This week marks the start of our “gluten-minimized” diet. As I mentioned last week, infertility has really encouraged us to make some changes to our diets. Apparently gluten can be blamed for a whole host of problems, so we’ve been thinking about minimizing gluten anyway.
On Saturday, at an acupuncture appoinment, we asked the doctor (she is an MD–and used to be an OB/GYN practitioner) about gluten. Her thoughts:
- Most Americans eat too much gluten.
- No harm can come from minimizing the amount of gluten in our diets.
- Being completely gluten-free isn’t necessary unless a disease or severe intolerance is present (such as celiac), but we may see benefits from cutting back on our gluten intake.
That last point was really what we wanted to know. Is gluten an all or nothing deal? A lot of people claim that it is, but we aren’t ready to be dietary extremists. The idea of getting rid of gluten when eating at home is a little overwhelming (DH loves his whole-wheat cereal, for example), but manageable. But getting rid of gluten in our diets when out to eat or at a friend’s house seemed too much. At least, more than we’re willing to commit to for now.
So, beginning with this week, I am no longer buying or making foods with gluten in them. To clarify, I’m not worried about trace amounts, like in some condiments. We are trying to make gluten-free choices where possible when we do go out to eat. And when we’re choosing the restaurant, we’re trying to go places that will have healthy options. But when we’re with others, our motto is flexibility.
So why gluten-minimized?
We’ve come to the decision gradually. We hemmed and hawed about it quite a bit before deciding officially (this weekend) to take the plunge. We’ve debated. And there are several reasons we decided to do this.
- I read this article discussing how gluten acts like glue. In bread, this is how it traps the air bubbles that yeast releases. For some reason the thought of what that meant gluten might be doing in my stomach and intestines suddenly seemed really repulsive. That may not have been a deciding factor, but it’s helped keep my desire for breads at bay.
- When I read through the symptoms of gluten intolerance (and celiac), I was alarmed at how many sounded familiar to me. If severely reducing gluten could get rid of or minimize my fatigue, near-daily headaches, occasional migraines, and unexplained muscle and joint pain, I’m in. So beyond worrying about the link between infertility and gluten (which is apparently actual for people with celiac and possible for people with gluten intolerance), maybe cutting back on gluten can help my health.
- I can’t find any downsides to significantly cutting back our gluten intake. The websites that caution against cutting gluten all talk about how gluten-free foods (as in processed foods that are made without gluten) may in some cases be less nutritive than their gluten-filled counterparts. They talk about the importance of getting the nutrients that we need–which means eating more whole foods, healthy meats, etc. But none of them have presented any convincing evidence that eating gluten is beneficial or necessary for a healthy diet.
- The real deciding factor is that we don’t want to get to the final steps of treatment and feel like there may have been something else we could have done. If cutting gluten has a chance to help relieve or lessen our infertility, we’re going to try it.
So that’s it. I may venture into the world of gluten-free baking at some point (been craving banana bread, so that will likely be first) and I am definitely not cooking with gluten. If I come across (or create) something especially delicious or disastrous, I may share in coming weeks.
*And, of course, a gluten-minimized or gluten-free diet may not be for you. If you are concerned, please consult a medical professional. I am not a medical professional.*