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Bailey Tries… Going Gluten Free

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If you’ve been listening to Hey Y’all: The Podcast over the last season, then you’ll know I’ve been trying to figure out some health issues. One of the big issues being achy and sore joints and muscles. This is one symptom of a plethora that led to many tests, a diagnosis and a mission to put my life back in “best case scenario” territory. Prescriptions are amazing and I am so thankful to live in a time when help is available for broken bodies but often they can only go so far which is when your provider might suggest other lifestyle changes. Diet and exercise are obviously the two biggies so I started to do some research which led me to the magic, delicious, in-absolutely-everything gluten.

Gluten is what holds bread (and life) together. Actually, gluten is found in way more than breads and pastas. I was kind of shocked by how many things had gluten in them… like my favorite chocolate! Many authorities on autoimmune disorders suggest going gluten-free to help with inflammation which I had basically ignored because I adore bread but then my rheumatologist mentioned it so I gave in. I decided I would try to go gluten-free for a little bit and then slowly reintroduce it to see if we had any changes. (I swear half of this health journey has been doing experiments on myself.)

To be honest, I knew me and gluten didn’t always get along because if I eat pasta or pizza or a sandwich and pretzels I feel tired… Like, I’m fighting NyQuil tired. That should have been a warning sign AGES ago but it didn’t occur to me that it could be more. Also, doesn’t everyone get sleep after they eat? No… mmm, k!

Clearly, I’m no doctor so let me give you a brief overview of the experiment I did with no medical authority whatsoever…

  • I made the decision at the beginning that I wasn’t going to drive myself crazy over this. Unlike people who suffer from Celiac disease, I was operating under the assumption that gluten makes me feel horrible but isn’t doing critical damage. So, I would do my best to eat as gluten-free as possible without concerning myself with cross contamination or “hidden” gluten while at a party, on a date, etc. (I know that is a luxury many don’t have.)

  • I downloaded an app for gluten-free shopping called “Fig”. It works great on regular stuff but if something is new or a strange brand it might not be in the system yet. The same goes with restaurants of which the list is teeny tiny but anything is helpful and I am very grateful for this.

  • I did gluten-free for several weeks before intentionally reintroducing it and that was a small amount. I did this on and off for several months to see if the reaction was always the same. I didn’t want something else to skew the results… Look how professional I am!

So, what happened? Well, my hope that gluten wasn’t the issue fell apart really quick. I didn’t realize it so much in stopping the gluten but rather in starting it again. I ate a large piece of regular (oh-so-delicious) pizza one night which did what I expected. I got sleepy but I could just go to bed. However, I woke up with a screaming headache. Like the kind of headaches I have fought on and off since junior high so it could’ve been a coincidence but then I realized I hadn’t had as many of those headaches recently. I made my mental notes of all the little things that seemed off from my normal… concentration, digestion, bloating, aches/pains. The next morning I started the gluten-free process over again.

I did this a few times over a couple of months and while the symptoms weren’t always to the same degree or instantaneous, I always had issues. So clearly, there’s a problem, right? And obviously, I’m going to be the perfect little gluten-free queen, right? Ummm… so about that…I mean when your man asks you if you want dessert and one of your options is white chocolate bread pudding, what are you supposed to do?!?

The longer I’m trying this the stronger my self-control becomes. Honestly, I am good 98% of the time but it’s so hard because gluten is in EVERYTHING. At first, I was like it will be fine. I’ll just eat gluten if it’s really delicious gluten but after my little experiment I’ve come to see how much of a difference it makes so I’m trying to be as consistent as possible. We shall see how that goes as we head into the holidays! Wish me luck!

Side Note: Please don’t misunderstand me. This hasn’t magically cured all my issues. I still get headaches, have digestive issues and feel like a mamaw climbing the stairs but these problems aren’t as consistent or as extreme.

Helpful Hints:

  • Target’s Good and Gather Gluten-free Pizza (not cauliflower) is the closest approximation I have found to a traditional crust, frozen pizza. All the other brands either taste like cauliflower or are thin and hard. This is more like a traditional dough. Banza is definitely a close second in the pizza game with their chickpea crust!

  • Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 GF Flour does pretty well baking and doesn’t require you to do any figuring. The texture is a little different (not as fluffy) and it is expensive, as are all GF products. (Amazon)

  • GF is expensive BUT places like TJ Maxx often have an interesting assortment of GF products. Who knew?

  • Not all GF pasta is the same. Try different ingredients and find the one you like. Gluten provides so much structural integrity so this can be an issue in the pasta game.

  • GF pretzels are better than regular. You can fight me on that! (Amazon)

  • Tater Tots are your new best friend.


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