Gluten free. Two words, much mystique. From trendy diets to health conditions, living gluten-free is becoming more mainstream, but what does it really mean?
First off, gluten is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s not an additive or an unnaturally occurring substance. It is a natural protein found in rye, wheat and barley that some people find hard to digest. It can become stuck to the lining of the intestines, wreaking havoc for those with a sensitivity or allergy and encouraging a slew of other health challenges to take shape. From a B-vitamin deficiency to joint pain to brain fog to IBS to The Real Deal Celiac’s Disease to MS-like symptoms to even cancer, a gluten intolerance left unattended can become a real roadblock on the journey to optimal health, to say the least.
Before you take off to your kitchen to exorcise all potential gluten-filled items from your pantry and fridge, let’s talk about the best approach if you’re interested in dabbling in this (currently on-trend) gluten-free lifestyle.
Try an elimination diet.
An elimination diet is simply a way of eating that removes gluten-filled foods from your diet (not to be confused with a diet that limits your food for weight-loss; going gluten-free does not guarantee weight loss, but it is a possibility!)
An elimination diet is a simple and relatively cheaper method of figuring out if you are gluten-sensitive. Depending on how long you’ve been eating gluten and how significant the impact has been to your sweet body, it may take 7 days to 6 months to truly feel the relief of going off the gluten. For me, it took about six months of going gluten-free before I felt the symptoms significantly subside; other people can deduce a sensitivity within a week. Your best bet is to go off of it for a week, then add it back in for a day and pay serious attention to how you feel. I’ve seen people get a runny nose the first time they take one bite of a bagel (ONE BITE!). That’s an indication you may want to remove gluten from your diet. Other indications that you might be better off going G-free could be lesser joint pain, decreased belly bloat, fewer digestive problems, and/or clearer thinking as a result of going G-Free. Just reading that list alone certainly makes testing out going GFree quite attractive, doesn’t it!?
Keep a journal or mental list of the changes you notice in your body, mind, energy level, etc. as you go through the week. After the seven days of gluten-free living, add some “normal” carbs back into your diet and then notice how you’re feeling. Re-read your journal of observations and decide if G-Free living is for you!