I Went Gluten Free for a Week...Here's What Happened

Ever since I was a little kid, I have always loved bread and butter and macaroni and cheese. To this day, I still eat these foods regularly. I am a very picky eater, making carbs about the only food group I like to consume. I am very particular about the meat I eat, and don’t even get me started on vegetables. I once went a whole summer eating Velveeta macaroni and cheese and mozzarella sticks for lunch every single day. However, I have always dealt with stomach aches and would usually end up with multiple sharp pain a day. The feeling became so normal that it became a regular part of my day. I rationalized the pain through knowing that I eat a lot of carbs and don’t always have a balanced diet. I always knew I needed to eat better, but never thought anything was wrong. Even now as a college student, I still experience this pain daily. Eating a good variety of food became even harder after leaving home because the dining halls don’t always have the best options. My meals typically included either a chicken patty or pasta.

About a month ago, I realized some more severe symptoms; I was losing some weight without changing my routine or diet and was experiencing this stomach pain very frequently. I knew at that point that something was off regarding my digestion. After much research I did with my mom, we found I might have a gluten intolerance or sensitivity. After discovering this, I decided to try cutting gluten out of my diet for a week to see if I in fact felt any better.

Day 1: The thought of not eating pasta killed me. However, I knew I needed to change something, or I could suffer from serious health related problems. I was skeptical as to what I would find at the dining hall but ended up eating a chicken breast and some salad. To my delight and surprise, I already had a calm feeling in my stomach; a feeling I was unfamiliar with.

As the week went on, I was getting a little tired of chicken breast and salad and became more frustrated that I couldn’t eat “normal’ food. I was also having trouble finding gluten-free options in the dining hall. I started adding different ingredients to my salad, as well as adding rice to some meals instead of pasta. I have also started asking the dining hall staff and other faculty for advice. Each day I began to feel a little different.

Day 5: I needed a new meal option, or I was going to blow. I found out the sandwich station in the dining hall had gluten-free bread, so I figured I would try their grilled cheese. It was actually very good. Little did I previously know, but I felt great after eating it. For the first time I could eat bread and feel no discomfort afterwards.

Through this process, I have learned that there are so many gluten-free foods out there. There are aisles in the grocery store specific to such an issue. Don’t get me wrong, I am still not over the fact that I can’t eat your typical chicken patty sandwich and fettucine alfredo, not to mention, my morning chocolate chip muffin. I am just getting started with this new diet, and it is a huge change for me as both a picky eater and college student. That being said, you don’t have to give up all your favorite foods. There are gluten-free pastas, pizzas, chicken nuggets, deserts… You name it, they have it. My mom took me through the gluten-free aisle last weekend, and I was pleasantly surprised. I don’t mind eating my new gluten-free snacks after class or before bed. I am also lucky enough to have a caring and wonderful mother who bakes and sends me gluten-free cookies and brownies.

Results: I already feel better. I had no idea cutting gluten out of my diet could make me feel this good. I actually felt so good after eating a meal the other day, that I became relaxed and tired. It does take a good few weeks to fully improve your digestion, but I am already noticing a difference. I can eat a meal and not feel regretful for what I ate. I have more energy and just feel healthier in general. It is definitely taking some will power to stick to the diet. Every time I see a plate of pasta or pizza I am tempted. But the beneficial outcome definitely outweighs the temptations for me.

I hope to continue feeling better and finding new gluten-free recipes. I know it is going to be difficult, especially being a carb lover, myself. If you are feeling any type of pain or discomfort, I encourage you to seek help to find a solution. No one should have to live in daily pain. I also recognize that I have only been on this diet for a week so far, and I have a long road ahead. But I am ready for the journey and everything along the way. If you are debating going gluten-free for either health or medical problems, I highly encourage it.