Abbe Pannucci goes gluten free for a week

Abbe Pannucci goes gluten free for a week

By Abbe Pannucci, News editor

As I eat my goldfish, full of gluten AND smiles, I write you this:

After my week as a vegetarian, I was convinced I could rock any diet. I was wrong. Being gluten-free for five days was definitely not as easy as being a vegetarian. It turns out that gluten is in almost everything that I enjoy eating.

I think a majority of my problem was that I had no idea what gluten was. According to, gluten is composed of two different proteins that affect the elasticity of dough, which in turn affects the chewiness of baked wheat products.

Many people abstain from eating gluten because of an intolerance, a gluten-related disease, as well as weight loss. Being gluten intolerant means your body produces an abnormal immune response when it breaks down gluten during digestion. This intolerance could cause some discomfort and maybe result in the runs, but it doesn’t mean you have to quit eating bread and pasta altogether. On the other hand, Celiac disease is a common illness that causes an immune response that attacks your small intestine when you eat gluten. In this case, a 100 percent gluten-free diet is probably a smart idea.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, cutting out a food group from your diet to lose weight is not the best way to go unless that food group is a McDouble. Gluten is in most carbohydrates, which is one of the essential nutrients to maintain a healthy diet. Instead of nixing the cereal, crackers and pasta completely, just keep your servings in moderation and substitute chips for an apple.

That said, I was once again determined to experience the life of someone with a seemingly difficult food restriction. Unlike my vegetarian week, I did not prepare for being gluten-free at all. I just figured I wouldn’t eat bread or lasagna and I’d be fine. Boy, was I wrong. Gluten isn’t just in the obvious things like bread. It’s in all baked goods and breakfast foods, like pancakes, waffles, the coating on fried chicken and apparently Clif bars “may contain wheat,” as well. Even foods such as certain candy bars, soups, salad dressings and some seasonings have glutinous properties.

I had no knowledge of this going into my diet, through fault of my own, which resulted in my epic failure of being gluten-free.

I started out strong on Monday, determined to overcome another food quest. I didn’t eat anything different than usual; I just refrained from having half of my friend’s sandwich at lunch or any chips or crackers with dinner.

Tuesday was the same. At this point I was beginning to crave some carbs and I was daydreaming about shoving an entire loaf of bread into my mouth. I was surprised that I was having such a reaction after only two days. Most likely, I wouldn’t be having daydreams and cravings if I wasn’t consciously not eating gluten. The fact that I couldn’t eat the bread made me want the bread even more.

Wednesday is when things started falling off the cliff. I was going to the gym straight from track practice and I realized I had not eaten anything yet. This sometimes happens to me when I’m busy or rushing and don’t have time to eat. So, to satisfy my stomach, I stopped at Sheetz and bought a peanut butter crunch Clif bar. I was so hungry when I was running up and down the aisles looking for something to satisfy my stomach that I didn’t even think about looking if it had gluten or not. After I paid, I dashed out of the store, jumped into the car and tore into that peanut buttery goodness as fast as I could.

About two minutes later, with one bite left, a thought occurred to me and I fished the wrapper out of my purse. After a few seconds of searching around the nutrition and ingredients label I saw it: “may contain wheat”.

Those three words were only the beginning to my gluten downfall. The next day, Thursday, at lunch I found myself to be dying of starvation for some reason. Conveniently, one of my friends had some Saltines left over from his lunch which I snatched up as soon as he offered them to everyone at the table. Only after eating two of them did it occur to me that I was literally eating a square block of gluten with salt.

Much to my “surprise,” the Saltines did not fill me up so before practice that day I went on the prowl to find some eats. The only thing I could find was some cookies. Gluten? I think, yes. But at this point I figured I had already broken my diet so there was no point in starving myself anymore. I ate the cookies.

At this point I had already been defeated, so on Friday I pretty much just quit. For dinner I had a $5 Footlong (which are now $6?!). When asked, I ordered a nice fluffy 12-inch long piece of Italian herbs and spices bread on which my sandwich would be made.

I regret nothing.