Starting your Gluten Free journey: Whether you have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease or just suspect that wheat-containing foods bother your tummy, starting the gluten free journey can be daunting and downright scary. First things first: Breathe, connect with yourself and your friends and family, and know this...it will get better and YOU CAN DO THIS!
Here are a few things that happened to me when I started eating gluten free, just to get the conversation started...
A lot of people start losing weight after they stop eating gluten. Not me. I gained weight. A considerable amount. And I was STARVING! Like, all the time. I couldn't stop eating, and with many fewer choices than before, eating became even more of the time-consuming trouble spot in my day. I felt like I needed to eat constantly, but WHAT was I going to EAT? My mind went down this path..."Oh look, gummy bears are gluten free! Let's buy the 5-pound bag and eat them ALL in two days. It's healthy, right?" Um, no.
I was exhausted. All. The. Time. I've never felt such a bone-crushing fatigue in my life, even after giving birth to my two children! I couldn't function. It's a good thing I was "working" from home...I could not have managed an 8-5 job at that point.
Along with the feelings of starvation and exhaustion, my gut had also at this point stopped producing dopamine and all of the other "healthy mind" substances it should. So I was hungry, tired, and depressed. Clinically depressed. The counselor I went to told me that it didn't matter what she said, I would still be depressed because it was chemical rather than mental. Super cool.
At the suggestion of my counselor, I dove into the world of probiotics and "gut-happy" foods. Kombucha (which tastes much like its' name sounds...), Kefir (which to me was unflavored, sour yogurt) and lots of yogurt. On top of every processed box I could find on the shelves that said "Gluten Free".
Thankfully the depression only lasted a week or two, the exhaustion (kind of) faded after a while, and my weight regulated. But this happened after a lot...A LOT of research, and talking/listening to a lot, A LOT of people's stories.
If you're in this beginning stage of eating gluten free, my best advice is to HANG IN THERE! Try your best not to eat out, because restaurants who serve "gluten free" meals are often anything but. Find fresh, unseasoned whole meats (chicken, beef, pork, etc.) if that's your gig, and tons of fresh fruits and vegetables. Buy a few gluten free staples...Barilla pasta is the best we've tried, most gluten free breads are gross so try at your own risk, maybe some gluten free tortillas or corn tortillas and just maintain. That's good enough for now. I also recommend a good pre-and probiotic. I use Align (cheaper on Amazon but mostly available at grocery stores) Pre and Probiotic. My doc said it has enough good bacteria in it that I don't need to eat yogurt at every meal.
Let these simple (I know, NOT as simple as they sound) principles start you off, and when you're feeling a little bit more capable, start researching. Everything. Pay closer attention to websites like Celiac.org, BeyondCeliac.org, etc. Even if you haven't been diagnosed with Celiac Disease, the rules are essentially the same. Find a gluten free support group on Facebook, and don't panic when you read something scary. We're all different and we all react differently. Take the educational portion of the posts and leave the emotions in your phone. Take a deep breath...and tune in next week for some more survival tips.