Some call it gluten-free. Others call it a gluten intolerance. I call it gluten lite. I’m not one for fad diets. Yet, here I am, 30 years old and finally listening to my body. It’s saying, “Go easy on the gluten girlfriend!”. Around a year ago, I began hearing more about the gluten-free life. To the girl raised on primarily beans and rice, it was all news to me. When I noticed things turning sour for my skin and insides, I gave it a try. I couldn’t pinpoint what the “issue” was but I knew it couldn’t hurt to experiment. I’ll admit, that was unsafe. Without the guidance of a doctor, I went rogue. Anyone who’s participated in a diet knows what I mean. In NYC, gluten-free pizzas and breads weren’t easy to come by so I mostly stuck to fruits, veggies, and wine. Voila! Like magic, I was feeling better. I had more focus at work, I felt less tired by the day’s end, and I was regular. You didn’t think I’d go this entire post and not mention a bowel movement, did you?
Then came the guilt. I unknowingly entered into a world where people are truly suffering serious pain and discomfort from a gluten intolerance or allergy. I do not have celiac disease yet I felt guilty for joining the gluten-free movement without a real “problem”. If I wanted a bagel, I’d get one. I’d suffer through it with a lot less pain than those with celiac disease. I felt dishonest. I decided it was time to do a little research so I could stand behind my decision with confidence.
For those who don’t know, gluten is what gives dough it’s elasticity. Think of it like the glue for grains: wheat, rye, and barely specifically. It’s a binding compound. For some people, it practically binds to their insides, causing lots of discomfort. According to studies, 1 in 133 people in developing countries suffer from the condition. Although it’s a relatively knew diagnosis, gluten intolerance has been around for centuries. When we changed from a fruit, vegetable, animal protein and plant-based diet to one with more grains, our bodies had to make an adjustment.
Since my decision, I’ve moved around a bit and landed in Portland, Oregon, where vegan, gluten-free, and vegetarian items are always on a menu. Sufferers here still have to practice caution when eating out but the options are more widely available then they’ve ever been. Portland has caught on to the “trend”. I feel guilty for even calling it a trend because for some people this is their life. I made a choice.
Now when people ask me why I’m gluten-free or better yet, when they ask if I’m okay while rubbing their stomach and raising an eyebrow, I admit I’m gluten lite by choice. I do it in solidarity with others who truly suffer. I munch on my berries and bacon and feel just fine.