Carbs were my best friend growing up…bread, pasta, pizza, cookies, you name it. I was never truly concerned about what I was putting into my body, and luckily I was a dancer & cheerleader so I stayed in decent shape. However, one morning my senior year of high school I woke up sick as can be. My stomach was in excruciating pain, I couldn’t sit up strait, I was light headed, and my entire body felt weak. I had no idea what happened, doctors thought maybe I had the flu or food poisoning but that it should go away soon.
Weeks went by where I spent every day in terrible pain. I started to pay attention to my diet, and closely monitored everything that I was putting into my body. First, I eliminated dairy thinking maybe that suddenly wasn’t sitting well with me? Unfortunately that didn’t solve anything. Doctors thought anxiety was the culprit, and that I needed to figure out a way to manage my stress. There’s no doubt that anxiety does CRAZY things to a human body, but I knew that there’s no way anxiety & stress was causing that pain.
I attempted to be a normal college student, but ended up spending more time at my parents & the doctor than at school. I had more tests done than I could count, and was on numerous medications that I couldn’t even pronounce. Still nothing was helping…I became terrified of food.
One day my mom bought me a box of Chex Cereal because it was “Gluten Free.” We didn’t know what that meant, but it was something I hadn’t tried yet so I went for it. I didn’t feel 100% but I certainly felt a little better. I lived off Chex for a few weeks while I researched what the heck “Gluten” was.
Turns out gluten is “a substance present in cereal grains, especially wheat, that is responsible for the elastic texture of dough. A mixture of two proteins, it causes illness in people with celiac disease.” What has gluten in it you might ask…well basically EVERYTHING. I was totally overwhelmed, and it took months to get used to this new diet I had adapted. I was tested for Celiac Disease by having an endoscopy done, BUT I woke up in the middle of the procedure & I’m still traumatized….but that’s a story for another time. Regardless, we found out through a blood test that I was a carrier for Celiac Disease, which was bizarre because no one in my family had ever suffered from it before.
The summer after freshman year I moved home and my whole family jumped on the G-Free bandwagon with me and guess what? We ALL started to feel better. Through my research I learned that Gluten has many side affects: digestive issues, headaches, fatigue, muscle pain, skin irritation, acne, brain fog, weight gain, the list goes on. Although my family doesn’t have an intolerance to gluten, they all felt significantly better when they limited their intake. I’m not saying everyone should be Gluten Free or limit their intake, but I am suggesting that you do some research.
I’ve been gluten free for 7 years, and it has become a major part of my lifestyle. Luckily it’s so much easier to find options now, restaurants have gotten significantly more accommodating, and grocery stores are even making private sections for us G-Free peeps (YAYYY)! I love cooking and trying out new recipes, and I’ve found my favorite on-the-go snacks that fuel me every day.
Here’s some of my fav G-Free goodies:
My favorite restaurants:
If you’re interested in finding out more about the effect of gluten on our bodies I recommend these books: