It came to my attention recently that I have never fully shared my story and my journey here on Tasty Yummies about why I eat gluten-free. I also have never shared some of the “before” photos of me prior to fully changing my diet 3 years ago when I adopted a lifestyle of clean-eating and a diet free of processed-foods and other junk. As much as I enjoy seeing the visual changes from other peoples’ journeys , I have put off sharing my own, for fear of embarrassment and I guess, shame. I have lost the weight, I am healthier than ever, but there is something about seeing photos of myself from before, that is still somewhat painful. I wasn’t obese, many people would hardly call me fat. However, I felt terrible and I was crazy unhappy both in how I felt and how I looked. It is still hard for me to look back at myself at that time. I guess I have needed a few years to pass, just so I could deal with it all and be OK enough with my journey to share it; weight-loss photos and all.
(The purpose of this post is NOT to say that I lost weight by going gluten-free! On the contrary, that was hardly the case and initially I was at my heaviest when I went gluten-free. PLEASE read the entire post!!)
Throughout college I struggled with constant stomach aches and other various digestive issues, if I wasn’t constipated I had chronic diarrhea, I was constantly bloated and gassy and always felt lethargic and weighed down. After visiting many doctors including a gastroenterologist, being told to track my eating and consequent symptoms with a food journal, and loads of tests, I was basically told I had IBS and it was just something I would just have to deal with.
Fast forward over 5 years to January 2005 when I was still dealing with chronic stomach ailments of various kinds, chronic migraines and fatigue and other health complications. With the help of a great family friend, a chiropractor and holistic health healer, I completed a supplement supported 30-day cleanse to rid my body of all known common allergens and irritants. Gluten (and most other grains), dairy, nuts, sugar, eggs, soy, corn, caffeine, alcohol, meat, shellfish, etc – all were removed from my diet for an entire month. At barely even 7 days into the cleanse, I felt better than ever before. I felt lighter, less bloated and had little to no stomach complications. After the cleanse was completed I slowly began introducing foods into my diet to see my body’s natural response to them. Immediately upon any consumption of gluten, I found myself doubled over in pain, sick with diarrhea and I found myself more bloated than ever before. I tested it out for a week or so, finding it hard to believe and not wanting to fully succumb to this new lifestyle. Every single time, sicker than ever before. February of 2005 was the last time I ever, knowingly and purposefully consumed any gluten.
About 5 years into my gluten-free lifestyle I was blood-tested for Celiac disease. It, of course, came up negative since my body had been free of gluten for over 5 years and from what I understand the only accurate test is the intestinal biopsy and you have to have been consuming gluten for at least 30 days prior. At this point nearly 9 years later, I am still unsure if I am plagued with Celiac disease or a simple gluten intolerance, I tend to believe it is Celiac, but to me it hasn’t mattered too much. I have completely and fully maintained a gluten-free diet and it has been the best thing that I could have ever done for myself. It has been a challenging 8+ years with it’s ups and downs but choosing to be in control of my own health couldn’t have been an easier and wiser decision.
Outside of going gluten-free and just as importantly, just over 3 years ago I made the huge lifestyle change of cutting out ALL processed foods from my diet . I struggled for those first 5 years of eating gluten-free, I got caught up into buying anything and everything that was labeled “gluten-free”. I liked anything that made eating gluten-free easier and more convenient. I wanted to eat like everyone else. Gluten-free baking terrified me. Over time I found myself gaining weight and feeling sluggish again, even without the gluten. I constantly had sinus infections and would always get sick with whatever was going around. Again, I kick started this massive change with a cleanse and after just two months of being processed food free, I had dropped 30 lbs and I felt amazing! This change was equally as important to my health and overall wellness as going gluten-free was. Consequently, this lifestyle change and my new found health is what jump started my journey into starting this blog and sharing my recipes with the world!
These photos were taken just after I lost 30lbs. by not only continuing my gluten-free lifestyle, but also by cutting out all processed foods and focusing on real and whole foods.
Both maintaining a fully gluten-free diet and removing processed foods while changing my focus to whole, real foods, mostly plant based – has definitely changed my life in more ways that I could ever list. I honestly feel like I am a new person. Besides the aforementioned physical complications, by removing gluten and processed foods completely, I really noticed a dramatic change in my overall well being. My moods changed, I had more energy, I felt less foggy-headed and I found that I could focus more clearly. I have never been more in tune with and aware of what my body needs and how to properly nourish it. This mind body connection I have found, is something I will never take for granted. It has actually been so long for me, I can’t even remember all of the bad things I used to feel, I just know that I have never, ever felt better!!
Please feel free to comment below to share your story or ask me any questions that you may have about my journey, I am happy to share whatever I can. Thank you for reading!