It's not news that going gluten-free has tremendous health benefits for celiacs. Healing of the intestinal lining, proper absorption of nutrients, and mental clarity are just the tip of the iceberg. Given the symptoms of untreated celiac disease, these improvements as a result of a gluten-free diet aren't surprising. What is surprising is how many other ways going gluten-free can impact your lifestyle.
1) After going gluten-free you'll suddenly feel compelled to clean up the rest of your diet.
It might not be the case for everyone, but going gluten-free can feel a lot like a dietary spring-cleaning. Ever clean out your closet, then maybe your desk drawer, then somehow find yourself three hours later manually dusting each and every blind until they glisten like the rest of your newly lemon-scented room? You're on a roll.
Well, despite all the gluten-free junk food available, you might find that you reach for the kale instead of the cake. As great as you'll feel on a gluten-free diet, you'll feel even better on a healthy gluten-free diet.
2) Not only will you start working out more consistently, you'll learn about fitness on a deeper level.
Once you've experienced how good you feel not eating gluten -- no stomachaches, no headaches, no fatigue -- you'll recognize when you're pushing your body too hard. And on the flip side, you'll know when you can push yourself a little more.
The combination of eating better and having the energy to exercise can be a huge motivating factor, and you might wind up researching the ten best yoga poses for runners instead of dragging yourself lazily to the gym for a light jog. You research what you can and can't eat on a gluten-free diet, and might start applying those research tendencies to your fitness.
3) You won't just be grateful for the extra hours you spend awake now that you're not fatigued and constantly napping -- you'll want even more.
Like making up for lost time, once you see how much you can accomplish in a day when your brain isn't foggy and your eyes aren't closing, you'll feel compelled to use your hours even more wisely.
Waking with the birds might not be your style, but now that you have energy you'll probably strive to accomplish one or two personal tasks before even leaving for work rather than rushing out the door because you hit snooze a record-breaking ten times. Or maybe you'll want to cut an hour of TV time at night in favor of practicing piano. You might even catch yourself setting your alarm early at least one weekend day instead of sleeping until noon. Imagine that. Being active instead of exhausted.
4) You'll read more.
Or at least you'll stop reading the same sentence over and over again like you used to because your brain was foggy. Even if you don't find that you increase the amount of books you mentally consume in a month, it's likely that you'll remember more of what you did read. No one has time to reread paragraphs.
5) Staying out past your bedtime will be much less painful.
Remember when you used to plan on dinner with friends followed by dancing, or hitting a bar... but had to go home after dinner because you felt sick? No more. Your gluten-free diet will let you reopen the social doors that you might have closed. Not only is that good news for your social life, but it's also good news for your professional life. All those networking opportunities and events that you missed -- well, they might not pop up again, but new ones will, and you'll be there.
6) Baking and cooking will actually become fun.
You might have always hated them. But when you're gluten-free, baking and cooking become more like an experiment than a task. New recipes are constantly popping up, and developers are still trying to perfect them. Which leaves room for you to get into your kitchen and start coming up with your own concoctions.
Many of the foods you loved before are probably now on the forbidden list, so it's up to you to start figuring out some replacements. You might come across some strange textures and flour combinations, but when you find one that works and figure out how to make it work in less than 20 minutes, you'll feel like you graduated from the Culinary Institute of Apartment 2B.
Copyright © 2015 Celia Kaye
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Celia Kaye is the name under which writer-filmmaker Kaitlin Puccio pens articles about her experience with gluten sensitivity. Kaitlin has written a forthcoming children's book on Celiac and gluten sensitivity for the Celia Kaye lifestyle brand, and has been a contributor to MindBodyGreen. Follow her on Twitter, like her on Facebook, and visit her at celiakaye.com.