A Frugal Gluten-Free Journey
I’ve heard over and over again how gluten-free is the new fad diet. There’s a common misconception that people who choose a gluten-free lifestyle do so to be trendy.
Honestly, I can’t think of one person I know who is happy to cut gluten out of their lives. Not only is a gluten-free diet restrictive, but the cost can also really add up!
Well, I’m determined to go on this gluten-free journey without increasing my weekly grocery tab!
I am excited to share this journey with you, and I hope I’m able to inform and inspire others in my predicament.
How I Discovered My Gluten Sensitivity
For as long as I can remember, I’ve suffered from several medical issues. I’m sure my parents, and everyone who knows me, thought I was a hypochondriac.
It seemed like every other week a new ailment took hold of me, causing me all kinds of problems. As a teenager, I had terrible headaches, which progressed to migraines later down the road.
I would constantly have stomach aches as a kid. As an adult, I was able to identify those aches as gas and bloating.
I break out in hives randomly, most often when I’m exposed to extreme heat. (My mom was convinced I had chronic ringworm when I was younger, but a doctor assured her it was simply hives and prescribed antihistamines although no cause was ever determined.)
The list goes on, but I’m sure you get my point. I was a mess!
As I started cutting out processed foods in an attempt to lose weight from my last pregnancy, I started noticing some changes.
Suddenly I had energy! My headaches disappeared! I didn’t feel bloated all the time! It was amazing!
I talked to my doctor about the symptoms I’ve had for as long as I could remember, and how they seem to be alleviated by avoiding food such as pasta and bread. Together we determined gluten was the most likely culprit.
I will be having tests done this year to rule out Celiac disease or other serious conditions.
What exactly is gluten?
In simple terms, gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. So, basically anything delicious. Gluten can be found in pasta, bread, cake, doughnuts… pretty much everything I love. But that’s not all!
Little did I know, some condiments and sauces also use wheat as one of their ingredients.
I was shocked to hear that soy sauce, of all things, is not gluten-free! That one hurt.
Now, I want to point out, gluten isn’t BAD. There is no evidence that suggests the average person can benefit from specifically cutting gluten out of their diet.
However, for those who live with Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity and intolerance, the only real remedy is to avoid gluten as much as possible. For a more thorough explanation of what gluten actually is, check out this YouTube video by AsapScience I found explaining it!
Common Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance
There are several symptoms of gluten Sensitivity/Intolerance that are not as serious as Celiac disease, but they can still make a person miserable. (Those who live with Celiac Disease often suffer from anemia, osteoporosis and weight loss, among other serious health issues.)
Here’s a fun list of the symptoms I experience after eating food with gluten in it:
- Stomach pains
- Gas and Bloating
- Constipation or Diarrhea (My body likes to keep me on my toes, so I never know which one I’ll experience at any given time.)
- Inflammation of the digestive tract (Ulcerative Colitis- which I didn’t realize until recently was causing a whole host of other problems I never would have thought were related. Look for that post in the near future!)
- Skin issues (hives)
My Journey to Gluten-Free Living
Being a family of seven living on one income, going gluten-free terrified me. I’ve browsed the gluten-free shelves in Walmart, and I was not ready to spend that kind of money!
I make a strong effort to keep my weekly grocery bill under $120, and I don’t want that to change just because of my dietary restrictions.
My plan is to focus mainly on “real foods” like vegetables, meat, and fish. If I am absolutely craving pasta or cake, I have found some inexpensive gluten-free products (Mostly at Aldi.)
This is quite a transition for me. I’ve made a conscious effort to cut down on gluten in the past, but I have never been strictly gluten-free.
But that’s about to change! I’m starting this journey, and I welcome you to come on it with me!
I will be sharing updates along the way of my progress. I also want to share with you all of the great, low-cost gluten-free products I find, as well as delicious gluten-free recipes!
Gluten Intolerance Resources
Some websites that have provided me with great insight on gluten sensitivity and intolerance:
Overview of My Gluten-Free Journey
- Gluten is a protein found in wheat
- There is no evidence that gluten has negative effects on the average person
- Gluten Sensitivity/Intolerance and Celiac Disease are not the same things
- Some symptoms include migraines, bloating, diarrhea and/or constipation, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, among others
- Gluten-Free products tend to be expensive, so I will be focusing on “real foods” and the occasional gluten-free products in my series