The first thing that most people say when I tell them I eat gluten free (and after I explain what that means) is "Why?!" Well, the short answer is that I was diagnosed with Celiac disease in April of 2008 and immediately began my restricted diet. The long answer is...
I've had issues with food for a very long time. I remember my turning point very clearly: I was eleven years old, talking on the phone to my "boyfriend" (which sounds hilarious now) when somehow we started talking about our weights. (Maybe he had just had a physical or something? I have no idea why we would be talking about that.) He told me is - and as soon as I heard the number that was lower than mine (I was eleven, and a very mature eleven at that) I did what almost every female alive has done at least once...I lied about my weight. Right after that, my know-it-all self decided that it was time to go on a diet, because no girl weighs more than her boyfriend. (Did I mention I was eleven and clueless?) So that day, I started eating less. We're talking switching from mayonnaise to mustard because of the calories and eating nothing but Snackwell's products because they were "low fat". And I started to feel good. Really good. Lighter. More energetic. More confident. I didn't feel sick after meals anymore.
That trend continued off and on throughout high school. My mom cooked relatively healthy and always balanced meals that I picked at, and I was known to eat a sleeve of Saltine crackers for lunch and wash it down with a diet coke...mostly because I thought that eating big meals is what made my stomach hurt.
Then I went off to college, where my flexible meal ticket got me Chick-fil-A and pizza rolls (oh, heavenly pizza rolls) whenever I wanted, and I took full advantage. After a semester of gorging myself and feeling like crap, I went back to the dieting and felt better.
About halfway through college I started eating "normally". More well-balanced meals, more vegetables, more small meals every day rather than three big ones. My stomach started hurting again after every meal, and I finally got talked into going to a doctor - several different ones, actually, including a specialist after I graduated - who (all) told me that it was "stress". I was told multiple times to relax, get massages, slow down, do whatever it takes, but "your stomach must be where you're carrying your stress." Hmm. Okay. I was also told to eat more fiber...and I ate - you guessed it - lots of whole wheat.
Fast forward a few years...I was a newlywed and I loved to cook dinner with my new Hubby. He started noticing me complaining after most every meal we ate together that my stomach hurt. He started talking to me about it, and we got into all the fun little details about bowel movements and all the lovely, romantic stuff that comes with stomach issues...and he made me go to the doctor. Again. Another specialist. Ugh.
This one was different. He sat down with me and listened. To everything. Even the stuff I felt crazy for telling him. Then he ordered an endoscopy to check out my insides. (Yes, I had to ask what that was.) I was terrified. I cried before they put me out and they had to go get Hubby out of the waiting room. Ha. Anyway, he found it. The thing that had been bothering me for longer than I'll ever know (related to my eating disorder issues? I'm starting to think so.). I cut out gluten as soon as I found out, and I'm a new woman!
However, this self-proclaimed "new woman" was a WRECK for about the first six months of being gluten free. I went into withdrawals (did I mention that I'd been eating lots of wheat and other fibrous grains trying to clean out the ol' system?), then I panicked when I wanted my usual sandwich for lunch. I attempted to eat a slice from a loaf of frozen gluten free bread - and I almost cried. It tasted like cardboard. I thought my life was over...and then I got creative. :)
More soon. Have to go meet with my thesis committee chair. Wheeee.