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life without gluten

August 11, 2010

The more I get away from gluten, the more obvious it is to me that I need to stay away from it, both because of how much better I feel without it and how obviously icky I feel when do I eat something with gluten in it, even just traces from cross-contamination.  It seems as though my body is telling me to stick with the change and, in order to do so, it is getting more sensitive, weather it’s saying, “Good Diana, thank you for not feeding me that stuff, now you can feel fresh and clean and relaxed,” or, if I eat gluten, “Ahhh!  Not this again!  Help help I don’t want it!” Either way, the signals are becoming clearer.  It’s pretty crazy, actually, how clear they can be.

I’m making a positive change, and that excites me.  It makes me feel powerful, gives me hope, and keeps me engaged with myself.  It hasn’t been easy, though, and it hasn’t felt good all the time, even on days when I successfully avoid gluten.  Change is hard, and I think my body is completely confused! “What?  What’s going on?” it says.  It doesn’t know how to settle in to one feeling, especially since eliminating gluten 100% is harder than I anticipated.  My body is definitely getting thrown around on this gluten-free ride.

Let’s take, for example, my appetite.  For the first few days of strictly no-gluten, I had a surprisingly small appetite.  I didn’t even eat dinner for a few days.  Strange.  Then I started reading about how dairy intolerance is commonly associated with gluten intolerance, and many people recommend cutting out both dairy and gluten at the beginning of a gluten-free diet and then reintroducing diary after the intestines have had time to heal, so I started doing that (which is hard emotionally — I love dairy — but I’ll talk about that in a second).

Around that time, my appetite switched: I was insatiable.  I couldn’t ever get enough no matter how much I ate, which was frustrating because there wasn’t a whole lot around my apartment to eat without gluten in it at that point.  It was a constant, clean kind of hunger, like how it feels when all you have eaten is fruits and veggies, but it was still irritating and it was accompanied by a week/faint feeling and a foggy mind.  I think my blood sugar was wacky.  Turns out, as Sam figured out, I wasn’t eating enough protein.  As an ex-vegetarian who only rarely & reluctantly eats poultry/fish, my primary protein source for years has been dairy and wheat gluten (which, I have discovered, is the primary ingredient in fake meat… nooo!).

Since we figured out that problem, things have switched back around once more: now I am easily filled up again, primarily because gluten-free breads, soy milk, and meat are a lot heavier and more filling than regular bread, cow milk, and fake meat.  The three tiny slices  of whole-grain gluten free bread (the loaves are smaller and denser) with goat cheese, avocado, and arugula that I ate for dinner tonight, plus a glass of soy milk, feels like a huge heavy dinner in my belly.  We’ll see how my appetite settles as I get more consistent with my avoidance of gluten and settle in with my alternate food choices.

Besides my appetite, my mood has been a huge indicator of my body’s confusion, which has been intensified by the emotional impact of giving up so many foods forever. It’s one thing to give up things for a while… I’m so used to giving up “bad” foods for a while, and I had even figured out my little “yellow light, red light” system (see Lessons Learned) so that nothing would be on the no-list forever.  The finality of NEVER again eating something feels so constrictive, and, as you may be able to tell, I don’t react well to feeling constricted or controlled by anything.  On the flip side, in this case, the feeling of constriction is overshadowed by a greater sense of power and hope and comfort in knowing that I have found my own answers and can choose to heal myself. For so long I have felt like I have been choosing to heal but without a real sense of direction, so now, doing this, something I have faith in, I feel such relief and a sense of empowerment.

Plus, gluten-free food isn’t all bad 😉  Today I had a long work day devoid of filling food (I ate fruit and a small salad for lunch, and even that, I discovered, had traces of gluten in the dressing!), and I was feeling a bit deprived.  Sam picked me up from work and took me to Mariposa Bakery in Oakland, the perfect remedy for the gluten-intolerant soul!  The moment I tasted a little sample of their plain white bread, I felt like I had found something I had lost, like I was a normal person again. I have never in my life been so grateful for bread.


At the checkout counter I starting chatting with the bakery lady.  Because we were only buying bread, she was trying to interest us in the sweeter baked goods.  “Do you ever make custom cakes?”  I asked.  “Like…. wedding cakes?”  The bakery lady looked like a kid on Christmas morning, like she had been let in on the most beautiful secret in the universe.  She gave us all of the details about who makes the custom cakes and how to place your order, all the while grinning back and forth at me then Sam then me again.  I didn’t dare look at Sam, and when I grabbed my bag of bread to leave I was careful not to let her see the naked ring finger on my left hand.  She would have been so disappointed 😉

❤ Diana Banana

image courtesy of http://www.mariposabaking.com/products/breads/multigrain.html

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. lynne farris permalink
    August 12, 2010 11:52 am

    Diana Banana,
    I have been diagnosed with IBS, with the suggestion that I might be gluten intolerant. But to get to the empirical truth, I would need to undergo lots of invasive tests, which I declined. Instead, I will follow your lead and head into a gluten-free diet and see what happens. Have you ever read “The Maker’s Diet”? It is not a diet as we generally understand diets (i.e., restrictive), but it leads you to the foods that God intended us to eat, which include meat, dairy, etc., but in some restrictive fashion. Like no shell fish. No pork. And the writer explains why. This is a man who almost died from Crohn’s disease, and how he journeyed back through the diet outlined in Deuteronomy. If God offered us moral code, He has also provided us with a dietary code. I think it might fit into your worldview, and I would be interested in knowing whether it does 🙂

    You are a great inspiration, young lady, and I am proud and privileged to be part of your journey. I have recommended your blog to many, many people, but I would love to get your updates automatically 🙂 Thanks!
    Keep up the good work.
    Lynne

    • August 13, 2010 1:36 pm

      Lynne,

      Interesting — let me know how gluten-free goes for you! “The Maker’s Diet” sounds fascinating. I will check it out. I’d definitely be interested in the philosophies behind his food code. I’m so honored that you have recommended my blog to people. Thanks so much for the support and encouragement; it really makes all the difference.

      Diana

      PS: to get updates automatically, click “like” on the Diana Banana facebook page and/or click the “subscribe!” button on the right hand side of my blog 🙂

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