When I was little and asked my parents how I would know when I found the right person to spend my life with, and I recall hearing the response, “you just know.” Huh? How do you just know? It was so mysterious to me, as if everyone had this light switch that would go on…but what if I didn’t have that light switch? In my case it took some intuition for sure, but it also took the ability to listen to that intuition, what my gut was telling me (and thankfully the universe conspired to support me 🙂
But this post isn’t about figuring out how to choose your life partner. However, deciding whether or not to go gluten free is a bit like that because you just have to listen, listen, listen to your gut–and by that I mean both your belly and your intuition–and see signs along the way, especially if the decision is one that you are making simply to improve your health, not because you have a certain diagnosis.
When I ask people how they feel when they eat gluten they often don’t know. Some people haven’t seen the signs along the way that gluten is hurting them. So, for those of you wondering, here is a list of things you might consider after consuming gluten: do you feel bloated? gassy? have brain fog? skin rashes? inflammation in the joints? neuropathy? ADD? the list is quite long and this is only a sampling. The point is, sometimes we just don’t hear the body’s loud chorus of issues as being related to anything in particular–we think each symptom is unique and hope it is fleeting. As in dating, sometimes you just know, but other times you don’t.
I often tell my clients to write down what they are eating and then how they feel after each meal. It’s a way to make a connection, if there isn’t already one, between what we are feeding ourselves and what how it makes us feel. This type of food diary can be illuminating.
If you suspect that gluten is indeed a foe, it is time to do a gluten elimination diet. Yep, take it out, all of it. Don’t worry, there are so many substitutes, you are going to be fine! It may be uncomfortable in the beginning, but you’ll fall into a groove of knowing what you can and cannot eat, and maybe find delicious new choices and go-tos. For example, swap out your big muffin for breakfast with a hard boiled egg or two and a fruit smoothie. You can substitute your bread and pasta very easily, and explore new grains like quinoa. Try it for a few weeks. Then try putting gluten back in your diet and see what happens. Did it wreak havoc?
Arguably there is enough evidence to support a gluten free lifestyle. If your body can tolerate gluten you may still consider keeping it out of your diet in order to better support your immune system.
Should you be interested in the accountability and support of my health coaching for your gluten free transition, or to schedule a talk about the how-to’s of gluten free living, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.