Gluten-Free is Not For Me

So many people are arguing for a gluten-free diet for better health and well-being. I am sharing my experience with a gluten-free diet in the hope that it serves as some food for thought before you make a lifestyle decision that could be harmful to your long-term health.

First, some background. I have been a vegetarian since I was 21 or so. I never liked meat. The smell, taste, and texture were appalling to my young self…still are. I still don’t understand why people keep trying to create veggie burgers in a lab that are more meat-like. Hello…we’re vegetarians because we don’t like meat. Anyway, to get back to the subject, about five years ago my brother says to me, “You should try going gluten-free. I have and I feel so much better and have all this extra energy.” I agreed to try it. So, for three months, I didn’t consume any gluten. I ate rice crackers and rice chips, rice itself, and a spackling of other grains, which I usually eat anyway (quinoa, millet, buckwheat, amaranth).

At around that three-month mark–I remember this so clearly–I was standing in my daughter’s room and my heart was pounding so fast I felt terrified that I was having a heart attack at 43 years old. I was dizzy, clammy, and cold. I immediately made an appointment with the doctor that day. After my initial consultation with the nurse and the processing of some bloodwork, the nurse comes in and says, “The doctor recommends that you eat.” I said I do eat, a lot actually. My blood sugar was in the mid-forties and the doctor wondered how I was still walking around and talking coherently. The only change I had made to my diet was going gluten-free.

I will tell you the decision to remove gluten from my diet has affected me to this day. Granted, I should never have made a decision like that in such a blasé kind of way–dietary decisions need care and attention.  I have never had blood sugar issues, but now I do get shaky and have rapid heart rate symptoms if I don’t eat regularly. In other words, a change in your diet can cause an irreversible effect to one’s body and/or physiology.

There are studies linking a gluten-free diet to the development of diabetes, and certainly research those, but I think it is important to rely on your own intuition and experience with food. How do you feel after you eat a particular food? Keep a food journal to see the immediate and long-term effects of what you eat. I think the old adage “all things in moderation” is key. Also, I tend to bake a lot, so I know what is in my food. Processed, preserved, fast foods are to be avoided. That is for sure. Please do not make sudden sweeping changes to your diet, especially over a long period of time.

As an Ayurvedic practitioner, I know that health is based on the particular needs of an individual…it is not a “one size fits all” approach. But we are inundated with information that says, “this is good for you” and “this is bad for you” all backed up with sensible, logical scientific data that often is retracted by some new information at a later time. We cannot choose what we consume in this “herd” approach. We all have different metabolism rates and nutritional needs.

Ayurveda is a 5000-year-old (at least) science that helps us determine what our individual (physical, energetic, mental, emotional and spiritual) needs are. Give yourself the proper nutrition, heal your digestive system, and you will coast in great health and well-being. To get your personal nutrition and lifestyle assessment, email me at justina.namaste@gmail.com.

As for my brother, I’m pretty sure he was back to bread after a few weeks. No need to worry about him.

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