What Happens When I Eat Gluten

I was scrolling through my Facebook page the other day and saw this link Jillian Michaels posted: “Science Proves Gluten Sensitivity Isn’t Real; People Are Just Whiners.” Whether she actually believes this or was just giving her followers some “food for thought” I don’t know, but the article really hit a nerve with me, and I have news for those scientists.

First and foremost, I am NOT a whiner.

Second, it is most certainly NOT “all in my head.”

If you are a regular reader of my blog, then you know that I have been eating gluten-free for approximately four years now. (*Read about why I first went gluten-free here!) Throughout the past four years, I have found that the longer I avoid gluten, the more negative the effects I experience when I do consume it. Well of course you say, that happens when you avoid anything for a period of time. Ah, but these things also happened to me for as long as I can remember before I went gluten-free or even knew what gluten was! This leads me to truly believe that there IS such a thing as gluten sensitivity/intolerance.

If you still don’t believe me, let me share with you the happy happy things that happen to my body when I consume gluten.

(*It should be noted that none of these things are “normal” for anyone’s body!)

Bloating

Nobody likes it when your clothes suddenly don’t fit for a few days. Or looking pregnant when you’re not.

Intestinal Pain

The pain can range from mild cramping to stabbing knives (more commonly at this end the spectrum). And we’re not talking just a few minutes of pain, we’re talking a solid day or two. It’s more intermittent than constant, but it definitely lingers for awhile. 

Constipation

Even the smallest amount of gluten can do it in for me with this point. Not fun.

Fatigue

I recently had a piece of pizza (bad me, I know. I regretted it after I spent two days “recovering”.) Anyways, the day after I ate it I was a complete zombie. I felt like I hadn’t slept in a week. From one piece of pizza!!

Head Fog

This sort of goes hand in hand with fatigue I guess. Besides being exhausted, I couldn’t concentrate worth beans. It felt like there was a cloud in my brain.

Zits/Pimples

I’m generally not one to get many zits, small ones here and there, but not huge outbreaks. However, I’ve recently found that eating gluten gives me zits on other parts of my body – back, shoulders, neck, arms, even on my thigh once. Not that zits on your face are any better, but gross!

Keratosis Pilaris (aka “chicken skin”)

I have had KP for as long as I can remember but until recently, never knew what it was called. It’s always worse in the winter so I’ve just assumed it’s some sort of chronic rash related to sunshine. It doesn’t hurt and it doesn’t itch, it’s just there looking weird on the backs of my arms. Turns out that keratosis pilaris is a buildup of keratin in your skin that causes small red and/or white bumps. Nobody really seems to know what causes the buildup of keratin; theories range from hereditary to vitamin deficiency. All I know is that since going gluten-free, the backs of my arms look considerably better. This leads me to believe that somehow, somewhere, gluten is related to my KP.

Nausea

Before I found out about my gluten sensitivity, I felt sick more often than not, especially in the evenings. Looking back now I think “well duh,” a full day of consuming all-things gluten will do that too you! 

Weight Gain

Now, I don’t mean instant weight gain (wouldn’t that be awful??! Yikes!) I mean weight gain over time from regular consumption of gluten. Even just a week or two of eating gluten can add on a few pounds. Scary! (*Read more about gluten and weight gain here.)

Basically:

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If you had doubts about gluten intolerance/sensitivity, I hope this post has at least given you a bit of insight into why someone might choose to avoid gluten for health reasons. There are definitely people out there who are doing it just because the Jones and the Smiths are doing it, others who are doing it because they think “it’s healthier” (It’s not necessarily healthier. Read some common misconceptions about eating gluten-free here!) but there are also some people out there, like me, who eat gluten-free because their body simply functions better without it, and happy body = happy me!

How do you feel about us gluten-free eaters being called “whiners”?