(This is a long one, explaining my reasons for going gluten-free. Trust me, no sane person willingly chooses to be gluten free just because.)
As I mentioned in my first entry, I am following, to the best of my ability, a gluten-free diet. For the past two years now, I have been learning about how the food I eat affects my health. For a long time, I paid little attention to what I ate. Especially through college, I didn’t really think I needed to. I was on the rowing team, and I ate pretty much anything I wanted, and the “Freshman 15” was actually muscle mass, not fat. I distinctly remember my coach once told us, “for breakfast after this practice, you need to eat at least 1500 calories.” For some people, that’s all they eat FOR THE WHOLE DAY. Again, I didn’t really pay too much attention to what I was eating, because I thought I could eat pretty much whatever I wanted.
If we flash forward to about this time last year, I had noticed that I had gained 15 pounds, and was very unhappy. My clothes weren’t fitting, and I was super uncomfortable.. The “I can eat whatever I want and not care” train was dragging me down. I will say that I had been more conscious of what I was eating than in college but still putting on weight. I was exercising, but not regularly. And the worst part, was that I didn’t feel good. I felt tired more often than not, and my skin was in horrible condition.
I started exercising regularly again, by doing P90 – I was counting every calorie I ate, pushed myself when exercising every day, and I lost the extra weight by February. I felt better, but my skin was still in bad shape. It had gotten a little better, but I was still breaking out daily, worse than I had in high school. I thought, “If I keep exercising, maybe my skin will get even better.” So I started PiYo, but never actually finished the calendar of workouts. I did stick with the more regulated food intake, but let myself have a little more than I had when on P90. Through the rest of spring, and into the beginning of summer, my exercising routine fell apart, baseball season meant beer every Sunday, and of course, the weight came back (thankfully, not as much as before). And my skin was just as bad.
Over the summer, while my exercise routine took a dive, I paid much more attention to what I was eating. I starting looking at the foods I had regularly that might have had an effect on my skin. I did a lot of looking online, most of it on blogs. The most common culprit I found was dairy. So I decided to try it out – I eliminated all dairy from my diet. Starting out, I thought it was going to be impossible. As a kid, my mom would joke and say that I would need to marry a dairy farmer in order to keep me in cheese and milk. Giving up dairy was a big deal. But I found delicious replacements, so I didn’t really miss the dairy products (not all the time anyway). Almond / Coconut / Cashew milks are all so yummy! And I replaced cheese on a sandwich with avocado. Amazing. I went dairy-free for about a month and a half. I didn’t notice much of a difference in my skin (but my period – ZERO cramps – talk about amazing), so I looked again online, and found the Acne Genius. Seppo Pussa, aka the Acne Genius, released a book called “Clear For Life” that details all the science behind acne, and how to combat it from every angle. One of the suggestions in that book was to eliminate gluten products. (There’s actually more to it than that, and if you want more info and want to buy the book, go check out his website directly)
If dairy was hard to eliminate, gluten was going to be nearly impossible. I mean, I was getting the hang of vegan baking… gluten free baking was seemed like a crazy hurdle. But if the trade off was clear skin, I was up for the challenge. So in July, I decided to go one month without gluten as much as I could. After about a week, I noticed my skin was already clearing up. And then the carb cravings kicked in. I craved oatmeal really badly, so I ate it for breakfast three days in a row, and my skin broke out terribly. I knew then that there had to be a correlation. Turns out oatmeal is quite frequently cross-contaminated with wheat through processing, and can have gluten in it. From that morning moving forward, I eliminated gluten completely, and my skin has never been better (since puberty anyway). My hopes are to share meal plans and recipes that have worked for me that aren’t too difficult, especially for those of you out there who might be at the same point in the journey as me. I also want to connect with other gluten-free people out there, because I still have a lot to learn.
Now, my skin isn’t perfect. My diet isn’t either. But after eliminating gluten, I can tell whenever I’ve had some – even just a little. Like french fries fried in the same oil as onion rings or chicken fingers. LAME. I have also been able to notice that I have reactions to other foods too. While I’ve been learning a lot about my body and diet, I am planning on speaking with a nutritionist to see if we can figure out what all is going on. And don’t worry, I’ll detail it all here!
Anyone out there reading, are you gluten free? How did you find out? And what is your favorite recipe that’s gluten free?? I would love to learn new things to try!
As always, lots of love!