I’m gluten free, and I’ve had a few people mention to me that they read that eating gluten-free isn’t healthy. I found an article in Consumer Reports basically saying as much.
But there is a faulty premise in the article. It presumes that if you are gluten-free you are going to eat a lot of gluten-free products. Of course that’s not healthy. That’s like going sugar free and using fake sugar substitutes or trying a low fat diet and eating foods filled with sodium to give them some flavor. Xanthum gum? Guar Gum? I’ve basically come to the personal decision that I want to stay away from anything that sounds indigestible. Remember when your mom told you if you swallowed your gum it would stay in your stomach for twenty years or something like that? It won’t and neither will guar gum probably, but it doesn’t sound real. I’m going to try not to eat it.
I’m not an advocate for anyone else going gluten-free. If I didn’t have a reason to give it up, I’d still be scarfing down muffins, pies, cakes, bread. Oh, and sandwiches. How I long to be able to pack a sandwich for the day. One that is actually edible. And that’s the thing. I have yet to find a g-free bread that tastes good. You’ve got to be truly desperate to consume most gluten-free products.
Gluten-free isn’t the right choice for everyone. I choose to be gluten-free because almost three years ago I was diagnosed with Hashimotos (an autoimmune disease that attacks your thyroid) and hypothyroidism. Right or wrong I didn’t like the idea of going on meds for the rest of my life. And based on the symptoms I decided I really wanted a healthy thyroid. I did a ton of research and there was a suspected link between gluten and Hashimotos. Gluten may be associated with many autoimmune disorders. I wanted to try going gluten-free before going on meds so I worked with a couple of doctors.
For over two years every quarter my Hashimotos antibodies dropped (this is a good thing) and after three months I wasn’t Hypothroid anymore. Was it the gluten? I don’t know. I wasn’t performing a scientific experiment by any means. When I was feeling like my body was out of my control going gluten-free gave me a sense of control. That’s all it was. If it didn’t work, I’d go on meds. If it stopped working I’d go on meds.
The first year was a hard transition. I ate like crap. I ate anything no matter what was in the packaging. But I soon realized that I didn’t feel good when I ate gluten-free foods. Rice filled products made me heavy and most g-free products are so filled with sugar even I can’t tolerate them. I’ll still grab a g-free product when I’m really craving something. And I found a g-free pasta that tastes good and doesn’t make me feel like I have a lead brick in my stomach. Plus, there is plenty of good stuff out there that never had gluten in it to begin with. I hear a piece of flourless chocolate cake calling my name right now.
People often ask me if I noticed a difference going gluten-free. My hypothyroid symptoms went away. Again, I don’t know if that is gluten or not. But I think there’s a connection. And then there was a bunch of stuff that was so normal to me I didn’t notice it. I used to often complain that my stomach hurt to the touch after I ate (especially if I ate malt). That hasn’t happened since I’ve been gluten free. I used to get rashes on my elbows and around my midriff. I haven’t had that since I went gluten free. My thighs used to get hot, which sounds like it would be more fun than it is. No one ever knew what that was about. But they would burn up like what I imagine a hot flash feels like. They were physically hot to the touch. That hasn’t happened either. All wins.
In the past couple months my numbers have been back out of the normal range. It’s discouraging, and I have some decisions to make about going on meds (which I will probably do). But whether it was the gluten or not that turned my numbers around for years, it gave me time to come to grasp with how I’m going to choose to deal with being hypothyroid.
Hashimotos and hypothyroidism are really common, and if I had to pick an autoimmune disease I’d totally pick this. So I’m not seeking sympathy. But it is possible that gluten-free isn’t just some fad for some people. It may actually be helpful. And going g-free doesn’t mean that you eat g-free products. It should mean you’ve stopped eating gluten. So I think the jury is still out on whether or not giving up gluten is beneficial. They jury weighed in on processed garbage years ago. Why would g-free processed garbage be any different?