January is a month that sees a lot of people make lifestyle changes to try and improve both their physical and mental health. Whether it’s joining a gym, cutting out alcohol, or making changes to your diet, it seems everyone sets goals and resolutions for themselves at the beginning of the new year. I am no different.

I had not been sleeping great over the past number of years and as a result, found myself regularly feeling tired and irritable. Several factors contributed to poor sleeping patterns, including a newborn baby who made it difficult to sleep through the night without disruptions. I also noticed that after contracting Covid-19, my sinus was always congested in the morning. Because of this congestion, I was not only waking myself up with my snoring, but I was also disrupting my partner’s sleep – meaning neither of us was waking up feeling energised. And finally, I realised my eating habits were contributing to my poor sleep.

With all the talk of New Year’s resolutions and lifestyle improvements, I started thinking about my lifestyle. I never really considered my diet to be unhealthy, but it wasn’t particularly healthy either. Typically, it would consist of cereal in the morning, a sandwich or salad for lunch, a snack in the afternoon, dinner in the evening, and some biscuits in the night, along with a weekend treat day. While my breakfast, lunch, and dinner were relatively healthy, snacking was my downfall. If I opened a packet of biscuits in the evening, I would often finish them all in one sitting. I began to pay the price for this bad habit, as I noticed I had put on weight. My sleep was also affected by my late-night snacking, I’m sure of it, meaning I was waking up feeling groggy most mornings.

So, like many others do at the beginning of a new year, I decided that it was time to make a change. I have made a few small but very effective changes to my diet and eating habits that are not only helping me to lose weight and feel better in myself but are also improving my sleep dramatically.

Here are those changes:

  • I began fasting after 6 pm
  • I started eating fresh food, 3 meals a day, and cutting out biscuits
  • I aimed for a slight calorie deficiency every day
  • I stopped eating processed food
  • I started drinking more water
  • I tried to get more steps in every day
  • I rejoined the gym

Shortly after I made these lifestyle changes, I felt like a new man.

The first change I noticed was just a few days in – my sinus which had been blocked every morning for the past number of years began to clear. By day four, I could finally breathe freely with little to no congestion.

The next thing I noticed was that for the first time in years, I started dreaming again. Not only that, but my quality of sleep has improved drastically. I was no longer restless all through the night. I was sleeping great, dreaming, and waking up feeling fresh as a daisy. Even my partner commented that she hadn’t heard me snoring at all.

Everything was going so well until one evening, I forgot to pick up fish for dinner. With my original dinner plan out the window, I decided to make a healthy veggie pasta with spinach, sun-dried tomato pesto, and parmesan – which I enjoyed thoroughly.  But that night, my sleeping habits reverted to their old ways, and I found myself tossing and turning for hours. The next morning, I woke up to that familiar feeling of my sinus being blocked. Frustrated, I began thinking about what could have caused my poor night’s sleep and congestion. And then I wondered, could it have been the pasta?

I reached for my phone, opened the Safari app, and typed in “Can gluten affect your sinus?” Sure enough, Google confirmed that it can. It turns out a common symptom of gluten intolerance is “nasal congestion or a runny nose”. Not only that but there is a link between gluten intolerance and sleep aponia.

Self-diagnosed but I am sure that I have a mild gluten intolerance. At the beginning of the month when I started this health kick, I cut down on eating bread and upped my fresh food intake. And then two weeks later, I ate my first gluten-rich food of the year – pasta. The result? An awful night’s sleep and nasal congestion the next morning. I stumbled on this by pure accident, I hadn’t meant to cut out gluten its just the way I set up my meal plans for the first few weeks of January.

While I don’t plan on cutting gluten out of my life completely right now, I am going to cut back on it significantly to improve my sleep and overall health. The good news is our app TrustDish is about to launch, and that is going to make dining out with a food intolerance a whole lot easier. I can personalize the app with my dietary requirements and when I’m at a restaurant that is signed up to TrustDish, I can simply scan the menu and find out which dishes I should avoid, and which I’m ok to eat without repercussions.

2024 will be an interesting year for me, and I’m looking forward to seeing how much my health and overall well-being will improve. I’ll check back with you all, soon and let you know how I’m getting on.