I've started this gluten free lifestyle change within the last several months, because my body apparently can't handle gluten. In case you're wondering, gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley, triticale. I had symptoms like high insulin levels, sciatica, eczema, joint pain, and full-blown migraines nearly every single day. It's a really hard change to make, at first. However, the symptoms I listed above are gone. My general allergy problems are far less. I've lost a lot of bulk, though I'm not quite skinny, yet. I feel a million times better.
However not everything is super easy, and it's definitely not all sunshine and roses and healthy food. These are my observations with this change so far:
- Most products with modern wheat are ridiculously bad for you. Seriously. Just look at the labels. Loads of sugars, little nutritional content, I could go on.
- Gluten free processed stuff isn't necessarily good for you, either. Most of them are higher in carbs. It's why you should eat more fruits, veggies, non-gluten unprocessed grains, etc. before reaching out for those processed gluten free vanilla wafers. Although those wafers are delicious. Just throwing that out there. Besides, avoiding those processed foods and adding more natural ones makes it easier to get all the vitamins you actually need straight from the source. Just because a soda is enhanced with vitamin C, that doesn't mean it's good for you, or even better for you than that other soda over there. I'm just saying.
- If you don't get enough fiber on this diet, you will have to supplement or feel really terrible. The pills tend to stick in your throat. The powder stuff tastes like orange sawdust koolaid. I suggest getting enough fiber.
- Far more people have a gluten intolerance or gluten allergy than even THEY know. Want to know the symptoms? Here and here. Talk to your doctor, even.
- Wheat is in darn near everything. Grocery shopping for me was ridiculously hard at first. While breads and things are more obvious, it's also hidden in less obvious places, such as seasonings, bags of sunflower seeds, oatmeal, chicken broth, soups, some types of bacon, soy sauce ... It can even be in your medications. This is why label-reading is your friend.
- Of all the people I know with allergies, more people who have a wheat allergy actually refuse to avoid it than any other allergen. Why? Because wheat is addictive. It has this stuff in it called gliadin that is an opiate. There were days I contemplated robbing babies of their cookies. I never did, of course. But fighting the urge was intense. Fun, huh? You can actually go through withdrawal symptoms when you cut gluten out of your diet. None of those symptoms are fun. Not even kinda.
- You will (probably) not die if you slip up and eat something with wheat in it, once in a while.
- However, if you do slip up, your body will hate you. Especially if you've gone a few months without it (long enough to get it out of your system, completely). The level of which it hates you will depend on why you stopped eating it, in the first place. Even if you have no reason to stop eating it, but do anyways, you will feel like you just ate an entire tub of rubber cement. Delicious.
- Gluten free products are stupid expensive. I'm serious. You get less product for a much higher price. Unless, of course, you get things that have always been gluten free, such as milk, vegetables, fruits, etc. However, they can charge you more if they put that gluten free label on it.
- It's far more satisfying to take the time to make things yourself. It really is. It tastes better, and you're absolutely certain of what's in it.
- It is NOT hard to find something gluten free at most restaurants (fast food is more difficult). However, with many restaurants, you will not be super happy about what is available to you. I get really tired of salads and sandwiches sans bread. Also, you still run the risk of wheat contamination.
- Gluten free pretzels are WAY better than regular ones. Don't believe me? Try it. They're worth the extra dollars.
- Many Hershey's candy bars are gluten free. I am ashamed of how happy this fact made me.