The World Without Gluten

hold-the-glutenThis blog is supposed to be about things I do like rather than things I don’t like. But, up until almost twelve weeks ago, I was in love with gluten. I love bread, pasta, doughnuts, cookies, cakes, pizza crust…I could go on. What’s not to love? Gluten is that lovely little protein that holds your favorite foods together…literally. It’s what gives your dough elasticity; it’s what helps your baked goods rise; it’s what makes your cookies nice and chewy. So why would one even want to imagine a world without gluten?

I’m a migraine sufferer, that’s why. For the last seven years, I have dealt with debilitating migraines that have affected my work and my life. I’ve been to about a half dozen doctors, kept a food and lifestyle diary, tried to combat the migraines with exercise, tried a dozen prescriptions and variations of vitamins, had CT scans, and an MRI. Some things worked better than others, but the truth of the matter is that some people just have migraines and have to learn to live with them. I’m one of those people. But, if I’m going to have to learn to live with migraines, I want to at least do everything I can to stop taking time-outs from life because of them. And though I embrace Western Medicine, I’d prefer not to take my super RX every couple of weeks. I prefer a more natural approach when possible.

I know gluten-free diets are trendy now, but after reading about the connections between gluten and the nervous system, I figured I have nothing to lose by changing the way I eat. Never have I ever thought that I have Celiac Disease, but the possibility of a gluten sensitivity or intolerance seemed more likely the more I thought about it. I always felt sick after a big bowl of pasta or carb-loaded meal. I thought that was just normal.

I basically gave up all gluten overnight. It was easier than I thought, but I soon became aware of those sneaky foods that had hidden gluten. The first week or so was the most difficult as my body (and family) adjusted to my new diet. I felt generally OK, but I couldn’t tell much of a difference physically. After a month, I still got a couple migraines. They didn’t seem as intense, but they were still there. Fast-forward to present day and I can say that I am seeing an improvement. I recently went 26 days between migraines! That’s huge for me! Just four, fix, six months ago, I was getting a migraine every 10-17 days. To give this “treatment” a fair chance, I want to see how I’m doing after six months, but I have to say that I’m pleased with the results after only three. (Note: I have cheated just to see if this was all in my head or note. The two times I cheated – once with a piece of bread, and again with a cookie – I felt very sick afterwards with flu-like symptoms. Both times, I was OK after a few hours.)

If you’ve ever read my blog then you know my passion for baking. With this new diet comes new baking recipes and challenges, so you have that to look forward to. My first gluten-free week, I prepared a bunch of recipes to get me through breakfasts and lunches for the work week. I’ll post the ones I tried and what I thought of them soon. In the meantime, here are some interesting articles if you’d like to learn more about gluten and/or the connection with migraines and the nervous system. Happy reading!

More Info about Gluten
Why 80% of People Worldwide will Soon Stop Eating Wheat
Migraines Linked to Celiac Disease and Non-Celiac Sensitivity
The Effects of Gluten on the Brain and Nervous System
How Does Gluten Affect the Brain?