I know what you’re thinking, “Oh no, another one of those health food fanatics.” That is not what I am about at all. In July, I stopped eating gluten at the recommendation of my doctor to alleviate, of all things, arthritis pain. Yes, I’m 37 and already have arthritis. In fact, I found out 3 years ago that my knees and 3 discs in my back are arthritic. As I have spent the last few years discovering, arthritis can be almost unnoticeable, or it can cause unbearable pain. So, in the hopes of some pain relief, I started cutting gluten from my diet.
The idea of avoiding all wheat products was horrifying! The staple of the American diet is wheat. You know, those “amber waves of grain?” They are in EVERYTHING!! Or almost everything. And gluten free foodstuffs can be pricey. So no gluten free crackers or gluten free bread or gluten free cookies in my house because I just can’t afford them. Fortunately for me, the gluten free “craze” is pretty prevalent right now. There are tons of gluten free bloggers out there publishing their recipes for all to see. For a while, I was flying solo on the gluten free lifestyle, with the rest of my family just having a gluten free dinner. But soon, I started noticing some other positive changes in my health. My husband noticed too. He decided he would try it. Since eating foods without wheat can be a challenge that is exactly how it saw it – as a challenge he would rise to and triumph over.
Since my early 20s I have suffered from migraines. Turn-off-the-lights-and-sound-and-lay-as-still-as-you-possibly-can-or-you’ll-puke-from-the-pain migraines. I have also suffered from a flushing form of Rosacea, which I assume was inherited through my eastern European ancestry. It’s why I don’t drink alcohol, eat super spicy food, or do high intensity aerobic exercise in public. I turn a nice shade of beet red. I once signed up for a boot-camp workout class at the local gym and the instructor kept coming over and asking me if I was all right. The woman thought I was going to have a stroke because of my red face and ears and chest. I never went back. But as I’ve cruised along in my 30s, I have begun to notice a general ruddiness to my skin tone that I assumed couldn’t be helped. After a month of eating absolutely no products that contain wheat (or barley, rye and other grains containing gluten), my skin lost some of that ruddiness and looked clearer and younger. My headaches stopped. Not just the migraines, but also the general headaches I was getting here and there.
I started losing weight. My stomach stopped cramping after every meal. The canker sores that would randomly show up in my mouth healed and never returned. I started sleeping better. I wasn’t waking up tired. I had more energy during the day. My mood was elevated. My anxiety level, which had been at the on-the-edge-of-flipping-out level, went down. I felt rested, calm, happy, pain free, and even better looking.
Even after Mike and I were completely gluten free, I wasn’t as strict with the kids’ diet. I still served up the occasional fish sticks or chicken nugget meal for lunch. After a few months like this, my daughter asked for Mac & cheese for lunch. I happened to have a box in the pantry and cooked it up for the kids’ lunch that day. Both of my kids ate less than their normal serving of the pasta and went off to play. 30 minutes later, Caylie was crying that her stomach hurt. Chase told me his tummy hurt as I put him down for his nap. Bye, bye gluten.
Caylie’s pre-school teacher started commenting about how great she was suddenly doing at school. We had been struggling with some focusing issues during group learning time, but suddenly Caylie was at the top of her game. All my worries about a possible ADD diagnosis were over. Her behavior started to improve at home. Her sleeping regulated. Halleluiah! (Although, I should point out that we had also taken Caylie to see a pediatric sleep specialist and were implementing other changes with sleep as well.)
If you think I’m imagining all these great health changes, let me tell you, I started eating some gluten again around the holidays and everything in my body went to hell! Migraines, red skin, stomach cramps, joint pain, canker sores, restless nights, exhaustion, anxiety, depression, you name it, I was suffering from it. Back to gluten free and I’m feeling much better.
My hobby nowadays is Pinning recipes on Pinterest. I’m so addicted to Pinterest! My latest favorite is finding gluten free lunch box ideas for when Caylie starts kindergarten in the fall. We’ve already tried some out and they went over well. Mike lost 15 pounds and said he feels so good he is never eating wheat again. I have to agree. And the meals I’ve been making are tasty too. It’s a win for the Noyer family!
So now you know what I’ve been doing for the last 6 months. Do you think you could give up wheat? It’s not as hard as it seems.