The Gluten Free Eating Husband?

baguette with butterphoto by my LA photography friend, Danae Horst

The Wendy’s Eating Husband lives for fresh bread. His favorite kind is a simple white baguette, and he likes to smother it with butter or dip it in basil pesto. Don’t try to surprise him with an organic whole grain baguette because he’ll be disappointed. I learned that the hard way.

It’s not surprising that the Wendy’s Eating Husband is all about the bread. He grew up in a vat of gluten, otherwise known as his dad’s bagel shop. A lot of our friends find this entertaining, since I am strictly gluten-free and minuscule gluten contamination gives me doubled over abdominal pain.

A few months ago, the Wendy’s Eating Husband, the girls, and myself submitted spit samples to 23andme, in order to get an individual genetic profile for each of us. When we got our results back, one of the first things I noticed was that the Wendy’s Eating Husband was homozygous for one of the celiac disease genes. I text messaged him right away to inform him of what I thought he needed to do ASAP: go gluten-free.

For those who don’t know, homozygous means he has a double copy of the gene, acquiring one from each of his parents. A homozygous result makes the effect of the gene stronger, as compared to if he were heterozygous, which is when there is only one copy of the gene.

My interpretation of his 23andme results didn’t make him any more interested in going gluten-free. You figured that, right? I had hoped for him to convert into a fundamentalist health nut. Even though I cognitively know that spouses make the worst doctors, I couldn’t hold back my advice. What I told him is exactly what I would tell one of my patients if they had the same circumstance as him (except he got my advice for free). Not only is the Wendy’s Eating Husband homozygous for the gene, but he also has symptoms that would most likely improve with gluten elimination. Good thing my patients don’t find my advice as annoying as he does…

The Wendy’s Eating Husband needed someone else to break the news to him. Someone a little more macho that wasn’t a relative.

I made an appointment for him with the ND that all the other NDs in town send their spouses to. He’s the ND of NDs. I trust this doctor. If he didn’t think the Wendy’s Eating Husband needed to go gluten-free, then I’d drop the topic and let it go. Maybe I would reconsider making the Chocolate Chip Cookies the Wendy’s Eating Husband has been begging me to make him (they were requested to be made with white flour and white sugar only).

Major bonus points for the Wendy’s Eating Husband because he was open and willing to go see this doctor. He went to see the doctor last Wednesday, and because I was seeing patients that day, I couldn’t be the tag-a-long doctor wife. I had to settle for a voice recorder in my stead.

I was looking forward to getting home from work that day so that I could hear “the report” from “the doctor”. I ended up getting home late, so the kids were already in bed. While I was bummed to miss the girls, it gave me an advantage — I could get the doctor update with 100% pure OCD focus.

I put down my stuff at the door, took off my boots and stockings, and walked through the house to our back patio in my bare feet. I passed a plate of raspberries on the kitchen table, and brought them outside with me. I didn’t even stop to wash my hands, which is the usual protocol I follow whenever I come home from a clinic day.

On our back patio, the Wendy’s Eating Husband started grilling some nitrate free jumbo TJ’s hot dogs while I ate the raspberries. A few sentences into his report, I heard the magic words…

“He said it’d be best to cut out gluten as much as possible.”

I put down my raspberries on our glass patio table to go skip around the grass in our backyard. “I knew it! I knew it!”, I said excitedly, as if he were trying to surprise me with a trip to Hawaii and I had already figured it out.

“This is like Christmas morning for you!”, the Wendy’s Eating Husband exclaimed.

He was right. But not in a sadistic way. My heart almost went into atrial fibrillation from all the the good that going gluten-free could bring him. Better health. A better future. Longevity. Less pain. More life.

Here’s the summary of my passion:

It is a gift to become aware of an obstacle to wellness that can be easily removed.

The gift is the awareness that you have the power to remove something that can be removed. Some health obstacles, like cancer for instance, can not be removed as easily as taking gluten out of your diet. I’m not saying gluten-free is easy. It’s not. But you get to have the say as to whether you want it or not — gluten does not have object permanence within your body.

This can apply with other things as well. I use gluten as an example because it’s the theme of this post. Perhaps your obstacle to wellness is sugar. Maybe it’s fear, and the fear is giving you ulcers and diarrhea. You can choose to be brave. Maybe you have a desperate neediness for approval, where you’re willing to sacrifice your own health to get others to like you. You can choose to believe a better truth about yourself — that you matter, that your health matters, that you have a say in things.

I could do a dance about how incredible of a gift this is, but you don’t want to see me dance.

It is a sacred thing to be able to identify and resolve that which ruins your health.

This is why I love what I do so fiercely. I get to walk people through this sacred journey and watch their eyeballs bug out and hear their choked up vocal cords leak out, “So that’s why I’ve been sick.”  I live to be with people in this moment, where the curtain is pulled back on their health, and they find hope for the wellness they never got to have before.

The only sacred thing the Wendy’s Eating Husband sees in this gluten-free business is suffering. Don’t worry though, he’ll still be the Wendy’s Eating Husband. He’ll just go for the fries and the Frostys (he knows about the oil contamination but he doesn’t care about that).


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4 Responses

  1. Kelsey

    Sugar is without a doubt my gluten. It’s my downfall. My addiction. When I eat a lot of sugar, or even a a moderate amount regularly, I get sick. Nausea, digestive issues, headaches, pain in general. It been much more noticeable lately; perhaps because I have been eating far more sugar than my body is used to. My grandparents eat a bowl of ice cream every night and ever since I moved in, I’ve joined them in the ritual. I often try to back off the sugar but I crave it and always end up crumbling at the first sight of cookies or ice cream. A couple of times I’ve gone several days without any sugar at all and always felt amazing. There is something about it though, I just have SUCH a hard time sticking with it. I don’t know whether it’s merely a lack of willpower or something else. In the meantime though, I’ll keep trying to cut down on the sugar. Thanks for the post! :)


    Dr. Archer Atkins

    Kelsey, thanks for your honesty! It is definitely hard, hang in there!


  2. Lauren

    Hi. You mentioned going through 23andMe for your saliva-based ‘health’ report. However when I visited the homepage for 23andMe they seem to be limited to genetic reports; no longer offer anything health related. Do you recommend any other trusted sources to generate health reports similar to what you and your husband did? Thank you!


    Dr. Archer Atkins

    Hi Lauren,

    I’m hoping to write a post about this process. I’ll email you privately.


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