No wheat, no bread, no pasta: Those were the words from my doctor and as soon as I heard them, my first thought was “Well, what the heck am I supposed to eat then?”
Months before I complained of constant bloating and exhaustion. It wasn’t until mid-summer that I got the phone call from my doctor “Haylie, you have a serious gluten allergy.”
Just like that, I knew my world was about to change…the girl known for late night mac-n-cheese dinners and instant pasta was suddenly about to go gluten free. I tried to do it once before and ordered a lettuce-wrapped burger, without the bun, but I found myself jumping right back on the gluten bandwagon. But I knew something had to change. I couldn’t fail this time…. because I finally had confirmation on the one thing I feared, my body hated gluten and it was destroying my gut.
WHAT WERE THE SYMPTOMS?
I suffered from constant exhaustion, and it wasn’t just a little exhaustion, it was wake up and feel like I worked a 12 hour shift with no lunch breaks level of exhaustion. It made it hard to commit to anything out of fear that I would be too tired to follow through.
I was getting decent sleep every night, but I would crash around 1pm and be too tired to move. This caused me to have issues staying focused the rest of the day, cutting down my productivity in half.
Also, my stomach would swell up like a 9 month pregnant woman every time I ate, which was very uncomfortable. Getting out of bed was a chore as I’d wobble my way over to the bathroom. Over the years I began to think this was normal. Note to self: Feeling 80 when you’re only 22 is definitely NOT normal.
And lastly, my digestion was a mess. I’m not going to get into detail here, but let’s just say hour long bathroom trips were a red flag that something wasn’t working right in my body.
WHY I DECIDED TO MAKE THE CHANGE
It wasn’t until later on that I learned just how much gluten was wreaking havoc on my body. It turned out that every time I ate gluten it would spike my insulin and cortisol (stress hormone) levels, which elevated the inflammation in my body and caused my hormones to go out of wack.
Gluten is an inflammatory so it made my acne flare up and my gut bloated. My hormones were unbalanced which explained my mood swings and exhaustion.
My skin was not only covered in painful sores caused from cystic acne, but my skin was the driest it’s ever been. At the time I didn’t know if gluten had an effect on your skin or not (hint: it does!) but I was praying that this new lifestyle change would also make a difference in mental health.
HOW I MADE THE CHANGE
The change didn’t happen right away. It took me some time before I was no longer overwhelmed with the idea of overhauling my eating habits.
A common problem I have when changing my diet is that I eat the same recipes over and over again to the point where I get burnt out and go back to my old ways. So I knew that the only way to combat it this time was to spend one day a week (Saturday’s) to practice different dishes so when the time came that I was ready to fully transition it would be much easier.
I also did some research beforehand to make sure I knew what to look out for on ingredients labels. Before making any big dietary changes I always do my research.
Once I felt ready to go, I picked a day to start and began getting rid of all foods in my house with any hint of gluten in them. I replaced them with healthy alternatives and became a serial label reader. Both of these switches helped me become more aware of what I eat daily.
Of course with any dietary change there is an awkward period where you’re not sure if you’re even doing it right or what to eat, but after a couple weeks I promise it becomes second nature!
After going gluten free for 90 days, here’s what I can tell you – I’m not going back. Eating gluten free has been eye-opening and hard at times (man do I miss mac-n-cheese) but it’s helped me focus on prioritizing my health and pay better attention to how I’m fueling my body.
I have a ton more energy, I can reclaim hours of my day (that’d otherwise be spent on naps), and I no longer bloat like crazy (woohoo!). I’m always adjusting my diet to feel my very best, and believe me, I know it’s hard not to eat classic favorites like mac-n-cheese, Subway bread, etc. but if not eating wheat means getting my bloating and fatigue under control? Heck yes, I‘m down.