REAL, FRUGAL, HEALTHY, and FUN!!!
**Disclaimer: Going grain-free has been wonderful for me, but I’m not suggesting that it is the way to go for everyone. I’m sharing it in the case that it may be helpful for some. I do not believe in a “one size fits all” dietary lifestyle.**
I’ve been following the paleo diet for about 3 years now. I originally started following it because I read about how it could help with digestion. I have struggled with digestive issues all of my life. At 23 years-old I had a colonoscopy and was told I had developed irritable bowel syndrome, prone to constipation. Sorry, I know that’s definitely TMI, but it’s important. Anyway, I hate the diagnosis of irritable bowel. I think it’s a cop-out. I think it’s a doctors way of saying we don’t know what the cause of your digestive distress is, but we’re acknowledging your symptoms. They told me to eat more refined carbs. No joke.
The years went by, and I dealt with my continued digestive distress. About 3 years ago, my husband became interested in the paleo diet. It was the popular diet of the time, even though it had been around much longer. He bought Practical Paleo. He gave it to me to read on his behalf. He knows I love anything nutrition related. I read it in 3 days. As I read it, I became more interested in following it’s guidelines, as well. I felt very strongly that it would ease my digestive distress. We started our paleo lifestyle, and I’ve never looked back. We followed the protocol doing it in an 80/20 fashion, initially. For those of you who don’t know, that just means 80 percent paleo, and 20 percent non-paleo, but preferably nutritious foods. After the first 3 weeks, I had significant digestive relief. It was amazing.
Over time, and as I became accustomed to the lifestyle, I began following the protocol in more of a 90/10 standard. I just loved how my body felt when I stuck to the guidelines. Still, once a week our family would have a “fun” meal. It was a meal where we dropped all standards. We could eat whatever it was that we really wanted. Oddly enough, I often chose paleo foods because those were the foods I wanted. Not always, though. Oh, and occasionally a condiment or spice blend would sneak into the house that wasn’t completely paleo. So, I was close to being all paleo, but not quite.
This past May, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. I was surprised. Now, it runs heavily in my family. My grandma, grandpa, mom, sister, and many cousins have it. Why was I surprised. Typically, for them, eating gluten would put them in the bathroom, and everything would go right through. I had the opposite problem, so I did not think we all had the same thing. Apparently, as I’ve since learned, Celiac Disease can cause all different types of digestive distress, among other things.
Once I had discovered that I had Celiac, I no longer had gluten in anything. Not in my “fun” meals. Not in my condiments. Not in my spice blends. I even check the ingredients of my medications and supplements now. You’d be amazed how many unexpected things contain gluten! My first few trips to the store after being diagnosed took forever. I read labels more thoroughly than ever before.
I was still following paleo 90/10, using gluten-free grains and special gluten-free treats to fill in the other 10%. I was feeling really good. Better than ever. Then, on my Facebook feed one day, I saw the following image:
I thought to myself, ha ha, that is totally me! I shared the image in the Paleo Approach Community. Many of us, in the community, have Celiac. Among the comments that followed were several response’s that all grains did that to their bellies. Now my belly has been puffy, inflamed, and distended for years. Not horribly, but as fit as I am, those closest to me can tell. I could always feel it. It wasn’t painful to the point where I spent day in and day out in the fetal position. It just felt inflamed, puffy, and irritated. It was like a bloat that wouldn’t go away. Going gluten-free really helped eliminate a lot of this. I mean, you could see the difference. After seeing the comments about all grains causing the irritation, I decided I would give it a hardcore try. I decided to go a full month completely grain-free. It didn’t matter if it contained gluten or not. If it was a grain, I wasn’t eating it.
I can’t tell you what a difference it has made! My stomach feels great (unless my unrelated urinary issues act up, but that’s another story). I’ve had the most random improvements. My nails are ridiculously strong. They are so shiny and smooth. My husband says my demeanor is so much more energetic and happy. My digestion is great. I can’t really put into words what a difference going grain-free has made for me. I very, very occasionally will have a gluten-free grain dish. It happens, at the most, once a month. It’s not often. I feel too good without grains.
Does that sound boring and difficult? I’m sure it would be if I didn’t learn to make so many of my favorite foods without grains… but I have. My healthy eating recipes are almost all grain-free (there’s a few from before I began cutting them out). Pinterest is also a great resource.
Once again, I am not advising everyone to go grain-free. I’m just sharing what my experience has been with it, in the case that it may be helpful to others.