Breaking Up With Gluten

My favorite restaurant as a child was Villa Santino in Lolo, Montana. My mother swore that every time we went there I spilled my drink, but I remember the spaghetti. It has always been my favorite meal, so the idea of going gluten free didn’t appeal to me. Who wants knock off spaghetti anyway? Breaking up with gluten seemed like too much of a loss. 

Growing up I had a straight up love affair with white flour. My mom could make the most delectable foods with it like; cheese buttons, knoephla, donuts, homemade bread slathered with jams and jellies she made herself, and more. Flour was a stable in our home. It was inexpensive and it went a long way. 

I loved these foods, but I didn’t always feel great when I ate them. I often felt lethargic and irritable after a meal. My energy level always took a hit, but whatever. I was willing to suffer. The enjoyment of eating was worth it, or was it?

Five years ago I made a commitment to eat more greens and get rid of some of the white food that always found a way to my plate. I struggled at first. My initial introduction to cooked spinach was in the hospital after I had given birth to my daughter some twenty years earlier. Green water oozed all over my plate. It looked like grass that collects under a lawnmower. Yuck. But adding a handful of baby spinach to a blueberry smoothie wasn’t bad at all. I couldn’t even taste it. 

The progression to healthier choices led to the reduction of other, less desirable options. One day I was in the grocery store and came across cinnamon raisin English muffins. They looked amazing! Then I realized I hadn’t been eating gluten. How long had this been going on? Surely it had been a couple of months. What harm could an English muffin do? I snatched up the package, anxious to bust out the toaster when I got home. 

Twenty minutes after devouring that yummy cinnamon raisin English muffin my ear started to throb. So that’s what had been causing mysterious earaches for years, gluten!

Other things started to pop into my mind. The ache in my hands, the one I blamed on doing massage for a decade, was gone since gluten was out of my life. The restlessness I felt upon going to bed, the anxiety, and insomnia also gone. These positive side effects definitely outweighed the enjoyment I got from a bowl of pasta. Gluten could stay gone. 

Months later a friend gave me the book, Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar–Your Brain’s Silent Killers by David Perlmutter and Kristin Loberg. I was hooked. It made perfect sense to me and I knew my love affair with white flour was a thing of the past. 

Gluten free spaghetti isn’t the horror I imagined it to be, but I seldom use it. My new bestie is spaghetti squash. I cook it up and add my favorite toppings. There are many benefits. Most of those include things I’m not feeling: tired, sluggish, bloated, irritable, constipated, anxious, and achy. 

I can’t say I never have gluten, but I’m satisfied with the occasional taste. I’m always surprised that it isn’t as good as I remember it to be, but that’s a good thing. It has made breaking up with gluten easy to do. 

“Yet an estimated 99 percent of people who have a problem with eating gluten don’t even know it. They ascribe their ill health or symptoms to something else-not gluten sensitivity, which is 100 percent curable.” – Mark Hyman, M.D.