By Shannon Keirnan
For those of you who read my post regarding my house going gluten free for a month, here's an update!
We decided to break our gluten fast a day early, because a Christmas Eve without finger food just didn't seem right in our house. My mom baked for the whole day, and munched on cupcakes, pumpkin bread, and other holiday sweets.
Meanwhile, I ventured out for the usual Christmas Eve appetizer spread, with some requests - packaged spring rolls, mozzarella sticks, and taquitos… with spinach dip (yum YUM) for myself.
By the time our little feast had been prepared, my mom, who suffers from debilitating Meniere's Disease was flat on the floor, unable to eat more than a few bites due to extreme dizziness. No one knows what causes Meniere's Disease, and she had gone for several months without an attack, so I certainly had my suspicions that some of the carefree holiday munching might have triggered it, after her body was adjusted to a month sans gluten and low on sugar.
My brother and I ate our treats without her. More for us.
Within about half an hour of finishing my food, I noticed that my face was starting to look a little flushed.
I've always had very reactive skin, which I'll affectionately call "ruddy" since my cheeks and nose tend to always be a little red and irritated. I had noticed that my skin had seemed very calm the past few months, but attributed that to finally coming to an age where skin problems were no longer a real issue and I could stop crying about it into my diary.
However, within an hour of my meal, my entire face was flushed and angry… like, really, really red. And getting worse.
It took several hours to calm down, and the ruddiness lingered for another week before things started to settle. I've finally stopped looking like I'd just come in from climbing Everest without the proper protective gear.
While the lighting here isn't especially helpful, you can note my skin's progression in this series of highly flattering, foundation-and-filter free photos, using my forehead and neck as a reference for my normal skin tone.
As you can probably tell, I was getting a little worried by the third picture.
Luckily my flush slowly retreated, my mother started to recover, and by Christmas we could have our traditional breakfast of french toast… After this, I vowed to go back to my gluten-free ways immediately before Santa asked me to lead his team on foggy nights.
We have all had a few ups and downs, however. I asked my mom to offer her feedback on the experience, and she advises to clear all other foods out of the house, because back-sliding is WAY too easy! Once you start eating the foods you're attached too, you crave them more and more.
I fully agree. We're all trying to break our addictions to different foods, and that's hard to do when there's a package of easy-to-make chicken fingers just sitting right there in the fridge. I love cooking and I'm lucky that I generally have the time to prepare meals, but not everyone has that luxury, and packaged food becomes a tasty-looking and quick option.
I definitely had a difficult time switching myself back, especially when the Midwest "Snowpocalypse" left me trapped across the state after New Year, and having a pizza and watching nine hours of "Game of Thrones" just seemed like the right thing to do... even though it only increased my sluggishness and brain fog, and none of my jeans would go on without a struggle.
My mom also noted that during her splurge days, she gained back the weight she had lost, and had various bouts of dizziness and tiredness. My brother, meanwhile, literally split his pants from the weight he gained over the holidays. I certainly returned to my nap schedule and sweatpants.
We agreed… it was time to change back to gluten free (no cheating!), and happily, we seem to be recovering - albeit slowly.
I'm so pleased I got my family on board for this experiment, because now they're fully converted to developing a gluten-free lifestyle, since they know how much better they can feel. And I've certainly had my faith renewed… a flushed face (a few holiday pounds I'd rather not discuss), and tiredness are things I can definitely do without.
With everyone fully committed, meals in my house will be delicious (obviously, since I'm the cook!) and gluten-free. I'm relieved I won't have to struggle with occassional temptation that may trigger my eating disorder, and we can all enjoy the increased energy, weight loss, and mental clarity that we noticed as a result of our one-month diet change experiment.
I look forward to a year of great food and great health for myself and my family... and I wish you all the same!