Growing up in a huge family (six kids - yes, Catholic) that owned a grocery store was incredibly helpful and delicious. My friends always congregated at our house on the weekends because my parents provided a home that was full of things like love, acceptance, craziness, humor, and food. Some of the staple foods in our house were applesauce and cheese, pita bread (with melted cheese), and wheat thins with...yep, you guessed it - cheese! Sidenote on the cheese: we would get 10lb blocks of cheese at a time. You'd be surprised how quickly it dwindled. Despite those "good for the soul" foods, we did LOVE our produce (indeed, it's what Jamail Family Market was known for). We had a decently healthy diet in our house, and there were no sugary snacks in our pantry. Mom encouraged us to eat some carrots or apples and peanut butter instead.
I was always an athlete with an active lifestyle, yet somehow I struggled with having excess weight. Looking at old pics of myself, the best way to explain it was that I looked "swollen." In my early 20s, I visited a gastrointerologist for some digestive issues, and he diagnosed me with IBS. I won't share all my symptoms, but just know...ample time spent in the bathroom, stomach chaos, abnormal bleeding, etc. Four years later, my body began to shut down. I was anemic from bleeding intermittently for about 3 years, my immune system had become compromised, I got viral meningitis, and my neck stiffined up to where I couldn't move at all. I went to see several doctors to find out what was happening to my body, but despite a series of blood tests and procedures, including a colonoscopy and endoscopy at the ripe age of 24, I walked away without answers. They found "nothing" wrong with me.
A friend called me a couple of months later and told me her friend had "Diana-like" symptoms and was told she had a gluten allergy. My thoughts as a girl recently out of college with low income: "People who buy GF products are either hippies or rich, and I am neither. This is the newest fad diet, and I don't jump on bandwagons."
But I was desperate, so I did it... For 90 days straight.
Wanna know what happened? Cue the choir of angels, people! I felt glorious!! I felt NORMAL!! Is this what my normal was supposed to feel like, and I'd been missing out all these years?? After my gut was clear of all gluten, I went to the bathroom normally, I dropped 25 pounds, and the weight and the swollen look has never returned!
I'm not saying a gluten-free lifestyle is for everyone (but I kind of am). You should try it because, seriously, what are you gonna lose? Weight, lethargy, headaches, inflammation? If you aren't going to try a life without gluten, I do encourage you to figure out WHAT to eat for YOUR body. Every BODY is different, so get to know yours.