The Gluten-Free Vegan!
Being a vegan have been hard enough for me considering the food groups I had to exclude from my diet. However, no matter how hard it has been and still is, it is an interesting and self-improving experience. I am always in a search for the best diet for me, the one that I would be the most happy with. The one thing that for a long period of time has been a mystery for me was the gluten-free diet. I was literally afraid of that type of diet and I could not even think that I am able to do it myself. Since I have been vegan one of my favorite "safety" food (when I felt extremely hungry or craved some non-vegan food) often enough were the bread or pasta. I quite enjoy to experiment with the food I eat (for example, last year, I was raw vegan for almost 6 months, but this is a story for another blog post :) ). So, a month ago, I decided to exclude gluten from my diet and to challenge myself to do the thing I was so afraid of.
It all started when I found a website ( myallergy.force.com ) for people with food allergies where everybody can share their own story and experience of living with different type of food intolerance. Working with ProViotic made me realize how important it is to provide a product that is safe for everybody and I am incredibly proud that ProViotic is 100% free from any major allergens.
I should say that I was afraid but at the same time not informed enough about gluten. Inspired by that website, I decided to educate myself better on that topic, so I started reading and, as you can imagine, I found lot of useful information. The more I was reading, the more I was convincing myself that, even though I am not diagnosed officially with some type of gluten intolerance or allergy, it might be a good idea to try and see how I'll feel even for a week. Usually, I try to convince some non-vegans to go on a vegan diet for a week - just to see if there is a difference - so I tried that method myself this time.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is protein that can be found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye. Gluten-free is a diet that excludes all foods which contain the gluten protein.
What is gluten intolerance?
Usually the gluten-free diet is a diet used to treat celiac disease. Gluten costs inflammation in the small intestines of people with celiac disease. . These symptoms are:
severe or occasional diarrhea, excessive wind and/or constipation
persistent or unexplained gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting
recurrent stomach pain, cramping or bloating
any combination of iron, vitamin B12 or folic acid deficiency
sudden or unexpected weight loss (but not in all cases)
hair loss (alopecia)
skin rash (dermatitis herpetiformis)
tooth enamel problems
neurological (nerve) problems such as ataxia (poor muscle coordination) and neuropathy (numbness and tingling in the hands and feet) (www.coeliac.org.uk )
Some people who don't have celiac disease also may have symptoms when they eat gluten. This condition is called non celiac gluten sensitivity. People with non-celiac gluten sensitivity may also benefit from a gluten-free diet It appears that a high percentage of people have some kind of gluten sensitivity and the worst part of these statistics is that the higher proportion of those people do not even realize this!
Now, after having been on a gluten free diet for a month, I believe that I was one of these people. What is for sure, is that I am not an expert on the topic of gluten and I can only talk for myself, but I would suggest everyone who will read that blog post to try for themselves to exclude the gluten from their diet for a while*. I was looking through some of the symptoms of the gluten sensitivity and I recognized some of mine problems which I had not been able to explain myself other way. I have been vegan for good amount of years and I was worried that something is wrong with me. I am on a well balanced diet, I make it sure that I take all the nutrients and calories that I need, but it was a mystery to me why I feel sometimes exhausted, with a foggy head and digestion problems. I was kind of disappointed and even thought of going back to animal products because I was in doubt about the vegan diet. However, it came out that the only thing I had to do was to stop consuming gluten.
The new me is so thankful and happy now :). It is hard, for sure, but it is worthwhile. The first day, I ran to the supermarket directly to the "Free from" section in a search for all the food I love but in a gluten-free version. Of course, there were all types of gluten-free foods but non budget friendly ones and in my opinion not healthy at all. After a week of replacing my toasted slice of bread with a rice cakes I realized that I actually don't need any of those foods and my diet is rich enough on calories and carbohydrates.
Here I am a month later feeling great and happy that I made that decision. My diet is more interesting than ever- no eggs, no meat,no dairy, no gluten. The people who are worried about what I am eating as a vegan will become even more suspicious now and to all of them I can just say that since that moment I have never felt so good with myself and my health.
If you want to share your story and maybe help or inspire somebody, visit myallergy.force.com and give them your love and support.
*If you think that you might be suffering from some type of gluten intolerance please visit your doctor. That blog post is my personal experience and it is not in anyway a medical advice.