Update: Was Gluten Free The Way To Be?
|October 25, 2011||Posted by Katy under Health Tips|
Since February, I have been suffering with some stomach issues. The issues included a lack of appetite, feeling sick after eating, feeling full after a few bites, being able to only tolerate liquids like smoothies, or soft foods like yogurt, fatigue, and headaches.
The only time I did not have any problems was during Spring Break when I was in Costa Rica. I had not lost any weight, but knew that something was not quite right.
The summer continued and as I was training for Chicago, I starting having a lot of stomach cramping while running. For weeks I dealt with intense cramps that could stop me mid run.
At the time, I was unsure if the stomach cramps were related to my other stomach issues. I began watching my food intake a bit more closely and started figuring out what foods upset and were less appealing to me than others.
Surprisingly dairy did not upset me (except immediately preceding a run…duh ) nor did soy products, or nuts. Not knowing what else could be the culprit, I started focusing in on other known food allergies.
In July, I decided to try going gluten free, thinking that I may have a slight sensitivity. I never went to a doctor, but figured it would not hurt to try to eliminate it from my diet as best as I could to see if anything changed.
I substituted whole wheat/ grain bread for the gluten free variety and rice cakes, swapped out my oats, and religiously read nutrition labels. I made my best efforts when dining out to avoid gluten (but did not go as far to notify the chef since it wasn’t life threatening).
It has been over three months since I have monitored my gluten intake and wanted to give a little update.
So hows it working out? Well, I’ve noticed some differences, but not much.
I should preface this that I have tried my best to eliminate gluten, but there have been times when I’ve A) forgotten to check a label to find out later that it did have gluten in it or B) want to experience an event/ restaurant without having to nitpick everything. (This was especially true in Philly!)
I would say that I’ve followed a 95% gluten free diet. Overall, my energy levels have increased and I don’t get nearly as many headaches as I used to.
Could it be from the cutting out of gluten? Yes, but I’m more convinced it is because I have cleaned up my diet a lot more. I am more mindful of what I eat and where it comes from. I also read labels more closely and make sure I can pronounce everything on the label. I’m also eating foods that are a bit easier to digest and less rough on my stomach.
As for my lack of appetite and only wanting soft foods- this has come and gone. There are times when everything is normal and I can eat what I want, but then there are other times when I only want soft foods for weeks at a time.
The stomach cramps have been nonexistent since going (nearly) gluten free *knock on wood*, BUT I have to keep in mind that I didn’t run for a long time because of my ankle. Frankly, the stomach cramps could have been more related to training in the Florida heat coupled with poor nutrition and hydration.
My conclusion? I’m on the fence.
There is clearly not enough evidence for me to say that I have a gluten sensitivity and it is causing all of my problems. The only way I am going to get an answer is if I go to a doctor, which I will in time.
Did I feel better and more energetic on a (nearly) gluten free diet? Yes, but I’m sure this also resulted from cleaning my diet up more and being more cautious of what I ate. (I did gain weight in the past few months, but that is an entirely different subject.)
I’m still having stomach issues, but they are not as bad as they were in February. I can live with them until I can get more answers, but I’m not going to stress out about them.
Am I going to continue to eliminate gluten? Sort of.
I’m going to monitor my intake and avoid it when possible, but if I really want a piece of bread or a granola bar, I’m going to eat it. I’m not going to micromanage and be too picky, but if there is the option of gluten free, I will take it over another option.
When traveling, I’m going to allow myself to experience the city, food and all, even if it means some stomach upset at the end of the day.
Experimenting with a gluten free diet has opened my eyes to new foods that I would have never tried before and will keep as a permanent staple in my diet.
I think many people view a gluten free diet as “trendy” (for people who don’t NEED to eat gluten free) and if I later find out that I don’t have a medical reason to go gluten free, I won’t continue. For now, I will be more mindful, but not 100% gluten free until I get answers.
There you have it… going (nearly) gluten free (sort of) worked for me.
Do you eat a gluten free diet? Have you ever tried eliminating something from your diet for a brief period of time? I have respect (and sympathy) for those who have to eat gluten free! It isn’t easy!!!