I’m pleased to introduce Amy Green of Simply Sugar and Gluten Free to host this week’s “Get the Gluten Out” carnival. Here is the abridged version of her entire story. See the list of all the carnival topics and hostesses here.
My Story: Going Gluten-Free
Being overweight was a way of life for me. From 2nd grade to my late 20’s I went on every diet published. The only consistent thing was that I always gained the weight back and a little more.
My life revolved around food. I ate huge quantities of food, always by myself. I never let anyone else see me eat a bag of chocolate chips or an entire box of animal crackers.
At my highest weight I was over 180 pounds and only 21 years old.
Out of sheer desperation I saw an doctor that practiced alternative medicine. My life and health was a mess. Being fat was just one problem. I was depressed, moody, inconsistent, had persistent headaches, and struggled many days to do what most people take for granted.
After spending some time with me, Dr. Baron told me to quit eating sugar and wheat. His words were, “It’s going to kill you.”
Wanting to be well, I followed his instructions carefully. Difficult didn’t begin to explain the change. Gluten-free flours weren’t readily available and sugar is in everything. After a few weeks I started to feel better and life started looking good again.
I was young, though, and not understanding the full implications, I started eating wheat and sugar again. It didn’t take long for my life to unravel. Any weight that I lost was quickly regained and I was binge eating again. Moodiness, depression, and just not feeling well pervaded every part of my life.
Six years later, a girlfriend of mine nervously told me that she had a problem with food, explaining that flour or sugar caused her to develop huge food cravings which always resulted in a eating too much.
I had the same problem. Dr. Baron’s foreboding words rang in my ears.
Relieved and a little concerned, I wasn’t sure I wanted to give up wheat or sugar. No bread. No brownies. No pretzels. I knew I had a problem but, at the time, no flour and sugar was a bigger problem. I decided to keep doing what I had been doing. It worked. Sort of.
Months passed. The day came when I realized that I could no longer manage my food problems. I remember being completely stuffed, my stomach in pain, and I kept eating. I’d lost all control. In tears, I called my girlfriend and asked for help.
When I eat flour or sugar, my body starts to crave more and more. In fact, no amount of flour and sugar was ever enough. This is why I failed at every diet I’ve ever tried. I couldn’t eat flour or sugar without having cravings, which always resulted in too much food. The only option was to let go of the flour and sugar and find another way to eat.
I didn’t eliminate sugar and gluten from my diet to lose weight. I only wanted some peace in my life. But one day, I was getting ready for work and my clothes were loose. I smiled, grateful that I was fully aware of what had caused the change.
It took a lot of prayer, patience, and determination to live a better life. Some days it still does. People always ask how I “live like this” as if it’s a step down. The honest truth is that it’s a step up. For me, there is no bigger prison than living in a body I hated and not being able to get out.
My weight has been constant for almost 6 years, about 110 pounds. Food no longer rules my life. I have a freedom that brings joy and peace. I am healthy and happy with who I am and how I show up in the world today.
So, what’s gluten?
If I had a nickel for every time I’ve been asked this, I’d be really rich.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. It’s what gives structure and form to our breads, rolls, and cookies. Sounds harmless, huh?
For most people it is. For those with Celiac Disease, though, gluten causes an autoimmune response and the body produces antibodies that attack the intestines. Over time, this can cause a myriad of problems including stunted growth, anemia, osteoporosis, vitamin and mineral deficiency and depression.
I don’t have Celiac Disease so I can’t talk in detail about how it impacts life. The Gluten Free Homemaker is a great resource for anyone wanting to learn more.
Gluten intolerance, on the other hand, doesn’t involve an autoimmune response but still causes gastrointestinal distress and has a significant impact on health and well being. For someone like me, wheat impacts mood, hunger, weight, mental clarity, and general well-being.
Is gluten-free healthier?
Many heavily processed, gluten-free shelf products are higher in fat and sometimes sugar to create a consistency like their wheat laden counterparts. Starchy flours like tapioca, white rice, sweet rice, and cornstarch often make up the majority of the baking mix. I’d be a liar if I told you they were healthier.
Enter healthier baked goods with brown rice, buckwheat, sorghum, garfava, coconut, almond, and garbanzo bean flours.Whole foods instead of processed shelf products. Lots of fresh fruits and veggies. Nutritious whole grains like millet, quinoa, and amaranth.
You may not need to eat gluten-free, but you can certainly improve the quality of what you eat by taking some cues from those of us who do. After being sick for so long, we seem to develop a passion for health and well being. Going to any length to eat well is what we live for.
To be Continued…Practical Steps
Tuesday at Simply Sugar & Gluten Free I’ll have simple ways you can start to make healthier, gluten-free changes in your diet. I’ll also have a Linky up so you can add any gluten-free recipe or related article.
Here’s Katie’s contribution with some basic gluten facts and her personal GF challenge!
Next week’s hostess is Beth Terry of My Free Plastic-Life, and the theme is Getting Out the Plastic Food Storage Containers. Get any posts on alternatives to plastic ready to go!
Isn’t Amy incredible? Her food photos always make me drool! You can bet if you have recipes on your blog, you have some that are gluten free. Take a look. Visit Amy.