Pizza, pasta, cake, donuts, bread…. all the good stuff is made with gluten! Okay… I know you can make insanely delicious gluten free versions of anything, but tell that to my great grandma’s cookie recipe! 😉
All silliness aside, I totally get it.
Gluten is a serious problem for a lot of people… and if it can cause more harm than good, then it might be a good idea to go gluten free. BUT, what if going gluten free actually makes it harder to have a healthy relationship with food? Then going gluten free isn’t so healthy after all.
IS GLUTEN PUBLIC ENEMY #1?
You would think gluten is evil by the way people talk about going gluten free these days. But are they right? They might be… or they might not be. It just depends on who you talk to.
Here’s the deal: avoiding gluten at all costs was making it extremely difficult to eat healthy without sabotaging my happy relationship with food. While gluten is definitely not healthy for people who are diagnosed with Celiac Disease or gluten sensitivity, it’s also best to go gluten free if you’re struggling with your digestive health or any type of chronic inflammation.
But what if you don’t have an issue with gluten? Do you still have to stress about being gluten free?
3 SURPRISING REASONS I STOPPED BEING GLUTEN FREE
1. Food fear was holding me back.
I was starting to get anxious any time we were getting pizza for dinner. I mean, really? Looking back, that’s something so silly to stress about…. but I did, because I was so obsessed with being healthy. Yes, I could have ordered a gluten free pizza or made cauliflower crust, but the point is… I wanted to eat with my family. I wanted the really delicious pizza that they were ordering from our favorite pizza place.
I was stressing myself out over the fact that I wanted to eat a slice of pizza, but I just wouldn’t eat it because I knew gluten wasn’t “healthy”. I don’t have Celiac Disease, but I was avoiding gluten like I did. When I finally noticed that I was getting to the point of “fearing” anything made with gluten, I made the switch to actually allowing myself to eat it once in a while… which was insanely helpful in learning to relax around food.
Eventually, I stopped stressing about it and ate the dang pizza. And it was DELICIOUS. When I stopped stressing myself out about gluten, I finally felt free!
You might be thinking, but what about your gut health?! I do have IBS, so I try to avoid gluten on a regular basis. BUT, I still eat it every now and again because it doesn’t seem to bother me and it actually makes me feel better mentally. I know it helps me heal from my restrictive eating habits that I battled with in the past.
So, as long as you notice gluten isn’t increasing your inflammation or harming your gut… it’s totally OKAY to go out with your friends for pizza or eat the pasta your grandma made special for dinner. Yay!
2. I was missing out on experiences.
That food fear was really making me miss out on fun things I used to LOVE doing with no problem.
I had a hard time going out to dinner with friends, eating at parties, and going on vacation. Sure, there were usually things I could eat, but there were always TONS of things I “couldn’t”. And honestly, most of the yummy things have some kind of gluten in them and the non-gluten things just weren’t as delicious. UGH
It wasn’t really about the food — it’s just that I was enjoying myself a lot less than everyone else was because I was playing this mental game inside my head trying to figure out what to eat.
Even if I went with everyone, and didn’t eat — it just wasn’t the same and I was enjoying it a lot less than everyone else. So, I started giving in and eating what I wanted, when I really wanted it. A bowl of my favorite pasta that my grandma makes. A scoop of macaroni salad at the BBQ. A piece of cake from the birthday party. It was FREEING!
3. My eating disorder was getting triggered.
Ultimately, I was falling back into my eating disorder because I was being so restrictive around gluten (among other foods). I was getting food fear, avoiding social situations, and being super obsessed my food all for what? Because I couldn’t eat the foods I wanted to eat that had gluten? I’m sorry, but that’s just not a good enough reason for me to fall back into an eating disorder.
Oh… wait, I’m not sorry about that.
Not stressing about eating gluten anymore has been incredibly helpful to finding mindfulness in my eating habits. I refused to go back down that destructive eating disorder road again after I worked so hard to recover from my bad habits… and I refuse to let food rule my life or control my happiness. I’m the boss…. and I’m free!
3 HEALTHIEST WAYS TO EAT GLUTEN
So, if you’re ready to eat gluten (or at least ready to get over the fear), there are a few ways for you eat it that keep you super healthy that I’ve outlined for you below. Because, of course, I’m a health coach and I still want you to be healthy 😉
1. Don’t eat gluten if you can’t tolerate it.
Make sure that you don’t have Celiac or a gluten intolerance. If you do, you really should NOT eat it. Unfortunately, gluten is a protein in wheat, barley, and rye that can be incredibly destructive to the gut in those who are sensitive to it. It can cause extreme digestive issues for people with Celiac Disease, but it can also cause problems for people who are simply gluten-intolerant. Even more simply, if you don’t feel good eating it, see if going gluten free makes you feel better!
2. Eat high-quality products, if you’re eating gluten regularly.
Pick healthy gluten-containing foods if you’re going to be eating it regularly. Watch out for added sugar, yucky industrial oils like canola and soybean, and choose organic if possible. For example, if you’re going to eat bread with gluten, look for a product that’s made with just whole grains, salt, and water. Bonus points if it’s sprouted, which may help you absorb nutrients better. (My favorite bread is Food for Life’s Sprouted Ezekiel bread – the one with sesame seeds.)
And of course, eating tons of refined gluten in the form of flour isn’t actually “real food”… so make sure the bulk of your diet is coming from real, whole, unprocessed foods like vegetables, meat, fish, dairy, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans, and legumes.
3. Eat it with absolutely blissful, drool-worthy happiness.
If you want to go out for pizza or get a donut, do it! Do it with a smile, do it with complete enjoyment and appreciate that feeling that comes from eating foods without restriction. You can eat gluten and still be healthy, you just have to eat the amount of gluten that works for YOU 🙂
Read more about creating a healthy relationship with food in this free guide!
TAKEAWAY: EATING GLUTEN IS MENTALLY HEALTHY
You don’t have to be 100% gluten free to be healthy. Do I think gluten is a superfood? No, of course not. But I also don’t think having it is necessarily harmful. You CAN eat the foods you want to eat, even if they have gluten, but you just have to do what works for YOU!
To wrap up…
You only have to do 2 things to start healing your relationship with gluten…
- Eat real, whole foods most of the time.
- Indulge when you want to 🙂
Did you learn something today? You might be interested in finding Food Freedom! Using the 3 strategies in this food freedom ebook to learn how I healed my relationship with food. I’m sharing my best tips for healing your relationship with food (including lessons from my experience with orthorexia, binge eating, over-exercising, body image, weight gain, weight loss, and restrictive dieting). In this super special 30 day program, you’ll learn how to create a sustainable Food Freedom action plan that works for YOU.