Up until high school, my dinner plate was always white: bread, potatoes, pasta, and rice. Gluten, gluten, and starch. The worst kind of carbohydrates. But that was what I liked, and I never thought about what it may be doing to my body.
Freshman year, I started getting horrible stomach aches. I thought it was appendicitis, but the doctor laughed and told me that I just needed more variety in my diet. I am not allergic to gluten, but something in my stomach was telling me I needed to change.
I used to complain about how “strange” my stomach is. What I didn’t realize is that my body was just putting me on the right path. Everything that I’ve learned about nutrition since I started this journey tells me that protein and healthy fats are good for me, and certain carbohydrates (especially the processed, “all-white” kind) should be avoided.
It took nearly four years, but I arrived at college feeling confident in my diet. I only eat about one or two servings of healthy starch. For the sake of journalistic research, I wanted to see what would happen if I returned to my childhood diet: starch, with a few extra seasonings thrown in for taste. This is time travel in real life.
Panera bagel and cream cheese. This was a classic breakfast when I would go out with my friends in middle school. Today, my breakfast is usually 2 eggs or an apple with peanut butter. Just looking at all that starch gave me anxiety.
Effects: At that point, no noticeable pain, though I did feel slightly more tired and heavy than usual. The most drastic effect is how hungry I was. I usually eat lunch at 1pm, but it’s due to schedule, not hunger. Today, I was famished by then. My nutrition teacher wasn’t joking when she said the insulin spikes from carbohydrates make you crave more food.
Peanut butter and banana sandwich with an apple. You may look at this and think: wow, fruit. Great job. Unfortunately, fruit are fructose-filled carbohydrates. Especially bananas. Carbs on carbs. I’m also three servings of bread over what I usually would have eaten by now. RIP my protein intake.
Effects: I ate it all. I was still hungry. My body cried out in longing for protein. How I ever kept this diet is completely beyond me. But I persevered.
Stir-fry. So many noodles. So many of them.
There it is. The first signs of carb intolerance. Familiar and foreboding, they roll in waves of pain, each one like an alien trying to escape my stomach. It isn’t hard to remember why I switched over to protein and vegetables.
The waves of pain gradually subside and my stomach returns to normal by the next day. It seems to take longer than a day to exact lasting change on your body. Despite that, I won’t be going back to eating mountains of gluten any time soon. My cooking will remain as balanced as possible.