Saturday, March 8, 2014

Why gluten free?

I ended up gluten-free by accident 2 1/2 to 3 years ago.

I went on a work trip with my son for not quite 5 days. He was doing Atkins. I wasn't dieting but chose to support his efforts by eating along for the trip. Being a vegetarian my choices were rather narrow when it came to eating out, which is what we had to do the entire 5 days.

We worked long days non-stop. Dinner was after 8 p.m., breakfast around 5 a.m. Lunch choices at the show zip so we ate almonds, sunflower seeds, veggies. He ate meat and cheese snacks.

I expected to be drained. Instead I was energized.

My afternoon slump went away. Digestive issues vanished. I slept great (of course, I attributed that to working my butt off all day!). I was working harder than I'd ever worked, standing on my feet for close to 12-hours straight and feeling better than I had at any time in the past gee-I-lost-count number of years.

When I got home I decided I really liked the way I felt. I realized I had gone cold-turkey in regards to sugar and carbs during those five days and survived. I was over the worst of the cravings, made easier by being engaged with work and people all day so I couldn't obsess over what I WASN'T eating. Or what I WANTED to eat.

However, I knew I'd never stick with a "diet". I needed a lifestyle of eating and living that didn't make me feel deprived. I didn't want to count calories or keep charts or think about food all day.

I did some research and settled on gluten-free. It would allow me to eat rice, potatoes, some carbs so I could eat fairly "normal" and have options when I went out. Once I educated myself I wouldn't have to think about it much (except, I've found, when I go out to eat).

I also decided to stay sugar-free. That was probably a tougher choice in some ways as sugar is in everything we buy these days. I'll write about that on another day.

It's a way of eating that worked for me. I don't look at pasta and crave it. I don't go out and see those gooey desserts and drool. The few times I do see something that remotely tempts me I remind myself of all those aches and pains that vanished completely. I think about how much I now accomplish because I have energy. I think about how well I sleep. The list goes on.

Oh, and just a side note, I also dropped well over 60 pounds without ever feeling deprived. I didn't go gluten-free to lose weight. It didn't even cross my mind that I would lose weight. However, a month or so into my new eating lifestyle, I got up one day, put on a pair of pants and found they'd stretched. My shirts had gotten bigger, too. Pretty soon I was at the store shopping for smaller sizes. It became fun to shop for clothes again.

I know that I won't ever go back. I don't care that many think of gluten-free as a "fad". I like the way I feel way too much.

- Janet McGregor Dunn is an artist and web designer. Her art can be found at

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