The weather is finally warming up, so of course this weekend means… wait for it… bruuunch! As I’m enjoying the first of many mimosas, I think to myself how much I love going out with friends for drinks, great food, and more drinks. Then comes that awkward moment, where I have to ask if there is Gluten in the dish that I want. Let me first say that I didn’t decide to be gluten-free because of some weirdo trend. It’s an actual digestive issue. Although I am pretty open (sometimes too open) and unfazed by the topic of bowel movements, it’s still uncomfortable explaining to a complete stranger what happens if they mess up my food order. Sure, there are a good amount of Gluten-free friendly restaurants in the NYC where I live, but its not easy convincing my friends to eat at a healthier more expensive place. I wasn’t always this annoying to eat out with. My intolerance to gluten cropped up only 2 years ago.
In 2011, I was working a day job 36 hours a week… I was interning at a Talent Agency on my one day off, then interning with a stand up comedy school two to three nights a week, then practicing and performing improv twice a week, all while trying to maintain a healthy relationship with my boyfriend. To put the cherry on top, I was also taking an extreme acne drug called Accutane. My justification for doing so much was “I’m 22, now is the time to do everything!” Needless to say, my weight was at it’s heaviest, moods at their worst, and farts at their stinkiest (sorry but food allergies do odd things to you). A crazy schedule is not where it ends though. I was a serial dieter, but never the Cereal Diet which sounds pretty tasty and probably horrible for you. The diets usually centered around NO CARBS, until stress took over and then it became House Of Carbs! My digestive and immune systems were being tested to the limit and they had no choice but to cross over to the dark side (Yes, just like Anakin Skywalker).
Needless to say, my weight was at it’s heaviest, moods at their worst, and farts at their stinkiest.So we have stress, stupid diets, and as I mentioned, a harsh drug called Accutane, which I suspect also played a role in becoming a Glu-tard. The risks involved with taking that medication are so abundant that they make you sign a contract saying that you understand all the symptoms it can cause (why would anyone sign that long list of possible horrible outcomes? Because we’re invincible duh!). Also, I had heard of the many people who had fallen into depression and mental instability, but I decided I would be super careful and healthy while taking it so as to avoid all permanent damage. Thankfully, I didn’t end up in a straight jacket. What it did do was push my genetic disposition for Gluten intolerance into gear but I wouldn’t discover this for another 6 months.
Symptoms started getting worse towards the tail end of the Accutane treatment when I started having unbearable stomach aches and many trips to the ladies room. When I was finally done with the treatment I thought the world would change and my moods and stress levels would go back to normal, but still for months afterward I continued to have varying stomach pains. Just like people with Lactose intolerance, Gluten Intolerance made me the worst person to sleep next to at night. Unless you love the smell of sulfur. YUP. It ruined moments in the bedroom because that smell is a boner-killer. This huge embarrassment followed me EVERYWHERE; work, bars, improv class, I never thought farting in public would be what deterred me from being the social butterfly I was born to be. So I finally went to a doctor to see what could possibly be causing my bowels to turn into a Geyser. The doctor took blood and urine samples and in a week contacted me to say that nothing was wrong with me. GREAT! It’s all in my head? I know stress can do a lot but… these types of stomach aches without some sort of explanation? I don’t think so.
Then I talked to my mom about it, cause ya know they tend to have a sixth sense that you can’t explain, and she told me she had just been diagnosed with Celiac Disease. I thought, well she is my mom, maybe I have the same thing. I called the doctor asking if there was any sign of an intolerance and he said the only way to know for sure was to do an endoscopy. Sticking a tube down my throat doesn’t sound fun and it costs more that I could afford at the time. So I decided to stop eating gluten to see if I feel better. At first nothing changed but I stuck it out. After about six months of mostly being off of gluten, I say mostly because there are a lot of foods that have hidden gluten in them, I felt better. My mind was more clear, attention more focused, I was 8 lbs lighter, and I felt sexy again. Another 6 months went by, I had become a pro at dodging gluten. Life turned into something enjoyable. Who knew that not eating one specific type of grain would change my entire outlook on life?
My mind was more clear, attention more focused, I was 8 lbs lighter, and I felt sexy again.Repairing my gut required not only eating gluten free but also incorporating nutrient rich foods and avoiding processed foods and reducing stress with yoga and meditation. I have turned into a total health freak! Its not always easy especially since I perform stand-up regularly at bars and comedy clubs, surrounded by beer, pizza, and fried everything, but it’s so worth it. There are so many great resources out there to help you feel satisfied and healthy while also being gluten-free. Although it can be annoying, to hear someone say “I’m Gluten Free too! I’m not allergic, I could totally eat pizza if I wanted to but I’m totally gluten free”. I don’t mind too much that it’s become a trendy thing either. It’s probably one of the healthiest trends to happen to the American diet. So Hipsters… go ahead and spend extra money on gluten free pastries. I’m just happy they exist.