On what seems like a daily or at least weekly basis I end up in a conversation where someone poses the question “Isn’t it really hard to eat that way?” My answer is the same every single time. “No, there are many things harder than eating a gluten or grain free diet.” I truly believe this. We all have our war stories about the hard things we’ve dealt with in life. Some of my hardest included getting off drugs when I was 21 then years later becoming a single mom of 3 kids under the age of 5. So no, I don’t think giving up foods that made me feel like crap is harder than some of the stuff I’ve been through in life.
I grew up allergic to milk in the 1980’s, when there were no milk alternatives. Out of desperation as a kid I would pour apple juice on my cereal. That’s all kinds of wrong for so many reasons. I can’t imagine what people with celiac disease went through before anyone had a clue what gluten-free meant. Now I can go into almost any restaurant and say I’m gluten-free and they practically roll out the red carpet. Now, I know some people and the media want to claim this is a fad diet. My response to them as someone who grew up with a severe dairy allergy is this: did you call it a fad when dairy alternatives hit the market? Probably not, since so many babies get switched to soy formula from cow’s milk formula because they’re “milk intolerant.” How many babies are gluten intolerant though? I know all four of mine were and still are. I don’t need an inconclusive lab test with poor rates of actual outcome to tell me differently. I breastfed them all and it’s clear to me now that the newborn digestion issues they had were related to the wheat I was consuming. But 12, 9, and even just 5 years ago, gluten-free was still kind of unheard of.
I know way too many people who’ve changed their entire lives and healed long term damage because they decided it wasn’t that hard to eat this way. For instance my mom. She’s suffered from autoimmune diseases for many, many years but the most devastating have been the last five or so. She has lupus, granuloma annulare, sjogren’s syndrome, fibromyalgia, and probably a couple of more that I’m forgetting. For a year or longer I harped on her to get off of gluten. Finally I decided to back off and just love her and let her live her own life. We all know that’s hard because we find health and we want the ones we love most in this world to have it too. A few months ago she spent a week at my house which she gets stuck eating our diet and she realized that her granuloma annulare rashes were fading. So she got home and decided to stick with it. Within a short time she started showing her doctors and they were thrilled with the obvious difference. She was feeling better and looking fantastic. I know she doesn’t think it’s easy. She doesn’t have a lot of support besides me and she has to deal with having junk food in her house that is always tempting her. But she doesn’t want to be sick and she knows that being laid up in the bed for weeks on end with fibromyalgia flares is so much harder than deciding to say no to a bun on her hamburger. For that I’m incredibly proud of her and proud of everyone else who realizes how much harder life is than changing the way you eat.
Since changing your perspective can cause a shift in the paradigm I decided to make a list of things that are way harder than eating a gluten/grain-free diet. By saying these things I am not taking away from the fact that it takes courage to step away from the Standard American Diet. Withdrawal sucks, whether it’s from cocaine or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. You’re going to have some rough days. But the benefits thankfully outweigh the bad days.
Much harder than eating gluten or grain free:
Serving in the military
Working outside in either really cold, hot, or wet weather
Losing your job or home
Being a single parent
Losing someone you love
Being awake for days on end with sick children
Recovering from addiction
Injuries that prevent going to work or doing simple tasks
Those are just a few. Feel free to keep the list going by adding more in the comment section. And remember it’s just not that hard…