With so much buzz about going gluten free, I have been very curious to try it out for myself. No one in my family has ever been diagnosed with Celiac Disease or Gluten Sensitivity, but I have heard plenty of people claim to feel great when they avoid gluten completely. Still, it was never enough to convince me to try it. Until.....
Udi's 14 Day Gluten Free Challenge
While cruising the Expo Hall at BlogHer last August, I started chatting with some friendly people at the Udi's booth. They encouraged me to try their 14 Day Gluten Free Challenge just to see how I felt without gluten in my system for 2 weeks. What did I have to lose?
They explained to me that gluten is the protein found in wheat (and rye and barley as well) and it can be difficult for some people to digest. I can't say that I've ever suspected a sensitivity to gluten (my GI tract is working just fine, thank you very much!) but then again, who doesn't feel fatigue, bloating or inability to concentrate (other symptoms of gluten sensitivity) every once in awhile? Could these be related to my body's struggle to digest gluten?
I followed a strict gluten free diet for about 3 weeks and I have to admit, I did not notice any huge change in the way my body worked or felt. I have done detox plans and food eliminations before and I always feel great when I am doing them (well, not when I give up caffeine, but most other foods), simply because I am eating more healthfully and mindfully. For me, the mere act of eliminating foods forces me to pay attention to my diet in a way that I usually don't.
One thing I realized is that compared to some people, I do not eat a ton of gluten in the first place. I typically eat a smoothie or yogurt for breakfast. Lunch is usually leftovers or a salad. I often skip the bread with dinner (although, I do love bread, don't get me wrong). And I don't eat many desserts, other than dark chocolate.
That said, I did have a good amount of energy during the challenge. I did not feel bloated after meals like I might after a big meal of gluten-filled pasta or pizza. My ability to focus on work after lunch (typically a slow time for me) was consistently good. My conclusion is that while my body is not officially sensitive to gluten, it may benefit me to keep my intake low.
Udi's sent over a box of yummy products to help support my gluten-free experience. The sandwich bread and bagels were great staples to have on hand. The individual pizza crust was fun - especially for the kids. I'm a huge fan of Udi's granola - it is something that I will continue to purchase when I don't have time to make my own.
Udi's is especially known for their wonderfully rich and gooey treats like chocolate muffins, brownie bites and cinnamon rolls. While they tasted great and would be a life saver for people who truly are gluten intolerant, I have to be careful not to load up on high calorie treats because they will go straight to my thighs just like any other desserts!
Have you ever tried a gluten free diet? How has it worked for you?
(Disclosure: I received free samples of Udi's gluten free products in exchange for my honest opinion.)