I went gluten-free (& no coffee) for a month and this is what happened
Some of you may be thinking "What the hell is she up to now?"
Well, let me explain really quick.
My husband decided that he wanted to challenge himself to not drinking alcohol (and coffee) for a month, so I thought I would join him with my own challenge. I decided to go gluten-free and coffee-free.
Ok, but why?
First, I like to experiment with myself. Second, I wanted to see if I will feel, look or perform any different, especially without gluten (it's quite controversial topic these days).
A little bit on coffee ...
A lot of you may still be questioning what's wrong with drinking coffee, especially since multiple studies show benefits of having a cup of coffee each day.
For me personally there are three major reasons for reducing my intake:
1) too much coffee (more than 1 cup) gives me jitters, heart palpitations and makes me sweat like crazy;
2) having black coffee (which is the only way I drink it) makes me want to eat sugary stuff especially pastries or cakes;
3) coffee affects sleep cycle by blocking adenosine (a sleep inducing signal that accumulates in the brain the longer we are awake and the harder we work);
I've been seriously working on breaking the coffee = sugar connection over the last few months by having more savory breakfasts and having fruit as the only sweet item but still when I go by a coffee shop all I want is a cup of coffee with a pastry.
So what happened when I stopped drinking coffee for a month?
Surprisingly I wasn't more tired without it;
The transition was easier than I expected;
I was a little afraid that I won't be able to go to the bathroom without it (coffee is a well-known bowel movement helper) but that was not the case;
I enjoyed having tea instead - I could have a different tea every day which added some variety;
I was a lot less thirsty throughout the morning;
I definitely didn't crave sweets as much;
I felt like my blood sugar was more balanced throughout the day;
I finished my month trial a while ago and I haven't had a real cup yet. If I do feel like coffee I've been having this Mushroom Coffee which has less than half the caffeine plus some medicinal mushrooms in it. It tastes really good, without the jitters, sweat, or heart-palpitations.
Overall verdict: I'm happy to stay coffee free for the time being, if I want it for the taste I will go for the mushroom coffee.
Now onto the gluten...
Why no gluten?
Gluten is a tough protein for humans to digest.
In a nutshell: gluten consumption > gut irritation > increased intestinal permeability > increased inflammation
Inflammation leads to a variety of diseases such as Celiac, IBS or Rheumatoid Arthritis. If you are interested in all the science behind it I highly recommend a book "The Grain Brain" by dr. David Perlmutter.
Do I agree that everybody should go gluten-free? Probably not. But the fact is that a lot of people feel much better without gluten in their diets. Their weight decreases, skin clears, allergies subside, GI issues improve and they think clearer.
I was pretty sure that I was not sensitive to gluten (DNA testing) but I wanted to see what happens when I remove it all together. Will I feel any different?
Besides not having any gluten I also didn't want to have any gluten-free processed foods like breads, cakes, pastries, ice cream, chocolate, protein shakes or bars, etc. I also didn't want to have any of the naturally gluten-free grains such as oats or quinoa.
I just wanted to see how I would feel if I cut all of that stuff out and stick with meat, dairy, fruits, veggies and nuts.
To give you an idea of what my menu looked like for a month here's a recap:
Breakfast: 2 eggs + unlimited vegetables + fruit
OR greek yogurt/cottage cheese with fruit, raw nuts
OR my banana pancakes (recipe here) with greek yogurt/cottage cheese
Lunch: salad with protein
Dinner: protein with vegetables
Dessert: fruit with mascarpone OR nuts, and of course wine (1-2 glasses)
Snacks: nuts or DIY plain popcorn with spices: paprika, cumin, turmeric, salt, pepper and nutritional yeast. I didn't use any oil for popping but I used avocado oil spray before adding the spices.
So what happened when I went gluten-free for a month?
Although I was certainly NOT trying (and I had a lot of nuts and cheese daily to increase my calorie intake), I did lose weight;
Surprisingly I didn't miss my Ezekiel bread at all but boy, did I miss having beer (on hot days);
I had significantly more fruit (3 servings per day vs 1-2), nuts and dairy than before - that's where I compensated;
I was hungry for the first 3 days after breakfast but after that I played around with different food combos and I figured what gets me the fullest;
Shockingly I had zero cravings for my usual suspects like chocolate or pastries, but I did crave beer;
Overall staying gluten free was suprisingly easy at home and very challenging when going out. Restauranteurs do a very bad job announcing where the gluten is on the menu.
My stomach did feel better, especially after eating out and skipping the gluten-rich options.
Zero skin problems to report, and I felt like my PMS symptoms improved.
Overall verdict: Going gluten free wasn't a life changing experience for me but I decided I will do my best to stay gluten-free - it definitely didn't hurt and hopefully over the long run it will improve my overall health and well-being. I'm even playing around with gluten-free beers. I'm hopeful about finding one that will hit the spot on hot summer days.
Next step would be to try to experiment with cutting dairy (another inflammatory agent), but for whatever reason I feel like that's a lot harder than gluten as I really love my cottage cheese in the morning. I need to think this one through.
Do you have any questions or comments?
Are you gluten-free?