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! :)