Going Gluten Free

There.  I said it.  In public.

That means I have to do it, right?

I’m still processing what I learned at the Wise Traditions Conference last weekend, and I have a LOT of research to do — and not all of it diet related.  I will share more when I know more and feel more confident about what I think I know.  (Does that sound noncommittal enough?  Good!)

For a long time I’ve had people tell me (those people include at least one doctor; maybe more, but I have a way of blocking out unpleasant memories) that they thought I should try a gluten free diet, at least for a time.

So I tried a few times to go off gluten and wheat, but it never lasted more than a day or two.  I told myself that I just couldn’t do it, but I realized this weekend that I failed because I wasn’t fully committed, and I think that I wasn’t fully committed because I didn’t believe that it was really necessary.

I already feel SO much better now than I did two years ago, and even one year ago.  (It was almost exactly one year ago that I got myself off Nexium.)  So I’ve been sort of in denial about the whole gluten free thing, and I kept telling myself that I don’t feel sick enough to warrant such a dramatic diet change.  But after sitting in on Nora Gedgaudas‘s session at the Wise Traditions Conference on Saturday, and making friends with Lydia, who has been gluten free since March (and still lives to tell about it), I decided that it’s time to bite the bullet.

The theory is, when you have food sensitivities, as long as you have those irritants in your body, no matter how few, your body can’t fully heal. I realize there are different views on the food sensitivity issue, but I look at it this way, at least it can’t hurt.  As Nora says, “No one ever had a gluten deficiency.”

So I’ve decided that I need to give this a shot.  Yes, going right into the holidays.  And there’s a good reason behind that.  For one thing, I’m motivated right now, and I know that I’ll lose my motivation if I wait.  But also, I tend to get into a bit of a winter funk after the holidays, and I’m hoping that if I do this now, with the distraction of the busy holiday season to get me through the worst of the detox, then I will feel so good come January and February and March that I won’t be so susceptible to the winter blues.

I’m telling you all this because, well, when I didn’t announce it, I didn’t succeed.  I told myself that I’d try it, and if it worked, then I’d write about it and share what I’d learned.  And if it didn’t, well, I guess I wouldn’t feel ashamed?  I guess in a way, I didn’t write about it before because I knew I would fail. And we all know that if you expect to fail, you will.  And perhaps down deep inside, I wanted to fail.  I knew it wouldn’t be fun.  I mean, gluten and sugar are my two BFFs.  (And reducing sugar is a part of this whole experiment as well, but I don’t have to be quite as stringent about that, I don’t think.)

This time I’m telling you so you can hold me accountable. I’m telling you because now that I’ve said it, I’m too proud to not do it.  And while that may not say much for my character, at least I know it will motivate me to persevere.

The worst thing about going gluten-free is putting other people out. Evidently, when you get the gluten out, you have to be vigilant about it.  You can’t just have a taste of something or take a day off.  It sets you way back in the healing of the gut.  The last thing I want to do is ask people to make special concessions for me and my diet restrictions when I’m a guest in their homes.  I’m wide open to advice on how to handle that so I can manage this without inconveniencing people.

Meanwhile, let me share a few pictures with you from the conference.

This is me with my dear friend and real food mentor, Kelly the Kitchen KopShe said to me when we finally met, “I feel like we’ve been friends for a long time!” That totally sums it up for me too.

And this is Lydia and Ann Marie.

Ann Marie is another of my real foodie mentors and she’s also the founder of the Real Food Media ad network.  This girl is a mover and a shaker, and she keeps trying to convince me to think big.  I’m listening, Ann Marie.  Let’s talk!

Lydia and I made fast friends.  She’s partly to blame for my new gluten-free initiative, and I’ll probably be pestering her to an early grave with all of my questions and requests for advice.  She’s local to Philly (woo!) and I hope to see a lot more of her in the near future.

Here we are hanging out after dinner one night.  That’s Elizabeth over there on the right.  She doesn’t live too awfully far from here, and I hope we get a chance to see each other again sometime.

(Yes, it was that hot in the hotel.)  (And no, I have no idea why I was making that face.)  (And photo credit for this photo goes to Lydia.  I sort of swiped it off her blog without asking.  So, thanks, Lydia!  Or, I’m sorry?)

And finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t show a photo of the FOOD.  The food was the star of the show, for sure. It was A-MAZ-ING.

Don’t you just want to dive right into that plate face first?  The best thing about the food at a Wise Traditions Conference is that no one’s afraid of fat. You would not BELIEVE the slabs of butter that topped the slices of (homemade, organic) bread on everyone’s plates.  It was a glorious sight to behold.

I can’t believe that I almost didn’t go.  I probably wouldn’t travel for this event, so I’m glad I took advantage of having it to close to home this year.

As much as I enjoyed meeting blogging friends and sampling the delicious delicacies and learning more about how to stay healthy and well, the best part of the weekend was BY FAR hearing Joel Salatin give the keynote on Saturday night. He was everything I expected he’d be.  I actually drug out my computer and took notes, and I may share them at some point, but mostly I just left feeling recommitted to eating as much as our food as possible from local farms and encouraged that I’m not alone in my journey.  Now that’s money well spent.