In November, I decided to go gluten-free for a month. Let me preface this analysis of my gluten-free trial by saying that a lot of people do this as a fad just like with many other diets. Some people do it because it makes them seem fancy, and some do it because people around them are doing it. But what does it really mean to live a gluten-free life? What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein contained in wheat, barley, and rye. It is not something contained in carbs, like you may have heard. Some people's bodies cannot process this protein (they have something called Celiac disease), or cannot process it regularly. Some others are allergic to gluten as well, and may react to it when they eat things that contain gluten. Medically, these are pretty much the biggest reasons to go gluten-free.
Why did I do it? I have friends who did not realize that they had Celiac disease until they went off gluten, and now they swear that they feel so different. I thought that if it would make me feel better, it was probably worth a shot, right? Plus, since I love bread so much, not eating bread, biscuits, and other wheat-based products for a month seemed like a very good idea.
Here is what I learned:
- Living gluten-free is easy in New York, but difficult in many other places. NYC has restaurants with gluten-free menus, stores with gluten-free sections, etc. It is the city of everything and so they make room for everyone. But trying to go gluten-free while I was on the road in other cities was not quite as easy.
- Living gluten-free is expensive. When you are presented with may options, like gluten-free bread and gluten-free pizza, you take them because it makes you feel like you are not missing out. But these same products tend to cost much more than the regular products. I was so shocked at my first grocery bill!
- It may sound healthy, but if you are going to end up eating gluten-free versions of the same foods, it is not as healthy as it seems. For example, gluten-free bread contains a bunch of stuff I cannot pronounce and is not healthier than regular bread. So my body is actually not thanking me one bit.
- Your friends will hate you if they are not gluten-free. If every place you go to eat has to have gluten-free options, be prepared to be left out of some plans because your friends don't want to tiptoe around you. My friends practically begged me not to take on this experiment for life.
- My body is absolutely fine processing gluten. I did not feel any different, which means I do not have Celiac disease and my body is fine processing gluten.
- I did not eat healthier while living the lifestyle. In fact, there were days where I had 20 minutes for lunch and I would have grabbed a great sandwich. But because I couldn't eat the bread, I ended up eating something much worse.
After looking at all these facts, I did not feel there was any reason to continue. It was harder and it wasn't helping my diet. If you are considering going gluten-free, don't do it to follow the crowd. Be informed about what it is, and if it would help your diet. Gluten-free is not about losing weight. It is about a disease.
On the plus side, I did end up eating a lot of quinoa, which I adore :)
Cheers Eights & Weights!