Gluten-Free vs. Gluten-Full

In March of 2017, I watched a documentary about the way gluten can affect thyroid function. I have had hypothyroidism for 11 years and I’ve always just assumed that I would have to take a pill every day. As someone who hopes to be completely self-sustainable one day, that’s not very conducive to my proposed lifestyle. This documentary made me feel empowered to change my diet, so I went gluten-free.

The pros to being gluten-free

I didn’t do much research on what to eat before I went gung-ho, so I felt kind of bad/weak at first. It didn’t take too long to alter my recipes or find new ones. I know a lot of people really struggle with going gluten-free, but it wasn’t overly hard for me. I liked the way most things tasted and I had more energy than ever before. 

Before going GF, I could go to bed at 11 p.m. and sleep until 12 p.m. the following day still feeling groggy. While GF, I could go to sleep at 11 p.m. and easily wake up at 6 a.m. It was amazing! I had never experienced waking up before an alarm in my entire life. I love getting up before the rest of the world–it makes me feel so accomplished and productive! That was the best part about being gluten-free. It might have been all in my head, but at the time I didn’t care because I felt better.

The cons to being gluten-free

There were two things I did not enjoy about being gluten-free. Number one, Harry didn’t go gluten-free with me. He definitely supported me and ate most of the gluten-free things I made, but he is big on texture. Alternative flours have a different texture and this made baked goods different than before–usually more dense. 

This brings me to number two. The baking woes. Rice flour, almond flour, all-purpose gluten-free flour…they all behave in different ways and none of them behave like wheat flour. Sure I could substitute 1:1 for most recipes, but it just wasn’t quite the same. I didn’t mind too much, but I LOVE baking, so it did make life in the kitchen more frustrating. Pie crusts made with rice flour are delicious! But I never figured out how to roll out rice flour dough on a surface–I just had to press it into the pan, making for a tasty but ugly pie.

Adding gluten back into my diet

Fast forward to April 2018. I found out I was pregnant, and right away Harry suggested I introduce gluten back into my diet occasionally so the baby wouldn’t be born with a gluten intolerance. The reasoning seemed sound. If the mother isn’t eating a certain thing, how will the baby be able to handle it outside the womb? However, our midwife said it would be totally fine to be gluten-free. So apparently our logic wasn’t totally accurate. Nonetheless, I began introducing gluten back into my life. I’d have it two or three times a week at first, and now I probably have it more than once a day.

Life is fuller with gluten

Even though I didn’t necessarily struggle with being gluten-free, I much prefer the gluten-full life. Food brings me a lot of joy and motivation. I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve gotten through a moment or a day by telling myself I get to eat cake afterward. Knowing that the cake is a delicious, fluffy cake made with wheat flour, that Harry will eat with me, is just the icing on top. Harry and I love cooking together. So much so, that going to restaurants reminds us just how great of chefs we are. 

You already know that I love baking…preferably with flour that does what I tell it to do. Food brings people together. Looking back, I feel a little sad to have missed out on some wonderful food experiences over the past year. Christmas cookie baking sessions aren’t the same when you have to bake two of the same kind of cookie with different flours. Making spaghetti with my husband isn’t the same when I have to make a pot of rice noodles and he has to make a pot of wheat noodles. These things aren’t the end of the world. But the little moments are an important and wonderful part of life.

What about your thyroid?

If being gluten-free is necessary for your life, just know that it is not impossible and that your loved ones will do everything they can to help you on your journey. For me, health wise–my thyroid levels never leveled out. My antibodies decreased at one point, but not to where they should be. I still have to take a pill every day. So many factors go into play concerning thyroid function that it truly could take a lot of years, tests, and money to figure out how to get my levels down without medicine.

Since being gluten-free didn’t make any significant change to my health, I’m happy to be back to the gluten-full life. Life really does seem more full with gluten in it.