I Went Gluten Free (And I'm Here to Tell the Tale)

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I’ve always had feelings of guilt around food.

Eat a burger? You’re bad.

Have a cupcake? You’re awful.

Pick pasta over a salad at dinner? You’re worthless.

When I went to college I had all this food available to me and I ate all of it in excess. I would gain and lose the same 20 pounds over and over, feeling the same guilty feelings when I would cram a 20 piece chicken nuggets in my face or order dessert. I tried Whole30 a few times but only made it 15 days before I was lured away with gelato in New York. For me? Food has always been a struggle.

And then, I was diagnosed with PCOS.

The doctor who diagnosed me (Voldemort as he’s known around here) offered me no support or resources after he diagnosed me so I was left to my own devices, which can be a dangerous thing when your ovaries are involved. I learned the best way to manage PCOS is to adopt a healthier diet and to avoid foods that contain gluten, dairy and soy. Sugar should also be limited.

Oh joy, eliminating foods, my favorite. Said no one ever.

My journey into this new diet has not been an easy one. I find myself to be like an angry toddler at times, kicking and screaming in protest and sometimes I’m like “this is a piece of gluten free cake!”

Right now I’m about 85% gluten free and 95% dairy free. Here are a few things I’ve learned about being gluten free, dairy free while still maintaining some sanity.

I did my research.

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I went on a rampage: reading everything I could about PCOS and the best diet for it. I had some friends who also have PCOS who offered up support and resources. I have not read any books about PCOS yet, but I did find some articles and websites that have some great lists and resources for things to eat and not eat. I bookmarked these so I refer to them when I need help. The information is extremely overwhelming, but just take it a little bit at a time.

This is a great link if you’re going gluten free or have recently been told by a doctor that you need to give up gluten. Brand New to Gluten Free by Gluten Free Girl.

Another great link if you have been diagnosed with PCOS and your jerk face doctor didn’t give you any information about your PCOS diagnosis. What is the Best PCOS Diet? by PCOS Diet Support

I started off really slow.

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You know that Ron Swanson quote from Parks and Recreation about not half-assing multiple things and using your whole ass? That is basically me. I don’t like to half-ass anything: I’m pretty much an “all or nothing” kind of girl. But, when making a lifestyle change that is this big I decided to take it really slowly. I started with one gluten free meal per day, then two, then three. I also let myself have gluten on weekends because it’s really hard to maintain when your husband and his best friend take you to a brewery and there’s a taco truck with no gluten free options and you’re starving. Since I’m not allergic to gluten, having it occasionally doesn’t really affect me that much.

I’ve noticed that breakfast is the easiest meal to make gluten free, lunch is the hardest.

I am the annoying person at the grocery store.

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I used to run through the aisles of my Trader Joe’s with reckless abandon: grabbing whatever tickled my fancy or was pumpkin spice flavored. Those days are gone, my friends. Now, I have a list that I have carefully curated and take my time reading labels to make sure our products are gluten free. It’s a real helpful pain in the ass. Luckily, Trader Joe’s has an up-to-date list of all the items they sell that are gluten free. You can find it here. I take this list with me to the store every week.

I stepped up my meal prep game

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I plan our meals using Pinterest mostly. But, be sure to carefully read the recipes because some say they’re gluten free when they aren’t. I try to plan meals that are simple with a few ingredients. Mostly I do breakfast casseroles or egg muffins and try to cook at least one meal in our crock pot to make it easy. My Pinterest boards can be found here.

I also get great recipe ideas from Kait Hanson and Simi Botic, who are dear friends and are also gluten free and believe in keeping things simple.

Here are a few things we’ve made that even Kyle has loved:

Paleo Breakfast Casserole by Paleo Running Mama

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs by Fit Slow Cooker Queen

Chicken Sausage Cajun Jambalaya by Evolving Table

Things I have noticed since going gluten free:

The most random things have gluten in them: even some salad dressings and imitation crab.

Dining out is not as fun as it used to be.

I have lost some weight and am less bloated.

I’m sleeping better which we all know is a huge feat.

Things I like about being gluten free:

I feel better overall.

My period was only 3 days late instead of 9 days late this month!

I am still able to enjoy some delicious food, and am able to get creative in the kitchen.

Things I do not like about being gluten free:

I’ve now become “that person” who has to ask for special food at outings and events.

SO MANY DISHES.

SO MUCH PREP WORK.

This is just my experience with going gluten free so far. A few people have asked if I will keep this up forever and honestly I don’t know. But, I will be sticking with it until we get pregnant and then we’ll see what happens. It’s still a work in progress!

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