Two, very-long weeks after we started, our family’s wheat-free experiment has come to an end. The goal was to increase our quality of life – to be healthier, more alert and fit. So yes, those things might have occurred. But at what cost? Call me a quitter. Call me a failure. But I have my reasons…
We don’t have to – None of us are Celiacs. Although I can’t deny that wheat does affect our bodies in other ways, there is no physically violent reaction to it that forces us to stay away from it.
I don’t like being in the kitchen for most of my day – Going wheat-free requires an awful lot of work. I don’t mind cooking, but I don’t love it enough to do it four hours a day. Yes, there are great recipes to be found but each requires a lot of preparation. I not only had to cook a full-on supper every night (no easy nights like pancakes) but I also had to cook at lunch time every day too. There is no plopping a loaf of bread on the table and having the kids make their own sandwich. Lunches had to be prepared meat, salads and other sides.
We like to eat out – One thing about being a minimalist means finding a few things you really enjoy and focussing on them. Our family really enjoys eating out – not at fancy sit-down restaurants, but at take-out places where you bring your food down to the river and enjoy the scenery while you laugh and eat and enjoy each other. Sure, there are wheat-free take out options – but they are very limited and much more expensive.
I don’t want to think about food all the time – I don’t want to be one of those moms whose every conversation revolves around the latest recipe and what my weight is at. I don’t want to have to think so hard before I eat. Every. Single. Time. This is not abundant living.
I want my kids to smile – You could argue with me that health is more important and that going wheat free increases my children’s quality of life, but the looks on their faces and the disappointments they faced during our experiment is not a fair trade in my mind. Ice cream social at your first big event? Nope, sorry. Birthday party? Okay, but you have to leave early and not have the pizza, or ice cream, or cake. Sunday School? Sure! But you can’t have the cookie everyone else has. Of course I could pack them their own food to bring… but seriously. Is that a better quality of life for them?
It’s time consuming – I’m a minimalist. I don’t want to add more ‘busyness’ to my life. Going wheat free adds busyness. Meal planning. Grocery shopping (in five different places). Cooking. Baking. Planning. Cooking. Baking. Planning… ugh.
I like food – Yes, I’ve read all the blogs and articles that talk about delicious wheat-free meals. But it’s not the same. And I just have to say this: Almond flour is disgusting.
Food nurtures relationships – Eating together is one way we relax with others. It’s a way to build relationships and grow friendships. Pot lucks after church. Dutch soup with the family at Oma and Opa’s. Get-togethers. Barbecues. Going to a restaurant with friends. Sharing an ice cream. And yes – I know this can all be done with wheat-free options. But it’s so much more work! And in my mind, that takes time away from the relationship and relaxing part.
Don’t get me wrong. I understand that a lot of this stuff would probably get easier with time. I remember the first time I made my own pizza crust. I had to think about the recipe and carefully measure everything out and take my time to get it right. Now, it’s old hat and I don’t even think about it when I make it. I imagine wheat free cooking is a lot like that.
I imagine you could get used to carting your own food with you everywhere you go.
I’m sure the kids could get used to not being able to eat what everyone else does, just in the way they currently are used to not getting the same ‘toys’ everyone else does.
But again, it comes down to quality of life. Right now, I don’t think going wheat free is a fair trade.
There are some things I learned through this experience and some changes we will be continuing on with:
Eating healthy is important – We need to eat better, on a more consistent basis. More raw vegetables. More healthy snacks. Less junk food. Treats in moderation.
Wheat does affect your health – I can’t just erase what I’ve learned. I do have to acknowledge the impact of wheat on us and on our society. So, we will be limiting our wheat intake. No cereals. Fresh bread with organic flour only. Baked goods with coconut flour when possible – on a limited basis. Homemade condiments and salad dressings to limit the wheat ingredients.
Sugar is still evil – I was aboard the ‘sugar is evil’ train before, and slowly got derailed. I was reminded through this experiment of the importance of watching our sugar intake.
Eating more natural food is always good – The less ingredients listed in something, the better. Goodbye margarine. Goodbye most boxed and canned products. I limited these before, but now I will be more adamant about it.
Exercise is necessary – This experiment reminded me of how much I love going for walks. It’s my time with God. It’s my time in His creation and my time to talk with Him. The health benefits are a bonus.
So there you have it. Experiment tried. Lessons learned. Quality of life intact. Thanks for journeying with me.