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Friday, April 10, 2015

The mysterious beer hangover and why I went gluten free

Go gluten free?  You're joking right????   Let me explain....

I recall complaining to a friend that I felt really hung over after having only one beer.  The response?  It was what you'd expect.  "Sure you only had one beer."  There was no point to insisting.  One beer does not equate with a hangover for the majority of people.  I had a mystery on my hands, and I didn't even know it.  I learned to stop complaining about these mystifying beer hangovers.  If people weren't going to believe me, there was no point in talking about it. 
Around the same time, it seemed like people around me started talking about the new rage in diets - the Paleo Diet, the Primal Diet, and the Whole 30 Diet.  There was even the anti-inflamation Diet which was suggested by my chiropractor to help my joints feel better and lose weight.  They all had one thing in common.  They tell you not to eat grains.  I thought this was too extreme for me.  If everyone was doing this, it had to be a fad.

My friend from college was one of the early adopters of this kind of allergen-free diet because she was having some serious health problems.  She told me that gluten was one of the worst things I could be having - especially if we were trying to get pregnant.  I thought it was malarkey.  But on the off chance that it would actually improve my chances of getting pregnant, I decided to give it a shot.

So, what does gluten free even mean?  It means you must eliminate these gluten-containing grains:
  1. No wheat.
  2. No barley.
  3. No rye.
No wheat also means no spelt, kamut, or seminola as these are all names for wheat.  Farina is flour in Italian and you can't have that either.  It means no bread, no cookies, and no to most snack crackers and breakfast cereals.  If your goal is weight loss and you're a huge snack cracker fanatic, this is absolutely going to help you lose weight.  Even if you aren't a big snacker, you are going to lose a few pounds because you will have to pass on bread before dinner.

It's not that bad.  There are many foods you can still eat.  You can go to Chipotle.  If you go to Subway, you have to order your sandwich as a salad.  If you're a guy, you can blame it on whatever you want or say you're going "primal."  You can have Mexican food - so long as you pass on the wheat shell for a taco salad and pass on any flour tortillas and Bechamel sauce which is made with wheat flour.  Other than that, your free to mack down on Mexican.  You can have Asian foods so long as you avoid anything fried because it will be fried with wheat flour.

I took this on as a a dare or even a joke.  I would do it, sure, and then I would go back to my old ways having proved to my friend that this was not for me.

Except it didn't work out that way at all...

I was really good about it.  I didn't cheat.  If I wanted a cookie, I paid the extra for gluten free.  I ate Mexi.  The man kept jonesing for couscous and I finally gave in to the the temptation.  And when I woke up the next day, I felt awful!  The room was spinning a little.  My head hurt.  It was my solo beer hangover!  I had solved the mystery.  And yet I doubted.  So I had a cookie with lunch & croutons on my salad.  And promptly fell asleep in the middle of the day.

Not only did I solve my mysterious beer hangovers, I had also solved the mystery of years of mind-bending fatigue.  I had been diagnoses with anything but the real cause of my problems.  I was hypothyroid AND I was gluten intolerant.  And I even lost some weight that hadn't moved off my body despite faithfully taking my thyroid meds on a daily basis.  Say what you will, but I'm sticking with this even if I think that some Paleo person would have certainly eaten wheat if it were presented to them, and even if many Christians are hesitant to buy into this Paleo business.  I've never felt better than I do right now.

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SavvyD said...

Another interesting thing I noted recently, my white blood cell count was always very high and suddenly this last time I was tested, by WBC count was within normal limits. Wondering if this is related and if I actually have celiac...

Amber said...

I've definitely noticed that beer tends to give me a headache immediately afterwards.

Also my friend was trying to get pregnant for 2 years. She did a Whole30 in January and just informed me that she's officially 13 weeks pregnant :D

SavvyD said...

Dear Amber,

Congrats to your friend that's wonderful. I wish it were that simple for everyone to just change their diet and get pregnant. Unfortunately, I had other problems and that won't work for me. :'( I'm going to blog about this sometime.

Your beer headaches may be gluten or they may be from some preservative or even the alcohol itself. I'd be interested to know which it is.

For those who don't know, Whole 30 is a 30 day elimination diet program to determine which foods may be causing you problems and is a bit somilar to going Paleo/Primal