I Wanted to Punch Jillian Michaels in the Face (Warning: Gluten-Free Rant)

JillianBookI’ve always liked Jillian Michaels. Her book Master your Metabolism got me looking at food in a whole new way. I own several of her workout DVDs and used them regularly before my adrenal crash. I don’t always agree with her life coaching methods, but I think she has good intentions.

But yesterday I wanted to punch her face.

She was plugging her book Slim for Life in a CNN interview. Then she said there is no such thing as gluten intolerance —  only “Celiac’s” which affects a small portion of the population. She clears up all those “myths” in her book. Unless you have Celiac’s you don’t need to be worrying about gluten. Gluten intolerance is just another fad.

There might be some of you out there who think the same. As a matter of fact, my old business partner had multiple food issues and an adrenal disorder. I would secretly roll my eyes every time she placed her food order. I’d make veiled comments about her “health problems.” I guess you could say that I was a lot like Jillian in my response to her plight.

Well, my friends, karma is a b*$%h! You know that old adage “Never judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” My diagnoses have meant that I’ve now walked in something that look a lot like my old partner’s shoes. I’m now the one at the table who needs to make sure that my food isn’t going to cause a reaction.

And yes, I said diagnoses … I’ve had every type of gluten sensitivity test out there, and they’ve all shown that I’ve got it. It isn’t just a fad diet for me — it’s very real. Eating gluten means that I’m down and out for three days. About one hour after eating gluten I get extremely tired. It’s not just an energy dip, but a crashing fatigue. I can’t function. My brain goes foggy, and I stay like that for then next 72 hours. It’s like poison to me.

Gluten gives me a leaky gut and causes my endocrine system to go haywire. Looking back, it’s likely been responsible for my uterine and breast fibroids and my miscarriage. Going forward, it could have lead to complete adrenal or thyroid failure, the heart disease that runs in my family, more hormonal female issues, and a host of autoimmune concerns.

I’m not alone. Dr. Alessio Fasano, medical director of the  University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research, estimates that about 18 million people in the US suffer from gluten intolerance. Other experts claim that it might be more, topping out at 50% of the population. Research shows that it’s a big deal, Jillian. You might not have problems with gluten, but don’t minimize the problem or call it a myth. You haven’t walked in my shoes.

I didn’t jump on the gluten-free bandwagon because I wanted to drop a few pounds (although I did end up losing 12 pounds in the past year). I didn’t enjoy giving up my favorite foods — toast with butter, lasagne, deep dish Chicago-style pizza, Jimmy John’s Big Vito sub sandwich, ice cream in a cone, turkey with stuffing, sweet and sour chicken, Racine kringle, brats on big hoagie rolls. I don’t think it’s fun to interrogate my servers at every restaurant about the gluten-free selections. It wasn’t my dream to spend more time in the kitchen making food that’s safe for me to eat. I’m not a fan of paying more for my occasional gluten-free treat, and I hate that my friends and family have to worry about what I can and can’t eat.

But it’s all ends up being worth it, because now I can make it through most days without a nap. It’s amazing to be able to take my daughter to the fair without having to recover for four days. I can run around with my dog in the yard without collapsing into a tired heap. My brain is clear enough to write blog posts and see clients. I don’t spend half the month suffering from major PMS. At the end of the day, I have enough energy to be with my husband. I sleep soundly, and I feel refreshed in the morning. All because I gave into the “fad,” and I gave up gluten.

If you have fatigue, hormonal issues, bloating, achy joints, acid reflux, insomnia, blood sugar issues, headaches, environmental allergies, depression, diabetes or other autoimmune diseases, brain fog, high or low blood pressure, thyroid problems, food cravings, or frequent infections (UTI, sinus, strep, ear, etc.), or other health issues — I encourage you to do a gluten free trial. Give it up for just 2-3 weeks and see if you notice a difference. You don’t even have to “diet” and give up sugar, dairy, or any other grains. Just start with the wheat and see where it takes you.

For those of you who want proof, you can order at-home tests from Enterolab or Life Extension. These tests are NOT generally covered by insurance. You can also request an IgG-gliadin blood test through your doctor (more info on tests your doctor can run). My doctor also ran a food sensitivity test; insurance didn’t cover that one, but it was a lot cheaper through my doctor than through Life Extension. Like I said, I have had ALL the tests except the actual Celiac intestinal biopsy. Unfortunately, you have to keep consuming wheat/gluten while taking these tests.





  1. JJ, thank you so much for this post and for linking to my 20+ Reasons to Get Tested printable tip sheet! I am really grateful for you doing that because if you had not, I likely would not have seen this post and “met” you, and that would have been a shame. I just shared it on my gfe Facebook page. We are all tired of celebrities and others who have the media’s attention spouting off on celiac and non-celiac gluten sensitivity when they have no expertise to justify doing so. I am glad that you are getting better from living gluten free and will continue to do so! If we could just get these idiots to be quiet. They do so much harm to gluten-free awareness in so many, many ways. Thank you again for speaking up!

    Shirley @ gfe & All Gluten-Free Desserts´s last blog post ..Ice Cream Pie in Cocoa Coconut Crust from Chacha’s Gluten-Free Kitchen

  2. AMEN!!!!! Thank you for standing up for all the Gluten Intolerant people in this world!!!!

  3. Those “gluten free is just a fad” or “gluten free is just for Celiacs” are more than welcome to take on the near-daily migraines and gastro-intestinal issues I had before removing gluten from my diet. I admire your restraint in not damaging your tv!

    • Lol! Yes, it took a lot of restraint! I’m glad you’re feeling better, too. I used to have a lot more headaches before I went gluten free. I’d only get a true migraine 1-2 times per year. But come to think of it, I haven’t had one since going GF about 17 months ago :-)

  4. Thanks for this post. I so feel your pain….literally! I spent a couples weekend away with our best friends last year and didn’t eat much all weekend. By the last day, I was starving and ready to chop someone’s head off. On our way home, they chose to eat at a Japanese restaurant and my husband didn’t speak up for me. I was too damn tired and upset to say anything. The server promised my food would be GF. “Yeah, right” was what I wanted to say, but couldn’t. My soup was brought out, I didn’t want to eat it, everyone at the table “encouraged” me to eat it (since it was promised to be GF) and I finally gave in. I watched my food being prepared on the same grill as theirs, using the same utensils all the while knowing I was going to be sick. Sure enough, 20 minutes later my first symptoms began to appear. I just wanted to scream and cry at them to listen and try to understand more. I was so sick of all the teasing I’d received (not in a mean way from them, but hard for me.) I spent the rest of that day and the next in a gluten-induced “funk” all the while having to still be a mom to my 4 and pack for our family vacation. I also have problems with sleeping, fatigue, joint pain, body aches, brain fog, etc. I just wish all my symptoms would go away since I’m GF, but alas, it’s not meant to be.

    • Oh no! That is not a fun way to end the weekend!

      Travel can be tricky. Most of the time I lose weight when I’m on vacation, just because I’m not sure what is really safe to eat. And last year I went to a life purpose training seminar and lived for most of the week on fruit and salad with lemon juice squeezed on it. Like you, I was starving! I always pack snacks, but I hadn’t packed nearly enough on that trip.

      Sorry to hear that you still have some symptoms. It sounds like gluten-free eating helps a lot, but I hope you can get to the root of your issues and get back to health. It’s hard to parent when we feel like garbage …


  5. Fantastic post. My ex has adrenal fatigue (undiagnosed…no doctor here would use the words), and not eating gluten really helped her out. Though, she still had to eat every two hours. Since she was also doing heavy farm labor each time she ate she had to eat a full meal. It grew so tiring on her. She grew to hate eating. I wish I could have helped more, but I did help her discover that gluten was only making her worse. Every time she ate a handful of goldfish crackers, or a big bunch of pasta or bread she’d just get more sluggish and have her mood drop. Hopefully, she is getting the help she needs in a bigger city with better doctors.

    Jillian Michaels obviously missed the mark with talking about celiac and gluten intolerance in this book. She didn’t do her research, that’s clear, and ended up making a blanket statement opinion. If she had done even a bare minimum of research she would have found plenty of material to cite about the existence of gluten intolerance. I’m not a huge fan of her’s, but she does make a good workout video. Except her yoga videos in which she bashes yoga the whole time, basically calling it hokey, only to call it her “practice” at the end of the video.

    • Wow – I can’t imagine doing farm labor with adrenal fatigue! At my worst I was taking two naps every day, and any form of exercise or manual labor would send me back to bed. My doctor was telling me it was perimenopause. It took a naturopath to find out what was really happening.

      I just took a quick look at your website and can’t wait to read more of your posts. I was also a perfectionist — it’s what led me to life coaching, because I didn’t want to model that for my daughter. Life really is better when we let that go, isn’t it?

      Love and light to you and thanks for the support.

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