Today’s guest post is from Court Tuttle, whom John and I met through a business coaching group a few years ago. Court found the gluten free diet through a somewhat unconventional path and we are happy to get to share his story with you. For almost a decade of my life, my energy levels were completely erratic. I found it impossibly hard to fall asleep at night and impossibly hard to stay awake during the day. There were many nights when I was up until 7:00 a.m. without even a hint of a sleepy feeling. I would still force myself out of bed at 9:00 a.m., afraid that sleeping in would cause another sleepless night. I would then stay awake all day, completely exhausted, only to be wide awake again the next night, completely unable to fall asleep.
Needless to say, it’s very difficult to function normally with sleep/energy issues like these.
Early in 2011, I started getting frustrated with my workouts at the gym. I was getting weaker for no reason. I finally decided to have myself tested for low testosterone. While I was at it, I tested my levels for estrogen, progesterone, and cortisol – all of which can interfere with the intake of testosterone into cells.
When the test came back, my testosterone was within normal range. However, my cortisol was not. It was four times higher than normal. I was honestly relieved. High cortisol explained a lot of things that were going on in my life, including my strength and energy level issues. I was hopeful that I could fix them.
There are a lot of things that can cause elevated cortisol so it took me a while to figure out what was going on. Caffeine contributes so I went cold turkey (I wasn’t drinking much at that point anyway). I learned that taking naps helps a lot, so I started taking them. Exercise helps, but I was already exercising regularly and had been for years.
I tried thing after thing until I read a book called Adrenal Fatigue by Dr. James L. Wilson. One of the chapters talked about how food allergies can cause issues with the adrenals (the adrenals produce cortisol). I had read about gluten sensitivities and leaky gut and had a sneaky suspicion that gluten might be causing my issues. I decided to ditch it as an experiment.
Amazingly, within a few days I was falling asleep at night and have been ever since. My strength at the gym was also restored. It honestly seemed like a miracle – a very quick miracle.
I was really excited to have ‘cured’ my cortisol issues but honestly, I didn’t understand fully what it would mean to live life without gluten. For a while it started to seem that gluten was in almost everything I ate.
I can now see that it isn’t necessarily harder to learn to eat foods without gluten, it’s just a different skill and like any skill, it has to be learned. I am completely satisfied with my new diet and wish I had found it a decade earlier. It’s easy now that I’ve adjusted to the switch.
For me, breakfast was the hardest and it seems like that would be the case for most people. I now eat a few eggs with some protein like chicken, turkey, or lean ground beef for breakfast. If I want something sweet, I add some strawberries or half a grapefruit. After a few days of switching to this for breakfast, I became completely satisfied with it. In fact, now I crave it for breakfast and don’t want anything else.
Most of my other meals consist mainly of lean meats, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats like olives and avocados. I have just recently started to learn how to actually cook gluten-free meals like gluten-free pancakes, etc. I was stoked when I learned about the Gluten Free Cooking School. I’ve need a resource like this for the last year.
Ditching gluten has had a few unintended side effects. For one, my body started losing a lot more fat with a lot less exercise. Since I’m in the business of helping people to lose fat and get in better shape (at The Skinny School), this was a huge plus. Gluten was really inflammatory for me and on top of that, the cortisol added to my belly fat levels. It does this to most people.