I hit my two month gluten-free anniversary sometime a little over a week ago, and I thought it would be a good time to reflect on what exactly this change has meant for me.
I am completely off the fibromyalgia medication, after a very deliberate weaning period. I do have a bit of very minor muscle pain, but nothing like I was previously experiencing. I've had a bit of mental fogginess, but again – not even in the same universe as what I was living with 10 weeks ago. I've had a bit of occasional swelling in my feet, but it's been minimal. My energy levels have been great and I've had no return of numbness or tingling.
All in all, I'm not willing to say I'm cured, but I am willing to say that I am able to live life again without any restrictions…other than the gluten. And I'm finding that the longer I stay away from gluten, the continuously better I feel. It's an amazing thing to not crave bread and other baked treats, or to have that hangover feeling I've always associated with most grain based foods.
I will admit, quite readily, that eating gluten-free isn't always easy. There are days it would just be soooo much easier to throw together a sandwich. Fast food is really difficult (though not something I do often anyway) and so is eating at restaurants. Once in a while, I have a bit of a pity party that I can't just grab a cinnamon graham cracker for a snack or catch myself unconsciouly putting a pretzel in my mouth as I pack the kid's lunches.
It's a learning curve and it's work, but it's worth it.
In fact, my biggest concern has been that as I'm learning to bake and replace favorite foods with gluten-free versions…I'm struggling to stay on a diet that leads to weight loss. But I am learning to create meals and baked goods that are gluten-free, and I'm generally pretty happy with the results.
And just as I believe the healthiest diet is the one that is least processed and eaten in the state closest to it's natural state, I'm finding the best tasting (and cheapest) gluten-free diet is the same way. I've used a few gluten-free baking mixes but haven't always been terribly impressed with the final result, especially after factoring in the price. Naturally gluten-free – basic, simple, whole foods – are best for my body and my wallet.
My next big challenge – taking the refined sugar back out of my diet. Somehow, as I've learned to embrace gluten-free baking, the white stuff has crept back into my diet. When I eat sugar, I can feel it surging through my body and I can feel the crash that follows. It's not pleasant. And while sugar has slipped back in, my exercise program has bit the dust. There's always something to tweak and continue working on.
I'm also working hard to put too many expecatations on myself. We've got three rounds of guests coming between Thanksgiving and the new year – it's going to be crazy. We are also facing some big changes and decisions over the next few months financially as Tom goes from full time ministry to part time with a massive cut in pay and no more benefits. Balance is going to be more difficult than ever to find and stress to manage, but I know that the dietary changes I've already made over the past two months are actually going to help with all of that.