I felt a flu coming on and didn’t want to eat dairy or meat. I tried to keep a straight face while asking in the Taupo cafe what the options were for gluten free vegan breakfasts. I almost added “and in case you’re wondering, yes, I am from Ponsonby”.
I am gluten free by choice rather than Celiac. It started as a bit of a parlour game at a party. One of the guests, a nutritionist, started giving us free consultations. After looking at my waistline she suggested I give up gluten, the protein found in wheat products. Like Jodi Corbit (Telis, 2014) a month after I stopped eating gluten I had lost weight and I felt emotionally uplifted. That was 4 years ago and apart from the occasional dalliance I haven’t looked back.
Do I feel better (clearer head and more energy) because not eating gluten generally means eating less cakes, biscuits and white bread? How do we measure over- all mood? What do the scientists say about how gluten affects it?
The Profile of mood states (POMS) questionnaire is a subjective measure of your mood states (McNair & Heuchert, 2007). It measures tension, depression, anger, fatigue, confusion and vigour. Anita C Carr (2012) found many documented cases where there was a clear link to between feeling worse (using POMS questionnaire) and eating gluten. Carr suggests that the evidence is so strong that it warrants a study into whether the New Zealand wheat based diet is a factor in our high youth suicide rate. Wow!
Everyday observation makes it clear that the response to gluten is not the same for everyone. There is also so much evidence of other factors affecting mental health (Telis, 2014). Measuring my own mood, now that I am 99% gluten free, I can see that there are other dietary choices that affect how I feel. I feel better when I am eating unprocessed food and plenty of fruit and veg at regular intervals. In turn that favourably affects my weight which affects my mood – all good for having a sense of humour about yourself when you request gluten-free paleo-friendly low-fat options down at the lunch bar.
Carr, A. C. (2012). Depressed mood associated with gluten sensitivity—resolution of symptoms with a gluten-free diet The New Zealand Medical Journal, 125(1366), 81-82.
McNair, D., & Heuchert, J. (2007). Profile of Mood States technical update. North Tonawanda: Multi-Health Systems.
Telis, G. (2014). Can what you eat affect your mental health? New research links diet and the mind. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/can-what-you-eat-affect-your-mental-health-new-research-links-diet-and-the-mind/2014/03/24/c6b40876-abc0-11e3-af5f-4c56b834c4bf_story.html