When I first learned that I needed to quit gluten and dairy to help manage my autoimmune disease Alopecia Areata, I’m not going to lie, I was totally freaking out. No more Bread and cheese? No more pizza, pasta with parmesan, pastries, grill cheese, mac & cheese, lasagna; the list of deep-seated comfort foods that I was no longer able to find comfort in when all I needed was comfort, felt never-ending. I definitely wallowed in that new diet depression you get for a few days.
But what I didn’t realize was how good I would feel without them in my life, particularly gluten. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely went through some withdrawal symptoms, which makes sense given that wheat creates opiates in the brain, the same way a good shot of heroin would (disclaimer: I do not condone heroin use and cannot confirm said ‘goodness’). But I made it through the rough patch and within a few weeks my sleep, energy levels, bloating, digestion issues and skin had improved dramatically. I even started to see a bright white peach fuzz come in across my recently BIC’d scalp (see blog post 1 for that crazy story). Here I was, thinking gluten-free was just a trendy low carb diet… whoa, was I wrong!
Going gluten-free is not for everyone but it changed my life for the better and now that I’ve learned how closely it’s linked to chronic inflammatory, preventative disease, I’m happy to be able to share some of the facts with you. Below is a list of over 50 autoimmune diseases that are directly associated with wheat and gluten consumption. And guess what? Only about 5% of your chance of getting one is linked to your genetics. The other 95%? Well that's on you. Diet and lifestyle are actually the leading factors in whether these conditions decide to manifest or not. Note: both of my autoimmune diseases, Alopecia, and Psoriasis are on the list.
In hindsight, it seems obvious to me now. I was experiencing major bloating, gas and chronic constipation on a daily basis. I was lethargic, fuzzy brained and prone to psoriasis on my knees, torso, eyelids, and scalp. My body was ridden with inflammation and I somehow didn’t realize it until most of my damn hair fell out! I share this story with you not to persuade you to go gluten-free but to inform you - so you can decide what’s best for you. For years I walked around out of tune with my body. I had a constant gut ache; I actually thought it was normal to look 5 months pregnant at the end of the day. Um, not normal! As a holistic health coach in training, one of the biggest pieces of advice I can offer you is: learn to listen to your body. If you feel like crap or break out in a rash after eating something, listen up! Your body is telling you something!
And the truth is, if the only repercussion to eating a fresh, glutinous pastry was bloating and a tummy ache, I probably would have been tempted to keep eating gluten. But as you can see from my story (and that long list of preventative disease above) - shit can get a lot worse, real quick, if you consistently ignore what your body is telling you. Here's some practical advice: If you feel something you’re eating might not be vibing with you, keep a food diary for a few days to track everything you eat and jot down how you feel after meals.
If you’re convinced something is up, the only way to know for sure is to do a proper elimination diet. Sounds overwhelming but it’s actually quite simple: all you need to do is remove the suspected irritant entirely from your diet for 28 days, then reintroduce it and eat it often for 2-3 days straight. If you feel like shit, voila! You've discovered the culprit and the power is in your hands. It’s up to you to decide what matters then. If it's the instant gratification of that fresh, doughy donut- all the power to you, eat that shit up! But if it’s the long-term health of your body and keeping preventative disease at bay, I hope you’ll think of my story and be able to say peace out to whatever is no longer serving you with grace and confidence.
PS. If you're sick of feeling like crap, ready to make positive diet and lifestyle changes and want some support, I got you! Book a free consultation through the homepage of my website and let's get you living your best life!
- Lisa xx