Going Against the Grain


I have been gluten free by the conventional definition for over 8 years now, and still have allergy symptoms, and have started to have issues with numbness and tingling, as well as gall bladder pain for the past few years. My research indicates that it may be because I haven’t eliminated all of the gluten containing grains from my diet. I only eliminated the ones conventional medicine identified as problematic – barley, wheat and rye. This information is over 60 years old, and there is plenty of new evidence that not only are all gluten containing grains dangerous for those with gluten intolerance, but possibly even meat and milk from grain fed animals, as well.

Having survived the first trauma of dietary restriction (but not without much weeping and gnashing of teeth), you can imagine my excitement about the idea of enduring yet another round of elimination. I have started to remove all grains, but am not quite there yet. My lovely, thoughtful young niece made me gluten free brownies for a recent party, and I didn’t have the heart to tell her I could not eat them. I am still having moments where I want to weep because it feels like there is nothing to eat, but not nearly as frequently as before.

Others are forging this trail ahead of me, like Wellness Mama, for instance, and I am grateful for all of the practical information they share, like beautiful pics of scrumptious, easy to make food, that keep me motivated.

I am also getting better at cooking, improvising, and the way I think about food. I try not to think about cooking as a burden, but as something I get to do. I think about how it wasn’t all that long ago that we did not have fast food, and cooking wasn’t that unusual. I think about what a great cook I have become since going gluten free and having to figure out how to make good food that I actually wanted to eat.

It’s still hard for me to believe sometimes that there’s this entire food group that I cannot eat, like it’s a weird dream I had a long time ago that I couldn’t eat wheat. It’s sometimes hard to believe that grains can be so unhealthy for us, and still the government and doctors and prominent health experts keep telling us to eat them.

What I cannot dispute is the evidence – the evidence that, at least for people like me who are gluten intolerant, my feeling well, and ultimately my health, depend upon avoiding grains. It’s becoming more common knowledge and the information is pretty easy to find if you just look. Then there’s the ultimate test – how do you feel when you stop eating a certain food? So far my body says, “it’s better without the grains”. No sniffles, less digestive discomfort, and my body just feels quieter, calmer somehow.

Engaging mindfully in this process of discovering what works for my body, learning how to cook and eat, and questioning my assumptions that deprivation and craving were inevitable have all helped. I don’t have to be miserable, I don’t need sympathy, and there really is plenty to eat if I take responsibility for my food. What I discovered is that there really is no victim here…just a girl who can’t eat seeds.

2/20/12 Update: I am two weeks without dairy and mostly without grain, and I feel fabulous. I have cheated a little, but am seeing such amazing results I will continue to work on it. I am unwilling to say I will permanently do without grain or dairy, but I will try to heal my gut using as much of the GAPS diet as I can stand before I try to add these things back. Please ask me if you want more info!

About Cynthia M Clingan

Cynthia Clingan is a licensed professional clinical counselor in Columbus, Ohio who offers somatic psychotherapy, spiritual coaching, and meditation and mindfulness instruction.
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2 Responses to Going Against the Grain

  1. Theresa says:

    Awesome Cynthia! I imagine this is a very tough, but rewarding journey. You say you feel better – in what ways do you notice? I have been having a lot of feeling crappy lately and wanted to get to the bottom of it!

    • How can I tell? Well, let’s see…no phlegm, for one! Relief from constant sniffling and congestion, fatigue, bloating, diarrhea, knifelike stomach pain, feeling of constantly fighting off something, frequent sinus flareups, headaches, up and down moods, fogginess, and irritability. I feel more relaxed, and my body feels less “busy” inside all the time. I just feel clearer, better focus somehow. Oh, and my skin suddenly (after 10 days) is clearer, dark circles under my eyes gone, no more puffy eyes in the morning. All that, even while still cheating on the GAPs diet (wine, dark chocolate, fruit, miniscule bits of butter).

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