Nutrition Fitness

Best abs yet!

Best abs yet!

Nikki Gray


Nikki Gray self "ab" portrait 4-18-14


        I recently cut out wheat/gluten 3 months ago. I have never felt so amazing in my life. I used to get horrible knots in my back that would sometimes be debilitating and ruin my day. Very painful. Within 3 days of cutting out gluten something amazing happened; they were gone. I couldn't believe it but it definitely makes sense. If you have a gluten sensitivity it creates inflammation in your body which can create many issues, including back pain. I used to have a stuffy nose when I would wake up in the morning and my face and eyes were puffy. It would take a couple hours to go away every morning. It was hard to get out of bed sometimes. I also had anxiety. I worried about my family, worried about this or that or losing a loved one, family member. I have always been into taking care of myself but lately my usual routine and diet didn't seem as effective. I felt bloated around my waist. My abs used to be my "thing" and I had a nice little line down the middle that I liked. It was gone. I just assumed it was me getting older. As soon as I cut out the wheat my abs came back..with a vengeance :) better than ever!! My sinus problems are now completely gone and my under eye circles disappeared. My energy level is much higher and my mood is happy and easy-going almost all the time whereas before I was anxious, irritable and felt kind of depressed and down.

I want people to know there are different issues out there with different solutions. It's all about knowing your body and finding what works. It took me until my late 20's to feel my best. I never wanted to go gluten free/wheat free. I'll be honest, I thought gluten free was a "fad" , kind of found it annoying. Yes, I know, not nice. How the tide has changed. I found out I was sensitive to wheat after I had a wheatgrass shot before a yoga class. During my class I had no energy and could barely get through it. I felt like I was hit with the flu all of the sudden and my chest had a rash/flushed look. I was so confused. I thought it was maybe because of wheatgrass' detoxifying properties. Maybe all the toxins were coming out of me, thats why I felt so bad? I did my research, luckily, and found out many people sensitive to wheat have a bad reaction to wheatgrass shots. Some do not. But it really got me thinking, am I allergic to wheat?!? I thought I without a doubt was not before my wheatgrass experience because I had paid thousands of dollars for extensive food allergy testing, to find out I was dangerously allergic to plums, that's all :/ It didn't make sense to me, all these tests and no answers. The doctors said I was "fine". I knew that I was not. I NEVER felt good. I was always tired, achey, had bad nasal allergies and a stuffy nose. I also had allergy testing for things like pollen etc. This dumbfounded me even more. I had recurring sinus infections since I was a little girl, horrible stuffy nose, sneezing, post nasal drip and dark under eye circles. I was allergic to nothing I found out. Absolutely frustrating. So back to my wheatgrass shot experience. It made me think and really dig. I read every book on wheat and gluten. I went online and read many people's experiences of being wheat or gluten sensitive. Wait a minute, sensitive? I had never heard that term and never knew it could be so serious. I thought you go to the doctor, they run these tests, if you aren't allergic to anything according to them, that's that. Not so much. See, doctors testing only show severe allergies, like Celiac. The tests they run do not determine if you are sensitive or intolerant. But don't worry, there's a cheap, surefire way to find out and I'm going to tell you how.

Is Wheat sensitivity different than gluten sensitivity?

Gluten is a protein that is found in grains such as wheat, rye and barley. In the beginning I was thinking I was maybe only sensitive to wheat, before I knew much about gluten free diets, and decided to have one beer with my friends. Beer contains barley. Barley contains gluten. The next day all my symptoms came back and I felt horrible. Most people that are sensitive to wheat should steer clear of any gluten products.

NOTE: Many Native American's are gluten intolerant or have celiac disease. My mom is half American Indian and many of her family members are sensitive to gluten.

Difference between wheat/gluten sensitivity and Celiac

Gluten sensitivity is known as non-celiac gluten intolerance. As of now there are no definitive tests to find out if you are sensitive or intolerant. The best way to find out if you are gluten intolerant is to cut out all gluten and wheat for a week and see how you feel. If you are gluten intolerant you should start to notice a difference and feel much better within 3 or 4 days. If you don't feel any better than it's safe to say you are probably okay to eat gluten containing foods. Testing this way, through elimination, is also much cheaper than a $1000 food panel testing at your doctor's office. You should always pay close attention to how your body feels. If you feel sluggish and tired after a certain meal think about what you ate last.

Signs you may be gluten intolerant/sensitive

Emotional issues including irritability and sudden, irrational mood swings.


Insatiable appetite.

Bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal cramping.

Depression and anxiety. In some cases wheat/gluten allergies cause extreme anxiety. 

Neurological issues including dizziness, difficulty balancing, and peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy affects nerves outside the central nervous system and results in pain, tingling or numbness in the extremities and weakness. 

Headaches and migraines.

Keratosis Pilaris, known as chicken skin, it's the little bumps on the back of your arms. It is usually caused by a fatty acid deficiency and a vitamin A deficiency caused by fat malabsorption as a result of gluten damaging the gut. 

Brain fog.

Dizziness and balance problems.

Feeling tired after eating gluten is a sure sign.

Infertility in some cases is caused by a gluten intolerance. Luckily that is a fixable problem.

Hormone imbalances and intensified PMS.

Attention deficit disorder(ADD).

Inflammation all over including your knees, joints, hips, and fingers.

Diagnosis of an autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Ulcerative colitis, Lupus, Psoriasis, Scleroderma or Multiple sclerosis. Many people with this health problems are gluten intolerant and many don't know it yet. It can greatly improve side effects of these diseases by changing to a gluten free diet.

so you wanna give gluten free a try, now what?

It takes a lot of dedication and willpower but if you in fact do have a gluten intolerance or sensitivity you will feel better than ever going gluten free. In my opinion, feeling amazing mentally and physically is definitely worth not being able to have bread. You may want that yummy, warm bread in your mouth but that couple seconds of pleasure will cause you a week of pain. I have cheated once since I cut out gluten and I was regretting it big time. My back pain and knots came back the next day. I was so cranky and I had horrible anxiety. So no, I do not believe a bite of bread is worth me feeling horrible for 5 days after. Be very careful and check everything before you consume it. I was very surprised after I went gluten free to find out soy sauce contains wheat. Who would've thought. So check everything! Luckily many sushi places now offer gluten free soy sauce and many Chinese food restaurants are now offering gluten free dishes. Don't be afraid to tell the waiter of your issue, they are usually so accommodating. I used to not do this because I was embarrassed or didn't want to be too much trouble or at a dinner party hurt someone's feelings if I couldn't eat what they made. But I have since learned, your mental and physical health is #1 so do not cave in because you are embarrassed or don't want to hurt anyones feelings. Stand your ground, stay strong and you will continue to feel and look amazing. People are usually very accommodating.  When you have a cheat day and are having a chocolate bar or some candy, check before you eat! You can search on the internet very easily. Just type the candy bar name and gluten free. There are many extensive lists and it's very easy to find out if your favorite cheat snacks are gluten free or not. Caramello was my favorite candy bar and I found out unfortunately it is not, you never know for sure so it's good to check. M&Ms, Hot Tamales, 3 Musketeers are also my other favorites and they are gluten free. I never break my gluten free diet anymore. Like I said, feeling bad for days after is just not worth it to me. I feel so good that I do not even miss cookies or pancakes and if you feel the benefits from a gluten free diet you won't miss them either. In addition your body does not need bread or gluten, it does more harm than good. Sure some whole grain breads are full or fiber but you can get plenty of fiber from much healthier sources like fruits, vegetables and nuts. The first six weeks after cutting out gluten are usually the hardest, you may have cravings. You may get frustrated getting into the grove of what you can and can't eat. Honestly though, for me, I felt so much better I was so excited to never have bread again in my life. This is coming from a girl who's favorite cheat meal was pizza and doughnuts. I felt so good mentally and physically I honestly did not care. As far as the cravings go, I had nothing to bad. I actually didn't have much cravings for anything, my appetite kind of took a dip. Many experts believe foods like bread and sugar, that don't really have much nutritional value, actually make you crave unhealthy foods much more. Before I cut out gluten my appetite was much bigger, I literally had to have a drink or snack on me at all times. Now I am much more relaxed and don't have an obsession with food and don't need a snack at all times to keep me going. 

Then what can you eat??

I get this question A LOT. My answer is plenty. Fish, eggs, organic yogurt and cheese(I'm not sensitive to dairy), I eat fruit daily, which I love, it's nature's candy! Tons of veggies with dips or dressings, that are low in sugar of course. I'm a blue cheese and ranch girl. Sliced avocado with a little salt and olive oil sprinkled on it. NOTE: I actually use some table salt because I don't get enough Iodine in my diet somedays and you need it for a healthy thyroid. There is a huge epidemic of iodine deficiency since many people have jumped on the "anti-salt bandwagon". Your body needs a little sodium and your thyroid will become sluggish and not work correctly if it doesn't get enough iodine daily. Low thyroid function can lead to many problems including weight gain, depression and hair loss. I guess you could say my diet choice is flavorful, you should still enjoy eating. Very low sugar and carb and no counting calories. In my opinion if you eat low carb and cut out refined sugar weight will drop off of you, I've seen it happen to many people. You will not need to count calories. Also I am a cereal lover and was bummed thinking I was out of luck when it came to that. Luckily, Rice Chex cereal is gluten free and delicious. Nuts are a great snack. Many people are scared of eating nuts, "aren't they too fattening"?? They do have fat in them, but a healthy, nourishing, good fat like in avocados, that will not only benefit your inner health but also your hair, skin and nails will become much healthier from consuming nuts daily. They are also loaded with fiber which is a natural weight loss aid and keeps you feeling full longer. Fiber also has been shown to prevent cancer. Nuts are very high in protein, we need protein to keep our muscles toned and our hair, skin and nails healthy and beautiful. Protein also helps you heal faster, from surgery, an injury, etc. There are even recent studies by TIME magazine's health experts that claim people that consume nuts have a 20% lower death rate thanks to the many health benefits of nuts. I recommended brazil nuts. They are full of selenium, more than enough, they usually contain around 250 mcg of selenium(per serving). If you are getting your selenium through supplement form it is recommended you take 200 mcg daily. I recommend getting your selenium through the natural source(brazil nuts) over the supplementation. Selenium is crucial for proper thyroid function. Some people don't like the taste of them, I do but I think they taste much more delicious if you eat them with some organic string cheese, it's a great healthy snack. Also almonds, cashews and walnuts are all amazing. Almonds and cashews have many benefits. Almonds are full of fat fighting fiber and cashews(raw) have even been shown to fight depression, at a handful a day. Walnuts are highly anti-inflammatory and high in Omega 3's. I always have a bag of almonds or pistachios in my purse. According to many health experts peanuts are the least beneficial nut. They also often contain mold. Another great part of going gluten free it makes you cut out most processed foods since almost all processed foods contain some form of gluten. Even people that are not gluten intolerant could benefit from a gluten free diet and the weight loss and many benefits that comes with it.                    


Gluten free BENEFITS

Major weight loss. Ever since I cut out gluten I've lost 10 lbs. I was tiny to begin with and I didn't choose to go gluten free to lose weight, I did for health reasons after I found out I was gluten sensitive. Before gluten free I was 115 lbs. I now weigh 105 lbs.  Yes that might sound crazy to some people considering I'm 5'7 but I am very petite and small boned. I have small wrists, ankles, a small rib cage, shoulders. I'm tiny genetically, like my mom. I still have my butt and thighs, my curves. I just wanted to let people know if you are wanting to lose weight this is a great, healthy way to lose it, quick. Plus it completely banishes excess water weight.

Increased energy.

Better mood.

Can rid some people of their acne.

Lowers appetite. Empty calories like bread and sugar leave you hungry at all times and craving more unhealthy snacks.

Reduced bloating. I saw my tummy go from bloated to completely flat and toned within 5 days of cutting our gluten.

People who cut out gluten many times find out that was the inflammation problem causing back pain, knots etc.

Many gluten-containing/processed foods are cooked. Being on a gluten free diet most people end up eating more raw foods. A diet high in raw foods can be very beneficial. Especially to people with immune issues and inflammation problems.

Your face will benefit from not having an allergen or inflammatory agent in your body daily. Reduced or disappearance of under-eye circles. Less acne. Reduced facial puffiness. Loss of excess facial fat. 

Clear-minded. A gluten free diet gets rid of brain fog in most people. Improved memory.

Reduction or elimination of depression and/or anxiety.

Much less irritability. Many people reported being less sensitive to annoyances like crowds or loud music.

Reduced indigestion. Improved digestion.

Some diabetics have even become non-diabetics after going gluten free. Also asthmatics have become asthma free.

Suggested reads

"Wheat Belly" by Dr. William Davis

"Grain Brain" by Dr. David Perlmutter

Nikki Gray CNC