Gluten-free is no longer a trend, it's a movement. You've likely heard many health experts and celebs alike touting the benefits of going gluten-free. Why? Because for many people going gluten-free has a profound effect on their health and well-being and when you feel better, look better, think better it's very motivating to stay on that path of betterment!
Before I share ways gluten may be affecting you let me first preface this by saying I'm not 100% gluten-free, but I'm mostly gluten-free. I have personally benefited from eating less gluten and would never go back to eating it at every meal like I used to years ago. But the same advice goes for all foods. You can become intolerant to the foods you eat most often. Variety is the spice of life and essential for a healthy body.
Here are four ways I personally benefiting from ditching my gluten addiction.
Better BM's = bowel movements.
Heavy gluten meals make me constipated. This is the most significant area of positive change for me.
Constipation leads to bloating because fecal matter hanging out in your large intestine provides a feast for yeast and bad bacteria. Eliminate regularly and effectively and you are much less likely to suffer from bloating.
Bumps on the back of my arms disappeared.
When I used to eat a gluten-heavy meal I would almost feel fuzzy-headed and had trouble concentrating. Not fun when you haven't even had a glass of bubbly!
For those who have a severe intolerance or you are 1 in 133 people who have celiac disease, being "mostly" gluten-free is simply not an option as you need to be 100%.
If you are considering going gluten-free to see how your body responds, I highly recommend it! As mentioned above, I'm not 100% gluten-free as you may have noticed from my instagram feed. My body is able to handle some gluten proteins because I don't eat it very often. But on a day to day basis I'm mostly gluten-free and it makes a heck of a difference in my health and well-being.
Here are 8 signs gluten may be affecting you:
1. Digestive issues.
Gluten can cause a whole range of digestive symptoms everything from gas, to bloating, constipation and the opposite, diarrhea. It can even cause pain such as cramping and IBS symptoms. Receiving a diagnosis of IBS may very well be a hidden gluten intolerance.
2. Headaches or migraines.
A very common cause of migraines and headaches are food sensitivities like gluten (and dairy too).
3. Joint Pain.
Inflammation is a root cause of pain and gluten promotes inflammation for many people. I've seen countless clients and participants of the Joyous 10 Day Detox tell me they no longer have pain in their joints since removing gluten from their diet.
4. Mood changes.
Anxiety or irrational mood changes can be attributed to gluten. Foods you are sensitive to can promote the release of cortisol as food sensitivities stimulate the sympathetic nervous system mode.
5. Food addiction and/or Cravings.
According to Dr. William Davis author of Wheat Belly, gluten has peculiar appetite-stimulating effects due to the opiate-like compounds unique to wheat. This makes breads and pasta very addictive.
6. Chicken Skin.
As mentioned above, this was something I suffered from for decades! You may have tried fancy lotions and potions, dry skin brushing and nothing seems to work. Gluten can cause something called Keratosis Pilaris. This is caused by excessive production of keratin in the skin. It's harmless, but it's not pretty.
7. Autoimmune diseases such as Lupus, MS, Rheumatoid arthritis and more.
8. Weight gain.
Dr. Mark Hyman explains how food sensitivities make us fat in this article. Anyone who is heavier than they would like to be likely has inflammation going on. For me personally, cutting out dairy eliminating my face puffiness within a day.
I'm going to address some commonly asked questions on going gluten-free.
How long should I remove gluten-containing foods for?
Remove gluten-containing foods for a minimum of two weeks. Offending foods include the obvious suspects such as wheat, rye, oats (unless "gluten-free") and barley which are found in breads, cereals and pastas. You'll need to read the labels of all packaged foods. Track your symptoms on a food journal. You can download a food journal here. You may want to consider a food sensitivity test.
My health practitioner told me that cutting out gluten is unhealthy and I won't get any fiber. Is this true?
This is false. If you ditch gluten containing foods in favour of gluten-free ice cream sandwiches and various GF refined products then you are no better off so that above statement would then be true. However, you need to still eat plenty of plant-based foods like vegetables and fruits and enjoy gluten-free grains such as millet, brown rice, quinoa in moderation. The key is to eat "whole foods"! By the way, not everyone thrives on a diet high in grains, even when gluten-free. This is why tracking your diet on a food journal helps create awareness on how foods make you feel.
What do I eat?
There are hundreds of recipes here on Joyous Health that are gluten-free. In fact you can search using the "gluten-free" search tab for breakfasts, main dishes or whatever you heart desires! Join the Joyous 10 Day Detox and pick up a copy of my book "Joyous Health: Eat and Live Well Without Dieting" for delicious recipes!
I've discovered how much better I feel without gluten, what do I do now? Can I eat gluten ever again?
Everyone is different. Some people need to completely avoid it to feel their best or take a break for at least 6 months to allow the body to heal and inflammation to go down. However, that doesn't guarantee that that the next time you eat it you'll experience all the symptoms above. As I mentioned above, I can eat it occasionally without symptoms. I know if I eat it regularly my symptoms such as constipation will come back but for me, the occasional spelt crust pizza from Pizza Libretto causes no symptoms. Eating sprouted gluten breads and pastas is a wonderful option for many. You can still enjoy these foods because when wheat is sprouted is far more digestible. But again, everyone is different and you need to track your food intake and symptoms to figure out where you fall in the gluten intolerance spectrum.
The key is to listen to your body as it will always provide you with signs and symptoms when something is off. Listen carefully so you don't end up being forced to listen because it's screaming!
Do you have a questions for me about gluten? Ask in the comment section below and I will be happy to answer it for you!
Many feel that being forced not to eat gluten is a like a life in prison. I couldn't disagree with this more! When I realized that gluten was a problem for me, I was worried at first that there would be nothing for me to eat but the opposite is true! In fact, there are hundreds of gluten-free foods that are nourishing, delicious and wonderful -- come on over and look in my kitchen pantry and fridge and you'll see what I mean :)
My book Joyous Health as you might know is mostly gluten-free with the exception of a few recipes with spelt flour. As are most of the recipes here on Joyous Health.
Have a joyous day!