I’ve been gluten-free for over a month now, and wow, do I feel so much better. It makes me wonder why it took me so long, but oh well. We had a few things going on.
The last time I went gluten-free was in South Asia, in a desperate attempt to get to the bottom of my illness, and I blogged about it here. I can’t even describe how much easier it is to follow a gluten-free diet in the U.S. It’s not just the access to Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, with their glorious gluten-free aisles, but it’s also having several friends around me who follow a similar diet, with whom I can regularly debrief, commiserate, and get inspired with.
But I will never, ever forget my girl friends in South Asia: Keli and Maggie and Asha and Alison and Priya and Amanda. Those amazing ladies cheered me on and cooked for me and scoured our city for gluten-free products. And I’ll never forget my friends and family back home, who encouraged me and spent their hard-earned money to send me gluten-free care packages. I still get a little teary when I think about how well-loved I was in those hard, hard days.
I feel great. While my headaches and my stomach feel much better, the biggest difference is a little hard to describe: it’s this clearness in my whole body. I guess the opposite would be feeling like I was achey and in a fog before. I’m gaining more and more energy, and when I go jogging I have so much more stamina. It feels wonderful.
I’ve cheated several times, at least once a week probably (it nearly always happens when we’re eating out). But I feel so crummy afterward (usually a bad headache the next day), that the temptations to cheat are losing their power.
I’m also for the most part dairy-free. For some reason that’s the hard one this time around. Mostly because English Breakfast tea had replaced my morning cup of coffee and I must have milk in my English Breakfast tea. I haven’t found a coffee-replacement I just love, and that’s hard. I treat myself to decaf sometimes when I’m out, but there’s still a low point every single morning when I wake up and face the lack of coffee. Pathetic, I know.
Are you ready for the moment of truth?
I love feeling so great, I love our journey toward a whole foods diet. But, friends, it’s hard.
I wish I could write a post that tells you it’s every bit as easy to cook from scratch and eat a healthful diet.
But I can’t. It’s a lot more work. The latest thing I did away with is breakfast cereal. Just went ahead and stopped buying it. So now I wake up and my day starts with cooking–a full breakfast for my kids (usually fruit and eggs and homemade bread). I’m not asking my family to eat gluten-free this time around, so often mealtimes involve cooking separate things for them and myself. And although there are endless gluten-free options in the supermarket, most don’t fit the definition of “whole food” (single ingredient), or “minimally processed” (five ingredients or less, no preservatives).
We have no dishwasher. So between the cooking and the washing dishes, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen.
I realize that I sound so whiny right now, or like I’m trying impress you with my domesticity. I’m not at all. Just trying to keep it real. It’s a lot of work and some days I bitterly resent the work. Some days I bitterly resent pulling a loaf of piping hot whole wheat bread from the oven and not even getting to taste it.
But you know what?
Somehow, even with all the work, I feel more committed than ever to our food journey. I’m seeing the results in our family, and I like what I see. Not only am I feeling way better on my diet, but taking away packaged/processed foods is slowly but surely changing the kids.
They are willing to try new things more readily. Both have become huge fruit fans. It’s a slow process, mind you, filled with lots of complaining. But I really, really do see a difference in them. I love having conversations about why it’s important to eat whole foods regularly and save others just for fun treats, how it fuels their body and helps them grow big and strong.
And, underneath all the tiredness and complaining, I find I’m enjoying food more than ever now. I’ve come alive to the taste of all the fruits and vegetables we’re eating, I’m enjoying trying new recipes. Cooking becomes simpler with quality ingredients. Food genuinely inspires me in a way it never did before.
So why am I telling you all this? I guess just to say: I’m a real person. I love our new lifestyle, but I also get exhausted by it. To those of you who beat yourselves up for not making more changes to your family’s eating habits: don’t. To my friends who are working full-time or preggo or nursing a baby or running around after a toddler, I say, “Give yourself a break. You have your hands full as it is!” You can make these changes when the time is right. Or very slowly.
David regularly brings me back to reality by saying, “Remember, let’s focus on the positive–let’s still enjoy that Five Guys burger and also keep trying to slowly add good foods to our home.” And he also brings me back by saying, “I think it’s a boxed cereal kinda week.” I’m so thankful for him.