Be Well: My Gluten-Free Month

workAs I mentioned in this post, I gave up gluten for the month of January. I decided to do this for two reasons: 1) December 2012 was probably the most gluttonous month of my life, and I needed a good way to cut out carbs and 2) I've heard a ridiculous number of positive health claims about avoiding gluten from everywhere from the paleo camp to concerned mothers. So, after 31 days of NO wheat-based products, I have to say...

I don't get it.

Giving up gluten was hard for about three days. The first three days I found myself hungry all the time, because wheat toast and pretzel crisps and the occasional slice of pizza are all mainstays in my diet. But then I realized that you can eat all corn products and all rice. And then it wasn't hard anymore. Over the past month, I've eaten a disproportionate amount of Mexican food and Asian food. Also, with two exceptions, I avoided the "gluten free" versions of food I usually eat. I didn't think that just switching to shopping at gluten-free Whole Foods was really in the spirit of what I was trying to do. (And my two exceptions? One was finally cooking a box of gluten-free pasta that my husband brought home months ago. The other was buying gluten-free granola to eat with my Greek yogurt so I didn't have to watch my Greek yogurts' "sell by" date come and go.)

The one major benefit of the whole gluten-free experiment was not being able to eat cookies, cake, or cupcakes. While I don't eat those things regularly, I think not eating them for an entire month was definitely a good thing. However, I think it would be far more productive to just give up desserts (which I'm planning to do in March!) in order to eliminate all the candy, ice cream, and frozen yogurt that I was still able (and oh-so-willing) to continue eating.

In my experience, I found all the positive health claims about the gluten-free life to be completely unfounded. I didn't feel better. None of my allergies were cured. I didn't get stronger. I didn't lose weight. In fact, I got sick in the middle of the month and I've had more digestive issues during January than I've had in a very long time. Bottom line, I plan to joyfully return to eating gluten come February 1st. I miss my whole wheat English muffins in the morning, my 1/4 cup of Kashi cereal after the gym, the occasional burger, the more frequent pizza slice, sandwiches on wheat bread, and cupcakes. Most of all, I miss how eating whole wheat products makes me feel full for several hours after the meal is over. How it makes my food "stick with me."

So, what's the plan for February? Well, my husband and I are planning on attempting to go the entire month without eating out/ordering food (with one or two special-occasion exceptions). I expect that to be far more challenging than gluten-free - as always, I'll let you guys know how I fare!

Do any of you guys have any experience with living life gluten-free? If so, I'd love to hear about it!

Major disclaimer: Obviously, none of this oh-so-scientific and insightful analysis applies to people who have a diagnosed gluten allergy. If a doctor says you have Celiac, this post is not for you!

Other disclaimer: I found this image on Pinterest, but when I try to click through to the source it says "Not Found." Here it is on Pinterest, and please let me know if you know the source!