Food Is Not the Enemy: Part 2
Those of you who have read some of my articles know that I’ve had a rough relationship with gluten. For over six years I lived completely gluten-free. I’m not going to lie, life was a little duller, with a lot more rice. It was frustrating most days, but I got used to it. I got used to cutting entire foods and food groups out of my diet though I did this with little research. Because I knew that certain foods with gluten made me feel crappy (no pun intended), I simply cut it out.
Cutting out gluten
Initially, I felt better. I thought I’d made the right decision. But then I realized something: Of course, I felt better. My body no longer had to digest any form of dense carbohydrates! I’d essentially cut grains and bread out of my diet. The problem is that my main replacement was rice. So, instead of getting healthy, fibrous, and balanced grains I was eating basic rice with little nutrients. I was always hungry because I never really felt full for long periods of time.
One of the most frustrating things was that I still felt discomfort. I was missing out on the food I wanted and still dealt with my IBS. The smallest amount of gluten made me feel sick or bloated. It got to a point where even rice was making me uncomfortable. A belly full of rice is still a full belly.
Understanding how food affects my IBS
My body no longer knew how to digest healthy foods and grains. So, I had to ask myself, was I doing more harm than good? Not only was my body completely out of touch with the foods around it, but I also came to the realization that most foods labeled gluten-free are chock-full of sugar and unhealthy ingredients (how else do you get rice flour to taste decent enough to ingest?)
I made the decision to start integrating gluten back into my diet. I wasn’t just throwing caution to the wind; rather, I paid more attention to what grains caused what reactions, and which forms of gluten harmed me most – if any. Maybe it wasn’t about the gluten, but rather, the form or process of the grain.
Embracing my frenemy: gluten
I’ll admit, my first donut after almost seven years was divine. Suddenly, noodles had flavor again. A meal left me feeling fulfilled. My IBS took a hit at first, sure, but eventually, I was able to control certain reactions. I knew which foods made me react badly and avoided them while enjoying others. I even started experimenting with digestive pills and vitamins to help my body digest a certain food.
One of the other changes I made to my life was my own self-image. I embraced my body and learned to accept my IBS. I don’t fight my bloated belly anymore. Don’t get me wrong my body isn’t close to perfect, and I’m not the picture of health. But I enjoy food more. I enjoy myself more. By shrugging off the small stuff about my IBS I’m able to live better, for now.
Is gluten a trigger for you?