Confession #1: I’m completely addicted to carbohydrates, and I find it extremely difficult to eat a balanced diet because I almost always choose carbs over fruits and vegetables. My favorite foods include bagels, pasta, Cheez-Its, French bread, and pastries.
Confession #2: I’ve suffered from headaches and migraines since, well…since so long ago I can’t even remember when. I hardly ever take Advil or medication for them. I’m just used to them.
Confession #3: I hate fad diets. The only diet I’ve ever tried and stuck to was Weight Watchers. (And even on Weight Watchers, I was a major carb addict.)
Confession #4: Lately, I’ve been tired all the time.
Confession #5: I am not a nutritionist, so take this entire post with a grain of salt.
All that being said, I’m ridiculously surprised to report to you that for the last six days, I’ve been experimenting with a gluten-free diet. That means no wheat, and no other grains that contain gluten. It wasn’t something I planned to do, but after having a headache for a solid three weeks (Christmas and New Year’s included), I finally caved and started Googling headaches. Just as I suspected, headaches and migraines in women are often linked to three things: hormones, food, and/or stress. I also did some research on food and hormones (a potential cause of my anxiety?), and I read some articles on food and sinus congestion (another potential cause of my headaches).
As a result of all this research, I’ve decided to try an elimination diet, and the first food I’m experimenting with is gluten. I’m going to try to go 30 to 60 days without gluten, document my symptoms, and then see what happens when I gradually reintroduce it back into my diet. I’ve also cut out coffee, soda, and artificial sweeteners for the time being (just because three coffees a day probably isn’t that good for me either). I figure if I cut all these things out for a short time, I might be able to pinpoint what (if anything) is triggering my headaches. It could be gluten, wheat, caffeine, Splenda…or it could be none of those things, and I might be totally wasting my energy with this. Either way, I’m going to give it a shot.
Here’s what I’ve noticed so far:
1. Going without gluten forces me to eat a lot more fresh foods, fruits, and vegetables by default. Without wheat, there just isn’t as much to choose from. Cutting out gluten inadvertently means cutting out a lot of processed foods, which is kind of an added benefit to this experiment.
2. I’ve been eating rice, corn tortillas, potatoes and popcorn in place of my favorite carbs. These foods aren’t quite as addicting to me as pastas and breads — I seem to be much more able to eat them in moderation. I eat until I’m full, and that’s it.
3. I’ve been noticeably less congested for the last two days. I woke up this morning (even with a cat near my face), and I thought, “Whoa! I can breathe!”
4. I forgot how empowering it feels to exercise some self-control over my diet. I went to a birthday party Saturday night, and I was so proud of myself for avoiding bread, crackers, and especially birthday cake.
5. Eating this way as an experiment for my headaches is a lot easier than doing it to lose weight. I think it’s because I can’t say, “Oh, I’ll just eat this and then go to the gym later…” It doesn’t work that way. =)
6. Hot water with lemon is my new favorite drink. And it’s a lot cheaper than Starbucks.
7. I haven’t had a headache since the day I started this experiment. That’s six days with no headache. Six days. That makes me happy.
Hopefully, I can follow through with this experiment. I’m posting this here because it’ll keep me accountable for what I’m trying to do. I’ve got an upcoming girls’ trip to Nashville that might be kind of difficult (no beer!), but I’m going to do my best. Perhaps I’ll post an update next week.
Got any advice for me? Have you ever tried an elimination diet? Do you get a lot of headaches? Got any other suggestions? Would love to hear whatever you’ve got.
P.S. Just because I’ve made it this long without a bagel doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t catch me dipping a corn chip in a tub of cream cheese sometime soon. It’s the cream cheese I’m really addicted to… =)
P.P.S Did you vote in my poll? Please go take a look if you didn’t! =)
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia and edited with Alex Beadon‘s Like a Painting Photoshop action.