Recently there has been a lot of news about going gluten-free, which is wonderful for those people who have suffered with Celiac’s disease for many years due to the increase of gluten-free products and information. But many people bring up gluten-free diets as a new way to lose weight, as if cutting out gluten was 2010’s version of the Atkins diet. The bottom line is, cutting out gluten might help you lose weight, but ultimately it should be done for health reasons. It can be an incredibly hard choice to live with.

This past year, my mom was diagnosed with Celiac’s disease (people who are gluten-intolerant are either simply allergic/intolerant to gluten or have Celiac’s, which affects your digestive system and can lead to malnutrition, infertility, arthritis, or even death) after struggling with food for many years. But she wasn’t led to this diagnosis by a doctor, it was ironically her chiropractor who suggested she be tested after noticing significant and chronic inflammation in her joints. She tested positive and immediately decided to cut out gluten.

But the road to a gluten-free life is not paved with easy decisions. Many people who have Celiac’s are also lactose-intolerant, as is my mom, so trying to find products with no dairy or wheat is quite a feat in itself. Add to that the fact that you pretty much can’t eat at restaurants (because even if you see no gluten-ingredients on the menu there can be traces everywhere) or at other people’s houses. You have to tell basically everyone that you can’t have gluten, and before you know it you’re a gluten-free broken record. And gluten is sneaky, and you find it in places you never would expect, like alcohol, vanilla extract, soy-products, vegan products, or those ever popular “natural flavors.” Thankfully healthy food is becoming every more in vogue, and stores like Whole Foods and Oliver’s market make it much easier to shop and, well, eat!

Haha milkCeliac’s can also be passed genetically, so insert me into this issue. When I was 20 or so I became lactose-intolerant, and now I’m starting to worry that I may be gluten-intolerant as well. The problem is, that the symptoms for both are pretty much the same, and you might not feel the effects of something you ate for a couple hours, or a couple days, so pinpointing the source is tricky. Why not get tested? Well, the test for gluten intolerance is about $700+ and as a grad student, insurance doesn’t cover it. So what to do, what to dooo?

Luckily, I don’t eat much gluten anyway. I cut out bread last year, and found that it made dropping that 10-15 pounds much simpler. I also don’t really ever eat dairy, and love Amy’s meals, which are usually gluten and dairy-free (and quite good, tamales are awesome, and the tamale pie makes a great low-cal lunch). But the move to cut out all wheat (like cereal) seems really limiting right now, and the thought of having to avoid it forever is rather depressing. At this point I’d kind of accepted that my digestive system would bug me off and on no matter what, but now I have to wonder if cutting out dairy and gluten entirely would solve it all. I know I won’t be able to be tested for Celiac’s for a long time, years probably, so I have to make this decision myself. I have to wonder though, how many people had this problem hundreds of years ago, before gluten was inserted into 90% of all processed foods, or before processed foods in general. Is the human body even meant to deal with gluten on a daily basis? Maybe no one will eat gluten in the future.

It’s a matter of willpower, in the end. The bottom line is that lately, when I don’t eat gluten or dairy, I feel and look better. Shouldn’t that make this an easy decision? Maybe.

Last night my boyfriend decided to make a grilled cheese sandwich, and it smelled lovely. We started cracking up, thinking that for me,

 

= Death.

Well, maybe not quite. But humor is essential :^)

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