I believe it’s week four of going completely gluten- and dairy-free. With the craziness of finals and also working a bit more than usual, I didn’t get around to detailing everything I ate last week. If you want to see what I’ve eaten in the past, check out Week 1 and Week 2. Most things stayed the same. Lots of veggies, fruit, and meat.
Way more people than I thought have been following me on this journey. I’m so grateful for all the support from friends and family through this all. Many people have been asking me how I’m feeling and how it’s going. So here are my honest, unfiltered thoughts.
It sucks. Cutting out two major ingredients out of your diet seriously sucks. Cheese makes everything better. And come on, gluten is tasty as hell. Honestly eating this way has made me significantly less excited about eating and significantly more nervous in social situations. So now that I’ve made it halfway, I want to say that I’m quitting restricting myself. Yep, I’m going to slowly add small amounts of gluten and dairy back into my diet.
I’m not quitting because it’s hard, but because I don’t like the way it makes me feel, both mentally and physically. I felt more bloated and my stomach was rumbly and upset after most meals. I knew something was wrong but continued to push through because I thought that at some point I would magically feel better. Three weeks passed and I didn’t. Here are some things I learned.
1. Eat what makes you feel good, not what people say should make you feel good.
When I decided to go gluten- and dairy-free, I based my decision off of what worked for others. I had no idea how my body would react. I quickly realized that it wasn’t something that worked for me, even though it has for many others. And that’s okay. It’s trial and error that will help me someday find what does work for my body.
2. College is really hard with a dietary restriction.
College kids live on dollar pizza slices and cheap beers. Oh, and let’s not forget about the times when you’re drunk and just NEED a burrito. As much as I try to stay healthy, there is temptation everywhere. It’s so normalized for college students to have unhealthy eating (and honestly overall living) habits that nobody questions it. But once you remove yourself from it you start to notice how unhealthy options are much more readily available than healthy ones in this environment.
3. Grocery shopping with a dietary restriction is expensive.
As much as I pride myself on eating healthy on a budget, some things are just too damn expensive. Let’s be real, I could make dairy-free pizza with a cauliflower crust (and I did), but $4 for a bag of dairy-free mozzarella and $5 for a cauliflower crust isn’t worth it to me. I legitimately cannot afford to buy food like that. I know (hope) this financial state is only temporary, but for now I have to work with what I’ve got, which is a whole lot of cheap vegetables and generic brand everything.
4. You don’t have to put a label on everything.
I found putting the gluten- or dairy-free label on my diet to be restricting. It focused more on what I couldn’t eat and less on what I could. It also put me into a box and I felt extremely guilty whenever I pushed the limits of that box. For me, eating is (and should be) a pleasant experience, and labeling my habits in a certain way made me anxious about staying within the boundaries I set.
5. Take note of how certain ingredients make you feel.
I noticed that sometimes I would eat foods that were completely gluten- and dairy-free and still feel like absolute sh*t. This helped me to take note of certain ingredients and how they make me feel so in the future I can avoid those instead of adhering to a specific diet.
6. “Gluten free” or “vegan” doesn’t necessarily mean healthy.
Ugh, I try to drill this into anyone that asks me, but seriously be skeptical of labeling!! Something could be labeled as “gluten free” and totally still be full of preservatives and other crap. Take dill pickle Lay’s chips for example (a weakness of mine). Do they contain gluten? No. Do they contain dairy? Nope. Are they healthy? Hell no. Just because something is advertised a certain way doesn’t mean that it’s actually good for you.
I don’t regret going gluten- and dairy-free at all, but am glad that I made the decision to listen to my body and quit. From here on out, I’m choosing to eat things that make me feel good, like lean protein, veggies, fruit, and yes, some whole grains and dairy products. Oh, and when I want a slice of $1 pizza, I’m going to get it. Because life is too short to not listen to your body.