Gluten free living changed my life

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by Rebecca Johnson

This photo can be used for donut shop, where there is bread and biscuits for gluten free diets. Delicious donuts, cookies and muffins on a wooden table.

Something in her diet “wasn’t agreeing with me,” Rebecca Johnson writes – and so she made a change for the better. ©Adobe Stock

The moment I decided to take gluten out of my life was the day I got my life back. Before that time I thought I was dying. I began pleading to the universe for answers. There was something in my diet that wasn’t agreeing with me and upsetting my already delicate balance.

For years I had experimented with elimination diets trying to find the culprit. I had a nightly habit of eating a bowl of cheese crackers before bed. It occurred to me that everything I ate that gave me pain had gluten in it. That is when I decided to take my health into my own hands and make the change. Well I decided to be gluten free for me.

Eating healthy has always been one of the foremost thoughts in my mind. What wasn’t though, was checking labels for gluten content. That is something I had to train my brain to look for every time we went to the supermarket. After checking any and every label, I began to become a super gluten sleuth. I quickly found there were food items such as soy sauce and tater tots that had wheat in them. Here I was eating them unknowingly exposing myself to gluten. Once I found the trigger, I was dedicated to eliminating the offender.

Don’t feel sorry for me. I am no longer in pain. This is a lifestyle change I can live with!”

My amazing children check labels before they put anything in our shopping cart. It’s not that we don’t have any gluten in our house at all, but they are just more aware that mom has a problem processing it. It is always nice to hear, “That has gluten in it. Let’s find something that doesn’t so we can all eat it.” I am so thankful to have such a great support system.

Deciding to make the switch to gluten free did create a bit of a challenge when it came to cooking. Instead of throwing in a pizza or chicken nuggets, more thought had to be put into the ingredients. If it was made from scratch, what was used to make it? One thing I did that made it easier for everyone else around me was to take charge of my own dietary change.

If I knew we were going out to eat, I would research what gluten free options they had before we got there, or I would ask the wait staff. You can also ask whether there could be cross-contamination in the restaurant kitchen. Good restaurants will be honest with you.

On the holidays while visiting friends and family, I learned to pack my own desserts. It was fairly simple enough to stay away from gluten during the main course; there will likely be several food options at a meal. But not dessert. So when the pumpkin pie came out, I’d open a bag full of handmade gluten free cookies.

People would tell me they felt bad for me. I would tell them, “Don’t feel bad for me. I am no longer in pain. This is a lifestyle change I can live with!”

For those considering getting rid of gluten in your diet, I would advise you to be sure gluten is really a trigger for you. I realized I couldn’t eat a piece of bread without my throat feeling like it was going to close shut and being in so much abdominal pain I felt debilitated. The best route is to consult with a doctor, preferably one in the know about gluten dos and don’ts.

If you need to go gluten free, eliminating it from your life right from the start with no cheat days will allow you to see the greatest results. The damage gluten can do to your intestines is all the more reason to stop. It takes months to feel the difference, but years to repair the damage.

Watching all your labels is key. Gluten can be hidden anywhere, but by law food labels must disclose if there is any gluten based materials in their food items. There are of course a slew of recipes on Pinterest.

Since I made the change, I’ve never felt better. My complexion even improved. No more adult acne. My concentration is better and I enjoy life more without the fear of constant pain. I feel happier, healthier and thank my lucky stars I found the culprit of my painful woes.

Rebecca Johnson is a mother of two aspiring to be a full time writer from Elizabethtown, Pa.

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