Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Gluten Free for One Year

And then I went to Italy.

(Me on our snack break during a 13 mile hike exploring Lake Como)

I decided to go 100% gluten free about a year ago and have never felt better. My energy levels are high, my mood is stable, my skin issues have cleared up and I have rarely had migraines. I like to offer gratitude where gratitude is due so I'd like to thank:

1) my boyfriend John for going WAY out of his way to support me (at home AND while traveling)
2) the HFWT staff (and my bestest friends) Kate and Phil for creating a gluten free section of their pantry and kitchen especially for me
3) my family at home for supporting me when I visit for holidays and in general
4) my numerous friends who have educated themselves, on my behalf, enough to be aware that I have to eat a certain way when they are eating with me (this always gives me the warm fuzzies) One example is Grant, who never seems to forget. Thanks dude! :D

So now, my dear friend King Cholmu invited me to keep him company on a business trip to Northern Italy. He said I'd be able to train and focus on my work while getting to see the beautiful Italian countryside. It's not like I was gonna say no. Cholmes and I met in 2001 in Nice, France and he has since been one of the most important players in pointing me in the direction my wonderful life has taken. Of course when I agreed to go (with enthusiasm) one of my first thoughts was "what the heck am I gonna eat". I gave it some thought and considered showing my readers that it can be done. Traveling through Italy, surrounded by bread, pizza and pasta and not eating any of it? No problem! Then I decided... eff that. I KNOW I COULD do it. I KNOW that it takes some advanced planning, including carrying food with me, and learning some of the italian phrases I would use to communicate my needs. And I KNOW that Cholmes wouldn't kill me for being such a pain in the ass. BUT I decided to eat wheat.

(King Cholmu beholding the beautious view out of our secret cave)

I haven't actually really tested my reactions to wheat in over a year. This is the first time I had cut it out completely. I was curious to see how I would react and what quantities I would react to. What better place to test this than Italy? At worst I would feel terrible and go back to eating gluten free immediately, while still in Italy. And at best I would get a better sense of my wheat sensitivity and possibly appreciate my efforts to live gluten free a bit more. I knew I wasn't going to go back to eating gluten/wheat either way. I actually LOVE eating the way I currently do!

In a sense I was trying an elimination diet, where you remove possible allergenic foods for a set period of time, and then reintroduce them paying very close attention to your reaction. I kept a food diary during my trip by emailing with my mom (also a health counselor) about what I was eating and how I was reacting.

In conclusion, eating wheat makes me feel yucky. It doesn't make me feel terrible or miserable but my reaction is definitely not the way I want to feel. Especially because I ask so much of my body while training for triathlons. Eating some form of wheat 3 times a day for 6 days gave me the following reactions:

1. low energy (which could be jet lag related)
2. itchy, red skin
3. achey muscles in random places
4. upset stomach
5. constant mild headache

Along with the symptoms, I discovered something new... I don't actually WANT wheat products. I sit down to breakfast and they offer pastries and baguettes when I'd really just love fruit, yogurt or eggs. Lunch is sandwiches but I'd rather a salad or bean soup. And dinner is pasta or pizza and I'm happiest when there's a fish, veggie, bean option. It's amazing that clearing wheat out of my diet has become so natural for me. All in all, I'm very glad that I did this because I now recognize how important it is for me to eat a gluten free diet. I'm also totally stoked that it has become my acquired taste. Yay!

If anyone is interesting in trying an elimination diet or a gluten free diet, please contact me for support:


Stuart said...

I's amazing how adaptive we can be with the right mental attitude leading us!

Out of interest did you ever try the gluten free alternatives?

Friar Tuck said...

I'm right there with you, Christine. I've been mostly gluten-free for about 16 months now, but just caved in a serious way in New Orleans. The sunshine and humidity seem to have offset the reaction a little bit, but sure enough I'm starting to see new little pre-psoritic (is that a word?) bumps in various places. Sigh. said...

thanks for the shout out! (unless there is another Grant floating around)

HolisticGuru said...

Hi Stu,

It is amazing that we can be so adaptive. It's also amazing to me that we take certain foods for granted in our diets as "staples" and don't often stop to ask whether we actually really enjoy the food.

I do eat some of the gf alternatives. I eat brown rice pasta occasionally, gf english muffins, and once in a while I'll make gf pancakes or brownies. Though, for the most part I eat starchy veggies and other whole grains for carbs.

Have you tried the alternatives?

HolisticGuru said...

Goodly Friar,

If pre-psoritic wasn't a word before, it is now, because it was used by a genius scientist.

You're the only other person I've met who reacts to gluten with psoriasis so I still need to pick your brain.

HolisticGuru said...


There are no other Grants. You're the only Grant for me.