Gluten-Free: Friend, Fad, or Foe?

This week’s post is written by my friend and fellow wellness blogger, Kamilah Howard. She shares her experience living with gluten sensitivity, and how it has affected her life.
You can also check out my guest post on her blog; I write about where I get my protein as a vegan athlete.

By now, everyone has heard about being gluten-free. If you’re familiar with it like I am, you know the official medical diagnosis is non-celiac gluten sensitivity. There are names for being gluten-free that people use such as gluten intolerant. You may have also heard the term “celiac disease” thrown into the mix.

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Kale, chickpeas, bean sprouts, craisins, red cabbage, and poppy seed dressing

Celiac disease is more serious than being gluten-sensitive. Your doctor would have to diagnose you with it either through family or medical history, blood tests, physical exams or an intestinal biopsy. I’ve had an intestinal biopsy to see if I had celiac disease and fortunately for me, the test returned negative. However, I still find that gluten is a problem for me. Therefore, I’ve remained on a gluten-free diet over the last four years.

It’s come with its challenges. I think it’s much harder to switch over to a gluten-free diet when you weren’t born with celiac disease. Because you know how tasty and delicious so many foods taste already, it’s hard to give those up and try different options. The day after my biopsy I had no idea how I was going to eat. Or what I was going to eat. Would I lose a ton of weight because options are limited? Will I spend hundreds of dollars on gluten-free products, desperately trying to recreate savory recipes I had loved for years? Will my parents have to change the way they eat? Will this affect how we interact at social gatherings? I think I had more questions after leaving the hospital than I did answers to the awful symptoms of incorporating gluten into my diet. But instead of wallowing in uncertainty, I decided that I was going to find those answers to those questions. And ultimately find out how living a gluten-free lifestyle would be a positive influence in my life.

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Soup with chickpeas, spinach, mushrooms, quinoa, carrots, tomato and onion

I focused on what I could eat instead of what I couldn’t eat. The laundry list of “no” was not inspiring or in any way encouraging. I started blogging about the different gluten-free products I liked and didn’t like, and eventually found a community of other gluten free and celiac friends (online and in college at the time). I started to realize that being gluten-free wasn’t about the diet. It was about paying attention to what you’re putting into your body and how it made you feel.

Now, four years into the process, I realized that I want to be living the healthiest I can be, while throwing in a few French fries every so often. Being gluten-free has inspired me so much that I decided to attend Northwestern and get a master of science in Health Communication. It has inspired me to experiment with new foods and encouraged me to see no limits when it comes to nutrition. Sure, pasta, pizza, bread and fried foods are delicious. But when you don’t feel well after you eat them, you have headaches, hand and joint pain and you feel “foggy” – then you need to make a change. Being gluten-free has set me on the right path because I now listen to my body. I feel (literally) what’s right for me. I’d challenge anyone that is looking for “more” out of food to step out of their comfort zone, and really get to know themselves. Get to know food. There are tons of options, and bump the naysayers that think gluten-free is a fad. It’s not a fad if it changes your life.

Kamilah

 

Kamilah is a Washington, D.C. based health and wellness blogger who enjoys being active indoors and outdoors. You can find her at Whole Foods or a local farmer’s market picking out food or spinning at her favorite studio. You can follow her on her blog, anchoredinhealth.com or on Instagram, @anchoredinhealth.

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