After my first stint on The Fitcast with Kevin Larrabee where I briefly touched on being gluten free, I have received loads of questions about why I am gluten-free, how I realized I should go gluten-free, and what kinds of foods are allowed on a gluten-free diet. (There were so many questions that it even prompted a second interview!).

Let me preface this by saying that I realize gluten-free diets are not for everyone.  That being said, many of my friends and clients have come off of gluten, and felt remarkably better.  Many of them were eating a very nutritious, whole foods diet when they decided to pull gluten out, so it’s not as if they went from McDonald’s 4x a day, to a gluten-free whole foods diet (feeling better would be a no-brainer in that situation!).

Lucy Hendricks, my friend and an awesome trainer at our gym, J&M Strength and Conditioning, is also gluten-free and decided to compile stories from friends and family who have also gone gluten-free with wonderful results and share them with my audience.  Enjoy!  And please share your experience with going gluten-free in the comments section!

P.S.  Read about how to painlessly ease into a gluten-free diet here!

How A Paleo-Style Diet Changed My Life 

By: Lucy Hendricks

When some people think of eating meat, they think of chicken covered in salmonella and growth hormones, cows injected with antibiotics and meat coloring, pigs stuffed fed anti-bacterial drugs and pork treated with preservatives. They think of cancer, fat people, high cholesterol, elevated blood pressure, and heart attacks.

 I, on the other hand, don’t believe that meat is the root cause of our health problems. And I like to publicly announce it! I put it all over the internet.

 In fact, if we’re friends on Facebook, you know how much I like bacon, and how many patties Molly, Jim and I get when we go to Five Guys (hint: at least 4).

 People who agree with me think my posts are accurate, funny, or clever (or at least I like to think I’m funny and clever).  I also have a lot of people who don’t agree with me, and that’s OK too.  I’ve had people send me messages telling me I’m sending out the wrong message about how to be healthy, and that the information I’m putting out there is completely wrong.

 I understand that the information I’m putting out there might not be the same information that some of my friends are learning in medical school, but after experiencing what I’ve gone through when experimenting with different nutrition strategies, and seeing the proof of what a Paleo-style diet can do for you, I could never agree with a doctor who says that all saturated fat is bad, and that copious amount of grains are good for you.

 So instead of arguing with people and explaining why they are wrong, I asked some of my friends and family members to write ONE paragraph about how a Paleo-style diet has changed their lives (but as you’ll see, some of them are so excited to share their story, they wrote much more!)

 I’ll start with myself, and it’s a little longer than a paragraph!

 After going from eating all real food in Guatemala (where I was born and lived until I was 15) to eating fast food, and cafeteria lunches every day when I moved to America, I ended up gaining almost 40lbs in two years.

As you can see, I am naturally quite thin, but moving to America and eating a processed food diet packed the pounds onto me quickly!

As you can see, I am naturally quite thin, but moving to America and eating a processed food diet packed the pounds onto me quickly!

 After my junior year in high school, I suffered from PTSD, and was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, and depression. My anxiety was so bad I would convince myself I left the stove-top on and picture my whole entire house burning down. I would lay in bed at night and just make things up in my head, like what people thought of me, and assume the worst in every situation. I also ended up with fibromyalgia, leaky gut, and every time I would eat something my stomach would hurt. For the longest time I was looking for a magic pill that would make everything go away.

 Oh, and I used to seek out anti-Paleo nutrition experts because I hated Paleo and thought it was so stupid.

  Then I met Jim Laird, my boss at J&M Strength and Conditioning, and my training mentor, and he introduced me to “Wheat Belly.”  Soon after that, I realized in order to fix my health issues, I had to change my entire lifestyle.

It took some time, but now I’m a completely different person. In fact, I get pretty emotional when I think about how much my life has changed for the better since changing my diet.

A picture shortly after I changed my eating to a Paleo-style diet.

A picture shortly after I changed my eating to a Paleo-style diet.

It’s crazy to think that I could have easily ignored my diet and would likely have taken anti-depressants, anti-anxiety meds, and suffer from pain for the rest of my life.

 So how is life now?  Well, I am in no pain from my fibromyalgia!  I also don’t have stomach pain when I eat, and I don’t take any medicine for my anxiety, and I feel like I manage it very well.  On the other hand, if I get really stressed out, and somehow have gluten contamination, all of my symptoms start to come back.

I feel so passionately about how eating real food and avoiding gluten has changed my life, I just want to spread the word.  It’s not for everyone, but we have seen such dramatic results with our clients, that we ask them to try it for 30-60 days just to see how they feel.  At the very worst, they eat more meat and vegetables, and at the very best, their life might be changed forever.

Read below about more of my friends and family members whose lives have been changed through good nutrition.

Angie Miller

Angie Miller

I will begin by saying that more people should be aware of what they put into their bodies and the direct effect it has in their system.  The saying, “you are what you eat,” could not be any more true.  In my personal experience, switching to a gluten-free diet has helped my health tremendously.  Not only have I switched to a gluten-free diet, but I have eliminated a lot of processed foods as well.

 I do not eat fast food under any circumstances.  I have cut back on dairy, and grains in general.  The only grains that I consume now are the occasional splurge of rice, quinoa, or corn.  My biggest cheat food is corn tortillas!  Before I began this change in lifestyle (because it IS a lifestyle change and not a diet), I experienced a lot of negative symptoms, mainly from my gluten intolerance.

 I was deficient in B12, D3, my hair was falling out, I had plaque psoriasis on my face, chronic fatigue, chronic diarrhea, and a persistent state of “brain fog.”  All of this from the gluten protein found in wheat, rye, and barley.  And gluten is in almost ALL processed foods!

 Since I have changed my lifestyle, I am full a lot sooner because I am eating more nutrient dense foods, I no longer have stomach/digestive problems, my hair is growing back, and I do not have any traces of plaque psoriasis!  Have I completely given up carbs?  ABSOLUTELY NOT!  My body is thriving on lean meats, healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados, and coconut oil, and gets full on carbohydrates & fiber from fresh fruits and vegetables.

 Do I eat bland, boring food?  ABSOLUTELY NOT!  And I certainly do not miss the highly processed, sugar-laden slop that I was eating before.  Remember this: eat to live, not live to eat.  Your health starts in your kitchen.

Ardena Gojani

 Ardena Gojani

After struggling with constipation that would last for weeks, I knew that something was not right in my diet, but as for the problems with acne, I thought it was hormonal and I needed to take birth control.  I went to many doctors trying to understand my issues and not a single one asked me what my diet consisted of, but they knew that whatever it was, antibiotics would fix the problems.

After taking antibiotics and dealing with even more severe candida, I had lost hope.  As for taking birth control, it did not help my acne at all.

It was six months before my wedding, and I was slightly depressed and consumed with ways I could prevent my acne from showing up on my wedding day.  I spent thousands of dollars going to facial treatments in hospitals where they used lasers and acid form chemicals. Although it helped a bit, it did not stop the illness, because new acne would continue to show.

 Finally, I went to J&M Strength and Conditioning to work out and the first thing that Jim Laird told me is, “Girl, your acne is because something is wrong with your gut.”

I was a bit confused but he suggested adding some foods that would heal my gut while also suggesting to read a book called, “Wheat Belly.”  It took 24 hours after reading the first few chapters to convince me to give it a shot and eliminate wheat from my diet.  It took 1 week for my acne to stop appearing and four weeks for it to all be gone.  In addition to that, I began to have bowl movements every day.  As a bonus, my body has changed completely, and I have lost all of my belly fat and can actually see muscles under there (I guess they call them a six pack but I am only at 4 pack).

 Overall, eliminating wheat has completely changed my life.  I never feel sick, sleepy, or tired after eating. I sleep better than I ever have, and I have much more clarity and energy throughout the day.

Hayley Hawkins

Hayley Hawkins

All of my life I’ve always been a big bread/pasta eater. I always worked out multiple times a week, but I could never lose weight.  In high school and the beginning of college my body just always stayed the same, and I never felt that great.  I always getting tired as soon as I ate something.

This past year, I heard about gluten-free, and was shocked to find out about all this new information. I read the book, “Wheat Belly,” and saw my friend Lucy posting a bunch of stuff on Facebook about it. I’d never even considered bread being bad for me.  I thought that eating my wheat bread was really healthy!

 I decided to try it since I’d tried going vegetarian and vegan before, and neither of those worked at all for me.  So I incorporated a lot of meat and veggie dishes in my diet, and cut out bread and pasta, which I had been eating at least twice a day for a long time.

 I must tell you, I have NEVER felt better.  I have so much more energy it blows my mind, and I never get tired right after I eat.  I also lost about 10 lbs. really quickly when I first started.

 I’m not extremely strict, as I might eat something that has traces of wheat in it once in a while, but I have tried eating bread a couple times and it made me feel awful.  I felt bloated and uncomfortable.  Once you try it, you will feel so good, you won’t want wheat anymore.

Emily Lavender

Emily Lavender

I tried a “30 day Paleo Challenge” my senior year of high school and I had no idea what to expect.  I definitely had no idea it would change my outlook on nutrition as much as it did.

Eating clean, gluten-free, grain-free, non-processed foods did amazing things for my body. I got lean and I had a lot of energy too!

When I started college last year, I did not follow a Paleo-style diet at all, and I could tell instantly.  My acne was horrible, I had no energy, and I was starting to look a little “fluffy.”  Now, in my second year of college, I have gone back to eating gluten-free and grain-free and guess what? My acne is clearing up, I have more energy, and I have lost 6 pounds.

Give it a try! Don’t be afraid of eating meat. Don’t be afraid of food not tasting as good. Don’t be afraid of not seeing results. I promise IT WILL BE WORTH it!

 Chris Goodykunz

Chris Goodykunz

 When I first learned of a gluten-free diet, I couldn’t fathom why somebody would willingly give up bread and other wheat products. It was one of my favorite food groups. After hearing a friend of mine talk about their gluten-free experiences I decided to do some more research about gluten. I learned that gluten causes an inflammation in the lower intestine which can lead to symptoms such as abdominal discomfort, bloating, and diarrhea.

 All of these are symptoms I often suffer from after eating. I decided I would try a gluten-free diet for a week to see if I could tell a difference. Well a week turned in two, then into a month, and now it’s been six months. I thought it would be very difficult giving up wheat products, but thanks to modern day science there are a slew of products available that have gluten substitutes so I am still able to eat a lot of my favorite foods.

 Anybody that is suffering with digestive problems should consider trying this diet, even if it is just for a week or two. You may be pleasantly surprised to learn you feel better and have more energy.

 (Side note from Molly:  Gluten Free DOES NOT mean healthy or nutritious!  You can definitely enjoy the occasional gluten free cookie/pastry/cake as a treat, but by most people, they should be eaten sparingly.  Real, unprocessed food should still be the focus of every meal).

Allie Hendricks

Allie Hendricks

My grandma must have forgotten to write me. You know how grandmas are 😉 Here’s a chart she made after going on a grain-free diet. It looks like saturated fat doesn’t make your cholesterol go up. For the first time since 1992 all of her levels are normal.

Teresa Hendricks

Teresa Hendricks

My Mom, on the other hand, knows that a picture is worth a thousand words.  =)

So those are just a few people whose lives have been changed by switching to a Paleo-style diet. Maybe you can relate to one of them.

You might have a few pounds you need to lose.

You might have some health issues that have been baffling you and/or your Doctors.

You might just be curious to see how a gluten-free diet might change your life.

Give it a go!  You’ll never know until you try!

MOLLY: Thanks so much to Lucy for taking the time to put this together!  Feel free to include your own stories in the comment section (apologize for the tricky captcha… you just have to look for the captcha box, it’s there.  I promise. 

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