"In order to change we must be sick and tired of being sick and tired." ~ Frannie Lou Harmer (American Voting Rights Activist & Civil Rights Leader)
When the witch doctor explained to me that, based on my symptomology, I was likely intolerant to gluten, I thought to myself "what in the hell is he talking about?" The only information that I had on gluten was that it's practically in everything we eat and that giving it up really sucks. Not encouraging. I had heard of Celiac Disease and had worked with a kid who had to maintain a specific diet because she had Celiac. It seemed really complicated....and expensive. I was happy when he told me that he only wanted me to try a gluten free diet for three weeks to rule out the possibility of an intolerance or Celiac. I was fairly confident that I could do three weeks; however, I was also confident that once those three weeks were over, I would be right back to eating breads and pastas. Now, I am not one for making drastic decisions and changes that would generally be considered healthy. When it comes to getting large tattoos or altering my hair style - I get an A+ for bravery. However, when it comes to making changes that require a distinctly different way of living daily life that requires an ongoing commitment, I aim for a C-. Good examples of this would be: quitting smoking, exercising and daily self care. Going gluten free demanded all of these things; therefore, my success with this particular project has been nothing short of amazing.
Initially, my witch doctor provided me with some basic information about what to expect when giving up gluten, what foods to avoid and what foods were safe. Everything else I was able to find on the Internet and there was ample information out there to support a gluten free lifestyle, as well as recipes and ingredient lists that were very helpful. The other thing he strongly recommended was starting to eat as many organic products that I could, such as fruits and vegetables. This was going to be very expensive, I could just feel it. May I ask why becoming healthy is such an expensive prospect? Is that not counter intuitive to what we are hoping to accomplish during our days on Earth as human kind? Ridiculous.
With a deep breath, I looked forward into my three weeks and plunged head first into the gluten free world. I emptied my cupboards and fridge of any and all products containing gluten, which basically left my cupboards and fridge completely bare. It really is in everything and, even when you think it might not be in something, if you look closely enough - there it is. After heading to my local grocery store and being very overwhelmed and discouraged by the lack of gluten free and organic items available, I went back online to figure out a different solution. Small health food stores were available throughout the city; however, their prices were totally unbelievable. I was lucky and quickly found a place in the surrounding area that sold gluten free and fresh organically (locally) grown products and on top of this wonderful discovery, they also delivered to your door once a week. Bingo. I set up an account immediately. A couple weeks after this, I found out that the Bulk Barn has a wonderful selection of gluten free products that are much cheaper that you can purchase in other places so I have become a frequent flier there.
Making this transition was not difficult solely because of the organization it took to consistently have organic, gluten free items in my home. Going gluten free forced me to change every eating habit I had, from the types of food I was cooking, to the new recipes I was learning, to the preparation of food, to the frequency of being in the kitchen. It was crazy. And, what was crazier was the fact that I just simply did it, without complaining or procrastinating. I just did it, completely, and that was totally unlike me. I could no longer eat at the restaurants I frequented or casually snack on granola bars and muffins. Outside of purchasing cigarettes, I no longer had any reason to stop by the corner store. My trips to the local grocery store dramatically declined. Being invited out for dinner became complicated and it became easier to stay at home and cook. I became very aware of what I was putting into my body and my body responded very positively.
For the first three to five days I went through what I assume was carbohydrate withdrawal, which for me felt like a never fulfilled hunger ache in my stomach. It drove me bonkers. Planning every meal - every snack - also drove me bonkers. After the first week, I noticed a dramatic difference in my episodes of bloating that, at times, had left me looking five months pregnant. My stomach and digestive system felt happy. The second and third weeks, I experienced a distinct shift in my mood and levels of anxiety. My brain and heart felt happy too. That was all it took really and, during my next appointment with my witch doctor, I informed him that I would be remaining gluten free. Likely Forever. That's how much better I felt - physically, emotionally and mentally. My stress decreased and my ability to cope with stress increased. People at work started telling me that my demeanour was completely different and I started losing weight. This wasn't solely due to the change in my diet; at the same time, my witch doctor was helping me address some other identified issues, which I will describe in their own, separate posts.
As time has gone by, the benefits from going gluten free and eating organic has had pronounced changes on how I function and how my body functions. I have also given up red meat, which was very difficult for me but has been worth it. Who knew? Apparently, lots of people, but, I didn't and that's all that really matters.