It's Not Gluten's Fault
Gluten-free diets are all the rage. The letters “gf” have become ubiquitous on restaurant menus and grocery stores are littered with gluten-free options, from cauliflower crusts to cookies.
There are very legitimate reasons to eliminate gluten. For one, about 1% of the population suffers from celiac disease. For these folks it is crucial to avoid gluten to protect the integrity of their digestive system. For others with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, avoiding gluten can alleviate symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and improve energy and vitality. Many products that contain gluten are highly processed, so it’s not surprising that even people without a sensitivity who reduce or remove gluten from their diets report feeling and looking better.
We’re not opposed to a gluten-free diet, but we do encourage exploring why gluten might make you feel garbage rather than blindly removing it. Elimination diets have their merit, but they often fall short in explaining why the body is struggling to digest gluten, dairy, soy, grains, etc.
That’s why we look at the human first, not just the food they’re eating.
You see, stress, training, gut health and general resilience will all affect your ability to digest certain foods. It’s why you may experience poor digestion in times of high stress.
Sometimes lifestyle fixes are the answer, not elimination.
Are you doing these things to enhance your resilience?
The OPEX Basic Lifestyle Guidelines (BLGs):
- There are 24 hours in a day; apply work and rest appropriately
- The earth spins, and the sun and moon correlate with our energy patterns; we need sun exposure, we sleep with the moon
- You will one day die; get over it and get living
- Water, moving blood, and proper digestion are essential daily routines
- Water; drink ½ of someone’s body weight in ounces per day, as a starting point
- Recovery; Blood flow facilitates recovery and healing faster; get moving every day
- Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day maintains a great circadian rhythm
- Digestion; Food is a 36-44-hour investment, sit down, chew your food, enjoy your food, set the phone aside and have a conversation
(Not sure how to optimize your BLGs? An OPEX Coach can design a lifestyle program for you.)
If you’re doing all these things and you aren’t diagnosed with celiac, allergy or sensitivity, then you will likely find you can enjoy the occasional burger bun or slice of toast without negative side effects. Time and time again, we’ve experienced OPEX Gyms clients fix their lifestyles by adopting stress management strategies, food hygiene practices, better sleep and hydration, and regular movement, and experience a dramatic improvement in digestive health.
So before you jump on the next elimination diet bandwagon, stop to examine whether you’re creating a good environment for your body to actually digest and absorb the food your eating. Improve resilience by lowering overall stress and you may see a reduction in symptoms of poor digestion.
Here are a few simple food hygiene practices you can start to incorporate that can go a long way:
- Signal ‘rest and digest’ before eating. Spend 3 minutes on diaphragmatic breathing before a meal to bring your nervous system into a relaxed state.
- Prepare and smell your food before you eat it. This kickstarts digestive processes and creates connection to and appreciation of meals.
- Sit down to eat in a distraction-free environment. Get outside if you can and soak in some bonus vitamin D!
- Put down your fork between each bite.
- Chew very well. Try for 20-30 times per mouthful, proper chewing is essential to break food down for smooth digestion.
- Avoid drinking during meal times. Don’t use water to help you swallow, that’s what saliva is for.
- Reduce anxiety and notice your behaviors around food.
If you are interested in a personalized solution to your health and fitness goals join an OPEX Gym near you.