I elected to participate in Gluten-free January because I came to the sad realization (while doing a 30-day Paleo experiment) that I do better when I don’t eat wheat. Although I don’t count myself among the small percentage of people with celiac disease, who experience a severe immune reaction when consuming gluten (that is, wheat, barley and rye), many people have noticed negative effects including gut irritation, poor digestion and weight gain.
Although I think most people signed up for Gluten-free January to find out if gluten was a culprit in their health woes, I signed up to see if incorporating non-gluten grains (such as rice, corn, oats and beans) on occasion would stymie my fat loss and recovery. Here’s the observations I made:
- The dose makes the poison. I could eat small amounts of rice, corn chips, etc. with little, if any negative effects. However, larger amounts made me feel all sorts of hypoglycemic-like hunger pangs.
- Wheat is the worst culprit. As much as rice, corn, etc. have negative effects, nothing messes with my emotions or digestions like wheat… though it doesn’t seem to have that effect in the tiniest of doses or when consumed immediately post-workout.
- It’s a slippery slope. Start eating delicious gluten-free baked goods, and it’s easy to slip into wheat. Staying away from grains completely is a lot easier.
- It’s a lot easier to stay on the bandwagon. Aside from beer (see below), there is almost nothing with gluten that doesn’t have equally delicious gluten-free substitutes.
- Gluten-free beer can be tasty! Specifically, Bard’s Tale Beer Company‘s sorghum beer is tasty.
- No real changes in body composition. In comparison, I lost about 4 pounds on a month of the Paleo diet.
- Aside from specific substitutes (like gluten-free pizza and gluten-free pastries), gluten-free is affordable.
Conclusions? The Paleo diet is the best for me, wheat as a cheat meal is tasty and gluten-free cheats are slightly more expensive but the side effects aren’t as bad. They must be used with extreme moderation. I can’t promise I’ll be gluten-free for life (including cheat meals), but I’m working on staying close to it.