Does Diet Affect #ROW80 Progress?

You betcha!

How am I so positive this is true? Well, those who’ve been in the game longer than me say so, for one. Here’s Chuck Wendig and Kristen Lamb on how diet affects writing. Plus, as of last Tuesday, I went completely gluten-free (here’s a post about why).

That was three days of gluten-withdrawal / migraine-filled horror. Thank God I write fast and had a post or two waiting in the wings. It was me and the ice pack from Tuesday night until about Friday at noon. Good times!

Ah, but now I’ve got new crackers, bread, snacks and tortillas in the house. I’ve scoured the internet for gluten-free ways of living. I’ve checked out out Kait Nolan’s Gluten-free recipes at Pots and Plots (I’m kind of excited about her Red Velvet Pancakes!) and I’ve discovered what my fave restaurants have on the menu for me.

It’s been a busy week for me and you know what I found out?

  • I’m 100% sure I’m at least “gluten-sensitive.”
  • Because I’m a long-term migraine sufferer, I can’t eat a ton of junk food – this means the gluten-free thing isn’t going to be as hard as I thought, once the detox is over.
  • Except for the turkey burger buns, morning toast, crackers, cereal, tortillas and pasta I was gluten-free anyway. There are gluten-free alternatives to every one of these.
  • I’m really going to miss my two favorite beers (Pacifico and Stella Artois). Kristen Lamb swears there is a fantastic gluten-free beer, but I’m a bit nervous about them.

ROW80 Update:

  • I kept up on blogging (barely) and work (just barely)
  • Exercise – about 1/3 of normal
  • Writing – 4 pages ALL week
  • Social Media – I’m behind on all of it, but I did do a Triberr/GoToMeeting webinar that was tons of fun.
  • My eating was stellar but my head still aches almost daily – I’ve heard gluten-withdrawal symptoms last 2-6 weeks so I’ve bought extra ice packs.

What’s going on in your world? How has your weekly progress been? (To encourage your ROW80 teammates, go here.) Do you have an gluten-free tips to share with me? Enquiring minds love to know these things here at More Cowbell!


About Jenny Hansen

Avid seeker of "more"...More words, more creativity, More Cowbell! My passion is finding those qualities that are unique in every person and every piece of fiction. Founding blogger at Writers In The Storm ( Write on!
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70 Responses to Does Diet Affect #ROW80 Progress?

  1. Question: going gluten-free makes you less fluffy? I did not know that. Sorry to hear about the migraines. I get them a few times a year and quite a few regular headaches, but your gluten-withdrawal ones sound just horrific. Hope the 2-6 weeks goes by faster.

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      The word on the street is that most people lose about 30 pounds when they go gluten-free, especially if they were intolerant.

      The most surprising thing for me has been how much fluid I was retaining. The water came off like wildfire the first few days – I don’t know yet if I’ve lost weight because I only weigh in once a week,but I’ll let you know.

  2. Jenny! Way to flippty flooping go!! So Gluten Free is hell for a couple weeks and then it’s like living on a rainbow? Fascinating..
    I am a migraine sufferer… it could be the crap that I eat? I always thought it was when I overloaded on dairy..
    Keep up the great work, Jenny!

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Thanks, Darlene. It is stunning to me how many writers are migraine sufferers! I should do a post on it, eh? My headaches are tied to hormones and what I eat, 100%. They always have been. Good luck to you! Thanks for being my cheerleader. :-)

  3. Gluten-withdrawal? If it were a sensitivity, wouldn’t your body be loving the lack of it? I only ask because people I work with have actually felt almost instantly better after cutting out gluten…

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Apparently, the same as you can go through a caffeine withdrawal or a sugar withdrawal, your body can also go through a gluten withdrawal. Who knew?? I can do anything for 6 weeks, right? I’ll let y’all know how it goes.

  4. Laura Drake says:

    Cut out my favorite food group? If that means svelte, I’ll stay fluffy, thanks.
    I’m so proud of you, Jenny — I’m whining about not getting my daily cookie, and you’re
    suffering migraines to lose!

    You’re my hero.

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I’m sure if there was something that was poisoning your system, you’d cut it out. I decided to learn how to make bread so I can make some gluten-free rockstar bread. :-) We’ll see if you think I’m being denied then!

  5. Gene Lempp says:

    Kudo’s to you, my friend, that is a hard transition to make (and one I’ve never looked at, but then I’m a guy and we are slow on these things). I’ll be sure to talk softer in the next webinar to spare your headache *smile*

    Great progress and hey, we are ALL behind in social media, nature of the beast. Have a great week, Jen :)

  6. Ali Dent says:

    Jenny, you are awesome. Suffering through migraines is hero work. I’ve had them sense I was 18 and only in the last few years did I discover the main culprit in my diet, nitrates and nitrites. It’s great to discover the villain and we’re fortunate companies are sensitive to the need for alternatives. Hope you find your choice of beer. Give Kristen’s a try. It can’t be that bad:) Have a great week.

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Yep, nitrites are wicked headache inducers. That’s another thing that people get more of than they think.

      I’ve had migraines since I was 5 years old and they are NOT fun. There are several beers that I’m eyeballing, but not until I’m through the first 6 weeks.

  7. Hi Jenny,
    When I went vegan, my migraines went away. And when I slack off, that lurking feeling comes back. But, since I started this I have yet to have a killer migraine, just a few headaches reminding me to get back on track. BTW my version of vegan doesn’t include white flour or sugar and my breads are low in gluten. Could I be gluten sensitive? Maybe. But just substituting real grains, like brown rice etc has helped tremendously. And I actually have cut out pasta altogether. Why? Because I feel yucky the next day. Stick with it girl! It is so worth it! Everything feels better and it is well worth it! PS, wine is gluten free!

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      That is fascinating, Jessica! I don’t know if I could do the no meat thing, but we’re currently borrowing a juicer and I’m gonna go hog wild with that for a few days. I’ll keep y’all posted.

      We just ate some corn pasta this evening that we got from Trader Joe’s and it was FABULOUS. Just an idea…

  8. I could never do gluten free. Not entirely anyway. I don’t eat too much gluten because I don’t eat bread, pasta, rice or dessert. But, a lot of my low-cal snacks and stuff have gluten. At least wine doesn’t!

    Sounds like it’s been good for you to go gluten free, though, so I’m glad! I’ve recently learned I’m intolerant to grapes. And yes, diet can affect your writing because if I choose to eat grapes, and they inevitably tear up my stomach, well, I’m ruined for a day or two.

  9. Kait Nolan says:

    Just FYI, while Stella is not a gluten FREE beer, it is VERY low gluten and my gluten intolerant hubs can drink it without problems. It won’t do for a true celiac but you might wind up still being able to indulge on occasion. Not that I recommend testing it out just now while you’re adjusting to everything else. But later.

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Oooooohhh. I know I’m not a celiac – although I did just take a blood test for a wheat allergy but it seems that pregnancy either gave me or exacerbated a sensitivity to gluten. After my 6 weeks are up, I’ll try Stella and see how it goes. I’d be SO happy. :-)

  10. Jillian Dodd says:

    I’m celiac and have been gluten free for a couple years. The truth is, it I hard to do. When you go out for dinner especially you have to be careful. So many marinades, dressings, butter toppings can have hidden gluten. I’ve had times when they tell me it is, but I still react. Also you’d be amazed at how many hair and beauty products have wheat or oatmeal in them. The good news is, there is a decent gluten free beer called Red Bridge and a lot of grocery stores are starting to carry it. Good luck and hope your migraines get better!

    • Jenny Hansen says:


      What I’m hoping, since we don’t think I’m a celiac sufferer is that I can aim for 100% GF and if some manages to get in, it won’t be as devastating as all that I’ve been ingesting in the past.

      I’m going to cross my fingers on the headache thing. Oy…

  11. Wow – you got a lot going on. I get a bad reaction if I eat too much potato but I still eat them. I love them, what can I say. Baking them is worst, so I reduce intake of those. Well done to you for going gluten free and dealing with those headaches. Good luck with the withdrawals. It’ll be worth it! X

  12. Ryan King says:

    Interesting. I do agree that diet in general can affect your goals. It affects your energy levels, how you feel and even your focus. Diet is important. Too bad I’ve sacrificed it this past week or too. (Gained weight, gah!) I’m getting back to it though. Good reminder ;)

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Isn’t the ROW80 check-in day all about reminding each other and cheering each other on? It’s awesome. Thanks for all your efforts in this area. :-)

      How’s the “naked blogging” going??

      • Ryan King says:

        So far so good :) In some ways I’m looking forward to the next post. That’s a major improvement! Normally I’d be dreading it.

  13. Stacy Green says:

    I actually just did a post on what I learned from my dietician on Friday, and gluten-free is pretty important. it’s all in how your body processes, and gluten ties right in with carbs, which do nothing but slow you down. I know it’s hard to make the change, but it’s so important. I’m glad you’re seeing positive results. Keep pushing through!

  14. Oh Jenny, it sounds like you’ve had a ruff week. Yuck. Hang in there. Detoxing is no fun. Hubby and I are juicing and detoxing. Errr. But we are starting to feel so much better! The micro nutrients help amazingly to give your body what it needs to rebuild and repair while you detox. We like a carrot base with cucumber, beets and kale. Believe it or not it tastes good too. And we’re starting to feel so much better. Oh, and try Udi’s bread. It’s the best gluten free bread I’ve found. You did great for all that your body is going through. Just know that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Take care Jenny! :)

  15. K.B. Owen says:

    Wow, Jenny, poor gal! Here’s hoping your withdrawal is a quick one! Sounds like you still did a great job, even in your migraine-haze! Hang in there.

  16. Chocolate. Covered. Katie. A whole page of gluten free recipes, and so far everything I’ve tried has gotten rave reviews.

  17. I had a three day migraine recently…. WITHOUT going gluten – free and tried a lot of remedies. What finally tipped me OUT of pain was peppermint oil, massaged into my temples and on my forehead. Weird, huh? You may want to try it as an alternative or along with the ice packs.

    I’m amazed you were able to get any writing done at all! You rock!

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Julie, that’s fantastic. Yeppers, I know about the peppermint oil. There are candles that you can light that will help with this too. I appreciate the reminder…I haven’t stocked any of the oil since we moved.

      thanks for the FAB cheerleading!!

  18. Stelllaaa!

    When a close friend went gluten free 15 years ago, I empathized with her about how hard it must be. She said, “When things get bad enough, you can give up anything.” I’ve always kept those words in my pocket. People close to me have had to kick alcohol, go through withdrawal, etc.

    Good luck!

  19. We do quite a bit of gluten free cooking because #3 beastie is on a restrictive diet and most gluten free recipes naturally cater to it. So resources for you! — she has two children with a lot of dietary issues, gluten being one of them, and all her recipes have gluten free options. One of our favorite snack recipes (Fruit & Veggie Muffins) came from this site. — love it :) A lot of these recipes have become staples for us. She even has shopping tips. — a family friend recommended this site but I haven’t played around with it much yet.

    Good luck!!

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Oh, Raelyn!! Thank you so much for these links. I got a little misty over you gathering all these up for me. I really, really appreciate it. :-)

      • You’re welcome and it was no bother — I have them bookmarked on every computer, on every browser :) I look through them when I do my meal planning for the week. And I see from the comments a number of people are in the same boat. I hope the links help.

  20. tomwisk says:

    Jenny, I feel for you. Food allegies are the pits. When you finally narrow down what is causing the reaction you begin to crave it. (Sorry if that planted a bad thought) When I was much younger I would break out in sweats when I ate certain foods. The MD found out I was reacting to vinegar. After that, mustard, ketsup, pickles and barbeque sauce were a main crave. I grew out of it. Now the only reaction I get from food is a really displeased look when I see myself in a mirror before I shower. ( Don’t think of that. It scares me.)

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      LOL on the shower. But you’re gonna have to come up with a better affirmation after Thursday’s post. Like: WOW, who is that Clark Kent look-alike running into my shower?! That is a WAY better sentence than “displeased look,” my friend.

  21. Woot woot on gluten-free! I am excited to hear about how you feel once you get over the migraine/fog hump and start enjoying the effects of life without gluten. I’ve heard it’s quite liberating and I am so proud of you for taking this on and going at life full force. Woot woot. Keep us posted on how you make out!
    And even with the gluten-withdrawals you kicked BUTT this week. You are a machine. Love it!

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I cannot wait to report in how I’m feeling in another few weeks. The nice part is I have great drugs now so I can laugh in the face of any migraine who comes my way.

  22. Emma Burcart says:

    I have two words for you: Better Buns. They are the best tasting bread product I have ever tasted. I am literally excited for breakfast everyday. There are also many other gluten free products that make it not a difficult lifestyle. I don’t even really miss wheat. My step mom drinks gluten free beer and enjoys it. I’m not a beer drinker, so it doesn’t effect me. I’d take a chocolate milkshake over alcohol anyday!

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      OK, my mind SO went into the gutter, Emma! But I have fished it out and I’m way excited about the idea of Better Buns. I’ll check and see where I can buy them. Thank you!!

  23. Wendy Barron says:

    Hurrah for no more migraines! I went fully grain-free in October and have lost 33 pounds in 19 weeks. Some of that is what we call “water weight”, from the reduction in systemic inflammation in all the body’s tissues – I can see that in my feet and ankles, hands and wrists, most clearly. I don’t miss bread, pasta, crackers, cookies, cakes, etc., at all. Once you stop eating refined carbs, you stop craving refined carbs. It’s amazing.

    Continued good luck on your journey to a happy gut!

  24. My mother-in-law is a celiac, so she’s been gluten free for years. When she comes for dinner, it’s always a challenge to cook for her, but after a while, I realized there’s so many gluten free recipes available.

    You go, Jenny. The result will be worth the withdrawal. :) Hope you’re feeling better soon.

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      i haven’t really been suffering on the cooking front. I’ve been having to get creative on the in-between meals snacks to keep my blood sugar up. That’s been the big challenge for me.

  25. Augh! I’m reading your posts backward, so I don’t know why you wen’t gluten free YET. I’ll pop over there right after I comment here. But way to go on the gluten freeness. So sorry about the migraines, though. I hope the detox doesn’t last longer than another minute for you. I just bought a magazine about being gluten free ~ Living Without. It’s got some great recipes in it.

  26. I’m a celiac Jenny and getting off gluten was a pain in the patootie. it’s almost impossible at times, unless I’m vigilant. good luck. keep at it.

  27. Oh, detox headaches are the worst. I hope you’re feeling better now!

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I’m delighted to know that other people get these, as mean as it sounds. I dont’ want to be alone in my suffering!

      • You’re not alone at all! I’m *nearly* caffeine free, but it took some painful doing to get there. Oh, and LORDY, when I stopped drinking diet soda, I thought a tiny-demon-possessed-axe-murderer had moved into my head. It was the worst, and I’ll never, ever, ever, ever drink another diet soda (or anything with aspertame in it) again!!

        You’re definitely not alone!! :D

  28. Well Sis, I think the gluten sensitivity may be genetic. I’ve been gluten free with you since Fat Tuesday and tons of people are commenting that I look thinner. The crazy thing is, I’m just less fluffy (or bloated if were being technical) but the scale has not moved :) Then on Saturday I had a bite of some bread before I caught myself (well actually my hubby reminded me, bless his heart:) but I had stomach cramps afterwards. Its crazy!!
    We have found brown rice crackers, rice noodles, and tortillas we love so I think we will be ok. I’m so glad we like Mexican andjapanese food, they have a lot of Egan, gluten free options.

  29. Wow. It’s really inspiring to see you making the change you know is needed so you can feel better soon. Good luck!

  30. tomwisk says:

    Just a quick hint. Go to and click on
    secrets of a Resturant Chef. Ann Burell has a killer recipe for lasagna using squash instead of pasta. Tried her recipes in the past. She knows of what she speaks.

  31. Julie Glover says:

    Am I the only person left on the planet who really doesn’t know what gluten is? I’ve got to finally look that up. (It’s like PABA in sunscreen. What the heck is that?)

    Good for you for taking charge of your health, even if you hit a valley this week. I’m sure you’ll be climbing up the peak soon. Best wishes for a great ROW80 week!

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Julie – official definition: A substance present in cereal grains, esp. wheat, that is responsible for the elastic texture of dough.

      The problem is that it gets used in so many things as a hidden ingredient – soy sauce, wasabi, most fast food, Red Vines. If you’re sensitive to it (which it appears that I am) you end up slowly poisoning your system and jacking up your food absorption.

      • Julie Glover says:

        Thanks for the info, Jenny.

        Okay, my plea to the food industry is to simply stop the additive craze. Just give me some good, raw food. It’s nearly impossible to find. (Stepping off soapbox.)

        • Jenny Hansen says:

          No, I’m kind of getting on the soapbox myself, Julie. I would never have even thought to look at it if Kristen Lamb hadn’t asked me a question at a very specific time. She put the info in front of me and it became impossible to ignore once I found out that some of my health and weight issues this last year might be caused by food.

  32. Pingback: How Gluten Free Eating Changed My Life and Banished My Migraines | Jenny Hansen's Blog

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