A few months ago, I learned that I had Hashimoto’s Disease. Oddly enough, it wasn’t associated with any Thyroidism. So, I was feeling tired, anxious, cold – you know – all the symptoms one would feel if they had hypo, but I couldn’t be put on any medication because technically I didn’t have thyrodism. I JUST had Hashimoto’s. If I’m being honest with you, I still don’t understand it.
But I went to two different doctors and they both confirmed. My endocrinologist told me that an OPTION to consider was to eat gluten free. By doing so, it would eliminate all of those hypo symptoms without having to worry about getting on any medication.
And you know what? I did it. I tried it. I jumped in head first and took my entire family with me. I thought two months would be a good test cycle. Anything less and I’m not sure I would be able to truly feel the difference.
Here are my findings:
Going gluten-free can be very expensive. I’m talking excessively and nauseatingly overpriced. Anything that you want to eat that is gluten-free (I’m talking brownies, side dishes, processed food in general) will be at least 30% more than your average food. AND the portions are less.
So, for instance 4 gluten-free brownies are around $6. OR a SMALL box of gluten-free cheddar cheese crackers are around $5.50. And it’s SMALL. Nothing like your family sized Ritz Cracker box that you can snag for 2 for $4 with an addition coupon every other Sunday! The sales just aren’t there. You will pay if you want to buy processed food. YOU WILL PAY. Understand it.
Eat whole food. Plain and simple. Stay away from the boxed food – the processed kind – and simply eat clean. BUT here’s the kicker!!! If you are going to eat clean, you might as well eat organic and well…that gets expensive all over again. So, honestly, my bill was around $250 a week for a family of 5.
What did I buy gluten-free? Every snack, every piece of food that was served for lunch or dinner and everything in between. It was gluten-free and organic. Suck it in folks. That was my true cost. It was pricey. $1K a month on food. WHAT? And that’s not even including ordering in.
What About Going Out To Eat?
I live in NY and cannot speak for the rest of the country. I will tell you that my family goes out to eat ALL THE TIME. Like at least once a week at a minimum and I am being very conservative with that estimate. Almost every restaurant I went to either had a) a separate gluten-free menu OR b) gluten-free options clearly labeled. In fact, in the last two months, there was only one restaurant that I went to that had neither and that was ABC Kitchen in NYC. But the wait staff was very helpful in putting me on the right path. So fear not! You will always have help when you are out in the real world. The Universe is catering to the gluten-free crowd. Unfortunately, that’s because so many people have developed gluten allergies over the last few decades. The restaurant industry has no choice.
Did You Feel Any Different Not Eating Gluten?
Not at first. Truthfully. And not for a few weeks. Know this about me — I am NOT a salad girl. I am someone who will always order the pancakes or the fried chicken or … whatever you really aren’t supposed to be ordering. That’s me. So, this shift was really hard. I made a 180 degree turn. And it was REALLY hard to do it. I expected to see immediate results but that’s just not what took place. Instead, it took quite a bit of time… but it did happen. It truly did. I felt more energy in the late afternoons. I slept better. My skin cleared up. I saw an uptick in my MOOD. I didn’t feel so miserable. Yes, sometimes I can feel a little BLAH. And I was driving one day and noticed that I was feeling rather perky – an emotion I would never have associated with myself. I was shocked. I was driving and feeling good about the day for no apparent reason. That is something that has probably NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE IN MY LIFE. It was at that moment that I realized there really was something to this gluten-free diet. It changed my chemistry.
Like I mentioned above, I was not the best eater in the past. So, it was really hard for me to make this shift. I had to really sit and THINK about what I was going to eat. On a typical day, I would grab a bacon, egg, and cheese (my favorite food on the planet) for breakfast or anything that you can pop in the toaster. Well, that couldn’t happen anymore. I had to now turn to yogurt and smoothies. This was fine – I was able to do that, of course. But I wasn’t enjoying it. I was angrily eating throughout the day. I didn’t make this decision on my own. It wasn’t my choice. So, I was walking along kicking and screaming.
Gluten is found in many things including soy sauce / ginger sauce. This meant that I could no longer have two more of my favorite things – Benihana and a Chinese Chop Chicken Salad from Noodles and Company. When I say they are my favorite, I mean it. So, my top three FAVORITE THINGS were instantly removed from my diet and that was hard to accept. I don’t eat a lot of things. I’m a very simple person and I take great joy in the foods that I love. It was HARD to not eat my bacon in the AM. And it started to make me SAD.
I lost weight. Immediately. About 5 pounds. And like I said before, I wasn’t switching to salads – I was switching my sides to rice and fresh potatoes instead of the boxed au gratin kind. I still ate carbs. I still ate hearty portions. I just changed WHAT I was eating and the weight STILL came off. So, that was something that was nice to see. I am currently 128 pounds and haven’t been this weight since 2006 or so. It’s been a long time and it feels good gosh darn-it!
The End Result:
I think there was a real lesson for me throughout this entire process. I now understand that eating processed food really does have a big impact on the body and I don’t think I will go back to cooking for my family solely by reheating things. The last two months have taught me to cook fresh. Fresh is best. I’m actually happy this happened because I believe my family will benefit from this test for the rest of our lives.
When given the choice, if I like the gluten-free option on the menu, I’m going to opt for it. I’m going to skip the bread bowl unless it’s really fresh and totally worth it. But I don’t think I can live the rest of my life depriving myself of all my favorite foods. The changes in my mood – the impact on my anxiety level and sleeping habits – they weren’t significant enough for me to justify this life change. I am not celiac. I do not HAVE to do this. My doctor suggested the change hoping the results would be enough for me.
I think I am going to make a life change – staying away when I can from over-processed foods because I know there is no real benefit other than convenience. But if I want Benihana or if I want a bowl of pasta when I’m out with my family or a big ol’ slice of NY pizza… you better believe I’m going to have it. Of course it will be far and few in between – but I will have it.
As far as snacks for the house, I’m actually still going to continue to buy gluten-free for the kids. There’s no reason to give them more gluten if I can avoid it. And my side dishes will continue to be fresh, like I said. I really did have an eye opener! But I am no longer going to be ordering gluten-free pizza for myself when we place a delivery order on Friday night for the family. So, I guess you can say that I am going to take a little away from this experiment and walk away a better eater… but not gluten-free.
Do you eat Gluten Free? Is it a choice or is it a requirement because of an allergy? Do you feel like it impacts the way you feel ? Would love to hear your thoughts.