Because going gluten free is so 2013

Over  the years, I’ve attempted a lot of different diets, mostly aimed at the pursuit of superficial gains. This diet came out of something different. The lovely side effect of it is that I don’t really have to count calories or worry about gaining weight. Sounds wonderful right? This is a HUGE selling point for diets- the “it’s easy and requires no work” diet. Well let me tell you, it’s not easy and it does require work. Attaining any kind of goal or maintaining anything regularly does. Don’t let anyone try to sell you something cheap and easy. The truth is, that can only work temporarily. I’m not trying to sell you anything here. I don’t know you nor do I have the qualifications. What I do know is my story and so that’s what I’ll share. And of course, I have to give you some advice. After all, what’s the point of a story without a lesson?

If you asked my friends what kind of diet I eat, most of them would probably tell you that it’s gluten free. Since I haven’t really corrected them but always feel like a fool without celiac disease jumping on the bandwagon, I’m here to elaborate. My actual diet is attempting to eat as non-processed as I can. That just so happens to mean that most gluten products are eliminated.  But let’s start at the beginning.

I worked a job when I was in college that was really boring. It was my first desk job so I sat in front of a computer for hours on end. When I didn’t have anything else to do, I became really interested in nutrition, and that’s where it all started. I’d spend hours at work filling up my time by researching. This has continued on since then, with me leisurely doing research for my own interest and benefit. And here is what I’ve learned:

You can lose a lot of weight by cutting out carbs. Cut out carbs and you will drop it fast! Oh, and by the way, an apple has carbs, so go easy on those.  We also need carbs for energy, so if you’re working out a lot, you’ll probably need to eat them, but make sure they’re whole grain. You need dairy because it has calcium. Dairy also causes inflammation and has been linked to cancer research in Japan.  Sugar is a poison and addictive. It causes a slew of problems, including weight gain and diabetes. It’s also in almost everything you can buy at the store. High fructose corn syrup is the worst because it’s so processed. But it also does the same thing to your body as sugar. Main lesson: just stop eating sugar. But don’t eat those sugar free products, they’re full of fake crap that causes cancer. And all those low fat labels really just mean that it’s loaded with sweetener to make it taste better, so best to just go full fat. But there are bad fats and good fats. Make sure you’re getting the best ones. Right now, that’s avocados. It may be different next week, I’ll let you know. Antioxidants are really important for you. They’re in the darker fruits, like blueberries and of course acai (which until the pomegranate took over, you could find in everything). Oh and they’re also in dark chocolate and wine. But go easy on chocolate because it has that addictive sugar in it. And wine is alcohol which causes all sorts of problems. Also, there’s research that shows that antioxidants don’t really do anything. But there’s also research that they eliminate toxins. Finally, meat. It’s seriously bad for you. It’s grain fed, fatty, and ruining the environment (not to mention, cruel). So eat cage free and free range. Oh but wait, that really isn’t any better and those are just meaningless labels stuck on the packages.

Frustrated? Yea, me too. At this point, I’m in my back yard, face caked in dirt, living like a gatherer because I’m so terrified of getting cancer/diabetes/dying from all the diseases living in my water, my meat, and that after dinner mint I ate last week. But hold up! That strawberry I just shoved in my mouth, the acid in that is terrible for your stomach and enamel on your teeth.  And I just read an article about a woman who got cancer despite her free range, gardening, health nut ways of eating. She suggested that she might just go back to eating twinkies.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Stop! Stop. Just stop. I’m sick of hearing about all the ways my food is killing me. I’m sick of every day there being something new. I’m sick of the way that the government doesn’t educate us or protect us from the damage we’re doing to ourselves. I’m sick of the food companies being more concerned about money and feeding us misleading information. I’m sick of research companies being funded by corporations who have interest in meat or corn production. I’m sick of them treating us like we’re dumb and using scare tactics. I’m sad that some of my fellow humans, most of whom have a lot of power, would rather make money and see my health suffer. I’m also angry that diet companies play on the hopes of people, promising them a quick way to change their lives with fake, processed “food” when they really have to know better.

So what’s a girl to do when it’s all so confusing? When everything can kill me and destroy the earth I love so much? I can’t, or don’t want to, invest my life into growing and tending to my own food. That would take all of my time and a different geographical region.

Almost two years ago, I went to the doctor for some medical concerns I had. I was told that there was nothing they could do to alleviate the pain I was having- that basically, it was just there and there were no known medical treatments to help (unless it got really out of hand). I was understandably upset and refused to believe that there was nothing that could be done. So naturally, I did more research. And that’s how I got to the diet I’m on now. Basically, I try not to eat anything that comes in a package. I try to eat things that were grown, not made.  I don’t count calories or add up fat grams. Instead, I look at the ingredients. I know that a banana came from a tree and that bag of pretzels was made in a factory. Seriously, that’s about it. The more processed it is, the less likely it is to go into my mouth. (I probably eat this way 80% of the time). I don’t always succeed, but I do the best I can. The result- I stopped having stomach aches that I’d had my whole life and thought were normal, I started having more energy, and I’ve never had a flatter stomach in my life. The best thing of all, my medical condition is no longer active. I still eat dark chocolate, I still consume alcohol, I don’t always get my food from locally grown resources, and sometimes I eat pizza. My taste buds have changed and now (I one-hundred percent swear this is true) I actually crave healthy foods over unhealthy ones.

I took a psychopharmacology class and my professor often said something like this: “Drugs don’t have side effects. Whatever a drug does are its effects. There are negative ones and there are positive ones. When you take a Tylenol, you’re accepting that the negative effects on your body are worth getting rid of your headache.” That’s how I choose my food. I try to stay informed of the effects that it has and pick which ones work for me/I’m willing to live with. Craft beer isn’t the best choice, but I’m aware of that and ok with it.

So, I may not have a diet plan for you, but I do have this: after years of my own research, and of trying new and different things, one thing has become apparent- the diet I’ve stuck to is the one that’s made me feel the best. So my advice is this- listen to your body. Figure out what works for you. I have no idea if your medical condition/weight problems/fatigue issues will reduce as a result of what I eat. That’s just what happened with me. It wasn’t a random, uniformed decision, but it did take a lot of trial and error.

Will I change my thinking and my diet at some point? Perhaps, but I can tell you that it will be because my body is telling me I need to, not because some diet/food conglomerate company is.

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