originally posted July 16, 2014
Found on DigitalTourBus.com: http://goo.gl/hX8hPq
On the Road as a Gluten-Free Artist
I am a full-time musician, facing the many challenges that life on the road brings. How do I get in exercise? How do I find time to create and practice? How do I eat well? Trying to not only eat well, but eat gluten free, adds another dimension to that last challenge.
How I Figured it Out
Two years ago, I was having health problems that ranged from unexplained weight gain (10 pounds each year) to IBS issues after almost every meal. I knew that something was wrong, but I could not figure out the solution. Finally, while recording my latest album “Night Travels” in the East Bay, I stayed with my co-producer who eats a mostly gluten-free diet. When I left, I came home feeling clear-headed and better than I had since living in Ireland in 2001-02. I also ate gluten-free in Ireland, but I had never made that connection.
A New Life Begins
I decided to try a gluten-free diet for one month. I didn’t have a manual, a blog, a website, or a mentor. I started reading labels and talking to the good people at my natural foods store, who helped me to replace the foods that I love with natural foods and treats such as Udi’s frozen pizzas. I eliminated gluten from my diet 100%. One week in, I said to someone, “I feel like I’m high all the time.” He responded, “That’s because you’re no longer poisoning your body.” That phrase hit me hard. I was “poisoning” my body. In the first month, I lost 25 pounds with only one change — eliminating gluten. Seventy pounds and one year later, I have seen my body, hair and skin transform back to when I was 25 and living in Ireland.
Challenges on the Road
Eating gluten free can be challenging enough at home, but add in the uncertainty of travel, and you can find yourself very hungry. New apps like Find Me Gluten Free are life-savers. For instance, last week I headed to Tulsa to play and give a workshop at the gorgeous new Woody Guthrie Center. The app showed me some good gluten-free options near the place where I would be staying. I am often stuck with just a coffee in the morning because the café where I land has only baked goods, but the app guided me to a coffee shop near the venue that had gluten-free breakfast tacos and gluten-free pastries.
The best advice for traveling gluten-free musicians is to plan ahead. I recently played at a festival in China, and we notified the organizers ahead of time that I had this allergy. They were very sensitive about it, and I carried around a card in Chinese that said: I am allergic to gluten. But we were guests at meals where 14 courses were served, almost all of them with a gluten ingredient (usually soy sauce). So when I was stuck without an option at the provided meal, I would fortify myself with a Kind Bar (of which I had packed 30 for a week). Now I carry bars with me everywhere I go just in case, as fainting is not ideal.
Good Health and Good Music
We are at our best when we are at our peak of physical and mental health — no secret there, right? I wrote all of “Night Travels” in the year that I gave up gluten. My mind was calm, I was energized, and I felt better than I had in years. If you think you might be suffering from gluten intolerance, I am proof that you can give it up, even if you live your life on the road!