Why Go Gluten/Soy/mostly-Sugar Free?

It’s funny. For YEARS now–at least ten years–I’ve been toying with the idea of eliminating refined sugar, eating vegan, or eliminating processed foods.

I generally love vegan and raw foods, enjoy whole foods, and feel better when I avoid lots of processed items.

However, my weakness has been–and probably always will be–sugar and sweet baked goods. I LOVE me a perfect cupcake, buttery-crusted berry pie, or meltingly-fresh-from-the-oven, made-from-scratch, chocolate-chip cookie. Take me to a restaurant with a twenty page wine list, and I’d rather see their dessert menu.

Also, I love artisan breads, muffins, pastries, etc.

In this first-world, American society in which I live, wheat and refined-grain products are omnipresent. It’s so easy to eat a bowl of wheat-based cereal for breakfast, have a whole wheat-bread sandwich for lunch, snack on cookies or crackers (wheat flour), and then have a dinner that includes–you guessed it–some sort of wheat-based item (bread, pasta, tortillas, pita, croutons).

These things are all relatively low calorie, often tout their “whole grain goodness”, and are easy and cheap to obtain.

So, I needed an extremely compelling reason to make the radical shift to push wheat and gluten out of my life.

And that reason came in the form of my thyroid. I’ve recently been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an extremely common form of hypothyroidism. When I read that 1) there’s no cure (once the gene that carries it “activates”, there’s no way to turn it off) and 2) it creates antibodies that systematically destroy your thyroid, I went on a researching rampage.

There was NO way that I was going to NOT find a way to at least slow the destruction of my thyroid.  What I discovered was that there’s a link between gluten sensitivity/intolerance and Hashimoto’s. It’s theorized that both are an autoimmune response and that if you eliminate the aggravation caused by the gluten, you can reduce the antibodies that are attacking your thyroid.

Similarly, eliminating refined sugar has a similar effect.

Finally, consumption of soy products has been found to be less-than-ideal for people with impaired thyroid function, hence my elimination of soy (actually harder to do than gluten!).

So, every time I’m faced with a choice to eat something with gluten, soy or refined sugar, I ask myself: is this worth promoting the destruction of my thyroid? I almost always come up with “No!” as an answer.

However, when I went to Eataly in New York City last week, I enjoyed some gluten-free but by NO means low-sugar desserts. And since I will probably only be there once in my life and since the desserts were out-of-this-world awesome and unique, my answer came up, “Yes!” : )

Having eliminated wheat and sugar from my diet, I’ve experienced what I never thought possible. I don’t crave them! I’ve craved wheat and sugar for as long as I can remember (since I was about 9 years old). Now, I simply don’t.

It’s actually rather weird, and I keep expecting the cravings to return.

It’s not that I’m no longer interested in food–I’m as much of a foodie as ever. I just don’t have those cravings anymore.

What I *have* noticed, though, is that if I make something like a low-sugar, GF cake, I eat WAY too much of it and have a similar, addictive response to it as I used to have to wheat-based, baked goods. So, there’s still a grain dependency to be conquered.

I’ll keep you updated on further developments! :)

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4 Comments

Filed under 2011, gluten free, health, refined sugar free, soy free, Thyroid

4 responses to “Why Go Gluten/Soy/mostly-Sugar Free?

  1. cj

    How great that I stumbled on your comment as I was looking for things to help me with my lifetime of Hashimoto’s and the subsequent problems. When I was diagnosed in the 70’s no one was talking about food relationships. It is only recently that I have been seeing some people making the connections and NEVER by an endocrinologist. Sounds like you are taking the best steps early in your life. I am going to try to eliminate wheat and soy. Best wishes!

  2. Tia

    Wow!! It sounds like we have a lot in common! I am recently gluten-free and soy-free vegetarian, in the process of becoming sugar free and vegan as well. I also have thyroid disease and my favorite things in the world are those evil-but-delicious baked goods!! I am so glad to hear that your gluten and sugar cravings have ceased to exist, it gives me hope that mine will disappear soon also! :P

    • it’s so lovely to hear from you, Tia! We *do* have a lot in common. Best wishes on your journey–we’re so lucky to have so many resources available to us as we move toward eating GF and soy free! :)

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