Going Gluten Free ~ Some Surprising Results

My Gluten Free Experiment…Better Than I Hoped For
by Jenny Hansen

GF cupcake by Diane Brandmeyer ~ WANA Commons

GF cupcake by Diane Brandmeyer ~ WANA Commons

With all the recent hooplah over genetically modified food and the call for labeling, I’ve been thinking about food and how it affects us. Until this year, I’d never experienced any big red dietary flags of my own (that I was aware of).

I keep a garden and eat mostly organic. I limit my sugar…blah-blah-blah. I’ve had migraines my entire life so my head has mostly kept my diet in line. Even during my midlife pregnancy, I felt fantastic. And I only gained 7 pounds. That child ate up all my body fat. (It rocked!)

Then I gave birth, and I started gaining weight. 40 unstoppable pounds in a year and I couldn’t seem to halt it. Plus I had a bunch of things “break down.”

  • I started catching colds more easily, and they hung on for longer.
  • My left shoulder froze up – I simply could not raise my arm
  • My thyroid function lowered and I had to go on medication.
  • I kept passing out from low blood sugar.
  • My cholesterol climbed. Fast.

I woke up every day feeling poorly. And old. And creaky. I thought, “this is what happens when you have a baby at 41 years-old.” I should just accept it. Frankly, I was too tired to delve into the issue.

My game-changing moment came last February when a friend asked me the question that turned out to be the missing puzzle piece to my health: Have you ever thought you might be gluten intolerant?

I’ll confess, I didn’t even know what that meant.

However, after speaking with her and reading the list of common symptoms (I had 10 out of 15), I gave up gluten cold turkey for Lent. I had eight days of wicked withdrawals and began to educate myself about what gluten is and how to avoid it.

Holy cowbell, that pesky gluten is in everything.

Gluten makes a great filler, so I understand why the fast food industry practically bathes in it. But the #2 ingredient in soy sauce??? Really, food people? WHY do you need to put a wheat protein in freaking soy sauce?

Note: La Choy is the only soy sauce that’s GF. Mostly I take my own GF (tamarind) soy sauce to sushi restaurants. You can buy it in little packets.

Fast forward a few months…

  • I wasn’t so puffy all of a sudden. And the number on the scale began going down about half a pound a week.
  • Suddenly I had more energy, and I stopped getting heartburn all the time.
  • My blood sugar steadied.
  • I could raise my arms.
  • That crazy gas after meals was GONE. (By the way, Beano has gluten in it – use GasX.)

Fast forward to today…

Almost a year after cutting gluten out of my diet, I’m off all medication except vitamins. All of them.

I still eat pretty much the same – I just substituted the gluten items for non-gluten. Apparently, now that my intestinal tract isn’t inflamed, I’m absorbing my food better and my hormones and metabolism are getting back to normal.

But do you know the best part?

Those migraines I mentioned? Guess what my biggest headache trigger is… Um, yeah. That would be GLUTEN.

I actually pooh-poohed my Hubby when he put forth the idea. (I believe my exact words were, “You’re on crack!”) He first figured it out when I forgot to take a Claritin before I drank red wine and I didn’t get a headache. Wowzers! We even experimented with behavior and food combos that, in the past, guaranteed a wicked headache.


However, if I ingest even a smidge of gluten, the pain comes roaring in like a steel-toed step dancer on the back of my skull.

The simple answer is no gluten for me. Ever, ever again. The joy of being able to control my headaches after 38 years is too amazing to give up.

Note: If you plan to eat out, you need to be ready for the “secret gluten” people give you because they don’t know any better. I always know when they’ve done it because I get the migraine.

Does this mean I think the world should go gluten free? Good God, no. Do I recommend you run a test for food allergies if you suffer from vicious headaches or feel poorly over a long time period? YES!!

Here’s what worked for my pals who’ve found they are intolerant to certain foods:

  • Scale down to a pure “cave man”/hunter-gatherer diet for a month. (Think Paleo.)
  • Keep a food diary.
  • Introduce ONE new food at a time back into your diet.
  • Start with the big ones like gluten, dairy or soy.
  • If you react, take it back out and add it to the no-no list to re-test later.

This link is hugely helpful: http://www.drcranton.com/elimination_diet.htm

Most of all, I’m shaking my head that I accepted feeling poorly for more than a year when there were steps I could have taken to feel better. I forgot that we’re each in charge of our own health. You can bet I won’t forget again.

Wishing you great health for the New Year…


About Jenny Hansen

By day, Jenny provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. By night she writes humor, memoir, women’s fiction and short stories. After 15 years as a corporate software trainer, she’s delighted to sit down while she works.

When she’s not at her personal blog, More Cowbell, Jenny can be found on Twitter at JennyHansenCA or at Writers In The Storm. Jenny also writes the Risky Baby Business posts at More Cowbell, a series that focuses on babies, new parents and high-risk pregnancy.

© 2012 Jenny Hansen. All content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact me at the above links to request permission.

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