I’ve been gluten free for about four years now and haven’t felt better. Cutting out wheat and other grains containing gluten has left me feeling healthy again, less lethargic and bloat-free.
I’d also cut out dairy (mostly) along with a bunch of other foods that had irritated my stomach to the point where my body was rejecting pretty much everything I was ingesting. I had to cut out rice, bananas, peanuts, wheat, gluten, oats, soy and dairy. I took various supplements and probiotics to help heal my gut.
So when I hear people say they’re going to do the Whole30 challenge where you cut out all gluten, legumes, non-gluten grains (like rice and quinoa), dairy, sugar, and alcohol for 30 days, it’s a piece of cake!
Looking back to my teen years, I realize that I had a sensitivity to dairy. My mom would make pizza every Friday night, and I remember feeling terribly bloated and sick after eating it. I’d have upset stomachs, break out in pimples, and eventually put weight on.
So when I indulged this holiday season with an abundance of cheese and wine, my body quickly reacted negatively. My stomach bloated up to look like I was six months pregnant. My skin broke out, and my stomach felt super upset.
Even though I knew the cheese wasn’t good for me, I was craving it! The compounds in it actually alters brain chemistry because it contains caseinm which triggers the brain’s opioid receptors, causing a drug-like effect on your brain. That’s why cheese – like sugar – is addictive.
Sugar is another nightmare. I avoid white sugar like the plague. Now sugar that is naturally occurring in fruits or starchy vegetables is different than the sugars added to packaged food. I choose coconut palm sugar for baking and in my coffee.
Sugar is also addictive; scientists have found that sugar stimulates the same pleasure centers of the brain as cocaine or heroin. Just like drugs, getting off sugar leads to withdrawal and cravings, requiring an actual detox process to wean off.
I baked gluten-free peppermint chocolate cookies using dairy-free chocolate and coconut palm sugar… and one or two cookies filled the sweet craving. But when I indulged in some regular milk chocolate, my body quickly reacted again; I craved more. One piece wasn’t enough! I also bloated up like a balloon.
After over-indulging, I vowed to start fresh again on January 1st. It’s amazing how quickly my body started feeling better after cutting out the cheese, wine and chocolate from my diet. It’s important to listen to how your body reacts to certain foods, and eliminate those that affect it.
Even four years after cutting out gluten from my diet, people ask me if I miss bread and pasta. I don’t. I don’t miss the foods that made me feel discomfort and pain. It’s just not worth it. I have learned to use substitutes in my own cooking and baking without much difference in taste; but the difference in my health has been enormous.