Why breaking up with gluten might not be worth it
As incredibly embarrassing as this is, my high school yearbook quote was a question that really described who I was at the time: “Do you guys have gluten-free bread?”
I only chose that as my quote because 1. I didn’t give a fuck about having a meaningful quote and 2. I probably asked that question at least twice a day, and it became a running joke.
If you haven’t already heard or seen store-fronts with signs that read “gluten-free,” you’re either stranded on an island or living under a rock. Gluten is in just about everything we eat, unless you’re eating a salad of course (without croutons). It’s a mixture of two proteins that are responsible for the elasticity in dough found in almost every product containing wheat. It’s deadly to some, while other’s don’t blink before eating a sandwich.
Everyone has had their experiences with becoming gluten-free, and most of the time people don’t find that much of a difference, unless they were celiac to begin with. It’s also been associated with weight loss, which is simply not true because there are tons of gluten free carbs to replace it. The amount of people who cut out gluten and don’t lose weight is funny because you’re consuming the same amount f calories, unless you’re going on a low carb diet. A couple years ago, I completely cut gluten out after eating it my whole life, and it was probably the most drastic/best decision I’ve ever made.
But, why make everything so much more complicated? While everything is gluten free now, it definitely was not a few years ago.
It’s because gluten made me feel like absolute shit, and I didn’t realize that until after I fully cut it out of my diet.
I stopped eating bread, cereal, and basically anything that had gluten. I replaced my carbs with rice and quinoa, and it felt amazing. I wasn’t tired and wanting to nap after every meal, my stomach didn’t feel like a balloon, I didn’t feel lethargic and like I wanted to stay inside and instead of go outside. I had motivation to exercise, I had more room to eat protein, and no matter how full I became I was always energized because I didn’t have gluten dragging me down.
According to experts at Harvard, “…the symptoms and treatment of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity can be similar, there is an important difference. For those with celiac disease, even a crumb of food with gluten can cause illness and intestinal damage, so managing the disease means zero tolerance for gluten.” As for non-celiac people, “a gluten-sensitive individual may feel unwell if some gluten sneaks through, but there is no long-term physical harm. Many people with gluten sensitivity find they can have a bit of gluten without problems. While too much triggers symptoms.”
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Speed up a couple years and going to college, being gluten-free is extremely unpractical. When you’re a broke hoe on a budget you can’t ask for the 3 dollar extra gluten free bread or penne. It’s a nuisance, and if you enter college being “gluten-free,” its probably going to become your nickname.
After reincorporating it back into my diet, I didn’t know if it was worth it, but I didn’t really have a choice. Almost everything my school’s dining hall served contained gluten, and unless I wanted dry iceberg lettuce as a salad, I had to let the gluten slide.
Gluten has been back in my diet for about two years, but I at most eat it two to three times a week because of the way it affects me. If I eat a sandwich, a bowl of pasta or a good amount of cookies, I will legitimately have to take a two-hour nap afterwards. It sucks, but cutting gluten out helped me realize what foods made me feel good, instead of making me feel like shit.
Moral of the story: there’s no point in becoming gluten free if it doesn’t affect you negatively to begin with. If you’re celiac you would already know and you’re not going to lose any weight. Gluten is a pretty magical thing, it’d be a shame for you to miss out on it.
So to all the gluten eaters out there, embrace and appreciate your digestive system. Be thankful you’re able to process gluten without bloating or getting sleepy, or even worse, shitting your pants.