The Gluten Experiment

Posted on 01 Aug 2013 in health, recipe, Uncategorized | Comments Off on The Gluten Experiment

My life revolves around testing out healthy food, drinks, products, you name it. It’s like a constant science fair project in my home, and in my body. Admittedly, I’ve put coconut oil everywhere! My husband thinks I’m crazy sometimes, but fortunately he’s totally onboard; he now eats quinoa for breakfast and has cut soda completely! He’s my star pupil.

As with any experiment, some things work and some don’t. I’m willing to try anything and everything to help make me more knowledgeable about diet and lifestyle trends. I’ve found that just reading something isn’t really effective, you have to try it first hand to really know what’s up. No body is the same! What works for me, may not work for you. At Integrative Nutrition we call that BIO-INDIVIDUALITY, and I love working with people from that standpoint, they are a completely blank canvas. 

Let me start by saying I am not 100% gluten free, I’ve been a range of gluten free since I began seeing a naturopath several months ago. One of the things that I love about Chinese and alternative medicine is the idea that we can’t treat individual symptoms, it’s so important to understand that our bodies are very complicated and that everything works together very meticulously. Much of this stems from the health in our gut, if things are a mess in that area, you can bet you’ll have a situation all over the place!

I began seeing a naturopath, primarily for my skin, which has been problematic since my teens (more on that and recipes for my home made skincare in a future post) but my doctor advised me to cut out all gluten, along with the usual nasty suspects- refined sugar, processed food, and alcohol. The latter three were fairly easy, I’ve been working at cutting down on that nastiness for awhile, but the harder change to make was and is losing gluten. I love bread. I love sweet things. I love pizza. But I also love clear skin, a clear brain, energy and better digestion. Unfortunately, you can’t have them both.

Health is a choice. I always find it so interesting that we take such good care of our ‘jobs’ health but when it comes to self care we have a weird double standard. Taking care of your body is your primary ‘job’! Treat it that way. If you do, you’ll be better at your job, you’ll be better at your relationships, you’ll be better at life. Trust me on this one! Anyway, end rant…

Here’s are my observations thus far:

  1. It’s really frickin’ hard to not eat gluten and be a normal, social person. I eat out fairly frequently. Fortunately in New York City healthy people can kind of get away with that. However, I’m that girl who asks questions and makes substitutions a lot. I deal with hipster glaring all the time, its fine. The main problem with gluten is it’s tricky and hidden in everything since it makes foods thick and tasty. You can find it in everything from salad dressing to soy sauce to seasonings.
  2. Level of sensitivity may vary. I know that this is not a scientific fact, there actually isn’t that much scientific research on all of this GF mayhem yet at all, but based on my experience and a few colleagues that I know who have tried it, I believe that there may be varying levels of sensitivity to gluten. Many people say that it’s all or nothing, and longterm they are probably correct, but I seem to have a pretty good reaction to 80% reduction. If I have a bite of cake or sauce that contains gluten I’m not going to be a hot mess like someone with ceiliac’s may be. If you cut it, you may notice the same positive changes; better digestion, more energy, clearer head, etc. The only way to know for sure is through an elimination diet; go 100% for 6 weeks and then add the culprit back in, you should know pretty quickly if it doesn’t work for you! I call it the gluten hangover now.
  3.  I feel strongly that enjoying what you’re eating is a big deal in your overall wellbeing. This is why diets don’t work. Extreme deprivation usually results in extreme binging. If you are sensitive to something but absolutely feel constrained and are losing friends over it, then really decide if it’s worth it. For me this means that if I go to someones birthday or a wedding I’m most likely going to be lenient on the menu and eat a piece of cake. End of story. I may suffer, but life needs to be fun!
  4.  Gluten Free does NOT necessarily mean healthy– just like there are junk food vegetarians,  there are also gluten free people who eat crap! I love a pretty package as much as the next girl, but we need to take responsibility and be educated consumers. Potato starch, corn starch, tapioca, fillers, binders, not good! Many brands are replacing the gluten with fat and sugars, so watch it, read labels and get educated. 

Going GF should push you to try out Whole Foods– you know, the stuff the Earth makes. As you start to add this good stuff in, the bad stuff really falls by the wayside. Once again, my husband and many of my friends are shining examples of this, they have made dramatic changes just by eating more good stuff.

Ultimately, the overprocessing of wheat isn’t good for anyones body, imagine trying to process information that is translated into a different language and then written backwards on a white board. Sound hard? That’s how your intestines responds to this alien wheat. It’s not pretty.

So what can you do? I recommend adding in organic whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, millet, and buckwheat. This stuff rocks and it’s fun to try out new foods with friends and family.

The good news is there are a lot more resources around Gluten Free living these days. My friend Amanda started an awesome blog that you can check out HERE for great advice and recipes. You can also read ‘Wheat Belly’ by cardiologist William Davis, its a great look at what going gluten free can do for your body, however, be cautious about the foods that Dr. Davis reccomends cutting, it’s basically everything. If you think you can live on vegetables alone, great, if you’re like the rest of the normal World, keep some healthy grains and eat some gluten free products now and then.

Here’s a good list of tips for going Gluten Free as well on Gluten Free Gourmand.

Happy Experimenting!