A Second Opinion

The local newspaper recently featured an article entitled, “Excluding gluten”.(1) It was a basic exposition about the abundance of choices now available in a gluten-free version. This article, like many I’ve read lately, leaned toward proclaiming the gluten-free diet as necessary for a few, but mostly a fad made popular by Hollywood.

Today, I received a newsletter from Isabel De Los Rios of Beyond Diet.(2) In an article describing how to eliminate inflammation, she states:
“If I had to choose just 1 thing to do right now to help reduce your inflammation it would be to greatly reduce your wheat and gluten intake.”

Eliminating wheat from your diet can have an astounding impact on how you look and feel. 

Wheat wasn’t always so harmful like it is today. In the past, we had many different strains of wheat, but in modern times, in order to increase production, agricultural scientists created two hybrid strains. Right now more than 99% of the wheat grown worldwide comes from those two hybrid crops.

Genetically modified foods in any form can have an extremely negative impact on our health and weight.  Dr. William Davis, a Wisconsin based cardiologist, points out that the hybrid wheat strain shows only 95% of the same proteins as its parent wheat strains: the other 5% are completely unique. This unique 5% of proteins is responsible for so many people’s wheat sensitivities.  It’s becoming a huge epidemic and most everyone is allergic or sensitive to wheat in some form.

Which article is more accurate?

The rapid increase in the incidence of Celiac Disease, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and ADHD over the past 50 years seems to lend weight to the theory that we have a huge epidemic on our hands. Whether that’s because of a change in the amount of wheat we consume or in the wheat itself is not as critical to our health as is the recognition that for many of us, the need for a gluten-free diet is far from a fad.

It is interesting to note that the dietician quoted by our local newspaper predicts that “except for those who must absolutely maintain a GF regimen, the diet will come and go because ‘it’s really a hard diet’.” The different positions taken by this dietitian and Isabel De Los Rios (also a licensed dietitian) are striking, and common, making it difficult for some to discern whether or not sticking to a gluten-free regimen is truly important.

If you have had a physician or dietitian tell you that maintaining a gluten-free diet is hard, I hope you will take a moment to reflect on the fact that this is not a medical opinion. It is a personal belief held by the person who is telling you. Since it’s a personal opinion, there is no need to defer to it as the truth and dismiss the gluten-free diet as too difficult before you even try it. Chances are that if you are having this conversation with a health professional, the medical evidence points to a need for the diet.

Gluten may be the culprit when you have the following symptoms:
Fatigue or malaise – feeling tired and exhausted much of the time
Vague abdominal discomfort or significant abdominal pain
Upset stomach
Recurring diarrhea or constipation, or one followed by the other
Steatorrhea – presence of excess fat in feces that may cause stools to have an oily appearance and float
Bacterial overgrowth of the small intestine
Gastric reflux – heartburn
Growth delay or failure to thrive
Unhappy with your weight
Eating problems – anorexia
Weakness or lack of energy
Chronic fatigue
Joint pain
Poor coordination – unexplained falling
Peripheral neuropathy – tingling or burning in arms & legs, loss of sensation, or inability to control muscles
Coughing after every meal
Runny nose and sinus problems
Anemia – chronic iron deficiency
Osteoporosis or growing pains
Dermatitis, eczema, itchy or bad skin
Chronic dry eye
Nose bleeds or easy bruising
Alopecia – baldness or diffuse hair loss
Runny nose and sinus problems
Headaches or migraine
Depression, moodiness, behavioral changes
Can’t think clearly
Poor sleep
Hyperactive or cranky
Down syndrome
Short stature
Failure to thrive
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Mental health problems

If you can eliminate these symptoms simply by avoiding wheat, rye, barley, malt, and oats (other than certified GF oats), isn’t it worth a try even if it were hard? If you can eliminate these symptoms, feel better than you’ve ever felt, and enjoy a more full and joyous life with your loved ones, isn’t it worth the small investment of time and energy it takes to change old habits?

With the myriad gluten-free choices now available from restaurants, grocery stores, drug stores, and online, living the lifestyle becomes easier every day whether or not you choose to cook. All it takes is a bit of education, support and commitment. When you need additional encouragement and support, Cooking2Thrive® is here to help.

Conflicting opinions may abound regarding the difficulty of complying with a gluten-free diet, but the preponderance of evidence suggests that this lifestyle is not a fad, but an increasing medical necessity. With this in mind, we hope you’ll trust your body’s signals, seek a second opinion, and be willing to invest in your own healing.

Feeling fantastic and loving every minute of it!


(1) Wolfe, Ron. “Excluding gluten.” Arkansas Democrat Gazette [Little Rock] 12 June 2012, Daily ed., Style sec.: 1E+.

(2) http://www.beyonddiet.com/BD


Only one thing changed. Why do I feel like EVERYTHING changed?

It’s Saturday afternoon and this weekend I have no water at my house.  My pipes developed a leak that was running even with the faucets off.  Already, I know I’ll have to replace the entire ceiling of my downstairs bathroom and part of the office ceiling. There may be more. Rather than pay a plumber’s emergency rate, I decided to dry out the environment with a dehumidifier over the weekend and have the plumber come next week. The earliest appointment I could get is late Tuesday afternoon.

 On Thursday, I had all sorts of goals for this weekend punctuated by a wedding shower I’m attending on Sunday afternoon. My running list included proofreading some recipes, working on the website, designing some new packaging for an upcoming product, and testing some recipes. I was focused on what I felt I needed to accomplish. 

 I also felt an edge of foreboding and dread knowing that I wasn’t exactly feeling up to tackling such an extensive list right then so I’d have to drag myself kicking and screaming (internally so as not to scare the neighbors) toward those goals. Bummer, but I’m in this spot more than I’d like to admit and I know I can push myself and accomplish any goal I set.  So, I jerked my bootstraps a bit tighter and set forth.

 But there was a problem. Really, problemS. Trickle, gush, slosh – everything changed! My list no longer mattered because there were immediate practical needs that superceded my well-laid plans. 

Before the leak, this was a periwinkle blue ceiling.

 My first thoughts in the moment were to mobilize and start a new plan.  My mind began to churn: I’ve had some recent unexpected expenses. How can I avoid going to a hotel?  I can shower at the office, except I have no clean towels. I have a key to my neighbor’s house while she’s gone, so I can borrow some water for tooth brushing and toilet flushing.  Of course, as soon as I have that thought, I get a text telling me to give the key to the dog sitter. 

 Finally, I stop pushing forward. I shift my focus. Breathe. Take a moment. Think about what’s really important.  Oddly, I notice that the moment I shift, I feel more grateful than annoyed.  Thank goodness I know how bad the leak is before I head off to work out of town for the day.  I even begin to smile as I recognize how quickly the importance of my weekend goals pale in comparison to figuring out how to manage the basic tasks of life (Where will I shower?  How can I brush my teeth?  How much water will I have to pour down the toilet for it to flush?  Do I have a clean dress for the wedding shower?). I notice I feel relieved by the chance to ditch my original list and start over.  

 Thank goodness for the occasional curve ball life throws us! When a sudden change gets our attention, and we stop planning the next moment and lean into this one, we may realize that our brains are headed down a totally different path than our hearts. 

 Okay, trickle, gush, slosh, I’m paying attention.  How can I best take care of myself through a weekend without water and still not break the bank?  What are my intentions and priorities? How will I feel if I don’t accomplish a single item on my original list?  Will I be able to sit still knowing a renovation is imminent? Can I avoid revving back up and pushing myself?

 Through the generosity of friends, I have the key to an apartment across town where I can shower and do laundry.  I hauled some water for today, so I’ve been able to make coffee, wash my hands, brush my teeth, and water the plants.  I’ve even gotten the toilet flushing figured out, although it took more water pouring than I remembered to make it work.

 The funny thing is, I keep feeling like everything is broken and I can’t do anything – watch TV, use the microwave, cook on the stove, dry clothes in the dryer, sweep the floor, wash the dishes.  That’s silly.  The gas and electricity work.  There’s no reason at all to stay at Heather’s to dry the clothes.  I can bring them home wet and use my dryer.  I can heat leftovers in the microwave, and if I heat some water on the stove, I can wash the dishes by hand.  Admittedly, it makes more sense to use paper plates, but I’m fascinated by the fact that I feel limited in other areas when only one thing has changed. 

 Yes, it’s one thing that affects many everyday tasks, but it’s only one thing. I feel like it’s EVERYTHING. I can’t seem to find a comfortable rhythm for the day. What felt like plenty of water yesterday seems like way too little today, although in reality I still have an adequate supply. Somewhere down there, I think I feel scared.  Of what? I don’t know. Just uneasy like if one thing shifted something else could too.

 I tell you this because I recognize that this may be how some of you feel when you find out you will be healthier without gluten.  One thing has changed, but it feels like EVERYTHING.  And that feels scary.

 As I explore how to best take care of myself on this off-kilter, scary day, perhaps you’ll find some inspiration for moving through your fear.  

 First, I’ll take inventory. Am I missing anything I need to eat, sleep, bathe, dress, work, or socialize comfortably? At this moment, I have enough water to drink and make coffee tomorrow plus some for tooth brushing, etc.  If I should need more, I have retrieved the keys to my neighbor’s house or I can go to the office.  There’s no real chance of running out.  I have precooked food on hand. I have paper plates. I have washed the dress I want to wear to the wedding shower.  I have purchased the cards and the gifts for the shower.  I have books, TV, and internet for entertainment, or I can go for a walk.  If I want to shower later, it’s a short drive to the apartment.  I have everything I need.

 Next, I will take the time to notice that I feel grateful for how little effort it has taken to procure what I need.  I will sit with that gratitude for a moment.  I may even get out a piece of paper and make a very specific and detailed list of things for which I feel grateful.

 If I feel too restless to be still, or like I’m speeding up into a frenzy, I will plant my feet firmly on the ground and look around.  I may grab a pillow and hold it while I do this. I will look at the colors or objects around me focusing on the tiniest details. Once I can be still, I will explore where in my body I feel the fear that is causing me to feel restless. When I feel the fear localize, I will allow myself to feel it for as long as I can at this moment.  I know that I can trust my body to support me and I know that the longer I can sit with this fear, the less likely it is to be triggered by a similar event in the future. I will exercise the courage to face my fear, but I will choose patience and kindness toward myself.  I will stop when I have reached my limit.  Then, if I need personal contact, I will call a friend.  If I need distraction, I will watch a comedy.  I will acknowledge how proud I am of myself for leaning into fear rather than running from it. If this process lasts for hours or for days, I will be patient with myself and know that eventually it will end. There is no reason to panic.

 If I pay attention, I will be presented with an opportunity to shift my point of view and move toward feeling good.  At that moment, if I choose to let go of fear, anticipation and excitement will replace it and I will be prepared to embrace joy.  Momentary happiness requires no preparation, but joy requires us to embrace our fear and let it go. I know this because sometimes I manage to do just that. I intend to practice this more often. This weekend is the perfect opportunity for me.

I am grateful for my increasing courage.  Are you prepared to join me?