Breaking [from] Bread: Going Against The Grain

Gluten-Free…For Me?

Question: “What do you call a fake noodle?”Answer: “An impasta!” Ha!

Ok. Let’s talk gluten. No, let’s talk gluten-free. Gluten. Free. I gotta admit, those are two words I never thought I’d ever associate with me. Yet, in January I received blood work results which , while returning negative for Celiac Disease, showed a possible issue with gluten. Rather than undergo further [and expensive] testing, I decided to just eliminate it and see what happened. Would I notice a difference? It certainly couldn’t hurt to get rid of some excess carbs. Diabetes runs in my family, so reducing anything that turns into excess sugar couldn’t be that bad.

The main reason I sought help in the first place was to try to reduce my migraines. I am tired of being overly cautious about what I eat and drink, when I eat and drink, and how I eat and drink. Granted, my migraines have lessened in severity in the past couple of years,  so I am now often able to function through them rather than having to slip into a quiet room to close my eyes for hours Рor even days Рon end. However, they have also become more frequent. Instead of 1-2 migraines per month I now may have 5-6 less severe ones. Neither way is any way to live. I was hoping to find a way to further minimize them. Blood work was the first step.

Long story short, at the end of January I cut the cord on gluten after receiving my results. I must say, it was not as difficult as I had imagined. We eat a lot of brown rice and quinoa with our meals anyway, so it was not too hard to leave bread and pasta off of the menu. Okay, I lied a little. The pasta part was harder, and I struggled more with that one. But I was surprised about the bread. I experimented with gluten-free breads and found one that’s not so bad to use for toast or bread crumbs, but I have not found any that I’m in love with for a basic dinner roll. The gluten-free ones are just not the same. Not yet anyway. I welcome any suggestions…

The Results Are In…

The big question: Did I notice any results? I was surprised, but YES! Where I noticed those results was even more surprising than the fact that I noticed anything at all. Within three days of eliminating gluten I began to have the best sleep since I was in my 20s. Seriously. Three days was all it took. Now, I go to bed, fall asleep, and STAY asleep. To be honest, I can’t remember ever sleeping so well. And I dream now. I suppose I have always dreamed, but only rarely did I ever remember anything I dreamt about. I have vivid dreams now. Again – Amazing!

The other thing I’ve noticed is that my skin is so much less itchy. I had been to a dermatologist a few years ago and she told me it was something that often happened to women as they aged (thank you Age Gods!). She said she could prescribe a steroid-based cream, but other than that there wasn’t much she could do to help. I passed on the cream and have just dealt with it. Until now.

Honestly, I had not noticed that change until I accidentally had a bite of something with gluten at a dinner about three weeks into my experiment. It was only one bite, but that night I slept poorly. The next day my skin was super itchy, which is when I realized how much of my skin issue had cleared after giving up gluten. Have I used the word “amazing” yet? A-mazing!

Right before Easter, which was about 2 months in on my GF trial, I decided to add a little gluten back into my life and see what would happen. I had not noticed any digestive issues with or without the gluten, so I figured I could eat a bit of my traditional Easter Coconut Cake, knowing I could expect sleep/skin issues for a little bit after. To my surprise, I did not have any sleep issues, though my skin did react some.

This past week we went to an Italian restaurant for dinner and I ordered a pasta dish for my main meal. I had been craving pasta for weeks. Seriously, I even dreamed about it one night (now that I am dreaming!). I ordered it and savored every bite. Every. Single. Bite. And I still slept that night, though admittedly not quite as well. Perhaps an entire meal of pasta (hence: gluten) is not the best idea, especially nearing bedtime. But it certainly sated my urge for some serious carbs. That is a trade-off I was willing to make.

My plan for now is to occasionally indulge. Most of the time I will eat gluten-free, enjoying the blissful nights of sleep and nicer skin. But every once in a while I’ll give in to temptation. Just a tad…