Friday, June 11, 2010

Why am I Gluten Free and Should I Stay that Way?

When trying out a gluten elimination diet, a 60 day trial is usually what is recommended. Well, it’s been 60 days. I’ve found avoiding gluten to be not as difficult as I would have imagined. The only time I really freaked out was at the wedding last weekend. I was cranky and hungry when we got to the reception and consciously made the choice to dig into the bread basket. That night I had a roll and a half and about a cup of spaghetti. Not exactly a “breaking my diet” binge. I didn’t feel any sort of urge to go all out or overindulge since I’d already given myself permission to “eat what I wanted”. And although there was lovely wedding cake, donuts, and other dessert-goodness, I was simply too full by that point to be interested. This all just reinforced to me that avoiding gluten was a choice I was making to see if it would improve how I felt, not a diet. I had none of the diet-breaking symptoms. This was fantastic news. One thing I did notice was that I craved a bagel the next morning when I smelled Cute Man toasting one. I decided to not go for it, then, so it definitely wasn’t an all-encompassing undeniable urge. I’ve remained gluten free since and it’s been fine.

My question, though, is: what is the purpose? Am I achieving what I sought out to do? I reviewed my first post about going GF from back in April and realized that I haven’t seen any improvement in the physical symptoms I described. The biggest is the heartburn and that is still raging, I must say. TUMS remains my friend and I’m living with it. The other things I mentioned all remain the same, too. With the gluten free trial period completed, I would expect to see some sort of difference. I realize that these things don’t happen right away, but after two months, I’d think I’d see something. So, it’s really an opportunity cost thing. For the inconvenience of avoiding this food, what I am getting? Nothing really that I can see.

I also need to balance these health concerns with my dieting history and make sure I’m not doing it in order to somehow continue to restrict my eating. I must admit that I hoped that avoiding wheat would have a “happy side-effect” of not exactly weight loss, but maybe leave me less bloated and more comfortable in my clothes… Well, the bridesmaid dress was definitely tighter last week than it was before the GF experiment. I’m not beating myself up about that or anything, it’s just a fact. So that hope (whether it was a healthy one or not) went out the window, too. As a result, I feel like I need to return to Intuitive Eating basics and stop the GF restriction at this time. It’s not helping me and may actually be triggering a bit of my ‘fantasy of finding the answer to my weight related woes’ issue. I can say that I’m fine with being fat all I want, but it’s a hard road to follow within our culture. I recognize that dieting has never had a lasting positive impact on my life but making peace with my body is an ongoing process.

Moving forward, I’m continuing to focus on treating my body well. I’ve been upping my yoga practice and enjoying it at home more often as well as my classes at work. I want to add more walking in my daily life but I’m otherwise pleased with my ability and inclination toward activity (it’s no longer something I should do, rather it’s something I want to do because it feels good). This is a huge shift for me! I also know that keeping processed foods to a minimum helps me feel better, too, so that will continue. As for the continuing heartburn, it is what it is. For now, I think medicating with TUMS isn’t the end of the world. I’ll mention it to my doctor the next time I’m there and see if she has any ideas. It’s time to give myself a break and just trust I know how to feed myself: Eat when hungry, stop when full. I can do that!


Christie {Honoring Health} said...

I'm sorry that the gluten free hasn't solved your heartburn issues but it looks like you learned a lot from it.


Thanks, Christie! I certainly did learn a lot. I’m really enjoying your recent posts about IE. The refresher is great for me right now.

Shannon said...


I just found out you had this blog and I have to say, I have enjoyed reading about your experiences.

It sounds like heartburn/acid reflux has been an issue for you. I actually watched a really interesting show on PBS recently that featured Dr. Christianne Northrup of, "Women's Bodies Women's Wisdom" fame. She talked about GERD and heartburn and what she had to share was very interesting.

She said you can completely eliminate these conditions simply by reducing your sugar intake. I've struggled with this issue too and took heed of her advice. The result? I no longer suffer from acid reflux or heartburn anymore.

It was great because I didn't have to eliminate anything, just cut back on my sugar consumption. What a difference! Dr. Northrup was saying how everyone seems to think that these conditions are related to excessive fat intake, but she said it simply isn't true. These conditions are related to an overconsumption of sugar. Just a little food for thought. I thought I'd share that with you. If you decide to experiment with this I hope it helps you as much as it has helped me.


Thanks, Shannon. That makes a lot of sense. One thing that led me to originally suspect gluten was that I saw a decrease in acid reflux while dieting in the past. I figured that in the effort to curtail calories, I most likely cut back on starches/carbs (often gluten containing ones). However, the same logic could be applied to sugar. It can’t hurt to ease off the sugar so I may try that soon. For now, I’m just trying to not consciously restrict anything so that I can tune in to my intuitive eating a bit more. But as we know, IE isn’t eating everything I want, it’s eating what makes me feel the best overall. I’m just trying to be gentle with myself for a bit before doing another experiment.