10 Ways My Life Has Changed Since Going Gluten-Free 10 Years Ago
Today marks a significant milestone; 10 years since I decided to remove gluten from my life (February 12, 2014). It was the first day I ever walked out of a doctor's office empowered and full of hope. What started as a 6-month elimination diet in an attempt to heal my gut and have a baby turned into a decade of my everyday existence, impacting not only what I put on my plate but also how I view and manage my family's health.
With that being said, here are ten profound ways my life has transformed since I embarked on this gluten-free journey.
1. EXPERIENCED MOTHERHOOD AGAINST THE ODDS
Unbeknownst to me, gluten was a silent contributor, playing a significant role in my two-and-a-half years of fertility struggles. Going gluten-free wasn’t just a lifestyle change; it became a pivotal factor in being able to conceive naturally. By regulating my hormones, healing my gut, and adopting a healthier diet, I defied the odds and embraced motherhood on my terms without medical intervention which was my only alternative option. Today, I share my journey to inspire other moms who might be struggling with similar issues to consider the impact of diet on their fertility or on the health of their kids who may be struggling with food sensitivities or intolerances.
2. IMPLEMENTED AN ELIMINATION DIET
My relationship with food was inevitably altered once I ELIMINATED GLUTEN and discovered the profound impact it had on my body. Removing gluten from my diet wasn't just a gastronomic shift; it was about rediscovering the joy in what I eat, always ensuring that my meals nourish my body, mind, and soul while also paying attention to how my body feels when I don't consume specific foods, especially those containing gluten. Even though I try to mostly eat clean, healthy foods, following the 80/20 rule, I'm not always 100% on point. But no matter what, I NEVER falter when it comes to eating gluten.
Why? In such a short amount of time, I began to experience the positive effects of not consuming gluten– the tiny bumps on the back of my legs and arms were disappearing, as well as the acne on my face and the canker sores in my mouth. The brain fog was lifting, my stomach was flatter, my sleep improved, my energy increased, the irritability lessened, the headaches went away, and my hormonal cycle became regular, predictable, and easier to manage!
When you start to feel better, it’s a much easier choice to say NO to the thing that you know will trigger a negative domino effect and cause your body to respond in a way that will likely be felt for days, weeks, and even months later. It’s so not worth it.
3. REDUCED Emotional Eating
After a few weeks of eliminating gluten from my diet, I could always tell if it was hidden in my meal because I would experience a systemic reaction in less than 30 minutes which bloating, cramps, and severe abdominal pain. The discomfort made it easier to bid farewell to emotional eating binges on things like cupcakes, cookies, and sugar-filled pastries. No longer does food serve as a crutch for emotions (as long as I don’t keep chocolate peanut butter cups around the house lol.) Because I could no longer indulge in gluten-laden treats, going gluten-free empowered me to make healthier choices and address the root of my cravings which is typically the body craving protein but that's a blog post topic for another day!
4. SAID bye bye Bloating
The days of feeling bloated, as if I were five months pregnant after a meal, are long gone. Cutting gluten out of my diet fostered smoother digestion and mitigated the inflammation that wreaked havoc on my gut. Understanding my body’s response to food has been liberating—it empowers me to make wiser choices that leave me feeling light and energetic rather than weighed down.
At the recommendation of my Naturopath, I continued taking probiotics daily and began taking digestive enzymes when eating my largest meals, especially if I was consuming gluten-free pasta, bread, and pastries as well as starchy foods like potatoes and rice.
5. EXPANDED MY CULINARY SKILLS
Being gluten-free unlocked new culinary experiences, as I began to explore this new world of gluten-free cooking. I can still indulge in my favorite comfort foods like pasta and pizza, but with a twist—prepared differently, without compromising on taste. Even after all these years, I still don’t always get it right and recipes flop while others are so good you would never know the difference. Going gluten-free, forced me to expand my culinary and baking skills. Over time I’ve realized that I can 100% fuel my body with clean, wholesome food and it’s honestly better for me than the alternative even though it takes a little time to adjust.
6. BECAME A Label Reader
Becoming an avid label reader was an unexpected skill I honed in on during my gluten-free journey. I’ve learned to navigate grocery store aisles, deciphering labels to ensure that gluten doesn’t sneak into my pantry. This keen attention to ingredients has not only guarded my diet against unwanted gluten but has also acquainted me with the nutritional aspect of food, allowing me to make better and more informed decisions.
7. EMBRACED the Art of Meal PLANNING
As a dedicated gluten-free eater, meal prep is no longer an optional activity but a necessity. Planning my meals ensures that I always have safe, delicious options at hand. This practice has simplified my life and made meal prepping easier thanks to using Pinterest, where I can curate meals that cater to my dietary needs and personal preferences.
8. LEARNED About THE gut & Why It Matters
Embarking on this journey also meant becoming comfortable talking about bodily functions, specifically poop! Understanding that a healthy gut is pivotal to overall well-being, I've become a loyal advocate for gut health. Discussing stool and its various forms is no longer taboo but a necessary conversation to learn more about digestive health as well as the importance of the microbiome, the gut-brain connection, and the regulation of hormones—to bring about self-awareness and spark valuable lifestyle shifts and changes.
9. FOUND Gluten-Free Eateries
Dining out morphed into a social scavenger hunt to find restaurants that cater to my gluten-free needs. It’s become common practice to look up menus and call ahead to ensure my dining experience is as stress-free as possible. This led me to discover a handful of eateries that not only serve delectable gluten-free dishes but also prioritize dietary inclusivity… and for that I am grateful.
- Coming soon: My list of 10 go-to eateries that have gluten-free options
10. Holidays and Gatherings: Always Bring Your Own (G-Free) Dish
Special occasions and holidays no longer catch me off guard. I've become a pro at whipping up gluten-free versions of my favorite festive dishes, ensuring I always have something delicious to indulge in. This practice has not only satisfied my taste buds but has also opened the door for others to enjoy and appreciate the flavors of gluten-free cooking.
The Gluten-Free Journey Continues
My gluten-free journey is a continuous evolution of personal growth and well-being. It’s taught me resilience, the importance of self-advocacy, and the power of informed choices. As I reflect on how greatly my life has changed, I'm no longer resentful for the foods I can not have or the inconvenience that is sometimes caused by my dietary restrictions but rather I’m extremely grateful for the many ways it has improved my overall health.
For anyone contemplating a gluten-free life, I clarify—a change in diet is not just a change in what you eat; it’s a change in how you nourish your body, mind, and soul. Keep in mind that this is not something you TRY to do. You need to be all in for at least 180 days. That's what my Naturopath suggested to me. Although it only takes a few days for gluten to get out of your system, the domino effect has been activated, the symptoms can often be felt weeks later and the internal healing is pretty much delayed.
In this digital age, where information is abundant, it's crucial to sift through the noise and find stories that resonate on a personal level. I hope you are inspired to make an elimination of your own and embrace every meal as an opportunity to thrive and every challenge as a chance to learn and adapt. The gluten-free life keeps surprising me with its depth and breadth, and I'm eager to see what the next decade will bring. To those beginning or already on their gluten-free path, I hope my journey inspires you to embrace the change and savor a life of not feeling bloated or inflamed but feeling free from the shackles of gluten intolerance.