This winter has been exceptionally rough on me. Perhaps, once you hit "over 25" mark, your body starts behaving in ways you never knew it could. I have never had any issues with my skin or my health, in general... until this winter. This is the first time ever when I started to notice that, perhaps, I'm getting old. I started to notice a correlation between the things I eat and how I feel afterwards. Two years ago, I could've had McD's at 3 o'clock in the morning, go straight to bed and feel fresh the next day. Let me tell you, it's not the case today.

I'm not a strong believer in modern medicine, pills and surgeries. Instead, I would much rather try my best and prevent my body from "rotting" before I see any doctor. Exercise, diet and healthy lifestyle choices are my (and your) best friends. And my gluten-free experiment has proven it once again.

Let me explain what happened to me this winter. I’ll get straight to the point - my skin became like sand paper. Straight up. I also developed light eczema on my upper body, so gross. I never had eczema in my life. It would come and go and I couldn't figure out why. I exfoliate often, use natural oils to moisturize, dress warm when I leave the house… Still, my skin wasn’t collaborating.

I tried to Google my symptoms (which is the worst thing to do, I know #hypochondriac) and found many people share similar experiences to mine and blame it on celiac disease (gluten intolerance). Other signs of gluten intolerance include, but are not limited to:

- chronic fatigue

- abdominal pain

- gum problems

- cavities

- skin problems (rashes, eczema, etc.)

- bloating

- joint pain

When I read this, I thought to myself, “Holy shit, I have all of these.”

"People with celiac disease can’t tolerate gluten, not even small amounts. Just 50 milligrams of the protein—about the amount in one small crouton—is enough to cause trouble. In people with celiac disease, gluten in the bloodstream triggers an immune response that damages the lining of the small intestine. This can interfere with the absorption of nutrients from food, cause a host of symptoms, and lead to other problems like osteoporosis, infertility, nerve damage, and seizures."

I'm not saying I have celiac disease, but, as an experiment, I decided to stop eating gluten for at least a week and see what happens. If that wouldn’t help, I would have to see a dermatologist, but I was reaaaally crossing my fingers and hoping it would make a difference. And it did.

Switching to a gluten-free diet was much easier than I thought it was going to be. It’s not a real diet, if you ask me. My meal plan today consists of fruits, veggies, dairy, fish, meat, poultry, rice, beans, soy, quinoa… Not to mention that Montreal has many gluten-free bakeries, cheap organic food stores that carry gluten-free pasta and other alternatives to gluten products.

I need to stay away from: beer, commercial sauces, orzo, pasta, pizza, bread, cakes, etc. In other words, anything that might contain flour, wheat, barley, rye and any other hidden sources of gluten. Easy(ish).

To give you an example, yesterday I had yogurt for breakfast, berries as a snack, chicken and rice for lunch, nuts and salmon for dinner. I'm not starving or anything. This is honestly great.

Now, for my results. My skin has significantly improved. I started noticing results as soon as two days after I stopped eating gluten. I still have a few dry patches, but it's SO MUCH better now. I'm not planning on ever eating gluten again. Gluten is evil. Gluten is not bae. Unless I'm at an Italian restaurant and have no other choice but to devour a pizza.

I also noticed having more energy, better sleep, more focus at work and just having a positive outlook on life. Oh, did I mention I also lost 5 pounds? Yeah, it's great. Should you try it? Absolutely!

For those who believe that cutting out gluten from your diet creates a vitamin deficiency, I have an answer for you: "It’s possible to get the fiber you need from other grains, such as brown rice or quinoa, or from fruits, vegetables, and beans," says Dr. Leffler, director of clinical research at the Celiac Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

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