December 28, 2012 was the day it all changed for me. It was the first day of being Gluten-Free.
I spent weeks learning as much as I could to understand what and why I needed to live GF. My source for all things GF was (and still is) The Gluten Free Edge by Bronski and Jory
I spent about a month...going through the emotions. "How could I need to change my diet AGAIN?!?! I eat so healthy, it can be boring and now...I need to remove MORE?"
- I went through moments of tears and frustrations. Eating a simple can of Tuna in water proved to be the wrong choice (most canned tuna has soy sauce, and soy sauce has gluten in it).
- I learned how horrible cross-contamination can be. Even a few crumbs of gluten bread can ruin a day.
- I learned it can take 4-5 days for my body to detox the effects of gluten in my system.
- I learned being gluten intolerant is a food allergy. It must be avoided. Just like people who are allergic to peanuts, milk or other items. There are no cheat days. Ironically, I am allergic to eggs. I have spent my entire life avoiding eggs and even egg smells. Eat an egg? I will die, no joke.
Yet, having to select restaurants based on if they did or did not have GF, that changed my family. My husband would spend hours on the internet looking over menu's, calling eateries to find out how they cook their food. I never asked him to do so, but he wanted to.
A part of me was embarrassed. Why should everyone have to change their lifestyle because of me?
I had amazing friends with me, namely Angela Wozniak (Sole Sister on the Run) who took the time to always make sure our travel food was GF and was even willing to give up going out to dinner the night before a race, to ensure I didn't risk any cross-contamination.
Gluten is not an ingredient. You won't see "gluten" on an ingredient list. A person has to be well-versed in what is an isn't gluten. Most believe, all I needed to do is give up bread. That was the least of my problems. I had to change my fueling, my protein bars, my energy bars and examine every label that was in my house.
Gluten became the center of my fear. I was at times, fearful to eat - as it might cause the bloating & stomach pains. If you have a food allergy, you know the mental games this plays on you.
Slowly but surely, I started to notice I was no longer going to bed in pain. I wasn't waking up in the middle of the night to constantly go to the bathroom. I no longer woke up in the AM feeling horrible.
My running improved and I regained my 24:00 at my 5k it has slipped to 26+. I regained my sub2 Half's that had eluded me since September.
My skin felt better
My hair felt better
I wasn't in pain
I wasn't exhausted by the end of my day
I said from the beginning that being gluten free would not define me. I am not a GF wife, mother, friend or athlete. I am a wife, mother, friend and athlete who happens to eat GF. It has altered the course of my life, but in a good way.
While the road has been tough to absorb and learn - it's been worth it. It's not about the running, it was about my life. Since RnRLV 2012, my health went on a spiral downward. Now, I am on the upswing and I am so glad to have my health back.
How have you adapted to being Gluten-Free?
(c) C. Ragsdale 2010-13
Charlene L. Ragsdale - Las Vegas, NV
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*San Francisco Marathon Ambassador 2012-13
RRCA Certified Running Coach, IFA Certified Sports Nutritionist & Public Speaker
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