By Peter Bronski, NFCA Athlete for Awareness
Hi! I’m Pete Bronski. I blog about being gluten-free, write gluten-free cookbooks, sometimes teach gluten-free cooking classes, and I’m one of NFCA’s Athletes for Awareness. I’ve been gluten-free since January 2007, when I was diagnosed with celiac disease. When I’m not working as a writer or being a dad to my two daughters (they’re gluten-free, too), I’m an endurance athlete who likes to go trail running for really long distances.
5 Reasons Why Going Gluten-Free is Great!
1. This is the start of feeling good again.
When you first go gluten-free, it can be a big adjustment. But the important thing to remember is that this is the start of you feeling good again. Before I was diagnosed, I was really sick for a couple of years. Once I made the switch to the gluten-free diet, I felt SO much better. Better than I had in a long time. Better than I had in years. If you sometimes feel like it’s tough to be gluten-free, remember how much tougher things were when you were sick because of gluten. Being gluten-free is the beginning of a new happy chapter in your life.
2. There’s lots of great food to eat!
Sometimes people focus on what you can’t eat when you’re on a gluten-free diet. I prefer to focus on all the awesome foods you can eat! Yummy chicken fingers, grilled steak, turkey tacos, hot dogs, fish sticks. Tasty fruits (I love apples and oranges and bananas and a long list of other fruits). Delicious vegetables. (Yes, believe it or not, vegetables can be delicious!) And you know what else? Cake, cookies, pizza, tacos, cupcakes, French fries, and lots of other yummy treats. I don’t eat these foods every day, but you know what? Gluten-free versions of these foods can be just as good as the “old” gluten versions. Sure, we have to make them with “special” or “different” ingredients, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less tasty.
3. The sky is the limit.
I’ve always loved sports. Especially outdoor adventure sports…rock and ice climbing, mountain biking, skiing, trail running. But when gluten was making me sick, doing these activities that I love so much became very difficult. I couldn’t climb the mountains I wanted to climb. Jogging to the end of my street and back to my house was difficult. Now that I’m gluten-free? The sky is the limit! I’ve climbed mountains that are 20,000 feet tall. (That’s the equivalent of roughly 16 Empire State Buildings!) I’ve competed in a national championship. And now I run ultramarathons – trail running races that are 50 miles long. None of these things would have been possible for me without the gluten-free diet. Being gluten-free can help you do great things, too. So set your sights high! The sky is the limit.
4. You’re in good company.
Lots of different people eat in lots of different ways. Some don’t eat meat. Some can’t eat too much sugar. Some can’t eat peanuts, or other nuts, or corn, or whatever. And you know what? Some people can’t eat gluten. No wheat. No barley. No rye. And you know what else? There are many, many people like that! Do you know a family member who is gluten-free? Maybe a brother or sister, or your mom or dad, or a grandparent? Do you have any friends who are gluten-free? You’re not alone! Did you know that there are millions of people in the United States who need to be gluten-free? That’s a lot of people. You can find them at your school, or maybe in your church or synagogue, or online. Don’t be shy. Come find us. In fact, we’re pretty much everywhere! And we’d love to share gluten-free stories with you.
5. Gluten-free is cool.
If you’re like me, a doctor (or maybe your parents) told you that you need to be gluten-free. And sure, nobody likes to be told what to do, or what to eat and what not to eat. (No, I don’t want extra Brussels sprouts, and yes, I do want a second bowl of ice cream, please!) But even though we have to eat gluten-free, there’s a little bonus: being gluten-free is cool. Some of the people you see on TV, and in the movies, and on major sports teams, are gluten-free, just like you and me. They’re not afraid to let people know about it. In fact, they’re proud of it. Because being gluten-free is cool. It’s cool because it makes us care about each other, and making sure that everyone can have something to eat…at lunch, at a party, at wherever. It’s cool because it’s part of what makes us who we are. And most importantly, it’s cool because it makes us healthy. In my book, that’s all pretty cool. I hope you think so, too.
As you can see, being gluten-free is actually pretty great. It lets our bodies feel happy and healthy. It lets us do fun and amazing things. There are lots of tasty gluten-free foods to eat. Lots of people are gluten-free. And being gluten-free is kinda cool these days. So stick with it! Because even though being gluten-free is great, even greater things are to come from you!