It’s been a little more than five months since I posted about my gluten-free experiment, and I thought perhaps I’d report back with a status update. I’ve been (mostly) sticking to a gluten-free diet since about January 2, which was the day I decided to try changing my eating habits to help with my headaches. I wasn’t medically diagnosed with any kind of gluten sensitivity — I just thought it would be worth giving it a try. Here’s what I’ve noticed so far:
In the beginning, I replaced most of my gluten-filled foods with fresh fruits and veggies, lean meats, eggs and dairy. I steered clear of bread, snack foods, beer and almost everything else that didn’t specifically say “gluten free” on the label. I inadvertently cut out almost all processed foods. My sinus congestion cleared up, my headaches disappeared, and I had lots and lots of energy.
After the first 30 days were up, I let myself slip up here and there — never very much. I had two hot dogs and some beer in Nashville. I had a slice of pizza and some pastries in NYC in February. I had two slices of pizza on my birthday. Those kinds of things. Never more than a serving or two in a one-week period. I noticed feeling a little groggy a few hours after I ate those things, and a little congested the next day, but nothing major. I always went back to my gluten-free diet immediately the next day, and I still felt pretty good.
In early May, I went all out and drank a bunch of beer, ate a bunch of pizza, and even had a piece of chocolate cake. That night, I kept waking up in the middle of the night, heart racing, sweating. I felt awful! I did the same thing a few weeks ago in New Jersey — splurged on a bunch of pastries and cookies at my brother’s party. I wasn’t drunk, but that’s how I felt again when I woke up a few times in the middle of the night. Almost like I was having an anxiety attack. It was weird.
Ever since then, I’ve been back on strictly gluten-free foods, and I even decided to experiment with some gluten-free cookies and snack foods. However, lately, I’ve been feeling kind of lethargic and gaining a little bit of weight. I think the gluten-free processed snacks need to go. I also started to notice this past week how many vitamins and minerals I’m not getting anymore, due to the lack of enriched and fortified grain products in my diet. Starting tonight, I’ll be working a multivitamin into my diet — something I probably should have done from the beginning.
And that’s about it. Most importantly, the headaches are still pretty non-existent, which is amazing. I’m not sure if I can entirely attribute the headaches to gluten or some combination of caffeine, soda and/or artificial sweeteners, which I also gave up back in January. I’ve also noticed that the chronic little canker sores I used to get in my mouth and blame on orange juice and stress have disappeared completely (and I’ve had lots of orange juice lately), so I’m going to keep going with the gluten-free thing because it seems to be working for me.
I’d love to know…have you ever tried a gluten-free diet or some kind of elimination diet? Did you learn anything? Did it work for you?
P.S. I haven’t had a bagel in five months. Whoa. 🙂
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia and edited with Alex Beadon‘s Like a Painting Photoshop action.