Gluten-free

A friend of mine who shares many of my health issues recently started this completely insane autoimmune-paleo diet, one of those restricted eating things that eliminates basically everything except meat and green vegetables from her life. (<–exaggeration, but only slight). She sent me info on it, suggesting it might help me, too.

Um, no, thank you. I like food, I like eating, I like cooking. I also like occasional sugar, plenty of pasta, eggs and dairy, caffeine in the mornings, wine in the evenings, and don’t even get me started on soy sauce. The idea of cooking without it? Yeah, no, not going to happen.

But somewhat randomly, for three days in a row, I didn’t eat any gluten. It was a little bit intentional–I paused before having granola or toast for breakfast and chose not to, and when dinner rolled around the third day, I decided to make something that I knew was gluten-free. But it was also happenstance, days when salad and veggies and pure proteins came my way easier than sandwiches and pasta. On the fourth day, C and I were on our way to yoga, and I told her that I thought I might be entering a hypomanic phase again.

That afternoon, I made pasta for lunch, ate the same pasta for dinner because I was in a hurry, and ate the leftover pasta for breakfast the next morning. And then crashed. That day, I got nothing done. After thinking I was getting hypomanic–lots of energy, lots of drive to get stuff done, super-efficiency mode–I was abruptly back in total sluggish depressed mode, finding it hard to get out of bed, not really interested in doing anything, too exhausted to continue the spree of cleaning chores I’d started the previous day.

The next day I decided to give gluten-free a try. Not the whole autoimmune-paleo thing–that looks way too hard! But just gluten-free. To see. Five days in and my energy level was back up. I was updating all my blogs, tracking my sales numbers, reading boards, organizing my closet, making plans, going out to lunch, inviting people over for dinner. Every last bit of laundry was done and put away. Even minor stuff — I changed the light bulb in the garage that burnt out months ago that I kept ignoring despite the inconvenience. It took five minutes to set up the ladder and I couldn’t think why I hadn’t done it ages ago.

And then last night I inadvertently ate some pasta that I thought was gluten-free but wasn’t.

Today, I’m normal again. I don’t feel bad, I feel normal. Not manic, but also not energetic. One job and then I want to take a break for a while. Yoga and afterwards I’m totally ready for a nap. The grocery store is exhausting. That’s normal. My normal. The way my normal has been for as long as I can remember.

And it is both dazzling and sort of terrifying to realize that my normal is a gluten-created normal and that I can have a new normal if I’m willing to eliminate gluten from my life.

That auto-immune diet, though, still looks just too hard.

7 thoughts on “Gluten-free

  1. ElizabethN says:

    Tough decision. Try for the new normal or stay in the old?

    We’ve not gone completely gluten free but have cut back substantially. My husband noticed a difference in the week or so that we were completely gluten free but I didn’t . I know we should go the rest of the way but everything I like is not on most gluten free diets. Problem is that once you indulge then the desire increases and a cycle starts. Although food is not the crutch that it used to be except at work (= stress-eating). We’ve been using The South Beach Diet Gluten Solution by Agatston, a bit pricey but if you can get it from a library, since we’ve had moderate success on the standard South Beach diet.

    • sarahwynde says:

      I’ll look for that book, thank you! C is a South Beach person, so she’d probably be willing to give it a try. I have to admit, a week ago I couldn’t have imagined going gluten-free for reals, and I still can’t. Life without the occasional brownie? Nope. Or even toasted bread with cheese, a true comfort food for me? Nope, nope, more nope. No granola is sort of huge. What will I eat when I’m hungry and lazy? On the other hand… there’s this Boggle the Owl thing that I reblogged on my tumblr yesterday that resonated, a lot, about how hard simply surviving is sometimes. The idea of living life without running constant energy calculations–ie, “I’ve got lunch plans on Tuesday, so I definitely can’t leave the house on Wednesday”–is, well, fascinating.

    • sarahwynde says:

      And do you love it? Is it worth it? Did you do it for health or for weight or both? How long has it been and how hard is it to maintain?

      • James Miller (@JimDMiller) says:

        Mostly for health, although my weight has improved. I have been doing it for about 1.5 years. The hardest part is no bread. It’s become an important part of my identity and so easier to maintain. I do Intermittent fasting in which in the morning I have “bulletproof” Coffee with butter and MCT oil but then don’t eat any carbs or protein until 4:00 PM.

  2. Nancy says:

    When I went gluten-free last August for GI issues, I lost 35 pounds in just over 2 months (I also cut out sugar, which ties in with a lot of gluten products anyway). My GI issues resolved. And as a bonus, my migraines decreased exponentially. Around Valentine’s Day, I started eating the occasional “treat” which, as someone previously commented, increased the cravings, and by May, the GI issues were back in full force, along with migraines, and I have gained back 7-10 pounds.

    I have been gluten-free again for 10 days. Once again, GI issues are nearly resolved, even in this short of time. Migraines not yet. Couple of pounds gone. I do not have celiac disease (have been tested), but clearly am gluten-sensitive. I am not pure paleo. But cutting out processed foods almost entirely makes me feel like a different person. Clearly cutting out gluten does the same for you, Sarah. There are a number of bloggers, websites, etc., that can help make a gluten-free or paleo lifestyle easier. Best of luck on your journey!

    P.S. Jim, LOVE Bulletproof Coffee!! EVERY single morning. :)

    • sarahwynde says:

      I don’t think I’ve made it more than three or four days yet without some slip-ups–I’m gradually figuring out the weird things that contain gluten just from having a “normal” day and not knowing why, ie the type of mayo that we had, which we used with sriracha for sweet potato fries led to a “normal” day.

      I’m also making some astounding other discoveries. I have always believed that make-up was like high heels–one of those torture devices that people put up with despite how much it makes their skin itch. I never asked anyone if make-up was uncomfortable, I just assumed that most women were better at dealing with the itchiness than I was. Guess what most make-up contains? Apparently after you put it on, you’re not supposed to feel it anymore. This is not something I ever knew, which is just a really strange thing to discover after so many years.

      I’m actually planning now to start the auto-immune diet in late August after R goes away to college. I still think it’s crazy ambitious but I accept a certain amount of joint pain as “normal” and I’m curious enough now that I’m willing to invest a couple months into serious meal planning to see if that, too, could go away. I don’t know if I’d be able to maintain it forever, but one day at a time, I feel like it’s worth a try. Thanks for sharing your story! I haven’t felt at all tempted to slip yet (all my slips have been accidents) but I’ll remember what you said if I do.

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