On Being (Mostly) Gluten-free — And How It’s Helped Me

I’ve never been overly concerned about my weight, and I’m thankful to have grown up in a family that wasn’t either. Food discussions centered on health, and after eating a balanced meal, it was almost a given there would be dessert to follow. (In fact, both grandmothers have expressed concern when there wasn’t because my brother or I had filled up on the main course.)

But when I gained the “Mizzou 22” my freshman year eating (mostly) balanced meals and spent much of the year feeling poorly, I began to think there might be a bigger problem.

A year or two before I left for college, my parents — who had spent years battling health problems unusual for their ages — went gluten-free, to the disbelief of my brother and me. Avoiding Mellow Mushroom pizza, spinach ravioli and even peanut butter sandwiches sounded like our worst nightmare.

But my parents’ symptoms went away, and they said they felt better than they had in years.

So when my mom suggested I try going gluten-free, I did. And boy, did it make a difference.

The “Mizzou 22” disappeared. This foggy, tired feeling I’d get a lot became much less frequent. I felt more awake, more alert. And, most importantly, I was happier and felt better than I had in a while.

Now, I’m going into my junior year of college. I love a good grilled cheese sandwich from Rollins and am the first to volunteer going to Broadway Diner or Waffle House at night. I’m going to cheat because I enjoy these things, and it’s OK because I eat pretty well most of the time.

Plus, tons of restaurants now are offering gluten-free options, making it easier than ever to avoid overprocessed, GMO-filled gluten. For example, any item at Noodles & Co. can be made with rice noodles, making that Wisconsin Mac ‘n’ Cheese just that much better.

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