I remember fighting to keep my eyes open in math class every day in high school… it was 4th period, the class after lunch. And it wasn’t because I hated math (ok, I’ll admit, I didn’t love it either!), I just always found myself completely lethargic, exhausted and unable to keep my eyes open during that hour. I thought it was normal. Everyone always talked about getting bored in class… but sleepy, unable to stay awake every day at the same time? I guess not. And I cannot believe I never put it together. I hate to admit, but I was kind of like my dog eating kleenex – I would continually eat things that were bad for me, soon after that my body would tell me it didn’t like those foods, and the wires would never connect – I never related what I ate for lunch with how I felt an hour later! So I kept on doing it, because that was all I knew.
Throughout high school, college, and the years after I searched for solutions – vitamins or minerals that I might be devoid of, a rare disease to explain this constant exhaustion, or maybe it really was normal to be tired and foggy all the time. I tried iron pills, B12 vitamins, drinking more coffee, exercising at different times of the day, even becoming a vegetarian – but nothing quite solved the problem.
Finally, after hearing about “gluten-free” a couple times, I began reading some books on the gluten-intolerance, then began to devour blogs, watching countless videos on youtube, and anything I could get my hands on to learn more about the possible effects of gluten intolerance. And I finally tried it – but wow it was hard! Gluten is in everything! Pasta, beer, bread, chips… the list goes on I wasn’t a huge donut or cake fan, so that wasn’t a big issue – but sandwiches, wraps and veggie burgers? I quickly realized that eating at restaurants was worthless – I had to ask for a separate “gluten free” menu! And even then, some restaurants would only have their salads and state that you could get any burger or sandwich they had – without the bun.
It only took me about a week, and I noticed a change – I wasn’t tired in the middle of the afternoon anymore! The fogginess clouding my mind my entire life seemed to lift, and (yes, it sounds cheesy) the sky was brighter, colors were brighter, and I began to notice the beauty around me. I have since dabbled with gluten a few times, and my body tells me instantly if something has gluten in it. The signs are different for everyone, but I know when my eyes begin to dry up.
This past spring, I decided I would try a beer again – it’d been a year since I’d had gluten, and I was feeling a bit invincible – and it was definitely a mistake! My throat got sore, and I lost my voice for a week! So, while it’s easy to say “yes” in the moment, it’s easy to remind myself that it’s just not worth it in the long run.
It’s a tough road, but it’s worth it.