Welcome!  
I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my daily digest via email or RSS feed. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Week I Went Gluten Free and What It Taught Me About My Faith

The Week I Went Gluten Free and What It Taught Me About My Faith-{The Unlikely Homeschool}

Gluten-Free
Dairy-Free
Paleo
Raw 
Unpasteurized
Vegan
Organic

Perhaps you are familiar with these words that have exploded onto the food scene in the last five years.  Words currently in vogue.  Words which have divided people into two camps of eaters...those who are "clean" and those who are not...or so the story goes.    

My personal experience with food has been quite varied.


I grew up quite poor with parents who each worked multiple jobs leaving me to fend for myself more often than not.  At times, I ate many day's worth of Ramen noodles because that was all we had.  My parents had little.  But, little is much...even Ramen noodles...when God is in it.

As a newly-married bride, I waffled from semi-homemade to store-bought because, TRULY, that was all I knew.  

A little help from some wonderful mentors and a lot of trial-and-error later, I found myself embracing what I like to call an 80/20 lifestyle.  Eighty percent of what I made was homemade...from scratch...whole foods.  While the other 20 percent remained a bit more time and sanity-friendly, albeit less "whole."  

Fast forward to a couple of years later...
I'm still comfortable with that 80/20 ratio.  It is a habit I have implemented in nearly every area of my life. With firm resolve, I hold fast to what I know is true...the 80 percent. But, willingly afford myself a healthy portion of grace when LIFE demands flexibility...the other 20.  

80/20

Recently, however, I embraced a new eating creed.  
I made the decision to go gluten-free.

Shocking...I know!  Especially considering my love for all-things-gluten.  But, I was desperate. Desperation has the tendency to drive a person to do the unthinkable.  

And so, it was time to sift out the gluten in my life...ONWARD AND UPWARD!

The Backstory

For the past eight years, since the birth of my second child, I have suffered with pretty severe bouts of vertigo.  

Dizziness.  

While it is not an everyday occurrence, it happens several days out of the month rendering me useless to my family...to myself.  

At its worst, my vertigo keeps me couch-ridden, barely able to sit up in a chair without falling over.  At its best, I just feel overwhelmed and foggy-brained.  

After seeing over a dozen doctors and specialists, and subjecting myself to one science experiment...I mean, medicinal prescription...after another, I began seeking the advice of unconventional medical experts and on-line sources.  

"GLUTEN!" They all said.  "Must be gluten!  Weed out the gluten and you'll feel right as rain."  

I read countless research declaring GLUTEN and the genetic modification of wheat to be the driving force behind many modern-day allergies and food-related health issues...from autism to Alzheimer's and everything in between.  

And so with strong conviction, I said "so long" to my lifetime friend, gluten, and waited anxiously for that "feel better" feeling.  

After only a week of my newly-embraced lifestyle, however, I gave in.  
I ATE GLUTEN.  
Not because of my lack of control.  Honest.  

I ate a gluten-filled meal, not because of food, but because of faith.  
My one week of gluten-free living was eye-opening and re-affirmed some convictions about "clean eating" that I began to formulate early on in my WHOLE FOODS journey.  

While I understand and support those that have to avoid gluten, dairy, nuts, etc. due to severe/life-threatening illness, for now, I've chosen to go GLUTEN-FULL for the following reasons.


The Week I Went Gluten Free and What It Taught Me About My Faith-{The Unlikely Homeschool}

Food is not MY Savior

God has given me one life.  One body.  One Temple to steward this side of heaven.  That propels me to make wise choices about how I live my days.  That knowledge becomes a filter for ALL THINGS...even what I eat.  

I want to choose foods that are not only filling, but nourishing.  Ones that fuel me...keep me healthy...keep me ABLE to do what God has called me to do.  

But, I never want to elevate food higher than it should be in my life.  

Food is a tool.  A gift from the Giver.
With the rise of food-u-cation, however, food has been catapulted to redeemer status. It has become a savior to many. When we, as a society, begin to blame food and food choices for nearly every ailment that assails us, we are also saying that better food choices would prevent those sicknesses and even death.  

Two years ago, I had the privilege of hearing a highly-knowledgable naturopath discuss the averse effects of certain food choices on our bodies. During his lecture, he was quick to list all the benefits of his gluten-free, hormone-free, nearly vegan, grown-on-his-own-farm diet.  

Sadly, three months after his workshop, he died.
Of cancer.

Why?  
The answer has been right in front of our faces since the beginning of time.  He died because of the truths found in Genesis.  Because of Romans 5:12. Because death knows no partiality.  Because of a simple 3-letter-word.

SIN.
The sin of Adam.  The sin of Genesis.  The sin of mankind.
Despite our best laid plans, despite our "green" choices, despite our gluten-free living, death WILL come to all of us.  Sickness is a result of man's fallen nature. It's a result of sin, NOT sourdough.  

Yes, I will concede that healthier lifestyles and healthier food choices usually have a positive affect on the longevity of a lifespan.  But, not always.  

God has numbered all our days.  Any attempts on our part to extend that time will be futile. Food has never saved anyone from death.  That's a credit only The Savior has earned.  He bears the scars to prove it.

Food should not consume my thoughts

During my short stint of life SANS gluten, I found my thoughts consumed with food.  I thought about what I could eat...what I could serve my family...how I could manage the stove with so many pots boiling at the same time...if I could accept a friend's dinner invitation or not...and if so, what would the host be serving...and on and on...

Gluten-free living was new and unfamiliar.  I had a lot of questions and a lot of concerns.
Time would probably fix most of that, I reasoned.  I'd gradually become more familiar with gluten-free cooking and transition to my new normal quite effortlessly.  

Maybe.  But, maybe not.

Looking down the road, I saw myself standing in front of the church potluck line or at my friend's table. I couldn't help but ponder what my first thought would be when food was placed before me.  Would gratitude for the gift and the Giver be first on my lips or would I think "I wonder if there's gluten in it," instead?  I suppose I'll never know.

But, one thing's for certain, years ago at the tender age of fifteen, I made a commitment to myself and ultimately to MY GOD, that I would never champion a cause...ANY CAUSE...more than the cause of Christ.  In other words, to the best of my ability, HE would be first in my life.  My first thoughts would be of Him.

During that infamous gluten-free week, I found that my desire to rid my world of wheat put my thoughts out of balance.  Gluten consumed me.  In truth, like the gold-plated calves of old, I had made eating an idol in my life...a sin I have repented of and have given up to the Lord, but one which taught me a valuable lesson about food and its potential idolatrous place in my life.

Food should come from God not a laboratory

Prior to going gluten-free, I had rid my home of most pre-packaged foods.  And while I occasionally served my kids chips or crackers (80/20...remember?), I never ate them.  EVER.  I just, honestly, had no desire.  

If I was having a cookie, it was one baked in my kitchen.  If I was eating bread, it was kneaded with my own hands.  

I found value in REAL food...food made with ingredients that a man had planted and that God had grown as declared in Genesis 1:29.

Just prior to my wheat-less week, I spoke with a handful of gluten-free friends, consulted many on-line sources, and scouted the aisles of my local grocery store to determine WHAT, if anything, I could eat.  

Based on my findings, I formed a lengthy list of MUST HAVE, gluten-free products and filled my pantry with them.  It wasn't long, however, that I became uncomfortable with my choices.  I read labels and examined ingredients.  

It seemed that I had traded homemade wheat bread made with freshly ground wheat berries for carboxy methyl cellulose.
What even is that?!

While I know many WHOLE foods are gluten-free, so much of the gluten-free lifestyle is not WHOLE and is barely even HALF.  

Food should never trump relationships

Exactly seven days into my gluten-free choice, I allowed food to trump family. My mother-in-law graciously invited us to her house to enjoy a full day of town-wide fun complete with a small parade, a mini carnival, and, of course, lots of food.

She had made a delicious spread for lunch.  But, since the main course was gluten-packed, I filled my plate with pickles, chips, and cheese...a decision which was not lost on her.  Later at the carnival, in an act of graciousness, she purchased lemonade and mini donuts (a midwestern carnival staple) for everyone.  The communal bucket of donuts was passed, and without thinking, I ate one...OK...OK, I ate three...and then hung my head with a wail.  

I had eaten gluten!...Quite by accident, but I ate it just the same. 
A whole week of self-denial and kitchen frenzy for 'nothin! 
Needless to say, my poor mother-in-law felt awful.  She apologized profusely. But, the truth is, it wasn't her fault.  She had lovingly offered a gift and out of habit, I had accepted it.  It was my fault. 

None the less, the damage was done.  She felt really badly and I had made her feel that way.

The afternoon continued to take a downward spiral when she realized that the homemade pizzas she had prepared for later in the evening were made with wheat flour.  At dinner, she encouraged me to help myself to anything in her pantry.  But not wanting to make an already awkward situation worse, I declined and went home hungry.  (Again, not at all her fault.  But, I'm sure it hurt her feelings, nonetheless.)

Later that night, I took stock of my gluten-free decision and how it lined up with my family's core values.  

Long ago, The Hubs and I, based on the call from Matthew 22:37-39 determined to love.  To love God and love others with abandon.  To give our relationships the priority that God gives them.  To love others as we love ourselves.  

I knew that my decision to go gluten-free would limit my ability to live in community like God encourages in His Word.  I'd seen it.  And that day, I lived it.

My mother-in-law was made to feel like her gifts were not good enough. Looking down the road, I knew that she would fret over what to serve each time we came over and would eventually struggle over whether to even invite us at all.  I know.  I've been on the other side of the gluten-free dilemma and have wrestled with those very same decisions...not because of what ANY of my clean-eating friends have done or said.  They are all far too kind-hearted to intentionally make me feel badly for what I've served them.  But, I've felt crummy, regardless.  

In truth, it would not just be my mother-in-law who would struggle with my gluten-free decision.  It would affect EVERYONE I care about...my husband who loves "surprising" me with a bakery muffin on Saturday mornings...my friend/neighbor who always delivers fresh-baked cookies to my doorstep at Christmas...my kids who want to stay for the glutenous soup luncheon at church...EVERYONE.  I had to decide if I was willing to be so selfish as to potentially sacrifice my relationships for the sake of clean eating?  Out of love for me, I knew that my "inner circle" could and WOULD all, graciously, conform to my eating demands. But, should I insist that they do?  I knew that they loved me enough to "pass" on so many of their favorite foods because I could no longer eat them, but I also knew that I loved them too much to let them.

In the end, when given the choice between FOOD or FAMILY, I chose family, and I don't regret it.  

So, where does that leave me...
I guess I'll never know if gluten is, in fact, the culprit for my monthly bouts of vertigo.  One week, is certainly not enough time to determine that.  And that's OK. To me, the spiritual struggles I was having are far more important for me to deal with than the physical ones.  Like Paul proclaims in 2 Corinthians 12:9, I'm content with my "infirmities" knowing that God's grace is sufficient for me and that His power is made perfect in my weakness.  When I am weak, He is made strong.  In THAT, I WILL delight.  

As Scripture says in Psalm 20:7, "some trust in chariots and some in horses"...or clean eating, as the case may be.  But, I "trust IN THE NAME OF THE LORD."

My truth doesn't come from gluten, it comes from God.  
Amen.

*It is not my intent to offend anyone who has chosen a gluten-free lifestyle.  God calls us all to different paths.  This is just MY experience of His working and the convictions He has and is using to refine ME. Please don't assume that this will be the same convictions for everyone.  I don't.  

To be clear, one of my very best friends is gluten-free as is a dear mentor of mine.  Both are two of the most Godly women I know.  I am NOT equating gluten with Godliness or lack thereof.  I am merely showing how gluten-free living became un-Godly in MY life.  

I know there will be many who will disagree with me.  And while I always welcome the dialogue that comes with differing opinions, I'd trust that it would be tempered with grace.  

30 comments:

  1. This is so good! We've done vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, etc. to try to figure out my daughter's growth delay. I agree with you that if people NEED to use a different diet, they should. But so many people I know adhere to a diet that is just trendy. Food does become a God. I know when we were eating differently, food consumed my time and energy. Food is not my God. (Also, a low/no-carb diet is nice in theory for rich Americans, but we are moving to Africa as missionaries and cannot feed hundreds of orphans without utilizing the local carbohydrate options, which are, ironically, very processed.)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I was diagnosed with Ménière's disease by my ENT. I have very similar symptoms.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'd be happy to share more if you want to chat about it. Hope you find some answers to your dizzy spells!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Has nothing to do with gluten and is a problem of the inner ear- accompanied by ringing in the ear

      Delete
    2. Thank you so much for your thoughts, Nancy. The "experts" have ruled inner ear issues out.

      Delete
    3. Hope you figure it out!!

      Delete
  4. I love this and will also say "AMEN"! Speaking as a mom of children with severe food allergies, coming from a family of vegetarians, and as a former anorexic/bulimic, i agree so much with what you have shared!
    "Fear the Lord and shun evil, THIS will give you health to your body and nourishment to your bones" (its from Proverbs, and the emphasis is mine)
    Praise God! i love this!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a perfect verse!! Love it. Thank you for your thoughts and for your candidness in sharing them.

      Delete
  5. Well said! I couldn't agree more. Thanks for putting into words what I've felt for a long time.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I definitely like a lot of what you said in your post. It's amazing how quickly that food can become an idol and also something that we put before the people in our lives. I am not gluten-free, but I do eat a very particular diet based loosely on Weston A. Price's findings. I've walked the walk of trying to figure out how to feed my family and still receive the gift of hospitality. The main thing that it comes down to is loving God and loving others.

    If we are feeding our family and coming up with the healthiest options possible, that's great. That's loving others and loving God.

    If we are declining the gifts and hospitality of others because of our "current" diet, then we aren't loving God and we aren't loving others.

    I noticed on Facebook you were getting a bit of flack from ladies who couldn't separate their own gluten-free issues from your observation about your own trouble with food for the week. When you are honest about your idols it often makes people feel guilty. Even if they truly can't eat gluten and they shouldn't feel guilty. It doesn't mean your post won't help those that are struggling with balancing healthy food and understanding that the main priority is love.

    With love!

    Brooke

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Brooke, Thanks so much for your lovely encouragement. You GOT exactly what I was trying to say. I knew there would be people who disagreed with me, and that's OK. Truly. I have grown a pretty thick skin since starting this blog 2 years ago.

      The truth is, if my words make people scratch their head and evaluate what they believe...even if it is different from what I believe...I think I have done my job as a writer. I am always going to offend...unintentionally, of course...because no one will ever agree with me on every single point of my life. But, I pray that I can always speak my words with love and grace.

      Thanks again!

      Delete
  7. I don't know that I have ever left you a message but I am this time. I loved your post. Really. I have had to deal with the idea of "evil gluten" thrown at me from friends far and near who claim a gluten free diet will cure all that ails me...which is nothing. Lol. Seriously. I am healthy. But they tell me all the same. Like you we experimented gluten free for my youngest son who has issues with regularity (he's 3 1/2). Like you it started being like I was this gluten Nazi. He couldn't have this or that but we could. I began to fret about what he was eating when not in my care. It started taking over my thoughts. I realized that I was forgetting that he was healthy. He was growing. I made 90% of our food...so he was eating well...and as gmo free\ organic as we could do in our budget. and so I hit my knees. I released my control to God who was in control anyways...and now though I limit his exposure, I don't freak out anymore. It was affecting my relationship with others. And as someone with gluten free friends it is very hard to not feel less because we r not a gluten free family. I think that it has turned into a religion for many...especially those who really don't have a medical condition requiring it. And sadly the increased demand for gluten free from people who truly don't need it has driven up it's cost for those who do.

    Anyways. I love your post. Thank you for speaking many of the thoughts I had to keep inside...for fear of being attacked.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It sounds like our journeys have been similar. Kudos to you, momma, for doing what you know in your heart to be right for your son despite social pressures from others.

      Delete
  8. Thank you for sharing this. It is a very good reminder as to WHOM we should keep our focus and then He will direct our steps.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, that's exactly what I was hoping it would mean to people.

      Delete
  9. This was a wonderful post!!

    I hope you don't mind me mentioning.. There is a book that I just finished reading. It is called "The Healing Code" by Alexander Lloyd http://www.amazon.com/The-Healing-Code-Minutes-Relationship/dp/1455502014. It has already had wonderful effects on me. I happened on it at the public library, but now that I have read it I am going to purchase a copy for myself and two friends. I read a lot, but can't buy all the books I want. This one I HAVE to buy!! :) Check it out if you can. It is more than worth it. It has MUCH food for thought (pun intended ;p)

    xo

    ReplyDelete
  10. I would like to consider this your standing ovation. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi Jamie -
    As you stated, it is fine whatever personal decision that you choose to make about your health but I wanted to encourage you that if you do again decide that for your health you need to drop gluten, it gets much easier! I have an auto-immune disease that requires me to follow a very specific diet - grain-free, dairy-free, no vegetable oils, no refined sugars, etc. and like you, I was consumed by it for the first few months. It gets so much easier! Like homeschooling or any change that you make to your life, it seems overwhelming at first but over time you figure how to make things easier. I bring my own meat/main dish to people's homes and supplement with fruit or veggies they provide. Even our extended family (who really didn't understand my disease or diet) have adjusted and when they come to visit, I cook for them or have found a few restaurants that I can eat at. Just like you will adjust to it, they will adjust too. This has been a year that I have been following this diet now, so please don't expect it to be an overnight process. I totally agree with you about eating gluten-free products that are highly processed. Those are not a good substitute. I am grain-free (including wheat, oatmeal, corn, rice) and there are lots of whole food, grain-free substitute recipes. Yet I have found a lot of value in not trying to match what I used to eat (crackers, bread, etc) and just getting used to different snacks and treats. So again if you don't feel that you need or want to follow a special diet, don't. But if you don't find any other answers for your health problems and you need to, be patient and give yourself, your immediate family, and your extended family time. I have experience health benefits from my special diet and I feel that I am honoring the body that God has given me by eating what my body can handle. Good luck with finding a solution to your health challenges.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Excellent post! I feel the same way - I have gluten-sensitivities and have adapted a low-gluten diet. When I can I avoid it, however, when I can't I pray. I pray that the Lord would have a hand on my gut and allow my body to digest it the way He intended it to. I will not allow it to control me nor prevent me from fellowshipping. As a ministry leader in my church, one of the challenge I face is when someone "finds" a new diet or way of eating and then proceeds to tell everyone else how the should be eating. I recently called them out and had a heart to heart meeting with each one. I explained that God is our healer, not food. That what works for them does not mean it will work for everyone else. And that above all else they need to operate with respect and grace. As a church we honor those with food allergies and sensitivities and try to make sure that there is something for everyone at fellowship dinners. But with that - we have a NCP (No Crap Policy) - no critics, no disrespect, and everyone is gracious Period. Love is paramount and honor blesses. Thank you for your wonderful post and your blog - I read it often.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you don't mind me saying...but I really like what you just said :)

      Delete
  13. LOVE THIS!!! I couldn't have said it better. Awesome post thank you for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank for the encouragement, Kyndra. I appreciate it!

      Delete
  14. Thanks for the post, Jaime! I have made foods, or the lack thereof idols in my heart too and I appreciate you letting us see behind the curtain in how the Holy Spirit led you and molded you surrounding this issue! I loved the part where you talked about how life has it's afflictions! Paul spoke prolifically about it! He reminds us over and over again that even for a Christian (ESPECIALLY for a Christian) life is not perfect, or comfortable, or easy. We are feeling the effects of the fall....every day. We do the best we can with what we have and we trust God in His sovereignty to lead us in all the rest! I love the thought that 10,000 years from now at some deliciously Holy banquet table we'll all be scratching our heads saying, "Gluten. Gluten? What was gluten again? Oh well, Lord can you pass the dish by your elbow please?" Anyway, well done putting Christ and people above what could easily have become an "acceptable" idol in your life.

    ReplyDelete
  15. This blog post is why I am going to subscribe to you. ;) Not a lot of people seem to know this but the Bible clearly states that people who command others to abstain from foods which God created, are giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons. 1 Timothy 4: 1 - 5. So bravo, I am so happy that you posted this!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad to have you here! Off to look up those verses...

      Delete

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...