Who knew that a minor adjustment to one’s diet could improve their lives in so many ways? Choosing to eat gluten-free foods has helped me succeed mentally, emotionally, I sleep and eat better, I have less anxiety, the list goes on…
A little background information:
I’ve always been an intensely emotional person, ever since I was born to be honest. I always seemed to get so much more upset over things than other people. This began in childhood where I’d throw epic temper tantrums. Fast forward into young adulthood and I was crowned a most fantastic Drama Queen. I figured I was just born a force to be reckoned with until one day I realized that how I felt, both physically and emotionally, was just not healthy or normal by any means. Many years prior I had been on a cocktail of 4-5 different pharmaceuticals for depression and anxiety, as well as for sleep. I had been on about 7 different anti-depressants in the span of 5 years. They did help a little here and there, but just barely. The side effects were just too much, as well as the cost of taking them. I wasn’t getting the kind of mental health from them that I’d hoped. I had decided to go off of all of them and try to eat better, take vitamins and exercise more. This also seemed to help only a little. Over the next ten years, my emotions got worse and worse.
Let me explain what life looked like for me then. I would go into full rages over the silliest things. I would scream and yell for a long time at my family. I was angry that they could not do anything right. It was a personal affront to me if they got in my way, borrowed something that didn’t belong to them, didn’t put things back, chewed with their mouths open, woke me up from a nap, interrupted me, wouldn’t go to sleep, or threw their own tantrums. I mean, how dare they? After a few years of realizing that I was turning into a grade A bitch, I realized that something was amiss. I would become severely depressed about how mean I was to those I loved. I had feelings of wanting to die on more than one occasion, though never attempted any suicide. I would crash into a pit of despair over the smallest of setbacks. I even became extremely critical and irritable with everyone around me. If you were a clerk at the store who happened to catch me in a funk and do something I disagreed with, I may have said something sarcastic, snappy, or downright rude.
My life was one intense roller coaster. I’d have good days feeling so happy and spiritual, but the next day would often leave me speeding downwards into extreme negativity. I wanted nothing more than to experience emotions a little more smoothly. I watched my friends and family as they went through life events that can cause anger, depression, or irritability, but they never seemed to explode with rage, or wither with depression like I did. Something was wrong with me. This was not who I knew I was deep down inside.
I love laughter, connecting and communicating with others. I enjoy yoga, meditation, spiritual practices, nature, and spending time with my family. I could not understand what was happening to me. My husband and I decided to address hormones since the birth of my second child had put me through many months of post-partum depression when she was an infant. My child was about three years old at this point but I wondered if there were still hormonal imbalances affecting me. We spent several hundred dollars on bio-identical hormone therapy and saw little to no effects. I was still experiencing a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde syndrome.
One bright and sunny Sunday morning I had been angry again and finally could not take it. I wrote my husband a note and left the house. I did not know where to go, I just needed help. In the car I decided to go to the nearest hospital and check myself into the E.R. I figured I would need to be committed to find out what was wrong with me and get some help. I didn’t know what else to do and it was time to seek some dramatic help. A young woman with a friendly smile came to speak with me. She was the crisis worker for the hospital and she was handling my situation. She asked why I was there so I explained to her the constant emotional upheaval I was living with and that I could not take it anymore; I was afraid that I’d eventually hurt myself or someone in my family. I told her that I felt that I needed to be committed to the psych ward at the hospital because I didn’t know what else to do. She smiled at me and told me that I seemed to have my feet more firmly on the ground than most others who come to the hospital seeking crisis help. She asked if I really wanted to be committed and I told her that I didn’t really, I was just at a loss as to what else to do.
She was so kind to me that day and I was a bit surprised by her response to me. I had worked in healthcare for a decade and knew that medications and treatments were pretty standard to treat mental and physical issues. I figured she was going to refer me to a doctor or counselor. Instead she told me to go to a clinic in another city and get a consultation with the practitioners there. When I went to this new clinic, I was shocked to realize that it was a holistic place.
The woman I saw asked me all kinds of questions about my diet; what I ate on a typical day, what I craved, and what vitamins I took. I was a bit surprised because I figured she’d be asking me about emotional childhood trauma or something. She asked a lot of questions like, “When you are busy and someone interrupts you, how do you feel and how do you react?” This went on for about 30 minutes. When she was done, she advised me to stop eating gluten. I asked her if she really felt that gluten was at the root of my emotional problems. She shared with me that many people who feel and react in many of the same ways as I did, often feel much better after eliminating gluten products from their lives. She instructed me to go completely off of it for about a week, then to eat gluten heavily for one full day. During this process I was to note how I felt both physically and emotionally.
I went home to my husband and told him where I’d been and what I’d found out. He was upset that I’d slinked out of the house but he was very understanding that I wanted to change. So he supported me and those first few days were rough! I had almost nothing to eat but fruit, veggies and meat. Every time I went to get something to eat or make something for dinner, there was gluten in it most of the time. Well, on the fourth day my husband made some burritos with flour tortillas. I was so hungry and he’d forgotten about my new experiment so I ate them. Within about one hour, I was irritable and yelling at him and the kids again. I could feel the difference so intently! I understand that it can take weeks for gluten to completely get out of the body, but within just a few days it was enough for me to tell that I was indeed reacting emotionally after consuming gluten. Shortly after this I decided to get tested for Celiac disease since that was a new diagnostic buzzword going around in relation to gluten.
I saw a Gastroenterologist who took some blood work that told him I had no indicators of Celiac disease so I was fine. Fine? No, not by a long shot. I shared with him what I had figured out from eating gluten, how my physical and emotional symptoms were affected. He told me that there was no possible way that gluten would affect someone emotionally or psychologically. That was a big moment of awareness as to how the conventional systems of medicine in our country miss so many crucial things. My experience with that has only increased, but that’s another story.
I was learning that I had an intolerance to gluten, or perhaps even an allergy. I was ecstatic to find out that this was a big part of the troubles I’d experienced, but I was devastated to realize that my diet would have to be completely overhauled. Why couldn’t I be allergic to a pollen spores where I could just hire a professional carpet cleaning service to clean our house and vents and I would be good? But no, it had to be gluten.
I started buying a few gluten free products for myself, though I’d still cheat and eat the gluten that was in my house. I craved bread almost every day. The gluten free stuff I’d found was dry and not very appetizing, as well as costly compared to “regular” stuff. If someone came over to my home with gluten pastries, I’d eat some since my will power wasn’t very strong. I would often sneak gluten filled snacks when my husband wasn’t looking so I could still satisfy my taste buds and cravings. Finally I got sick of this and went through my entire kitchen to get rid of everything gluten. If I couldn’t eat it, then the rest of my family would have to make dietary changes as well. I cried through the whole process. My shelves were so bare!
I started buying more gluten free products at the local health food store. They were very expensive so I bought what was on sale until I found some brands that I really liked. I experimented with gluten free bread mixes and gluten free bread maker recipes. It was hit or miss, but I was slowly starting to find foods that I could supplement. Most of the time though I simply refrained from eating gluten foods. Something that I happily noticed was how my belly fat started to disappear! I was not getting so bloated after eating anymore. I had never realized how bad it had gotten until it started to go away. I naturally lost some weight and watched my stomach shrink.
Other physical symptoms that I didn’t realize were related to gluten, or didn’t even realize I was having until they were gone, included itching skin, hives, headaches, intense PMS, burping, gas, and fatigue. It’s been six years now and I am happy to report that eating gluten free is no longer a difficult thing. The process took me about 2 years to really understand what I could not eat, what foods I could eat instead, how to read ingredients and labels, as well as finding restaurants that offered gluten free foods. I won’t sugar coat this, it was hard. It was hard for me; it might not be for you depending on your mental state and lifestyle. I took it on as a challenge because I simply could not continue to live the way I was living, and feel the way I was feeling but those first couple of years was a steep learning curve. I kind of felt how an alcoholic might feel having to insert oneself into social functions and events without giving in to the urge to drink. Even during family functions, it was kind of expected that I provide for myself or pick through what wasn’t dairy or gluten. I felt very isolated. My husband took a while to get into the habit of not asking me to bring home burgers, or suggesting we eat out so much. It also took a couple of years for my cravings to fade.
You must note that in those two years I still cheated and had periods of time with absolutely no gluten, then periods of time where I cheated and ate it anyway. To this day I will allow myself a treat now and again, but I am secure in the brands I buy that offer tasty gluten free options, making things myself, as well as my willpower in avoiding gluten. My family eats gluten free because I believe what I’ve learned about it, as well as grains in general, is that it’s just healthier to avoid it. A few of my family members eat gluten here and there as they have never experienced major symptoms, though one of my young daughters exhibited signs of an intolerance when she was 5 years old. It took some time for us to discover that it was gluten but once we put two and two together, we knew she had inherited my gluten intolerance. She had started to come home from school really weepy and seemed to get extra upset over little things. Sometimes I could see the confusion in her eyes as to why she was actually upset. I remember that brain fog. I would be yelling or sobbing with intense emotions while my rational mind was asking, “What in heaven’s name am I really that upset about?” After a few months of having regular school lunch, coupled her behavioral issues was enough to convince me. We have since worked with a Naturopathic doctor that signs paperwork every school year so she can have a gluten and dairy free lunch. She will not go into anaphylactic shock or die suddenly from eating these foods, but I’ve warned the school enough that it will affect her learning process. Trips to the bathroom with diarrhea, or cramping from constipation will keep her home, or in the restroom a lot. Emotional bouts of aggression and defiance will disrupt the class, as well as brain fog keeping her from concentrating on lessons.
Some might also feel overwhelmed by the process like I did, but it gets easier, I promise. Going gluten free was a completely new process for me. The first thing I had to address was what I could NOT eat; getting familiar with that took a while. Then I had to figure out what I COULD eat. My education led me to finding out how to make the foods at home. The best way to beat the cost of buying gluten free breads, cereals, crackers, pastas, etc., is to make as much from scratch as you can. Many stores carry gluten free flours in bulk and you can learn how to make a lot of your own foods. I also buy on sale when I can and supplement my diet with fresh foods. I feel healthier when I don’t eat a lot of carbs from flours in general though, so abstinence can also save money. I found that I ate less when I bought a $5 loaf of gluten free bread versus a $2 loaf of wheat gluten laden bread. Since many sauces contain gluten as thickeners, and whatever other reasons, I make my own BBQ sauce, as well as purchasing coconut aminos instead of soy sauce. Not only does it have no gluten, it is much lower in sodium. I found potato flour to be a fantastic thickener for sauces and gravies. Anytime a recipe calls for a can of cream soup (which usually contains gluten as well as dairy which I am intolerant to,) I use rice, almond, or coconut milk thickened with gluten free flour and seasoned with herbs. The internet has been my best friend during this process as I’ve found all kinds of helpful recipes and information on forums and discussion boards.
Going gluten free is something that is a bit controversial these days since it’s the new “trendy” diet to have. Many people opt to eat gluten free simply because they notice they feel better when they do, even if there is no allergy or illness presenting symptoms. This process rocket launched me into cleaner eating in many aspects. Shortly after going gluten and dairy free, I started making paleo meals and fresh side dishes instead of packaged stuff. I quit buying canned food and started watching sugar and sodium intake. I was able to afford better food by allocating funds from processed food and using it for produce and organic choices. I have learned to read ingredients lists so I know what is going into my body.
To date I am the thinnest and fittest I’ve ever been. No more bloating and gas means no more self-consciousness and embarrassment. My skin doesn’t react so easily anymore, my head is clear, and my emotions have leveled out. My family is very supportive and my husband is becoming quite the experienced gluten free pastry chef.
Through my research, I have learned that those who have food intolerances and allergies often have other issues going on, as well as weakened immune systems. Add to this antibiotic use, diets high in sugars and carbohydrates, as well as lack of exercise and it’s a recipe for disaster. Science is making some exciting discoveries into how much of our immunity lies in the stomach. I believe it all goes back to the food we eat; after all, it is the fuel of the body. If we put in the wrong kind, or fuel that aggravates our motors, then we just will not run as well as we could.
May healing be with you.
In case you were worried, the Buckeye quarterback won’t lose eligibility under NCAA rules, for promoting Advocare products on his Instagram account.
Fans everywhere were concerned that the football player might have to resort to simply becoming a regular old college student, spending his days studying for classes, trying to pick up girls, and attending parties where it was possible that no athletes would be present.
Thank heavens it didn’t have to come to that, and Mr. Miller can continue his elevated athlete existence at Ohio State.
Goodness, What Did This Guy Do?
What did Braxton Miler do to nearly bring down his entire world, you say? He joined an MLM company…one called Advocare…and he promoted it on his Instagram account.
Yes, it’s THAT BAD.
College officials got wind of the hideous mistake and immediately told the NCAA about it (“well, come on…what are you going to do? He promoted a SPORTS DRINK! The horror!“). There were a few tense days while the world waited to see what would become of the two-time Big Ten Player of the Year.
In the meantime, head coach Urban Meyer swaggered in with complete and utter confidence, stating that “Braxton Miller will be OK” (wink wink nudge nudge). He had it all wrapped up.
But how could he have known? Why such brazen confidence in light of such horrific consequences on the line? You can watch the video here, but unless you’re proficient in mumbling, you won’t get much out of it.
What’s Advocare Anyway, that Braxton Miller Risked So Much for It?
Advocare is a company that manufactures, markets, and distributes sports drinks. Therefore, it was only natural that Mr. Miller felt drawn to them, considering his sporty lifestyle and all-around keen interest in food, ahem: nutrition.
The company relies on people like Mr. Miller, who love their product and want to market it themselves. They use the product, get to know it benefits, then spread the word. In return, they get a cut of the sales. When they get more people to sign up and sell, they get a cut of those people’s sales, too.
It’s called network marketing, or as one Advocare review calls it: social selling.
And, since sports fans are very liable to do anything their favorite sports heroes tell them to do, Braxton Miller and Advocare were a match made in heaven. In fact, all it took was one photo on Mr. Miller’s Instagram account…of him and a buddy sitting (looking absolutely enthralled, by the way) at a table with a neatly formed pyramid of Advocare drinks before them.
Image source: elevenwarriors.com
The problem is that NCAA has rules about college athletes using their name to make money…they have to save that for later. While still enrolled in college, they have to at least pretend they’re not in it for the money, but for the love of the sport.
I’m going to assume it’s only a matter of years until Braxton Miller graduates, and we can look forward to more Advocare can pyramids created by Mr. Miller and posted to Instagram. Until then, study hard!