a while ago i wrote a post called The Gluten Free Chronicles (Part One).
i doubt anyone noticed it but part two never happened. like, it was never written (much less posted.)
one year ago i tweeted this:
There's a good chance my husband is gluten intolerant. So that's inconvenient.
— Kate Wessman (@MissKatieClaire) May 10, 2013
and four months after that garrett tested positive for Celiac Disease.
i suppose to a lot of people a celiac diagnosis would feel like the end of the world. and it sort of did a little bit to garrett. i mean one time (while we were engaged) he ate a sandwich that had macaroni and cheese, mozzarella sticks and chicken fingers on it. (and no, he was not in any way inebriated or under any kind of influence of drug or alcohol. he was just hungry.)
that behemoth "sandwich" was pretty much as gluten-filled as it could get. and he loved it.
but we were fortunate for his diagnosis to come at a time when eating gluten free was like so fetch.
and i'm only partially joking when i say that.
eating gluten free is totally a thing now. it's a trendy diet that has caught on like wildfire.
but it's fortunate for him that eating gluten free is so hip to the groove right now because there is a shizton more food for him to eat now than there would have been just 5 years ago. if we wanted to pay an exorbitant amount of money, garrett could recreate that monstrosity of carbs he called a sandwich and it would be completely gluten free. that's how readily available (and edible) GF foods are these days.
from the beginning of this celiac journey i've told garrett i would be gluten free with him. my reasons for this were three fold:
1) i didn't really see gluten free as a real burden. it was inconvenient to have to read the back label of EVERY item of food we picked up at the grocery store. but now that we know what's gluten free it's a lot easier. (also, produce is naturally gluten free so we pretty much just load up on that and skip the whole center of the grocery store.) anyways, i was already eating sugar free and since most foods that contain gluten also contain sugar, i wasn't eating them to begin with. so we had to buy rice pasta instead of regular pasta. meh. that's not the end of the world. it's a little more expensive but whatever. i just didn't see it as a huge change in my life. if anything, i saw it as an opportunity for us to make even healthier food choices. that's a plus in my book.
2) we didn't have the money to buy two of everything. it was less expensive for me to eat gluten free along with garrett than to continue buying gluten free and non-gluten free foods. two of everything would certainly start to add up. also, i wasn't about to be making two separate dinners every night. Sweet Brown told me ain't nobody got time for that.
3) i didn't want him to feel alone. being diagnosed with a disease can be scary, even if it's not a disease that is killing you. just hearing that there's something wrong with the body that you're stuck in for the rest of your life can be sort of daunting if not terrifying. and i didn't want garrett to feel like a freak or a loner. if he was going to have to ask if something had gluten in it, i was going to have to ask, too. if he was going to have to turn down a yummy food at a party or event, i wasn't going to stand next to him and eat it. i would turn it down, too. if he was going to have to make changes, i would make those changes, too. going gluten free seemed like something i could do, and if i felt like i could do it and if doing it would support my husband, then why wouldn't i do it? it just seemed silly not to.
i know not every spouse would feel this way, and i don't think any less of them for not doing it. because real talk: if garrett was diagnosed with a peanut allergy i would get a hotel for the night and meet jars of peanut butter there and have a sweet and secret love affair with them. because i freaking love peanut butter and i don't think i could give it up. but i could give up gluten. so i did.
also, that whole comparing peanut butter to a lady of the night makes me laugh and it also makes me very uncomfortable.
i've never considered myself a trendy dieter. in fact, i don't consider myself to be any kind of dieter because i don't believe i'm on a diet. i have a diet, but i'm not on one. the choices i make are choices i want to make for the rest of my life, not just for a short period of time until i reach a goal weight or size. i never decided to stop eating gluten so that i could hop on that cool GF train with all the other hip kids.
i started cutting unrefined sugar out of my diet back in 2008 because i did some research on the matter and realized sugar was in like everything i was eating. and i didn't want that. and my body certainly didn't need that. i took it out of my diet, lost some weight and felt better. if i go back to eating something blatantly sugary i get bloated and my tummy hurts and i pretty much regret it a lot. it's rarely worth it. not because i mentally beat myself up for indulging, but because my body just doesn't feel good when i indulge.
ultimately, i just try to make healthy decisions for my body. every body is different and different things affect people differently. i was chubbier than most of my peers in high school because i ate what they ate but lacked their metabolism. my body held on to things theirs did not. my body was different. so i had to treat it differently and feed it differently.
i firmly believe that if you want to take good care of your body then you need to determine what is good for it specifically. maybe you're lactose intolerant. i'm not. so i'm going to eat my greek yogurt. (because, yum.) my sister can't eat anything acidic or even slightly spicy or her bladder like explodes. that doesn't happen to me. so i'm going to eat some delicious salsa. eating gluten upsets my stomach and makes me sick. so i'm not going to eat that.
it's simple, really. i pay attention to what i eat and how it makes me feel.
(please note i am not a nutritionist or a dietician. these are just my thoughts and are in no way meant to be read or interpreted as medical advice. )
i've already explained the reasons i decided to go gluten free. but there's another reason i decided to stay gluten free.
i felt better.
(cliche, right? let me specify.)
my skin cleared up.
my hair grew.
my periods regulated.
i retained less water.
i bloated less.
i had more energy.
and i was like, uhhh...this whole gluten free thing is kind of the bomb.
i don't have celiac disease. i'm not even sure i have a gluten intolerance. but i know that my body is happier when it doesn't have to deal with gluten.
so when i read an article the other day that essentially told people like me (non-celiac gluten free eaters) that they were being stupid for not eating gluten, i got a little defensive. according to this article people who claim to see changes due to eating gluten free are simply experiencing a placebo effect and nothing more. and more often than not the GF foods they eat are filled with more crap than the non-GF alternative.
once my initial frustration went away i decided i have three thoughts on that topic.
1) i do find it weird when people eat gluten free without bothering to know what gluten is or bothering to do any research on it. i do think it's odd that someone would just choose to pay more money for their food without learning for themselves how gluten could be affecting their body. because again, every body is different. and i think everybody ought to figure out what is good or bad for their body. but, that being said-a lot of the time people don't know they feel like crap until they don't feel like crap anymore. and unless people are willing to experiment with their food, they might never know how much better they could feel. so i don't fault these people entirely. i applaud them for being willing to try new things.
2) i don't believe i'm experiencing a placebo effect. once i cut gluten out i noticed a lot of things and i don't believe they were necessarily placebo because i wasn't LOOKING for any of them to happen. i didn't look for my skin to clear up, it just did. i didn't look for my hair to grow, it just grew. i didn't know of any of the possible positive side effects of eating gluten free before i decided to eat gluten free. i just did it to save money and support garrett. i feel any difference i noticed was genuine because it wasn't anticipated.
3) i make so much of our food from scratch (because garrett can't have foods made in a factory that contains gluten) and i know exactly what goes into it. yes, we could recreate the aforementioned starch "sandwich" but we don't. yes, we could just eat gluten free cookies and cakes every day and say "hey! it's good for you! it's gluten free!" but we don't. because we're not stupid. we eat fruits and vegetables and protein and quinoa and rice and a myriad of other good, wholesome foods that don't have gluten in them. my diet is not depleted of nutrients because i'm choosing gluten free foods.
i'll stop ranting now. my next post won't be so political. promise.
i hope i didn't come of as judgmental or nutritionally pious. i honestly couldn't care less if you choose to eat gluten. i just choose not to. and i hope that's okay with you, too.
there's enough to worry about in this world. someone else choosing to not eat gluten really ought not be troubling our minds.
those are my thoughts.