The first few days and weeks of life on a gluten free diet are tough. You’re not sure what to eat. Lots of the food in your pantry is full of gluten. And, many of your favorite comfort foods are off-limits just when you really need some comfort. But, there is hope. Here are seven things that we* enjoy about being on a gluten free diet.
We feel a lot better
Many people with celiac and/or gluten sensitivity begin to feel better within days of going gluten free. For me, it took one day for all of the painful symptoms to go away, and within a week or so I could tell that additional healing was taking place. Depending on the severity of the damage to your celia, it may take a while for you to become well-nourished again. But, celebrate the fact that you are going to feel great.
We are more aware of our bodies
As you come off of gluten, you become aware of how your body is beginning to function differently. You’re able to link changes in your body to changes in your diet. For us, this consciousness has carried over to other aspects of our diet. We are better able to notice whether foods make us feel good or bad, whether they give us energy or take it away. Once you’ve eliminated gluten, this increased awareness should help you identify any further food allergies and see if there other steps you can take to improve your diet.
We eat very few processed foods.
Most processed foods contain gluten or potential gluten sources. If you’re used to cooking with processed foods as we were, then the initial transition is going to be a big adjustment. But the upside is that most of those processed foods are not good for you anyway. We had a ton of bad foods taken out of our diet without having to “diet”. As a result, I haven’t had to diet to lose my baby weight. It’s been coming off slowly but steadily.
We eat a lot more whole foods
Once the processed foods were out, the whole foods came in. Our diet now consists of non-wheat whole grains, beans, vegetables, fruit, and some dairy and eggs. We have found that whole foods taste so much more than the processed foods that we were accustomed to eating. Food can be very flavorful on a gluten free diet!
Our food horizons have broadened
Many ethnic cuisines use corn, rice, beans and potatoes as staple foods and are, therefore, great sources for gluten free recipes. We usually have at least one meal each weak that is inspired by Asian or South American cuisines. This past year we have branched out even further and tried some African and Indian dishes. Going gluten free forces you to look outside of your normal routines and can really get you out of a cooking rut.
I became a better cook
To stay on a gluten free diet you have to learn how to cook without processed foods. Since I had learned many cooking basics from my mother and grandmother, the primary skill that I learned from going gluten free was how to experiment with and alter recipes. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s always fun because I’m always learning. Even though I now spend more time cooking, it’s less of a chore than it was in the gluten days.
We gained confidence
Making a drastic change to our diet gave us the confidence to do it again. Shortly after our son was born we both found that we had very little energy. We had read that a vegetarian or vegan diet improves ones energy levels. So, we tried it. One day we were eating meat, the next day we were not. The skills that we learned in our transition to a gluten free diet made the transition to a vegetarian diet painless.
I you’re new to gluten free then I hope you’ll find encouragement in our experiences. If you’ve been gluten free for a while, then encourage the newbies by sharing your good gluten free experiences in the comments.
*My husband and I are both on a gluten free diet. While neither of us has an official diagnosis of celiac, we both have definite issues that completely resolved with a gluten free diet. Our son is gluten free too, since there is no gluten in the house for him to eat =)