10 things that have changed since going gluten and dairy-free

I hate running.

Making muscles on the back porch

Making muscles on the back porch

This afternoon I went for a run and didn’t hate it.  In fact, I liked it.  I ran longer and faster than I have in double-digit years.  As I made my way past tomato stands and cornfields in rural Pennsylvania I couldn’t help but attribute it to my recent elimination diet and resulting gluten and dairy-free lifestyle.

When I first approached my doctor with the idea of being gluten intolerant 4 years ago  she scoffed, said it was just a fad, and waved off my question. At that point, I was less direct and didn’t pursue it further.  Needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway, I’ve changed and she’s no longer my doctor.  My history with food is pretty busted. I’ve written about it at length here, see Related Posts below for more. After feeling off my game for years, I decided to try a gluten-free elimination diet/cleanse of sorts. I’m in love with Rebecca Wood’s, revamped, book, The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia. It’s not a diet book. It’s not a cure-all. It’s information.  I’m in love with information and I want it to be my baby daddy.  The book is just what it calls itself, an encyclopedia about whole foods. Not the over-priced market, Whole Foods but the plants that grow out of the ground you’re supposed to eat.  I learned all about new plants and even picked up a few recipes.  I was able to find any ingredient I needed at my local co-op.  Look for one in your city. They’re worth it.  My life has changed since going gluten and dairy free. Here’s how.

  1. Energy: I’m anemic, I have Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease (ADPKD), Polycystic Ovaries, Lactose Intolerance, I have allergies that rival Bubble Boy’s, and I’m an educator starting 3 companies simultaneously.  My body is put through its paces regularly.  I assumed that all those issues were the reason I was so tired. Cutting out gluten and dairy reset my body to “normal” and I’m no longer fighting “the itis” or ethnic fatigue.  I feel like my body came back to me.
  2. Waist size: 3 or more inches have disappeared from my waist. It might be weight loss, but I think it’s bloat. Probably both. I was constantly gassy and bloated. My clothes rarely felt comfortable and I  never felt completely empty even if I was famished.  My midsection is notably smaller.  I’ve also stopped farting like a frat boy after drinking PBR.
  3. No joint pain: After I stopped skating derby I started seeing a physical therapist.  My hip was hurting and my ankle quickly followed.  She gave me exercises and the pain started to go away.  I attributed it to the exercises, but I noticed that the pains came back after I’d been “glutened.” My joint pain has disappeared. It doesn’t hurt to move.
  4. No more insomnia:  I have a history of my body hating me.  That would manifest itself in the form of 3am wake ups after midnight fall asleeps. That’s no longer the case. I often arise with the sun if I’ve gone to bed at a decent hour.  More importantly, I sleep for 7-8 hours regularly and awake feeling refreshed and excited to get my day started.
  5. Wheezing: I was diagnosed with exercise induced asthma a few years ago. I attributed it to being out of shape. My Ear Nose and Throat Doctor said it was asthma and prescribed an inhaler.  I filled the prescription once and then never again.  If my breathing became labored I would just stop the exercise until my lungs stopped punching me in the chest.  Since cutting out gluten and dairy I can run for at least 1-2 miles without encountering labored breathing. Even then, there’s no mucous, and I don’t end up bent over fighting for air.  It’s nice.
  6. Weight loss: Of course. It just seems like a natural progression. If one cuts out breads and cheeses (the only meat I eat is fish) they’re bound to lose weight.
  7. Uncontrollable Cravings: My current doctor (and physician soulmate) prescribed (or rather suggested) I start taking digestive enzymes after I told her how I CRAVED sweets and bread.  I don’t mean, “Oh, I could go for a piece of chocolate.” I mean I’d be sitting in my apartment feel the craving and somehow find myself teleported to Safeway with a basket full of Spicy Nacho Doritos, sugary drinks, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, Snickers, and whatever else I stumbled upon. It was bad, folks.  I took the enzymes for awhile.  I’ve since stopped.  The cravings have also stopped. Also things taste different. Processed food has started tasting…well…gross.
  8. No itchy Skin: For the longest time I thought I had lice. It felt like there were flies on random parts of my body.  This might be a result of my recent trip to Morocco where there were literally flies on me all the time, but I doubt it. The itch has gone away and I’m grateful.
  9. Mood swings: I’m pretty even-keeled at this point. Granted, I’m not as stressed as I was previously.  Well, at least I’m not stressed in the same way.  My grandfather is still dying. I’m a new entrepreneur. My salary technically makes me impoverished. I’m writing and acting in a one-woman play that goes up in 8 months. But I’m not snapping at people. My emotions aren’t all over the place.  I feel like….a person.  I’m different.
  10. Pooping:  It used to be weird. Now it’s not. I’ll leave it at that. 🙂

This is not a post to convince you that you should eliminate gluten or dairy.  If I could go back I would jump buck naked into that pool with the quickness.  I can’t though. My body has been sending me messages for years. Things like poverty, lack of knowledge, and plain ol’ stubbornness have preventing me from hearing them.  I’m walking away from this experience feeling like I have more control over my health than I previously believed.  That’s what I’d like you to take away from this experience.  Your have more control over your well-being than you think.

Related Posts:

Emotional Eating

Body Image

Fasting and Babysitting Leads to Reconciliation

Pooping

Sugar Cravings in an Athletic Woman

Still wheat free…kind of.

Last night I sneezed like I’d put my bed in a field of pollen and licked a cat hair lollipop.

Earlier in the day I made lentil walnut burgers that came out with too much liquid.  What does one do to absorb liquid? You add breadcrumbs.  In my case, I should’ve added gluten-free breadcrumbs, but I didn’t. I didn’t have any in the house. Plus I’m on a budget and didn’t want to and couldn’t walk to the store in time to get them and get back to watch my grandad. So I just tossed them in there thinking, “No big deal.”

It was a big deal.  Shortly thereafter, I started to sneeze. A lot.  I’ve had these fits often in the past.  I always thought they were just random allergy attacks even though I was on allergy medicine.  I’ve had them twice since on this gluten-free elimination test that Rebecca Wood suggests.  Both times align with accidental (sorta) ingestion of wheat.  So I’m going to continue to eat wheat/gluten-free to see if that’s really the case.  I also haven’t consumed any dairy since this test began.  I feel great, for the most part. The Cheetos cravings are getting crazy, but so has my life.  It’s hard to walk away, but I do.  They wouldn’t even be here except there’s a teenage boy in the house and I have no control over what he eats. So, they’re here. To tempt me.

I’m in the process of cooking some staple foods to make sure that I have pieces of recipes ready when meal times arrive.  It’s easier to toss some vegetables and seasonings in a pan when most of the work is done.  Overall this is difficult. It’s been a stressful week, but I’m thriving in spite of its events.  That’s nice. At least one thing that’s going well is how my body feels. I like that. I can’t control the events that occur outside of myself. I can, however control what I put into my body to fuel it.

** Side note, as I was tagging this post my grandad — who is having one of his bad days– came into the kitchen.  He wanted to know where I’d been since I left with that man last night.  I told him that I’d never left and that after I said goodnight to him I went downstairs and went to sleep.  He said, “Ok. You know that you shouldn’t be with a man who will beat you up.”  The rambling continued and I got increasingly sad.  He’s not the person I knew. He’s fading and it’s sad.  Being here with my grandfather makes me very sad.