On Whole30, Celiac Disease, and the Bread of Life


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I'm currently in the middle of my first-ever so-called Whole30.  I don't have anything against grains, legumes, dairy, or sugar - I love a giant cookie as much as anyone else - but I decided to try this month-long eating plan for a few reasons.  For starters, I have some small health concerns that I'd love to reverse naturally.  More importantly, Whole30 is similar to the diet and lifestyle that we've found best suits Turbo's diabetes and Celiac Disease needs, and I think he really needed someone to journey with him on his food adventures.  Plus, I had some support since a few of my extended family members had recently done it themselves.

At first, I was rather excited to try out this month-long fast from grains, dairy, legumes, and added sugar.  I've done a lot of nutrition study over the past few years, and this seemed to be in keeping with what I've been learning about nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods (I have inflamed arteries, so this is appealed to me).  The one caveat with Whole30 is that it can easily become a ketogenic diet (where your body is fueled by fat instead of carbohydrates), something I'm not convinced is healthy for most people, so to compensate for that, I've been eating lots and lots of fruit.

Honestly, I haven't loved Whole30.

I'm three days away from finishing it, and I haven't seen too many benefits aside from discovering that roasted veggies are uh-MAY-zing (and actually, I kind of already knew that).  Despite the hype and inspirational stories, I didn't see any physical improvements from my health issues.  I would have loved to sleep more soundly, have more energy during the day, find some relief from my mild chronic pain, and lose a little fluff around my middle that's crept up on me over the years.  But none of that happened.  I wasn't even able able avoid a nasty virus that hit my family like a freight train.

One thing that Whole30 is adamant about, though, is what it calls "non-scale victories."  In other words, the authors want their adopters to realize that weight loss isn't the only possible benefit of Whole30, and they want their followers to focus on those other benefits.  And that's where Whole30 shined for me.

I have a better understanding of what Turbo goes through every day.

Turbo was over the moon that I was eating "just like him."  He's been such a trooper with having to avoid gluten, skip super-high-carb foods (or, at very least, eat only very modest portions), and adjust his eating times based on his blood sugar levels.  (Budget constraints have prohibited the rest of us from being completely gluten free.)  But it has to be draining on him, too, especially since he's just 12 years old.  He and I really connected over food during my Whole30, so much so that I will probably continue a semi-Whole30 approach to my diet.

I have a deeper appreciation for Jesus' title, The Bread of Life.

I've also been giving a lot of thought to Christ being The Bread of Life.  Can someone with Celiac Disease fully comprehend the weight of His statement, "I am the Bread of Life"?

The first few weeks after Turbo's Celiac Disease diagnosis (and the first few days of my Whole30) were rough.  Wheat and gluten permeate nearly all commercially made foods, including many nuts and seeds since they're routinely sorted on the same machinery that sorts wheat.  Really, wheat is.in.every.thing!!

And maybe that's why Jesus called Himself the Bread of Life.  We need Him throughout our lives, in every part.  We can't simply get a "dose" of Him once a week or so and be truly satisfied spiritually.   We need Him daily, hourly, constantly.  The one food that is in everything seems to be wheat, the stuff bread is made of.  In trying to eliminate it from our diets, we see just how far-reaching it really is, and we begin to see also the correlations between the bread on our dinner tables and the Bread that comes from God's Word.

I also found myself trying to replace the bread I was missing in my diet.  Whole30 discourages the consumption of "Paleo" breads - baked goods made with alternative flours like almond meal and coconut flour.  There really is no substitute for bread on Whole30, and neither is there any substitute for the Bread of Life.

We see this in the unsaved as well.  How many people do we know who are trying to fill the emptiness inside with something that can never truly satisfy?  No relationship, dream job, or recreational activity can ever satisfy what only Christ can fill.

And what about someone who cannot ever have even a little bit of gluten?  Things are a lot different for me - I was simply trying out a new way of eating for a month.  In the scheme of things, that's not a big deal.  But Turbo can't ever have wheat, not even a little bit, not even from Italy (there's a rumor circulating that those with Celiac Disease can eat wheat from other countries; perhaps this is true for someone with a wheat allergy, but it isn't true of someone who has Celiac).  Will he be able to fully understand the value of Jesus' title of the Bread of Life?

People with abusive Earthly fathers have, through the working of the Holy Spirit, been able to fully embrace God as the Loving Father He is.  It might not come as easily to them as it does to someone like me who has a wonderful physical father, but the Holy Spirit isn't limited by our experiences here on Earth.  I'm trusting that the Spirit will also work in Turbo's life to help him fully understand the meaning behind the Bread of Life even though he can't have regular wheat bread.

As my Whole30 comes to a close, I'm a bit unsure of whether or not I should continue this lifestyle.  For Turbo's sake, I will probably keep eating similarly to what he eats.  But I may opt to enjoy a sandwich, complete with bread and a slice of cheese, when I'm out with friends.  I haven't fully decided yet.

But, really, those details aren't important.  What does matter is that this experience has opened my eyes to a deeper understanding of spiritual things and has brought me closer to experiencing some of the struggles that Turbo encounters on a daily basis.

Even if I gain no physical benefits, the spiritual insights were worth the struggle.

Related:  My friend Rachael dives more deeply into the Bread of Life and bread aversion issue in her article here.