but I’m always amazed that gluten and exercise can do that. I’ve been GF for years, but lately getting lax, and my body does NOT like it. For me, the consequences are gut-related, and it’s not pleasant. 🙂 Thankfully, GF foods have come a LONG way.

  • Serena
    April 25, 2020 at 3:32 am

    Between the ages of about 12-24ish I used to have anaphylactic attacks but my doctor and I were never able to pinpoint the exact cause. However, my attacks always happened after some type of exercise or physical activity and always after eating foods (mostly gluten now that I think about it) that I’ve regularly eaten (e.g., pizza, noodles, sandwich). I’m completely wowed at the idea that it could’ve been gluten!! I’m in my 40s now and have not had an attack in years but am now curious to know if I’m allergic to gluten or have some type of gluten intolerance. I no longer have a problem with anaphylaxis but I have a whole range of issues that could be related to a problem with gluten. Thank you for being so transparent with your health! I’m honestly surprised to find someone who has this issue that bothered me for so many years!! Those attacks were super scary and almost always landed me in the emergency room!

  • Angela
    April 26, 2020 at 6:40 pm

    Frank bread is the best gluten free bread I’ve ever had. You can eat it fresh from the package without having to toast it first. Yum.

  • Erica
    April 27, 2020 at 4:19 pm

    I HAVE THE SAME ISSUE! Anaphylactic induced exercise! I am also BETTING mine is gluten as well as I am starting to now experiment. I can’t do anything that gets my HR up high after eating. I always workout fasted early in the morning. It also sometimes is triggered from weddings if I’m dancing which is usually followed by some vodka/sodas! I am so happy I found this blog. I did the 23 and me genetic test and it came back that I am predisposed to develop celiac. My daughter also has a gluten intolerance although a DR won’t diagnose it..momma knows. I am going to do a gluten free challenge and workout and see what happens!

  • Irma
    April 27, 2020 at 6:57 pm

    I have Exercise Induced Anaphylaxis…for 20 years now. Also can’t eat wheat. But most recently oats and millet have been added to the list. Of course no NSAIDS either. I have to be completely on an empty stomach to exercise. And I can’t eat anything with wheat oats or millet. Not even cross contaminated because I have become so sensitive that I’ll break out just walking to the car. Love the smell of rolls!

  • Erin
    April 30, 2020 at 1:22 pm

    Next time you’re passing through nyc you have got to check out https://www.modernbreadandbagel.com/

    I’m diagnosed celiac for 6 yrs and had 30 years of getting to eat the good stuff and I have never had such amazing gf bread and bagels. I think they ship too!!!

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