Going Gluten-Free for a Month

As of last Sunday, 8/26, I’m attempting to take a month off of gluten products. Would you like to know more? Probably not. I’m going to tell you anyways.

What’s a gluten?

Your face is a gluten. A gluten is a protein thing that you find in wheat, barley, and rye. (Nifty etymology fact: It comes from the Latin word for “glue,” due to the fact that it creates the elasticity of dough and the structure of baked bread and goods. It’s like glue… for your mouth! Who wouldn’t want that?)

Why go gluten-free?

Roughly 10% of the population has a condition called gluten sensitivity (or intolerance), in which their body has issues digesting gluten. This may lead to bloating, abdominal discomfort and pain, and other fun stuff like fatigue and headaches. There’s also a rarer, much more serious condition called celiac disease, which is a lifelong autoimmune disease in which gluten intake can actually damage the intestine and cause many other health issues. The only treatment for both of these? A gluten-free diet.

Is the gluten-free diet healthier than a regular diet?

Nope! Not hardly. You’re essentially replacing one class of staple carbohydrates with other types of carbs that just happen not to contain a certain protein. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something.

What are the main gluten substitutes?

Pretty much any carbohydrate-esque thing that’s not wheat, barley, or rye. Some of the main ones include corn, rice, some oats, potatoes, and quinoa. As gluten sensitivity becomes more well-known, more stores are stocking fancy gluten-free alternatives to common products like bread, bagels, and rolls, meant to emulate the gluten-full equivalent in texture and taste. However, these are wicked expensive and not actually all that nutritious.

Why are you, Hermitina, trying this out?

I’ve had the lifelong pleasure of living with a stomach that is a world-class complainer, usually for completely baffling and invisible reasons. It’s not uncommon for people who were initially diagnosed with Whiny Stomach Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and other conditions to try cutting out gluten and discover their body becomes much happier without it. Also, there is currently no clear, definitive medical test for gluten intolerance, so the best way to diagnose it is to rule out other things (celiac, wheat allergy) and then see if your belly improves when you cut out gluten.

On a less systematic note, I’m also a little curious just to try it — gluten is in so many things that it’s a really interesting thought exercise consciously to avoid it. It’s in bread and pasta, of course, but it can show up in everything from ice cream to the sticky gum bits on envelopes. (My family: there’s even gluten in Good & Plenty licorice candy! Alas.)

Any questions, comments, or critiques?


12 thoughts on “Going Gluten-Free for a Month

  1. OH my gawsh I just left this really long response but typed that dang ol’ reCaptcha in wrong and it deleted everything! Now I’m grumpy. I’ll get back to you.

  2. Complaint: I didn’t raise you to talk about your bowels in public, no matter how irritable.
    Complaint: Good & Plenties CAN’T have gluten. I won’t permit it.
    Maybe you can get your master’s in food science, and when you get your degree you can thank me and your bowels for the inspiration.

    1. But I didn’t talk about my bowels. I only spake to my stomach, which ain’t hardly a proper bowel at all.
      You tell Mr. Joseph Goodnplenty that, then.
      Why would I get a Master’s in food science? Ew. There are many more exciting things to do with my life. Like toad counting.

  3. Ahem…perhaps you should try a gluten-free vegan diet to really challenge yourself :)
    As a seriously and to-orthodox-vegans, irredeemably lapsed vegan*, I can vouch for the lifestyle.

    * Er, I consume dairy and honey is all :p, the lapse being due to constraints unique to my circs

    Live Long and Prosper

    1. Hmm… I think I don’t trust my eating habits/skills enough to go vegan. It’s tricky getting proper, balanced nutrition with animal products present in my diet. Maybe once I get a bit better at fitting in both life and non-last-minute cooking.

      (I do eat vegetarian roughly half the week, though, and when I don’t, I aim to use only local, organic meats. Which is not perfect, but a start.)

  4. I hear ya.
    I am not a fussy eater (in so far that I’m able to follow a veggie/vegan diet) and I am quite functional – whatever yields all the nutrients I need for the day works just fine. Cooking takes time if I want to do it properly, and I see no point in doing it for just one dude whose time is better spent on programming or at the gym/dojo :p
    Well…perfection is an illusion, a useful one, but an illusion nevertheless. Each step,however imperfect, is as important as the goal.
    And I sound like a fortune cookie now :p

    1. Heh. I am quite a fussy eater! But I am also able to find something I like and then eat that for the same meal every day — e.g. my lunch for the last 3 weeks has been a corn tortilla with cheese, beans, heirloom tomato, and kale mix. Yum.

      Cooking is sometimes quite satisfying… but yes, often so many other things that take time-priority.

      You sound like the most pleasant of fortune cookies, however. :)

  5. Hmm…I do that too. For example, Protein shakes mixed with care (“with great powder comes great responsibility :p) are integral to my daily diet – and I could have a butternut-squash burger with pumpkin soup for dinner until the heat death of the universe (or whatever is currently believed to be the fate of the cosmos) and I wouldn’t even need a bit of rosemary (ping if you get the reference :D).
    Awww…thanks :) Cookie’s message of the day for you :
    “You’re awesome!”
    (Lao Tzu may not have used thosse exact words, but what did he know ? chappie said one cannot talk about the real Tao and proceeded to write a book on it!!) :D
    (credit where it is due – the Lao Tzu joke is Sgt.Miller’s…not mine)

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