the road to ‘gluten free’

Confession: Until now, I’ve never really understood the impact of gluten.

Years ago, if someone said “gluten free”, I’d roll my eyes. In the past few years, I’ve learned that dear friends couldn’t handle gluten. So I began to care more.

But now… I’m that guy. Gluten free. Bongos and fairy dust. How did I become ‘that guy’? Pretty easy, actually. Here’s what happened.

A little background… alcoholism ravaged both sides of my family… left and right, people crashing down from the family tree. Suicide. The works. So I’ve always been a little leary… And always thought that was the reason why one or two glasses of wine would put me comatose for about 18 hours. Seriously… 8 ounces of wine in the evening could make me feel like I’d been hit by a garbage truck the next morning and make it nearly impossible for me to function with any sort of joy.

Of course I never paid attention to the fact that those two glasses of wine accompanied a PIZZA! And when friends of mine went gluten-free and I watched them drop pounds and transform before my very eyes, I decided I wanted to do the same! Gluten-free beer with my pizza!

Right. As a result, most of my adult life I’ve felt like I’ve been slogging through a swamp with barely enough energy to take another step.


Gluten-free pizza with brown rice crust. I love pepperoni and green chiles on my pizza!

Gluten-free pizza with brown rice crust. I love pepperoni and green chiles on my pizza!

A couple weeks ago, I got this wild hair and spent a few days just taking in fresh vegetable juice from my blender. I cut out alcohol, meat, starchy carbs, the works. After the first day or so, my wife pointed out to me that I’d also effectively cut out gluten.

My response: “Really? Huh. That’s cool. I guess.”

It certainly had not been my plan. But I noticed that I was feeling lighter, more energetic, and generally more joyful. Just happier.

Brown rice, black beans, and eggs were my new heroes.

Little by little I began to re-introduce other foods back into my diet. Maybe just a little meat. Nothing too heavy. Just a few bites of chicken thrown into my meal for good measure. Cool.

Next up: a sip of wine. Okay… a glass of wine. Woke up the next morning feeling curiously FINE. No hangover. What in the world was going on? This had never happened to me before! I’d tried organic wine, red wine, white wine… wine made from the tears of a dragon… and it had all given me vicious hangovers. Let alone beer and liquor, which had always made me feel even worse.

After about 4 days of no gluten, I decided to test the waters with two (2) small pieces of french bread with a glass of wine. The next morning, I felt that familiar “I wish I were dead” feeling. A complete lack of energy until around 4pm… a lethargy that made it impossible to do anything of value.

And at that moment, as the implications dawned on me, I realized that this was quite possibly the most valuable hangover of my life. Never again would I wake up feeling this way, because I FINALLY understood WHY I felt so bad. Gluten had been tearing me up all along.

While I initially feared that going ‘gluten-free’ would be difficult, I can honestly say that it has been absolutely no challenge at all. When I see cakes, cookies, pizza, pies, and other things that contain gluten, I (quite fortunately) perceive them for what they actually are to my body: poison. Pure and simple.

Tonight something magical happened. I made a homemade, gluten-free pizza crust and creating an awesome pizza with all the toppings I love (meat, cheese, olives, etc.). As I looked at the *small* size of the crust, I feared there was no WAY it would be enough pizza for both my wife and me. Probably 12″ in diameter. Certainly not enough for me back when I was eating “real” pizza.

But I swear to you– as I finished my first piece (1/4) of the pizza and polished off my salad, I realized I was completely satisfied! I was full! After such a small piece of pizza? My mind didn’t understand. But my stomach did. I was happy. Content.

I think something good is happening as my body becomes cleared of gluten… My usual cravings for sugar and alcohol have abated, and I find myself eating less throughout the day. In addition, I have more energy, and suddenly all the health food lingo I used to hear and ignore is beginning to make sense. And it’s starting to come from my lips.

Trippy. I never thought of myself as ‘that crunchy, gluten-free guy’ before. But now that I’ve discovered that gluten is one of the key sources of my physical suffering, there’s no turning back.

Here’s to your health!

Highly recommended: “1,000 Gluten-free Recipes,” by Carol Fenster.

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Filed under Living a joyful life

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