So we're at the end of the Gluten Free Challenge. It's crazy how half a year can pass so quickly. It's time to do some reflecting on the things I've learned along the way, and to decide what changes I'll be keeping as part of my life.
When I started this challenge, I was having severe GI issues, and I am happy to say that with the exception of chronic acid reflux, those issues are 100 percent gone. I never thought my body would get back to functioning normally but here we are. It has truly been a blessing. I cannot say whether it was eliminating gluten that caused my digestive tract to get back to normal or if it was the elimination of animal products, but regardless, I feel like a healthy person for the first time in a very long time, so that is a win.
The past six months has also seen me eating a lot more balanced in terms of food groups, so there is another win. Fresh fruit is still hard to come by, but since I've been depriving myself of so many things I've been making a concerted effort to get in good vegan sources of protein, "good" carbs, and vegetables most every day. Going from eating veggies bi-weekly to eating them daily or every other day can't be a bad thing, even if they have been canned for the most part.
The past few months have been absurd with my work schedule (haha, "schedule" - just kidding!) so I can't say whether or not I feel rested, as my sleep has been entirely unnatural. However, I will say that before I started working like a madwoman, I did feel more rested since going gluten free, so that was nice.
It has not been easy, mind you. I don't think I could go vegan and gluten free at the same time if I had a family or any semblance of a social life. Because of my lack of time/desire/resources to cook, I've been forced to eat an incredibly monotonous menu. Living out here in the desert with limited (read: non-existent) sources for vegan gf fast food hasn't helped matters. It's been fine for me, but I can say if you like variety, you may struggle with it. While it has been cost effective, buying the same few meals to eat over and over can get tiresome at best.
I have cheated a few times with beer and honestly saw no detrimental effects. Thus, I am thinking that for my body it's been the elimination of dairy that has led to me feeling awesome. I think that if gluten is an issue for me, I'd have had GI flare-ups when I had bloopers on the challenge, but that simply has not been the case.
Thus I will be returning to eating gluten once this challenge is up. I honestly just miss the variety and options available to me. This challenge has definitely been a wonderful experience but I think it's time for me to start incorporating different foods back into my diet. I definitely have a renewed ability to identify what my body is feeling, and if I start having GI issues, I do plan on going right back on track.
I guess the biggest thing I've learned about myself through this challenge is that I am able to be disciplined, but it doesn't mean I have to be. I am learning how to be conscious of how my dietary decisions affect my body, good or bad, and am no longer a slave to cravings. I CAN limit myself, but I am also no longer afraid to have a bit of dietary freedom. I feel good, and I don't want to lose this feeling, and I am not afraid of losing this feeling, and for that I am grateful.