I live on an island in the South Pacific. Food choices are fairly limited (compared to being spoilt for choice in Australia), and being a vegetarian limits my choices even further. Quitting gluten was one of those things on my "Like To Do" list, but I convinced myself it would be an impossible task.
That was until I read this article: Three Hidden Ways Wheat Makes You Fat by Dr Mark Hyman (this guy is fast becoming my favorite doctor). The article disturbed me so much that I quit gluten that same day.
Some of the things I've noticed and experienced over the last 10 days or so:
I've definitely lost weight: Okay. Let's be clear. I've never really had a "weight problem". I am blessed with a tall and slim build, that doesn't gain weight quickly. But months of eating bread and pasta, had left me feeling a bit flabby around the waist and hips, and my clothes were starting to feel uncomfortably snug.
I don't own a pair of weighing scales here, so I don't know how much I've lost for certain, but I estimate it's about five pounds over the last 10 days. My clothes certainly fit me better.
No more bloated stomach: A bloated stomach by evening, was a regular occurrence for me...but not any more. This alone is enough to prove to myself that gluten was affecting me adversely.
Cleansing reaction? At about Day 3 I developed diarrhoea, and a strange feeling in my stomach. It was neither painful or overly uncomfortable, but a definite feeling of "I don't feel like eating". Now, I do live in an undeveloped country where bacterial infections are common, but I don't get gastro often. It's been a year, or more, since my last bout.
Still, I can't be absolutely sure if it's mere coincidence, or some kind of cleansing action by my body. Either way, it's worked out well, because I haven't felt any cravings for bread or pasta, but rather lighter salads and fruit.
Less appetite: This could be related to the above point, but even when I haven't felt the strange feeling in my stomach, I haven't felt overly hungry either. This from the same person who could happily eat a large bowl of pasta, go back for seconds and within the hour, be nibbling away at the leftovers again...
I'm more flexible: One side-effect I've noticed is that I have less stiffness in the joints and I'm much more flexible when stretching or doing yoga poses.
Success with new recipes: Being meat-free and gluten-free (as well as trying to avoid processed sugar) has forced me to get a bit creative. We don't have access to all the "gluten-free" products and flours here in the islands, although tapioca flour is readily available here, (but I haven't learnt how to use it properly yet.)
I still had some chickpea flour left, so used it to make a cheese pizza (recipe here), and although it looked and smelt wonderful, it was kind of sloppy when hot and I couldn't really "slice" it. We ate it the next day when cold, and it was delicious.
I've also been using some of the local root vegetables, such as kumala and yam. The Cumin and Lime Sweet Potatoes (recipe here) was a huge hit that all three children devoured, and then helped me finish my plate. I call that a success!
All in all, I'm really happy with the outcome so far, and intend to stick to this long-term. My children are still eating wheat, although as I get more experienced with recipes, I hope to gradually wean them from wheat (at least when eating at home).
I will update again at the end of one month. If you've quit gluten, I'd love to hear your feedback and experiences (and tips!).