I am not generally a fan of food trends. I don’t follow the latest crazes (acai berry, anyone?) My Dad always taught us, “All things in moderation, including moderation.”
I eat meat, dairy, wheat, veggies, fruits, cookies and just about everything in between. I am, in a word, an omnivore.
But I am also the friend of some very intelligent, highly informed, super healthy women. When they talk about nutrition, they know of what they speak.
The upshot of these friendships is that I am now living a gluten free life.
The thing is. I don’t have a particular difficulty with wheat. My digestive system is generally pretty reliable, as long as I go easy on the brussel sprouts and black beans.
But I do have fibromyalgia, and I complain a lot. So on one of our women’s getaways we were talking about all of the potential effects of gluten. Most of the women in the room had researched gluten intolerance. In fact, 6 out of the 8 of my pals were not eating gluten anymore.
“You should try the gluten free diet, ” said my brilliant actually-a-real-live-nurse friend Karen. “It might make a big difference with your inflammatory issues.”
“I lost a lot of weight once I stopped eating wheat,” added our equally brilliant (and very tiny) friend Cindy.
So. What could I do?
I came home from our weekend and decided to try it out. How hard could it be to stop eating wheat?
First of all, I’m Italian. Pasta is my middle name.
Second of all, I am a food snob. I refuse to eat things that are processed and preserved and all that. No fake gluten free pizza dough for this woman!
So I stopped my morning toast, my noon time sandwich, my crackers for snack and my pasta for dinner. I happily ate my meat and more fruits and veggies than usual. I was careful to add in gluten free carbs, like quinoa and rice.
Healthiness, here I come!
Within two days I was shaking. My palms were sweaty. I felt weak. And that reliable digestive system? Holy rumbling grumbles. I wanted a bagel. I wanted ravioli. I wanted toast.
I wanted salt.
By day four, I found myself salivating at the thought of potato chips. I bought a bag of “Skinny Pop” and ate it. I was craving fries. Pretzels. I kept adding salt to my pots of quinoa.
By day six, I noticed that I was tasting things more sharply. Adding a little cumin to my chicken marinade made me feel like Giada DeLaurentiis (without the perky boobs.) A bit of turmeric on my saffron rice? Magnificent!
And by day 7, I had lost three pounds.
What the hell.
I wanted my bagels back, but….three pounds in a week?
As week two got underway, I noticed that I was still shaky, still feeling weak and still craving salt. And the digestion issues were not getting better. Ugh. I would have quit right then, but….three pounds.
So I reached out to my wise women of the village. My super healthy, super aware friend Maureen said, “Your body needs time to adjust. Stay with it.”
It’s now week three.
I have lost another two pounds. I have mastered the fine points of preparing both quinoa and polenta, neither of which I thought I’d ever achieve. I feel fine. The rumbles and grumbles from my slightly smaller belly have subsided.
But my fibromyalgia and the aches and pains that go with it are unchanged. My energy level is unchanged. Stuff still hurts.
So now what do I do?
Well, I certainly have given all of this some thought.
While I don’t believe that gluten or wheat are hurting me, I sure do wonder how much salt I am taking in with my store bought bread items. I definitely know that bread fills me in a way that other foods don’t, which is why I think I am losing a bit of weight.
Here is my plan.
I am going to limit my wheat consumption to a few times a week. And I’m going to go back to baking my own bread. I even have a yeast free sourdough starter going. I’ll skip the crackers with my cheese and will eat carrots instead. Or olives. Or fennel!
I’ll enjoy my newfound quinoa and polenta skills. Maybe I’ll even master lentil salad. Who knows?
I feel happy to have tried this food adventure. I can tell myself that I did what I could to control the fibromyalgia aches. I have learned that commercial breads, muffins, bagels are loaded with salt and sugar.
At last, at last, I can whip up a batch of quinoa or a big pot of polenta and cheese with basil.
So even though we are heading into the hot part of the year, I’m going to renew my efforts to make my own pasta (which has a really unpredictable success rate), my own bread and my own (yes, I mean it) bagels.
And I’m going to NOT give in to my potato chip cravings.
Instead I’ll eat an entire jar of pickles.
Thanks, wise women of my village! I love youse!