Yes, if you are gluten intolerant even the smallest bite of gluten or 1 piece of bread can do serious damage to your body. Thankfully, the body is an amazing thing and can usually repair damage resulting from gluten ingestion with proper care and feeding. The real issue here is: how to not take the first bite of foods that we know contain gluten? And how do we keep up our gluten-free lifestyles long-term?
I am going to step out on a limb here and call choosing to eat bread when you know you are gluten intolerant “gluten addiction.” For many the idea of being addicted to food is new, but food addiction is a real and culturally pervasive problem that can have devastating physical, psychologically, neurological, emotional, and financial consequences-especially if you are gluten intolerant and can’t stop eating gluten long-term. Many people with gluten intolerance are underemployed because of the devastating health consequences of gluten consumption.
I know first-hand how challenging it is to give up gluten when it is EVERYWHERE. I struggled to keep gluten out of my diet even after I got the test results that said I was gluten intolerant. It took me 3 months to string more than 2 weeks gluten-free together. I was constantly in a state of withdrawal and craving for those 3 months and suffering a lot of physical consequences not to mention the psychological suffering of thinking I was crazy for putting poison in my mouth.
There are many reasons why we choose to pick up the gluten poison. These reasons range from social to biological to emotional. On the social side, gluten is a socially supported poison that is marketed as ‘healthy ‘; i.e. Whole Wheat Bread and we tend to unconsciously mimic the behavior of our social groups. Thus, if our friends and family are gluten eaters we are going to have a harder time giving it up. Many of us also have a emotional addiction to gluten products, for many of us the emotional dependence on foods starts when we are quite small. For instance, we may have had a rough time of things growing up and used food to comfort and numb intense, negative emotions. From a biological standpoint gluten contains exorpins which bind to the opiate receptors in the brain of gluten intolerant folks that results in a sense of well-being and numbs pain-similar to the impact the endorphins that your body naturally produces. When you are taking in exorphin containing foods your body’s ability to produce endorphins is impaired, so you crave exorphin foods to make you feel good. A cycle of craving and addiction ensues, you need the bread or pasta to feel good and not having it results in pain. And if you are gluten intolerant and consuming gluten, your body is probably in a lot of pain.
How do we get off the gluten craving rollercoaster so the pain can stop and we can start feeling good? Here is what has helped me:
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Flood your body with easy to digest nutrients!!! Instead of the bagel (even the gluten free variety) or the yogurt for breakfast, have a green supefood smoothie. Try out blended soups of brightly colored vegetables mixed with herbs, raw organic coconut oil, garlic and sea salt. These nutrient rich foods will stop cravings in their tracks and the blending pre-digests the food, making them very soothing to inflamed digestive tracks. That means the nutrients are more easily absorbed than solid foods that require more work for the digestive system to break down.
Eliminate dairy, soy, and sugar. These foods are highly allergenic and cause inflammation and pain in the body and also cause metabolic/hormonal imbalances. Further, Dairy contains exorphins making it highly addictive and also inhibits your body’s natural ability to produce feel good endorphins. Replace dairy and soy with nut and seed milks, nut and seed cheeses/pates, and raw, organic coconut products. Replace sugar with stevia and/or teeny bits of raw organic agave nectar, and fresh fruit. These replacement foods are full of essential nutrients. Don’t be afraid of the fats in the seeds and nuts. Your body needs the fat for energy to heal and many vitamins from foods are fat soluble, meaning if there is not enough fat in your diet your body won’t absorb the vitamins and you will pee out all the vitamins from that expensive organic food. To replace ice cream, I suggest freezing ripe bananas and blending them with carob powder, cocoa powder, or vanilla. This banana cream tastes just like soft serve.
Do EFT! This is a self-acupressure technique that works wonders for folks with all sorts of addictions. Go to http://www.emofree.com for a full tutorial. This technique helped me finally kick my gluten addiction for good.
Exercise: Moving the body will flood your body with feel good chemicals so you are less prone to go after gluten to feel good. It also speeds up the detox process, which means fewer and less intensive cravings.
Get Outside: At least 30 minutes a day flood your body the sunshine and vitamin D (a fat soluble vitamin by the way). You need an adequate amount of Vitamin D to maintain mental health and thus combat cravings and strengthen your willpower. Further, Vitamin D helps regulate blood sugar. Out of whack blood sugar is the cause of many uncontrollable cravings.
I recommend you go outside during non-peak sunshine hours so you don’t have to apply sunscreen that is usually filled with toxic chemicals. I recommend Aubrey Organics as good brand of pure and gluten-free sunscreen (yes, they sometimes put oat derived products and wheat protein in sunscreen!).
Get Support: Find gluten free buddies. Check out my resources page for links to gluten free online and face to face communities. I have found a lot of support for living a really healthy gluten free lifestyle in the online raw food community. Check out some raw food blogs on my resources page and you will find a ton of naturally gluten, soy, dairy, and sugar-free recipes.
If you need support putting the above tips into practice, or aren’t having the success you want going gluten-free, contact me.
Gluten Free Lifestyle and Food Addiction Expert
Vegan, Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie
Image by Canadian Veggie Recipe from Oh She Glows
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