Lots and lots of people are out there in the blogosphere and health world talking about eating gluten free. I’ve been listening to them for years—have you? Here’s a little bit about why I went gluten free too, and more importantly what it did for me.
When I was diagnosed, it seemed like I heard about the connection between gluten and chronic inflammation at least once a week. Every time someone brought up eating gluten free, my response was the same. “Maybe someday I’ll change but I’m not ready right now.” Honestly that’s just a nice way of saying … give me a good enough reason and I’ll consider if it would be worth it to me. I grew up loving bread and all things wheat, so being gluten free sounded like a small bit of hell right here on earth. But just in case, I eliminated processed breakfast cereals and limited my bread consumption … okay but I still had the occasional pizza or subs or cookies or cakes. I definitely found that the more healthy, clean, unprocessed choices I made, the better I felt. But gluten-free … nope, I wasn’t ready yet.
After a while though things started to shift. As you know, my primary health coaching focus is working with entrepreneurs who live with pain and inflammation. Since that’s my everyday world as well, I spend a lot of time researching this type of information. When I read a great book hoping to gain some insight for a newly diabetic family member, the connections really started to click. What? A book about diabetes talked about gluten? Yup – and inflammation … and the connection between the two. And I found an article that seemed credible covering the connection between autoimmunity and gluten. And I read another book about the connection between thyroid issues, autoimmunity and gluten too. More reading and more credible, scientific connections ensued. And I decided to it was time to give gluten-free living a try.
Know what really flipped the final switch? Well I just happened to stand on the scale one morning. The previous evening I’d had two small pieces of pizza and a few baked, breaded shrimps. Shocker – the scale showed I had gained four pounds overnight. Nothing else in my food the day before was inflammatory. But four pounds of water/inflammation packed on just from a “moderate” serving of wheat-based stuff. You should know that I’m not super worried about my weight – it’s healthy and I’m fitting in my clothes. That’s another reason why four pounds overnight just seemed crazy.
So with all of this information, I figured maybe there is some truth to the connection between gluten and inflammation. And I thought to myself, “let’s give it 4 to 6 weeks and see how I feel. If there’s no change, I’ll just go back to gluten.” And how long did it take to see and feel a difference? Not 4 to 6 weeks but 4 to 6 DAYS! Truthfully, I spent the first several weeks noticing new improvements every couple of days. Here’s what I noticed:
- Flexibility (what I noticed first … and as a massage therapist this change is very helpful … plus it’s easier to get on the floor and play with the grandkids)
- Major reduction in morning stiffness, especially in my hands (again, so helpful when I have early morning clients)
- Strength or more muscle soreness (I think keeping my muscles strong will ultimately benefit my joints, so this is important to me too)
- Major changes in how clothing waistlines fit (small weight change too, plus every single piece of clothing is looser & all “muffin tops” were gone)
- Less swollen feet at night (I stand for up to 8 hours each day, so this comfort level change is huge)
- Less wildly uncontrollable hunger (I used to say my stomach was really a headless monster but not anymore!)
- Less irritability, especially around hunger (this is huge because I have been attributing irritability to hormone changes … maybe not so much)
- Calmer emotions even in times of great stress (so I’m in the sandwich generation and a small business owner … need to be calmer every day)
- Less brain fog – not “losing words” or my train of thought at all (super helpful and makes me feel a lot less crazy)
- Less brain fog part two – making goals and planning steps in a way I hadn’t done in years
- Changes in muscle definition and general tissue quality (now you can see my muscles, plus they feel looser and less tense to both me and my massage therapist)
I can’t say for absolutely sure that going gluten-free will help you with these issues. (But I would wish good changes of any type for you!) I can’t say for sure that I will always experience being gluten-free as a positive force in my life. All the research I’ve seen lately is pointing to gluten as a major pain culprit for a LOT of us. And that, plus our experiences, make me hopeful for myself and for you … and that makes all the difference each morning when my feet hit the floor.
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