Giving up gluten has become quite the trend these days. There have been many studies done and articles written claiming that unless you have Celiac disease, gluten intolerance isn’t real, but I assure you, I would not give it up unless I had to. About 2 years ago, I started feeling just generally sick. I had almost constant headaches, I was tired all the time, I had a lot of issues with gas and indigestion, repeated yeast infections and just general discomfort. I also had a really hard time focusing on things and staying on task, which is totally unlike me. I went to the Dr. 5 times in a year and a half and she kept giving me prescriptions to treat the symptoms instead of trying to figure out what the problem was. I finally decided I needed a new Dr. After describing my symptoms to my new Dr., the first thing she asked was if I had tried to give up gluten. Having done some reading on my own, I both expected and feared she might ask that. Once the Dr. suggested it, I knew I was going to have to give it a try.
Going gluten-free was pretty easy at first. Most of the foods I eat on a regular basis are naturally gluten free- vegetables, meat, fruit, nuts, dairy, many ancient grains.We don’t eat a lot of processed food in our household, so that was not an issue. I felt so much better after just a couple of days that it was easy to keep the momentum going. I made it about a month without feeling deprived or bored with my naturally gluten free food choices. It was actually after going grocery shopping and seeing the plethora of gluten free specialty foods and buying a few gluten free substitutes that the cravings came. Gluten free substitutes are expensive and the money in the grocery budget for them is limited. I tend to buy a loaf of bread, crackers, pasta and maybe a brownie or cornbread mix when we go shopping twice a month, but beyond that, I just have to do without. (I did spend a ton of money on gluten free flours at first too, but have not used them all that much yet). Gluten free alternatives are nice and I am really happy I can still enjoy things like avacadoe toast with eggs or a plate of pasta, but I definitely think it makes it harder to say no to regular bread and pasta when gluten free options are not available- but maybe that is just me.
I have found that I can have limited amounts of gluten without any major side effects but I also find it hard to know where that line is and very easy to just keep pushing it until I am sick again. It is best for me to just avoid it in my everyday home life and not stress too much about it if I am going to a friend’s house for dinner or eating at a restaurant. I still try to stick with generally gluten free options in those situations, but I don’t have to worry about every ingredient.
The hardest things to give up have been fresh from the bakery bread and beer. I really love both of those things. Luckily wine is gluten free and I have developed a real love for hard cider since giving up gluten. Now that the weather has cooled down a bit, I am looking forward to experimenting with some gluten free baking so I can still enjoy one of my favorite hobbies. Overall, giving up gluten is definitely worth it for me and I even enjoy having to branch out a little bit (more) in my cooking to find delicious alternatives that leave both my non gluten-free partner and I satisfied.
What is your favorite gluten-free meal?