Gluten Free

And Now I Shall Eat My Hat, As Long As It’s Gluten Free

I haven’t posted on this blog in a long time. Basically, I got really sick of talking about the subjects of diet, dieting, not dieting, weight, weight loss, weight gain, food, exercise, body image, etc. So I quit doing it. That was a good move and I did a bunch of other things that I found much more interesting like reading books (31 so far this year!), drawing and painting and talking about feminism. One thing I really regret about the time I spent doing this blog and my Facebook page is that I avoided conflict to the point where I refused to mention certain words that seemed to cause a lot of argument. Vegetarian is one of them (even though I am vegetarian and have been for the most part of my life since I was 13.) Feminism is another. But I now feel that I was, in large point missing the point. Like, body image activism is wonderful. I am all for it. But I also know that the pressures women feel about our bodies do not come from within. If we really want to change things, we need to change society too, not just ourselves. Individualism keeps us from working together on social issues. Do you hate me yet? 🙂

A couple of times over the last year I’ve thought about reopening this blog and adding in the ingredients I had previously left out. The political ones. What stopped me was the desire not to have this take over my life. I have come to value my free time and I know that keeping up the Facebook page especially is a lot of work. And it is my pet project that I really can’t see being administrated by someone else. So, I have not come back in any form. Though I do think it might be sort of entertaining to see how quickly I could lose followers by talking about these things I avoided the whole time I was doing this blog.

I’m still on the fence about all of that. The real reason I am writing today is to give a little update on my life. You know, there are a zillion weight loss success story blogs and they all disappear when they gain the weight back, leaving us to think they went off into the sunset at the perfect weight and lived happily ever after. This is not what happened to me.

I do not want to dwell on this and I do not feel I owe anyone any excuses or explanations for the reality of my life and who I am, but I have gained almost all the weight I lost back. Again!

Now I know this is the point where I am supposed to flagellate myself and commit to Getting Back on the Wagon and Fighting the Good Fight, etc, but I’m not going to do that. All I can say is life is life, it doesn’t always go the way you think it will and some parts of our health are largely uncontrollable. Most people gain back the weight they lose. True fact. And it’s not the first time either, so it’s not like I’m totally shocked it happened to me. But I do feel a little bit like I should apologize for my arrogance in assuming I would be a weight loss unicorn. I’m not, I’m a human woman who first became bigger as a child and have been wildly swinging back and forth ever since, as most of us do. I could write a whole post telling you about moving, the death of one of my beloved cats, the grief I felt after losing him, the other elderly cat and my worry about his health and the constant care he needs, the unassailable fatigue I have experienced, the sorrows I drowned in ice cream, but I really don’t want you to think I’m making excuses or that I feel I owe the world an apology for my body or my life. I don’t. I am what I am and that’s more than enough. I have a lot to be thankful for and a lot going for me. The size of my pants does not erase that.

And you know what, all this body image stuff really did change the way I feel about myself. Being fat (which I am) isn’t a terrible thing. Honestly, of course I’d rather be smaller. It’s just socially easier, more comfortable in certain ways, easier to buy clothes, etc. But I don’t feel like I’m a failure or that I now need to get Back On Track or whatever. I have promised myself I will never go on a diet for the specific purpose of losing weight again.

That’s all well and good, but irony of ironies, I am about to go on a diet for the rest of my life. I have recently been diagnosed with Celiac, through blood tests and a biopsy of my small intestine. I cannot eat gluten anymore, even in tiny amounts. I cannot eat foods that touched gluten foods. I never would have expected this, as I have had none of the gastrointestinal symptoms people report, but there it is. I have Celiac and I will have to deal with it.

That’s fine. I’m an old hat at changing my diet, obviously. I’m used to reading labels and thinking about what’s in my food. And I live in the Bay Area where having food issues is practically expected. I’m not going to evangelize, but I do want to say that if this hadn’t been diagnosed, I never would have believed it. I’ve been on a gluten-free diet for one week and I already feel remarkably better. More alert, more energy, and the strangest thing, I can SEE better. Everything is crisp and clear. Maybe my period of fatigue is going to be over as I adhere to this diet.

I would also like to take back everything I ever said about gluten-free fad diets. According to my Gastroenterologist, practically everyone who goes gluten-free reports feeling better. So there you go. Gluten sensitivity IS a thing. People who disparage you for choosing to eliminate foods from your diet that make you feel better don’t know what they’re talking about. If I ever did that, I’m sorry. I have always maintained that we do not know everything there is to know about the human diet and body, so it should not surprise me to find out things that I myself did not know. I have Celiac disease and I have no choice about this. I can either go gluten-free forever or suffer a myriad of health problems in my future. The choice is obvious. If you feel better with a diet change, that’s cool. How awesome! Certainly I do think sometimes people take it too far, but on the other hand, some people are too skeptical. There is a middle ground.

Though I have not been flagellating myself about my weight gain, I have been upset that I have felt so tired and unable to exercise. Exercise is great and makes you feel better, if you feel good enough to do it. I have not felt good enough to do it. Going for walks is about all I have been able to do for the last year, with an occasional bout of going to the gym, only to become so fatigued I gave up. The fatigue is a big symptom of Celiac and I am hoping this is going to mean a big change in the way I feel from here on out, or at least that I will have a better explanation for why I have periods of energy and periods of tiredness. This is a cycle I have been experiencing my whole life. Celiac explains a lot of symptoms I have had throughout my life. I do feel kind of vindicated. These vague symptoms are hard to explain and have sometimes made me feel like I was imagining things or making things up. Having a diagnosis and a possible reason for the fatigue especially is exciting. Having a diagnosis that can potentially be alleviated with a diet change is even better. It could be a lot worse.

So, that’s what’s been happening here. I wanted to write this for two reasons primarily:

1. I don’t want to be another weight loss blogger who leaves everyone in the lurch and doesn’t finish the story. I don’t want to be misleading. If there’s a secret to healthy permanent weight loss, I do not have it. Sorry!

2. I wanted to let you know about the Celiac diagnosis as a sort of Public Service Announcement. I didn’t think I had it. In fact, I was sure I didn’t. And my skepticism of diet fads made me even more convinced that the people telling me I should try dropping gluten were just annoying fad followers. I loved gluten foods and never felt bad after eating them. If not for the tests, I wouldn’t have found out and that would be bad. The sooner caught, the sooner rectified. By changing my diet now, I am potentially saving myself from a lot of difficulty down the road. So I guess my advice would be that if you have a bunch of weird symptoms, or a family member with the disease, or a suspicion, get tested. You might be like me.

Hope everybody is doing well, and I may be back to update more soon. Or not. Either way, just know that I am still here. I am still me. I am not a weight loss unicorn. And nobody has all the answers, but we all just have to do the best we can with the bodies and lives we have. We don’t get another.

25 thoughts on “And Now I Shall Eat My Hat, As Long As It’s Gluten Free

  1. I have much respect for you. You have always been the “realest” diet blogger I’ve seen. Thank you for the update. I have lost some (not nearly as much as you, different people have different journeys) and gained it back and it was irritating and I just wanted to ignore it for a long time but ignorance isn’t bliss because I wasn’t truly ignorant. I knew I wasn’t focused I knew I wasn’t trying. It’s humbling to know that even “Kate the great” is human and real. I’m human and I’m real and I can travel my journey and commit to this journey forever. Or until I’m too old to care.

  2. Love! I have a similar story (I am not a weight loss unicorn either) and learning to appreciate my body…. after everything I put it through has been a process! Good luck on your journey and I hope you feel better the longer you care for your body!!

  3. Thank you for the update. As always, I love your writing and your honesty and your courage. I thought I was a weight loss unicorn, for 9 years….. Turns out I’m not, either. The struggle continues.

  4. Thank you for the update. I have missed your blogs and have often wondered how you were. Not whether you were keeping the weight off but wondered about you! Please don’t wait so long to blog again. We miss you.

  5. Thanks for the update. I’m glad you’re back, and also hope the new diet helps you feel better. It’s a rough journey, and mine corresponds to yours in many ways. While I do feel better about myself than when I began the weight loss journey despite gaining back about half the weight, I also loved how I felt before those pounds came back so I’m still trying to figure out something that works for me while not beating myself up in the mean time. I’m sorry for the loss you’ve experienced over the past year, and I am reminded of something you said in a blog post once – your body, and even the comfort eating, carried you through a lot of hard things. I think of that when I start to feel down about my own weight issues and try to be kinder thanks to your example. I hope you’ll blog more, if it doesn’t become burden for you

  6. Thank you for sharing. Warm thoughts for you as you continue your journey. My hilly road feels less lonely after reading this.

  7. Totally get it. I, too, since age 12 have gained and removed the same 40-80 lb in 2-5 yr spans. Everytime I removed the pounds, I’d declare ‘ that’s it! No more, I’ll be thin forever’. I’d throw all my fat clothes in the Goodwill bin. And as I gained the pounds all back, I’d live in shame and denial as I had to buy bigger clothes. Again. I’m even a lap band failure. This time, I’ve decided to take it one day at a time. No more global sweeping proclamations. Truth is, I don’t know if I’ll stay as I am with the pounds removed. If history was to predict, no. If statistics are true, nope. So F it. Live it, quit hating myself, observe the feelings behind the cravings, keep on keepin on. I’m sending you positive vibes in your new gluten free quest (even though it wasn’t ‘self’ imposed).

  8. Thats such an interesting story and brave of you to come back and tell it. We all have ups and downs and weight tends to mirror these in some way. Your writing is intelligent and entertaining and always very readable.

  9. I have missed your blog. I have missed your insights, your perspective. I have given up gluten as well for non-GI related issues and the difference is real. Thanks for being very real.

  10. I’m so excited to hear from you! And bring on feminism talk and your thoughts on how to help with the self-shaming we do. I, too, gained then lost then regained more, then lost, and now have regained all and more. I have been stuck for the past 5+ years and very slowly gaining to my highest weight, ever, with a myriad of strange health problems (sudden food allergies, emotional and physical burnout, adrenal fatigue symptoms, and I believe but not diagnosed anemia and magnesium deficiency). For the past five years, dieting hasn’t helped a but, and people do quietly and openly judge my weight, but roll their eyes at my health symptoms. The most recent of which is a climbing blood pressure and I feel powerless in my own body.

    I finally made the choice to change for me. I’m learning more about foods and nutrients. And am watching what I eat from a health perspective, with the hopes of feeling better, being healthier, and hopefully a side effect is weight loss. I don’t even want a huge loss. Just enough that exercise isn’t painful, I can be active for my age (hiking, swimming, snow skiing, even basic travel is harder and less fun when I’m overweight), and my health stats improve.

    It is infuriating that people point at fat people and say, “Eat less, fatty.” Even when it doesn’t work long-term. Or that there is almost no support for sudden weird symptoms. And some that do exist aren’t insurance covered and can turn into a money grab scam. (I did try gluten free for almost six months, with no improvement, but I do eat far less gluten now, which lets me eat probably a healthier variety of foods.)

    I’m not vegetarian, but love your food posts and talking about how you try new things, recipes, pictures, etc. So don’t be too afraid of that. And I’m all for gluten free recipes (that aren’t gluten free brownie,pasta, etc. subs. There are plenty of those. I truly want healthy gluten free fare – more ways to eat fruits, veggies, protein alternatives, etc.)

    Sorry so many words. Excited you’re back. I should get back to my blog! Right now I’m experimenting with potassium rich foods after discovering I wasn’t getting even 1/4 of the recommended daily value. 🙂 After I sort that out, I’ll move on and hopefully keep that in my arsenal. Welcome back and good luck with all the things (in lieu of good luck losing weight).

  11. How wonderful to see you appearing in my mailbox again with another intelligent, articulate blog post. Dieting is hard – fact! I was diagnosed this year with Palmoplantar Psoriasis, an immune disorder. Walking used to be my favorite form of exercise but now it can be extremely painful and sometimes impossible during a flare up. The meds I’m taking completely wipe me out and cause weight gain so I just do the best I can. I cut out all wheat, gluten and sugar thinking that may be part of my problem (it’s not), but I have still continued to keep it out of my diet. I am still trying to find what works for me — I only wish I knew — and I will always keep trying even if I’m not making progress. That’s the best I can do and I accept that. I wish you the best of luck finding what works for you and I really appreciate you updating everyone on how you are doing!

    1. Hi. Linda- I have an autoimmune eye issue. Maybe sjogrens. Maybe something else. Diagnosis isn’t a top priority. I also believe my food allergies are related as all flare at once. Anyway, I know I everybody’s body is different, but have you tried various forms of vitamin C? For some reason, that helped me a lot. Not full on remission or anything, but improvement. I prefer C Salts, but other people recommended other things that worked for them. So I suspect C Salts may not be perfect for you. Hope you find something that helps. (Sleep is also huge for me, but not for others, for example.)

    2. Linda
      In March I found out the “eczema” they had been treating me for, was in fact Palmoplantar Psoriasis; 2 years and hundreds of dollars of OTC, natural and prescriptions later. But I’m now taking Otezla and it’s getting better. I’ve only had one joint flare up (I’m one of the unlucky 30% with Psoriatic Arthritis). You should go see an arthritis doctor to verify whether or not this is case for you. There are certain exercises we have to be cautious of. I couldn’t believe it when I read your post, I’ve never “talked” with someone else who has this. I’m on a low-carb diet that is hopefully going to reduce the fat and inflammation around my organs. It’s not always easy, but I’m hanging in there. Good Luck to you!

  12. Thanks for the update. I’ve missed your writings. My friend was diagnosed with celiac and changing her diet definitely changed her life for the better. It wasn’t easy at first but now has no trouble in following her diet.

    You’ve got the right attitude about dieting–I know whenever I go on a diet, I’ll eventually gain weight. For a long time I stopped dieting and actually lost weight. Once I noticed I was losing, I started to “diet” so I could lose it even faster. I then began to gain. Vicious cycle

  13. I have been on a diet, giving up a diet and thinking about starting a diet for all my adult life (29 years). It’s soul destroying and in all that time of trying, ultimately unsuccessful. I’m trying to trust my instincts and eat according to need but blimey it’s hard. I wish you luck for the future. I also gave up gluten in May as I suffer from migraines and read that they can be made worse by gluten. Since eliminating gluten they have pretty much gone. A colleague said it must be easy to lose weight eliminating gluten but unfortunately (or fortunately) there are plenty of things you can still have – chocolate, chips (fries) and flapjack (oat and golden syrup creations, mmmmm) to name a few.

  14. good blog – I am all in favor of shaking up political and social no no’s. We absolutely need to talk about what’s important, socially acceptable or not. I always appreciate friends who tell me the truth rather than lies to save my feelings. I have not been tested for gluten, but have been avoiding it mostly because it does seem to cause tiredness and other symptoms. I don’t diet either, but I do try to pay attention to what is healthy for me.

  15. Thank you SO much for the update and your honesty! Once upon a time you challenged me to think of myself as more then just a number on a scale. I to have been on diets and off diets my whole adult life. I to have lost 50,60,80 pounds just to put it right back on. I think it was you that put in my head that I had much more to offer the world then my pants size. It was those thoughts that lead me to Overeaters Anonymous and to so many like myself. I have been in recovery for almost 2 years, have maintained a weight loss for more then a few months,and have gained so much. I would be happy to share with you my experience, strength, and hope like you have so willingly shared with us. Thank you again

  16. I am grateful that you have returned, with honesty and integrity, as you had been in your earlier posts. I agree with many of the comments and insights in this blog.

    For myself, I am working on changing my focus from fat to fit. Recent studies I’ve read suggest that weight loss, permanent weight loss without surgery, is near impossible to maintain. I think it’s something like 2% of people with major weight loss are able to maintain it? That 2% make a career of working out.

    So, we are not alone!

  17. Glad to see you back, I used to love your posts.

    However, this part bothered me: “I would also like to take back everything I ever said about gluten-free fad diets. According to my Gastroenterologist, practically everyone who goes gluten-free reports feeling better. So there you go. Gluten sensitivity IS a thing. People who disparage you for choosing to eliminate foods from your diet that make you feel better don’t know what they’re talking about. If I ever did that, I’m sorry. I have always maintained that we do not know everything there is to know about the human diet and body, so it should not surprise me to find out things that I myself did not know. I have Celiac disease and I have no choice about this. I can either go gluten-free forever or suffer a myriad of health problems in my future. The choice is obvious.”

    You being GF now is not a fad. You have CELIAC. However, this is a completely different situation, as there ARE people/companies brainwashing others about the “dangers” of gluten and how “unhealthy” it is (especially those who push paleo/primal style of eating). Gluten per say is not unhealthy – of course it IS unhealthy for a specific person if that person has celiac. So yeah, people with celiac will of course feel tons better when they stop eating gluten. And others (without celiac) among those people you mention, who report feeling better, are feeling better because they’ve removed most of the “junk” foods they used to eat on a regular basis.

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