When the New York Times released survey results from the trade magazine Today’s Dietician at the end of 2013, I don’t think anyone in the health and fitness world was shocked. Gluten free diets, according to the survey, were predicted to be the #1 trend in nutrition for 2014. Not a medically mandated diet change mind you, but a choice to eliminate all gluten from your daily life.
While the word eliminate is a tough one, especially when it comes to food… I was in.
I love to test “diets” and eating trends and, though not trained or skilled, I’m infatuated with the science of eating. Kind of like Alton Brown without the knowledge, charm and snappy collection of bow ties.
Armed with the motivation and support of my family (we’ll get to that later), I was ready to get started. Only one small question remained… What is a gluten free diet?
The Glue That Binds Us
As stated above and in perhaps the understatement of the year, it would be irresponsible to portray myself as any type of an expert. In fact, five weeks ago, I knew next to nothing and would simply smile, nod and give a supportive “good for you” when folks told me they were eliminating gluten from their diet. But that wasn’t going to be good enough to give this lifestyle a proper test.
Gluten, which comes from the latin word for ‘glue’ (Mmmmmm… that sounds tasty), is a protein composite in products processed from wheat and specific grains. It’s what helps make dough rise, gives it its’ elasticity and is primarily responsible for that “chewy” mouth feel you get from products that contain it.
Think pizza dough. It’s really the perfect example of what gluten does.
About 1 in 133 people in developed nations have an intolerance for gluten (NOTE: Not the same as an allergy) with the most extreme cases found in people with celiacs disease which can cause pain, issues with digestion, and, in extreme cases, failure to thrive in young children.
I don’t have celiacs disease. I don’t even have an intolerance for gluten. I have something very different that made this experiment extra appealing.
A Glutton For Gluten
Turns out… I love gluten.
Even when I was in the most diet restrictive days of my weight loss journey, gluten was present in my diet. I managed my carbs closely during that time, but gluten was ever-present.
So, conveniently, deeming this experiment a “month long” one could not have been a happier coincidence with February 1st looming as the logical start date.
28 days? Sure, I can do anything for 28 days. 30? 31? That’s pushing it when you’re standing between me and toast.
A tall task for a guy who, in many cases and despite cautioning from parents, grandparents and significant others, did in fact “fill up on the bread” before dinner, but I was game…
And I had partners in crime.
The Mouths of Babes
There were two things that set this experiment distinctly apart from similar “research” I’d done in the past.
There wasn’t a book.
There wasn’t a catch.
There wasn’t a hook.
I wasn’t replacing something with something else.
It was simply about not eating gluten.
The second, and the part that I enjoyed most, was the fact that my daughters decided to join me on this ride.
I didn’t make them.
I didn’t bribe them.
I didn’t sell them on any cool benefit of it.
“Hey, Girls… I read somewhere that Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lawrence and every Pixar movie is gluten free… just sayin’…”
I was straight up. I was honest.
I simply told them that I was going to try it and they were welcome to join me. They could tap out whenever the gluten Gods beckoned.
They were in.
The Gluten Free Diet Plan
It was simple really.
And, where our plan may have differed from some, we would NOT replace anything with an over-processed “gluten free” substitute.
If it wasn’t naturally gluten free, we weren’t eating it.
We would attempt to eat meals that were similar to what we ate every day, but, be open-minded about trying new things if something seemed interesting.
The rest of our lifestyle would be business as usual.
The girls had school, homework, choir, play practice, basketball and all of the other “normal” teen/tween calendar stuffing events that sometimes make pre-planned meals difficult.
I still had all my “stay-at-home Dad” stuff, the Blog, launching the Podcast and I had just started a cycle of P90X3.
The whole thing wasn’t going to be easy… but… as they say… if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.
And, big picture, what’s 28 days?
To see how my family and I did on our “Gluten Free February”, please CLICK HERE.