14 Random Thoughts from a Gluten-Starved Brain

trainspottingI’ll get right to it – I’m going through gluten withdrawal and it’s insane. A little background: a month ago I went vegan, immediately felt better sans-dairy, and mentioned this fact to my mom with the suggestion she try the same. After she did some more research, she determined that the underlying problem was gluten, not dairy sensitivity (although the two often go hand-in-hand). Since then, she’s quoted Wheat Belly like verse and scripture, and has convinced my entire (immediate) family to go gluten-free. Earlier this week, I decided to give it a try on top of the veganism. Here’s what I’ve learned or observed during this process:

  1. The best way to describe withdrawal symptoms is getting sick without the respiratory issues – you get utterly fatigued, irritable, sore, and mentally foggy
  2. Even though I’d already weaned myself off of a lot of bread/pasta, I’m getting crazy cravings for even the most unappetizing gluten-stuffs
  3. Remember in Walk the Line where Johnny Cash dries out and the Carter family brandishes a weapon to chase off his drug dealer? Right now, I need someone to perform a similar function for anyone who eats, much less mentions the existence of baguettes, eggplant parmesan, and doughnuts in my presence…
  4. According to my mom, all of this is normal and I’ll feel a million times better in a few days; in the meantime, my friends, family, and students have been treated to some first-class meltdowns
  5. Other than a few vegan and gluten-free cookbooks, the two camps pretty much detest each other – my mom has tried to convince me that I don’t need to be totally vegan (and has the GF books to back up this), while my vegan friends and books keep telling me that just being vegan is healthy/hard enough
  6. One of the few vegan/GF books that pulled up in a library search was by Gwyneth Paltrow; I now realize that each camp is trying to save me from myself, so that I don’t become that kind of obnoxious White woman
  7. Even though I feel horrible right now, I recognize that going GF is something I need to do – we have a family history of arthritis and other inflammatory issues (not to mention less-than-stellar psychiatric health) and cutting out wheat seems like a legitimate way to prevent or manage these conditions
  8. I’m still digging in my heels about staying vegan because it’s something I want to do – I’ve spent my whole life needing to wear glasses/contacts, get braces, take a slew of medications, etc. I want to do something that’s totally of my own choosing, and that thing is being a bleeding-heart, liberal millennial trying to save the animals and the earth
  9. With this whole thing, you feel a lot worse before you feel a lot better, but you do start losing weight almost immediately; if this weren’t the case – if you gained weight before you started losing it – there’s absolutely no way I would stick with this…
  10. Even though I barely have energy to get out of bed and fulfill my essential responsibilities, I’m still planning out my future diet plans, what I’m calling, “No meat or wheat, but real and cheap” (keeping vegan/GF while (mostly) avoiding processed food and staying (relatively) budget-conscious
  11. It amuses me that I’ve lived in one of the most vegan/GF-friendly cities in the country (and has been since I moved here almost a decade ago), yet it took my family (all of whom live in a college town in the deep south) going GF for me to actually consider it for myself (but now that I’ve made the switch, I’m excited to check out or frequent more of Seattle’s numerous vegan/GF restaurants and bakeries!)
  12. Speaking of baking, a brief perusal through vegan/GF cookbooks has reminded me that I really hate baking of any kind (I’m not super-big on complicated cooking either), so that the idea of attempting the additional challenge of vegan/GF is a literal recipe for disaster – I’ll be sticking to simple soup & salad-type meals and splurge on the occasional prepared bakery good
  13. There are two schools of thought on how to go about vegan/GF – you either try to recreate kosher versions of your favorite foods or you just accept that you have to completely change your eating habits to mostly veggies, whole grains, nuts/seeds, etc.; I’m going with the latter (although I respect those who chose the former) out of sheer laziness (I’ll shell out the $3/pop for an occasional vegan/GF doughnut, though…)
  14. I want to take this time to confess something: I absolutely despise the formula of most typical cable-network cooking shows (bubbly, skinny White woman prepares pre-diabetic levels of meat, cheese, carbs, and sugar for her husband and/or kids using $1000+ worth of equipment); if I had a cooking show, I’d be angst-y, still “fat” by conventional standards, using five ingredients (and 10-year-old cookware from when I was an undergrad), and making unglamorous foodstuffs that would only appeal to my equally body-conscious gay boyfriends (if I did have a husband or children, they would get shamed into cleaning up after my messy self)

Wish me luck in the rest of this. Once I’m more dried out/lucid, I’ll post more about what actually goes into making this kind of dietary shift…


Author: Leah Pogwizd

Bassist and Instructor

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