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The gluten-free diaries: week four

alexaIt’s nearly a month since Alexa Tucker embarked on her GF mission and this week she reflects on results so far. Plus, have we explained what gluten is yet? Read on for the schpeal on the protein itself

I’ve completed my third week resisting my addiction—wheat. Sure, I haven’t been perfect, and there have been good days and bad days. When I check in with my body and how I’m feeling, there are a few things that stick out.

  • My body doesn’t feel like I’ve been run over by a bus This is one awesome result I’ve found both times I’ve been gluten-free: my body isn’t so sore. When I go through phases of eating way too much wheat, my body feels like I’m constantly recovering from an extremely tough workout. My back would hurt, my joints aches, and I felt all around sluggish. Physically, I’ve been feeling really good. I don’t jump for a seat on the tube or have to motivate myself to get out of my work chair and walk around.
  • My skin has been behaving It’s much more even-toned, and I haven’t had a breakout since I said goodbye to the grain.
  • My mood’s much better Living in London, it’s so easy to let the weather get you down. I’m a big believer that being gluten-free helps me feel better mentally, and when I’m swapping toasties for healthy soup at Pret a Manger to warm up at lunch, I find that I feel more positive and less anxious.
Look ma, no filter! (Thanks, skin.)
Look ma, no filter! (Thanks, skin.)

Two things I’ve noticed that haven’t changed as drastically as I was expecting them to: my energy levels and my weight. These are two big reasons I wanted to go back to GF in the first place, so I’m not going to lie, it’s a bit of a bummer. Sure, I’m less tired in the afternoons and my jeans feel slightly looser, but the changes haven’t been as dramatic as I experienced the first time. I’ve got a few theories: the first go around, I was extremely cautious about not cheating, and I was a saint when it came to following the plan for the first two weeks. This time, I’ve had more moments of weakness.

Another possibility is alcohol intake. When I went gluten-free the first time, I wasn’t of legal drinking age in the U.S. (where I was living.) There were no glasses of wine with my mum or post-work happy hours with friends. Alcohol adds up calories so quickly, and it’s easy to forget about. I’ve also always struggled with low iron and vitamin D levels, so that could be an explanation for not getting as much energy back as I was hoping for.

A little limoncello can't hurt--except I'd already had a cocktail earlier that evening and a glass of wine with dinner.
A little limoncello can’t hurt–except I’d already had a cocktail earlier that evening and a glass of wine with dinner.

So, there are a few changes I’m going to make to test my theories.

  1. One glass of wine on the weekend. I’m going with Caroline’s (Healthista’s Reboot blogger) plan on this one. If I’m going out, though, I’ll allow myself one vodka and soda water to join in on the fun, which clocks in at just under 100 calories.
  2. Go back to iron supplements. Iron is best absorbed when taken on an empty stomach, so I plan on taking it right before bed. As for Vitamin D, London’s supposed to be sunny this week, so I’ll get out into the good ‘ol outdoors.
  3. NO. CHEATING. This week, I’m holding myself to a higher standard and stepping it up. No cheating. I’ll be on vacation this weekend, so if I have one thing, I’m not going to beat myself up about it. But till then, I’m staying strict.

As you can see, I’ve given myself a little wiggle room. I know myself well enough to see that if I don’t, I’ll fall off the wagon entirely.

This week, my mom came in to London for a visit. Spending time with her was a big eye opener to how important it is to have people supporting your choice when you’re gluten-free (and a bit shaky with it.) She’s no enabler, but she wasn’t the wheat police either. We took a trip to Prague, and I cheated on a couple of Czech classics that involved gluten, and while she didn’t give me the evil eye, she didn’t quite condone it either. She was happy to try restaurants where she knew I had a gluten-free option I’d enjoy, and didn’t try to tempt me into eating things I’d regret.

Gluten-free afternoon tea at the Orangery. Thanks for accommodating, mom.

Okay, now for less about me, more about gluten. I’m not sure I ever fully explained what gluten actually is. Gluten is a protein composite made up of two proteins, gliadin and glutenin. It’s essentially what gives dough an elastic texture. Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition that reacts to gliadin, causing damage to the intestines. It’s diagnosed by blood tests or a small intestinal biopsy.

So, what’s the problem for people without coeliac? Though people without the disease don’t have to fret over cross-contamination, there’s a wide range of other disorders that fall into the gluten sensitivity category, including wheat allergies. This means that gluten doesn’t cause an autoimmune response, but many symptoms similar to coeliac are present, such as fatigue, joint pain, and digestive issues (There are over 200 symptoms associated with gluten intolerance.)

Bread and Bakery

There are somewhat reliable blood tests to see if you’re sensitive to gluten but don’t have coeliac. I’ve thought about doing one, both this time around and the last, but it requires you to go back to gluten for a few weeks so it’s in your system to test. In my opinion, why bother if I already know I feel better when I’m not eating it?

I’ll keep you posted on how it goes with the limited wine intake/iron supplements/not cheating thing. Let’s hope I have great news for you next week.


The gluten-free diaries: week one

The gluten-free diaries: week two

The gluten-free diaries: week three

Do any of you have suggestions for me as I start on week 4? Much appreciated, Healthistas!

Alexa blogs at

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