Flash back to the first day I went grocery shopping with a gluten free diet in mind. I spent the 5 hour flight from Pittsburgh to San Francisco last Labor Day reading the book, It Starts With Food. Their approach to diet is strict paleo. No grains, no processed foods, no white sugar, I can go on... I was crazy overwhelmed by such a drastic diet change that just removing the gluten and dairy seemed easy in comparison. But their message was important — I could heal my body of disease by changing my diet.
It was a scary idea. It would be the biggest change I'd make since being diagnosed but looking back, it's the best and easiest decision I've ever made.
I did paleo for about a week (failed on no grains!), added the dairy back in after about a month (I missed cheese!) but I've kept the gluten free going ever since. I eat plenty of quinoa, rice and even the occasional gluten free bread to make up for what I've given up. I noticed a huge difference in my body without it. I've been tested for allergies to wheat and not even an intolerance comes back, but it still changes everything.
When you first start, the trick is to learn to eat properly without gluten free products first. They are typically higher in sugar and other junk that replace the gluten in their recipes. Once you've got the diet figured out without them, then you can add those products in as treats without being dependent.
Trust me, I am known to get local gluten free pizza from the local pizzeria once a week, eat a whole loaf of gluten free toast when I'm sick, or cook up quinoa or brown rice pasta for dinner often.
I also cheat on my GF diet altogether sometimes (office donuts are literally the worst temptation!) when the occasion calls for it but I can definitely feel it! Instead of getting a stomach ache like those with Celiac do, I feel brain fog, fatigue and heaviness in my shoulders and upper spine similar to feeling a caffeine withdrawal. The next morning my fingers are usually puffier and creakier. It all subsides but it's enough to keep me from cheating often or with big portions.
I could go on and on about the success I've had with removing gluten from my diet and what I've learned along the way but I'll break it up into future posts. For now, check out my Resources page for resources to get you inspired!