In recent years, as I have aged, I have experienced some weight-gain as well as odd skin, joint, and intestinal issues, and I had heard that gluten sensitivities were sometimes the cause. I was fed up with my painful knees, fatigue, skin rashes, upset stomach, and other various unexplained ailments. So I finally decided to get serious about finding out if a gluten/wheat sensitivity might be true for me. I have several friends who are gluten free, both online and in real life, so I was already somewhat familiar with what the term means. However, just in case you aren’t sure, let me define it for you in my own terms.
Gluten free means eating a diet where gluten is not present.
Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye. There are those in the population who have a true allergic response to gluten, those who have Celiac’s Disease. Others, through the process of elimination and experimentation usually, discover that they have a sensitivity, which will present itself in different ways depending on the person. Read this list of common gluten intolerance symptoms to help you to understand how this condition could present itself in yourself or others around you. And this article published by the Mayo Clinic offers a great list of do’s and don’t for those who are trying to avoid gluten.
I determined that I would remove all gluten from my diet in order to find out if it has been the cause of several ‘symptoms’ from which I have suffered since I was a teen, and others in more recent years. Here are just a few of the problems I had been dealing with:
- intestinal issues
- sore knees (inflammation)
- weight gain and/or inability to lose weight and keep it off
- skin rashes
- “the shakes” when going more than 3 hours between meals
- hunger soon after meals
I expected this to be difficult. I mean, I really do love carbohydrates. Fresh-baked bread, yummy desserts with crusts, and sandwiches have been a daily staples. Don’t forget about pasta….oh my goodness, I love pasta and homemade sauce with a delicious slice or two of fresh Italian bread!
Before beginning this gluten free journey, I read the book Wheat Belly, written by Dr. William Davis. This book is full of helpful information, both from Dr. Davis’ own experiences as well as those of his patients. Within its pages, the book covers a bit of the history of wheat and the changes it has undergone over the years, how it has been a contributor to the decline in our health, and then goes over how to actually remove wheat successfully from your diet, including recipes, food lists, and other helpful suggestions. Dr. Davis also recommends reducing or eliminating sugar intake, and getting rid of other sources of gluten in your diet, such as rye and barley. However, I have focused only on wheat, because I thought this would make it a bit more simple and easier for me to be successful in my first efforts.
What has this new diet looked like for me?
Here is what my daily eating plan has consisted of over the last 8 weeks:
- eggs: boiled, fries, or scrambled
- cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, and others)
- fresh and frozen vegetables, mostly roast for raw
- greek yogurt
- raw nuts such as pecans, almonds, and walnuts
- fresh fruit
- meats such as bacon, turkey, ground beef, chicken, and some lunch meats
This may seem limiting to you. It did to me at first. However, once I got into the groove of eating this way, I realized that this ‘plan’ still allows for a lot of variation in my diet. Though there are many gluten free substitutes available for your everyday items like bread, wraps, crackers, and cookies, they can be costly. I have mainly gone without those and instead have focused on the items that are whole and fresh that I can easily prepare at home. We have eaten starchy sides such as potatoes and rice, which have long been staples in our diet anyway, as well as oven-roasted veggies like asparagus, zucchini, green beans, some salads, sauteed brussels sprouts, raw carrots and cucumbers, and more. For the occasional dessert, I have learned how to substitute gluten free flours into my usual recipe and have come up with a pretty tasty gluten free version of our favorite chocolate chip cookie! I have been completely satisfied to top spaghetti squash or sauteed zucchini with pasta sauce (and forego the bread). I tend to save my gluten free wraps, hamburger buns, and pie crusts for special events like Family Fun Night, when I have an event to attend where I need to take a dish (taking a gluten free item means that I know there will be something there that I can eat!), or when I am the hostess for a Friday morning brunch.
Eight weeks in, what have been my results?
- clearer skin
- “the shakes” are non-existent
- I can go longer between meals and do not usually need snacks throughout the day
- migraines are minimal, and when I do have on, it often goes away on its own, which never happened before
- pain in my knees is gone
- weight loss is at 10 pounds
- no bloating
- I feel more energetic
- intestinal issues have disappeared
- I am able to wear jeans and dresses that I had “grown” out of
I am no health expert, and I cannot tell you what will work for you to improve any ‘symptoms’ that you may be experiencing.
I can tell you what has worked for me.
I no longer feel that it is impossible to lose weight, feel good, and find the energy to do all of the many things I must do as a homeschool mom, wife, and ministry leader. I feel confident enough that I am able to speak out to others whom I believe may benefit from giving this new way of eating a try. Sometimes, when I smell fresh-baked bread or pizza from my family’s favorite shop, I feel a little pang of yearning, but not for long. The benefits have far outweighed my ‘losses’, and I am on my way to a better life due to this new wheat free me.
My next steps will be to begin to reduce my consumption of sugar, especially soda, and to begin an exercise program of some sort. I am excited that I have finally made real progress in all of the above areas, and I am on my way to my next 10 pound weight loss goal.
Do you or someone you know suffer from any of the symptoms listed above? If you decide to remove wheat from your diet, you may find that your symptoms are reduced or even disappear. In any case, you will likely begin to eat a larger amount of healthy foods and that is good for everyone, right? Give it a try!
Wendy is a homeschool mom of five and wife of 19 years to her high school sweetheart. You will find Wendy writing about marriage, motherhood and home education on her blog, WendyWoerner.com . She also shares an occasional recipe and encouraging printables, so please check in with her to find encouragement and valuable resources for life as a woman!