The Benefits of Being Gluten-Free, for Me

I don’t know why there’s such an upsurge in gluten-free products, diets and talk, but I do know my story and I’m willing to share that with you all, if it helps. In my late twenties, I developed, seemingly out of the blue, a skin irritation on my scalp.  On good days, my scalp seemed pink, but I have red hair and fair skin, so that’s not even really noticeable. During worse phases, my scalp would get red bumps that would itch and feel uncomfortable. The bumps would turn into whiteheads with pus and itch worse.  Sound gross to you? Try living with it.  It drove me crazy.  I was always touching my scalp to see what the condition was like that day.  It sort of ebbed and flowed in terms of intensity.


I went to the doctor – several doctors over the years, even saw a dermatologist, who seemed so old that I think he got his medical degree before World War II.  What did they do for me? Bottom line? Steroids and antibiotics.  These would make the symptoms disappear for maybe a month, but then they returned as strong as ever. This scalp condition continued for ten years – into my late thirties! No one was helpful.  I tried different shampoos – like salicylic acid shampoo that is supposed to help with scalp psoriasis and other similar conditions or tea tree oil shampoos. No benefit.

LA Marathon for clean water with Team World Vision

This year will be my 5th full marathon running for clean water.

My head stunk from weird shampoos, my scalp was broken out, and I was miserable.

Then, one day, an act of empathy and compassion saved me. My stepson, Marcus, is severely autistic. (Explore my wife’s series on Marcus here.) We were continually considering how best to approach all elements of his living situation – diet, sleep, routine, etc. When we considered putting him on a gluten-free diet, I volunteered as a guinea pig. “If we’re going to make him do it, I’ll do it, too.” So out of empathy and compassion for Marcus, I tried a gluten-free diet.

In thirty days, my symptoms – the ones that had plagued me for ten years – simply vanished. The scalp irritation faded away like it had never even existed.  I was a believer. I found that a few times I accidentally ate meals with gluten – like a I remember a night or two having lasagna or pasta – I started to feel a tingling or itching sensation in my scalp that would later often develop into a headache.

I’m not sure what the underlying cause is and sometimes I eat gluten and feel no ill effects, but most every day, most every meal, I’m 100% gluten-free. I’ll have a brownie or some croutons, but I know I might be feeling the effects. Every day, I’m grateful that I can eliminate wheat-based products from my diet – cookies, cakes, breads, crackers, pasta, and more – and feel better.

How well do you know your food sensitivities? Coming up….the big battle of caffeine and how I’m winning it.