This past weekend marks just about six months since I made the decision to eat a gluten-free diet.
Well, almost gluten-free. There have been a few bobbles where I've convinced myself that my body can handle a tiny bit…and have been proven wrong each and every time by muscle pain, mental fogginess and misery. I don't recommend doing that, but each time has strengthened my resolve and my commitment to the necessity of a gluten-free diet for me.
And I truly can't believe the drastic way my life has changed. Everything I lived with on a daily basis for nearly two years? It's all gone. All of it. No more pain, no more fogginess (unless I eat too much sugar), almost no more stomach issues and my energy levels are great. All because I removed a little protein found in wheat, barley, rye and malts from my diet for one week…just to see what would happen. One week easily turned into two…then to a month…and even though it doesn't seem possible, nearly half a year.
It's not always easy, but it is always worth it. I don't ever remember feeling this good. Even before the more severe symptoms started, I'd lived with stomach issues since I was a child and chronic headaches since I was in middle school. Once in a while, I get a headache…but I can usually pinpoint the cause (sugar or stress). And my stomach hurts every so often…but that's usually only when I've eaten too much sugar (again with the sugar!) or meat.
Speaking of meat…
A little goal I set for myself this year was to slowly move towards a more vegetarian diet, partly because of the stomach issues but also because of The China Study. A friend recommended I read it several months ago, and I have to say – the science that most of the diseases of affluence (cancer, dementia, heart disease, etc) can be avoided and/or cured by a careful plant-based, low to no animal protein diet is overwhelming. As I've grown increasingly more passionate about nutrition and begun to study it over the past five years, I've come to believe that whole foods, plant based diets are best, without a doubt. After finishing The China Study, not only do I believe that even more strongly, but I'm ready to finally start making those next steps towards really living it.
My first goal? One week without meat. That's all. When I originally decided to cut out the gluten, I told myself I'd only try it for one week. If there weren't any noticable changes in the ways I'd felt, I'd be free to go back to breads and pastas and vanilla malts. Within three days, the changes were so evident I couldn't deny them. I want to see if I feel any difference next week – if I notice any changes in my workout, the way I feel, the way I sleep. And I'll make a decision about where I want to go from there.
How about you? What can you change in your diet for one week? What would it do to the way you feel if you were to cut out gluten for a week? How about refined sugar? Or maybe it's not about what you cut out, but what you add in. Could you add in one more serving of vegetables a day? What about whole grains?
Are you up for it?