Yes I am Gluten Free & yes I own a bakery.
You're probably wondering how that happened & how it works for me. The truth is it works out pretty darn great. I went Gluten Free a year ago, and we've been in business for 5 years. So, LUCKILY I've had 4 years to sample & perfect each and every recipe before breaking up with gluten for good. I'm not promoting "gluten free" as a diet or even an approach to "healthy eating', truthfully you can eat just as unhealthy on a gluten free diet as a regular diet. If you have zero symptoms of a gluten allergy, and wake up feeling great every day, I do not recommend a gluten free diet. First of all, everything is WAY more expensive. Second of all, a lot of the foods aren't that great- you really have to search and search for GOOD gluten free food. I just thought I would share my personal experiences and how it has completely changed my own life.
MBGF (Me Before Gluten Free):
Energy level: 0.
Motivation: Out the window
Joints: Achy (particularly knees)
Depressed: 75% of the time.
Brain Fog: Every time I ate any gluten.
Anxiety: 150% of the time.
It was pretty bad. Some days were way worse than others. I would nap in the middle of the day, and was SO tired all of the time. I had days where my anxiety was off the charts & didn't even want to leave my house. I am naturally an introverted person- it's what allows me to be creative, but these symptoms REALLY made me 'introvert' to the point of no return. I did not want to "people" with anyone- not see/talk/hangout/nothing with people. I was not interested in being social what.so.ever. Not because I didn't like people, but because I just couldn't do it- it sucked way too much energy out of me. Energy I didn't even have to begin with. It literally sucked so bad & I FEEL for anyone who struggles with anxiety & depression in their day to day lives. It. Is. Hard.
My knees were constantly in pain, it was hard to sit through a movie at the theater or be on a long flight with my knees bent. Oh and try being creative and designing cakes while you experience 'brain fog'- good luck! My energy level was the worst of all symptoms and it affected the most areas of my life. Everything took a million times more energy for me to do than that of an average person.
These symptoms were me. My WHOLE life, before gluten free. Imagine how much harder even simply day-to-day tasks are when you feel like that ALL the time. Let alone running a successful business. Despite feeling all those things, I've always been a positive, reliable person. So, regardless of how I personally felt, I was still going to get stuff done and do it WELL. Especially when it came to my business. There was no 'giving in' to these symptoms when I had cakes to make. Did it make it a heck of a lot harder? Oh. YEA.
So how did I manage to grow my business when I couldn't even get out of bed most mornings? I just did. I loved everything about my business and I was determined to make it succeed. My husband helped a lot, esp on days that were hard for me, and on tasks that were hard for me-meeting clients & customer service related tasks (things I now LOVE doing myself). I was vigilant in how many orders I accepted to minimize my stress and not increase or aggravate any of those symptoms above. I made sure I didn't feel bad about saying I was booked because at the end of the day taking care of myself was my #1 priority.
My symptoms just kept getting worse and worse and my business and personal life just kept getting busier and demanding more time & attention. Time & attention that I didn't have the energy to give. Something had to CHANGE. My husband was not convinced all these symptoms were normal. I was convinced he was crazy. This was all I knew. For 28 years. This was just my personality. I thought HE was abnormal for having endless bouts of energy and motivation...
After trying to combat my symptoms with loads of caffeine and supplements that promised to increase energy levels, it was time to see my doctor. Nothing was helping. So I was diagnosed with depression & anxiety (with no fault to my doctor- I WAS experiencing those symptoms). I filled my antidepressant prescription and was told to try it out for at least 2 weeks & see if it helped. Four days later, they were tossed in the trash. They made me feel WORSE- how was that even possible. I decided I would rather feel my previous symptoms over how I felt on those pills. So back to square one. A for effort. I hate pills anyways, I am more of a natural remedy person. I started therapy. After my first or second session with my therapist (who is actually an amazing woman whom I still meet with because I just love it so much) I found out about gluten free. She said my symptoms reflected that of a Gluten intolerance/allergy/possible celiac. What did I have to lose? It was worth a try- anything was worth a try...
Flash forward to present time.
MAGF (Me After Gluten Free)
Energy level: 150%
Tired: Only after an exhausting & busy day.
Joints: ZERO joint pain
Brain Fog: Gone.
How in the heck was this possible. Eliminating ONE stupid thing from my diet and BAM! After 28 years of feeling like absolute CRAP, I finally felt indescribably AMAZING. For the first couple months I actually felt like I was on drugs (I've never even tried drugs-ever but THIS was a high). I started noticing a difference within the first week. I was literally so scared of feeling this good because I was just waiting for my body to crash and come off this 'high'... One year later and I'm convinced that it's here to stay! Thank you GOD for leading me down a road where I took the chance to make a change.
I don't think I would ever really consider myself a 'morning person' but I'm telling you! I can actually WAKE UP in the morning & GET OUT of bed & actually feel GREAT- something I deemed absolutely impossible before! I literally struggled through high school, jobs, relationships, etc because I just couldn't do it! Not because I wasn't smart or responsible, but simply because every day was a god awful struggle to just live life.
I now actually feel unstoppable and like I can take on the world...And I plan to. As frustrating as it is to know I spent 28 years of my life like that, I am really grateful I discovered this when I did. I could have easily spent the next 28 years feeling "glutened" as I like to call it.
To be honest, it was hard- at first to adjust to a gluten free diet. It's not really a diet you can incorporate small amounts of gluten here or there- DEF not for me at least. I slipped up once to test this theory and almost died. In a foreign country. More about that another time. At the end of the day, eating gluten is just not an option now that I know the difference it makes for me.
Owning a bakery and working with gluten every day doesn't phase me what-so-ever. Gluten is by no means BAD, its just like any allergy- some people just can't have it. I happen to be one of those people. And I own a bakery. It's kind of funny, but I'm glad I got to perfect all of our recipes and try them when I did. It gives me confidence knowing we are providing the best possible products even though I can no longer eat them. The bonus- we now offer gluten free cakes & cupcakes that I CAN try (and I've tried A LOT) and THEY are GREAT! Of course we let people know we are not a gluten free facility and cross contamination may occur. But being gluten free myself, imagine how EXTREMELY careful I am in preparing these items. Probably the most careful of any bakery that offers gluten free options.
So. That's how going gluten free changed my life. If you're experiencing similar symptoms (I'm not a doctor) but trying a gluten free diet may help you! If you're considering it, come try our regular cupcakes before you start because it may be the last chance to eat gluten & the start of a new beginning for you!