The Gluten-Free Month Reflections

My weight has been consistently below what I expected, with the month leading to a decrease of somewhere between 6 pounds (the difference between the averages in the first and last week) and 9 pounds (the difference between the high right at the end of September and the low right at the beginning of November). In either case, well more than anticipated, and fairly consistent to boot. Given that I’ve struggled to accomplish this with dietary changes alone, the whole gluten-free thing seems like it could be useful, at least as long as it continues as it has.

Now, of course, it’s important to be skeptical at this point. There could be water weight or a shift in how much I’m eating (and thus how much is in my digestion at any given point) and any number of other factors to consider. But it’s a very strong start.

How about energy? Well, this is a tricky one. I can say that when I’m eating mostly vegetable-type stuff, my energy at least seemed to be higher. But when I shifted to candy (more on that in a second), I felt that lag again. So it seems to be more about dietary composition than the specific lack of wheat. Though the wheat-type stuff did seem, by and large, to be closer to the “junky” end of things for me, at least in contrast to vegg alternatives.

So, candy is the tricky bit. Partially because of Halloween, there was lots of candy. But also, my stomach was upset from the high dosage of Advil prescribed by my doctor for my shoulder issues, and I found that Snickers bars did some good at settling it — or at least not upsetting it. But then I’d discovered that Snickers were fast, easy, and gluten-free, so it became a staple meal more than the less convenient — but healthier and more energy-inducing — vegg alternatives.

So what’s the goal for that? Do I just restrict and restrict at the global level to ensure the healthy stuff is the most convenient option? It’s the easiest solution for me, at a cognitive / willpower level, but scores pretty low on the sustainability front. That said, the idea of doing gluten-free and vegan has its appeals and would certainly eliminate all the junky options I’ve discovered so far. (I’m not opposed to sweets, and that’s part of the trick; otherwise, I’d just ban sweets. What I want is for sweets to be sufficiently inconvenient that I have to really want them, not just find them convenient as a meal substitute.)

Another complicating factor on energy: Caffeine. The inability to discern what low energy was because of caffeine dependence and what was because of my diet is the core reason I chose to quit caffeine. And then, of course, the last two weeks (since quitting) have been very low energy. So how much is diet and how much is the adenosene receptors in my brain gradually dying off? Hard to say. Again, it will take more time to tell for certain.

How about that “proclivity for physical activity”? Again, this seems to be more about fresh food. Once candy became a staple, this benefit really diminished. Again, though, the caffeine situation complicates this somewhat.

And then there’s my mood. Perhaps a bit less depressed, but the whole caffeine thing … yeah, I guess that makes a lot of this stuff hard to figure out.

That’s a problem with life choices on the whole, isn’t it? Or lifestyle choices, anyway. It’s so damn hard to separate out the variables.

And then the inconvenience. Honestly, it’s been just fine, now that I’ve adjusted. Only hard when a tasty-looking gluten-y option is right in front of me, and even then it’s not so tempting. And I think we’ve worked out a balance okay in meal prep. I do simple stuff — leftover rice with sauce and maybe vegg, or quessadillas on corn tortillas — and prepare a normal meal for the boys. And my wife usually makes me a gluten-free option, but I’ve been very specific that I don’t want her to go too far out of her way. This is my crazy, and she shouldn’t feel obligated to get on board with it.

So, what’s my conclusion? There are two. The first is that this honestly seems like a very useful dietary choice for the sake of improving my health and confronting my weight issues, and it’s worth continuing the experiment. And the second is that because of the complications with caffeine, it’s too soon to draw the useful conclusions that will really determine whether this is worth the effort in a longer-term sense.

I’ll keep going on this whole gluten-free thing as I figure out its internal parts. I’m going to focus on acclimating to the no-caffeine situation for now, but then consider eliminating dairy or doing the whole vegan shtick. It’s a shame to eliminate the convenient protein of eggs, but if I’m getting rid of dairy, it does feel almost a little silly to not go the whole way to veganism. Though maybe that’s extreme, regardless. Though also, I think if there’s a way I can make a mental binary out of “is it processed,” that could be even more useful. But what do I really mean by “processed”? And do I really want to eliminate it wholesale?

Le sigh. Choices, choices, choices.