Thinking about taking the GF plunge? Here are 6 reasons you should kick gluten for a month, even if no one is making you.
1. You’ll Think Before Eating That Thing You’re Holding
Think of your crunchiest, most granola, all-natural, all-organic, grass-fed, grass-fed Kobe, nitrate-free, hormone-free, non-GMO, never-came-close-to-processing, we-could-eat-our-clothes-if-we-had-to friend.
That’s not me—at least, not yet. Since kicking gluten, I’ve broken several promises I once made to my wheat-eating former self. And they say if it quacks like a duck. . . .
There’s a lot of new quacking at my house lately. It takes the form of triple-checking every label—not only for FDA-regulated allergens, but for sneakier ingredients that may have touched microscopic traces of wheat en route to my pantry. Why not just look for a certified GF label, indicating that a product regularly tests for less than 20 parts gluten per million? Unlike folks with life-threatening sensitivities, I am confident that the occasional 21st ppm won’t poison me, which grants me a slightly bigger shopping cart.
Either way, whether kicking gluten out of love or fear, you’ll be likelier to think an extra five seconds about what you’re eating.
2. People Will Ask Why You’re So Cool
For every person you annoy with your gluten freedom, there are two who are dying to meet you. You’d think that waiters and waitresses would be bored with us by now. They’re not. After all, you may be the 100th GF they’ve met, but there’s a good chance you’re the first they’ve served that week.
In my experience, literally half the servers who pick up your GF vibes will grow visibly excited—so much that if you’re really hungry, you’re hosed. Every trip to your table between now and when you leave them a fat GF tip will include questions about how your body reacts to breadcrumbs, stories about their friend’s epi-pen/anaphylaxis show-stopper, or awkwardly audible speculations about what’s causing their own maladies. Drink it in, GF apprentice. All these are for you.
3. You’ll Make New Friends Without Even Trying
Last week I visited a local brew store to attempt a mostly legal swap of some non-GF craft beer for cider that doesn’t taste like a Riesling. The former was a gift from friends who apparently don’t read PJ Lifestyle (or, more probably, need an invitation to dinner). The managers declined my offer but rewarded me with a rundown of their none-too-shabby GF offerings. Better yet, both of these lads have GF-girlfriends, so they’re immersed in the scene. The kicker: two days after dropping my incredibly sleek business card on one of these guys, I earned an email from his girlfriend that clued me in to 16 hip local restaurants, niche grocers, and GF brands to try.
It’s uncanny how frequently and randomly this can happen—a little like Scientology a la Going Clear. Here you are, walking around with a physical or emotional “ruin” (i.e., your gluten tragedy). And there they are—your soon-to-be friends—conveniently standing around the corner, waiting to help you find and repair your ruin. How? By purging your molecular chemistry of those nasty “body thetans,” i.e., thousands of extra souls lingering inside you after an ancient alien attack. In our case, these are wheat granules.
What are friends for?
4. You’ll Discover New Restaurants (& New Ways to Order at Old Ones)
Observe: “Do you have a sweet, gluten-free, yellow cornmeal patty topped with steak, Cotija cheese, creamy cilantro sauce, and habanero and serrano salsa? Oh, you do? I’ll have that.”
5. You’ll Shop and Cook More Creatively
My wife is like a gorgeous, shorter version of Julia Child who has the option not to speak in her falsetto. Creativity, audaciousness, moxie—these live in our kitchen and are constantly reincarnated in her dishes. Throw a GF lemon at such a chef, and you’ll get limoncello. It’s like watching Chopped, minus the weirdness, plus entrees you actually want to eat. So it’s like watching Iron Chef.
6. Your Skin Will Feel Closer to Your Bones
That’s the best description I can offer friends (and strangers) who ask whether I “lost a bunch of weight” or “gained a ton of energy” or “feel so much better” now that I’ve broken up with gluten—all things I was promised would happen. Did I lose five pounds in two weeks despite eating more meat than a caveman and dairy than a baby? Sure. Do I feel healthier? Let’s go with that. Do I think faster? Possibly. Am I funnier? Obviously. But truth be told, at first I felt cheated. “Going off gluten totally changed my life,” I had heard.
Is that true of me? I’m still deciding.
The fact is I totally changed my life to go off gluten. Maybe I was listening poorly, distracted by the psychedelic facial expressions and wild gesticulations that accompany GF diehard testimonies, but I thought kicking gluten would be like burning two weeks’ pay on Keno or Powerball before landing the big one. It’s more like two weeks of orientation at your new job, followed by quiet growth that impresses you once a month when you look over your shoulder.
In other words, it’s like real life. Who shouldn’t try that?