Am I going gluten free?

SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO: I’ll be making a big announcement this Monday the 16th! It’s quite EPIC and I can’t wait to share it with the world!

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TODAY’S POINT OF BALANCE: In my recent review of Bắc Asian American Bistro & Bar, I mentioned I was toying with a certain way of eating. That way means the elimination of this:

c/o thechessdrum.net

…this:

c/o tastefood.com

…and this:

c/o mudfog.com

That’s right kids: I’ve been attempting gluten-free eating for the past ten days.

In case you are not familiar, let’s start with a definition of a “gluten-free diet” thanks to the Mayo Clinic:

A gluten-free diet is a diet that excludes the protein gluten. Gluten is found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye… Gluten causes inflammation in the small intestines of people with celiac disease. Eating a gluten-free diet helps people with celiac disease control their signs and symptoms and prevent complications.

…and that means the elimination of wheat, barley, bulgur, and rye from my diet. Therefore, I have been avoiding these “usual suspects”:

  • Beer
  • Bread
  • Cereal
  • Crackers
  • Pastas

I have still been enjoying:

  • Wine: As you saw from last week’s wine tasting extravaganza
  • Processed luncheon meats: I love those Hillshire Farm Deli-Select lunchmeats, which are gluten-free. They are even better on sale at Marc’s!
  • Salad dressings labeled ‘gluten free’
  • Sauces labeled ‘gluten free’
  • Soups labeled ‘gluten free’
  • Oats: While they can be contaminated with wheat during growing and processing stages of production, I just can’t give up my oatmeal.

Why am I doing this?

I feel some people see a gluten-free lifestyle as just another diet fad – a way to lose weight since you aren’t eating bread and pasta. However, I’m strictly doing it for health reasons.  I’ve been dealing with some of the typical symptoms of gluten intolerance, including irritability, fatigue, anemia and digestive issues. I’ll save you the details, but they all seem to point in the direction of this food allergy. I figured eliminating gluten for a limited amount of time might open some doors to some answers.

What have I learned so far?

Maintaining a gluten-free diet is not easy. Gluten is used in so many different ways, including as a thickener in some foods. It is also found in medications, medications, vitamins and makeup. Also, just because something doesn’t have gluten in it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t contaminated in the facility it was processed in. That being said, I know I haven’t been 100% gluten-free because while I’ve done my best to keep an eye out for labeling, I’m sure I’ve missed something.

Walking into Panera Bread takes A LOT of will power. When you have to pick up a dozen bagels at 6:45AM for a 7:45AM committee meeting on the other side of town, all you really want is that sample of the chocolate chip bagel as you walk in the door. Now try driving to the other side of town with your car perfumed with the smell of bagel goodness. I couldn’t get to Westlake fast enough.

It’s a good thing that I LOVE fruits and veggies. There’s no question I get my recommended servings every day, which has made the dietary switch far easier for me. I’m sure if I typically ate other types of processed foods I would be mentally miserable right now.

It’s another good thing that I like preparing my own meals. Some people hate to cook. I LOVE it. My dad and I agree that the meals you make yourself taste so much better than what you’d get at a restaurant, and for a fraction of the cost. Making my own meals means I know what the ingredient list entails, which means less chance of unknown gluten consumption.

Funding a gluten-free diet is not cheap. Whole Foods is going to officially become Whole Paycheck. When purchasing pasta and breads in gluten-free form, the cost is significantly higher than buying the wheat varieties.

Brown rice and potatoes are my friends again. While I never hated either of them, rice and potatoes were never at the top of my “go to” lists of foods. However, in the past week, I’ve been cooking with these items more often and enjoying them again. I foresee a lot of rice casseroles and baked potatoes in my future!

An Important Note

I know that completely eliminating gluten from your diet before going for the standard blood test can alter the results. This is just a trial for me. In the next week or so, I plan to return to eating as I did before.  I’ll note how I feel then compared to how I feel today, then go from there. That might mean making an appointment for blood testing. Or that might mean splurging on an all-you-can-eat pasta buffet. What is important is that I am listening to what my body wants and needs at this point in time to be healthy.

Any thoughts or tips? Have you tried to eliminate a food group to see if it makes a difference in your health? Do you have Celiac disease or gluten intolerance? How has it changed you and your daily food routine?

Disclaimer: Remember that I am not a Registered Dietitian. I have no formal education on this sort of thing. While my findings are all based on copius amount of time on MayoClinic and WebMD, I’m just reporting on how MY body reacts, not how YOUR body necessarily would. Be smarter than me and consult a doctor before making any changes to your diet.

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10 comments

  1. Barb says:

    Hope your trial goes well! The GF life is tricky at first but over time you’ll see it is well worth the health benefits!

  2. idreamofgreenie says:

    Good luck! Looking forward to the update.

    Mary’s Gone Crackers are my fave crackers (and they are gluten free). Glutino also makes really good gluten free pretzels andI know there are some other yummy bread and pasta alternatives out there as well!

    and like you mentioned, fruits and veggies are yum and gluten free (can we say sweet potato oven fries?)

  3. Christie {Honoring Health} says:

    Good for you for figuring out what your body needs. I am gluten free and am approaching my one year being without any gluten. I will also tell you that even if you put back gluten in your diet, the tests the doctor will run are not always accurate and the only true way to tell is to listen to your body. If you feel better without eating it, don’t. When I quit eating gluten, I originally intended to do it for one month (which is the minimum time suggested for doing it in the beginning) and then eat some bread. Well, I never went back and you couldn’t pay me to eat it, now.

    Well, maybe just once for a million dollars.

    But, you know what I mean.

    I would also give gluten free oats a fair shot before you make any decisions about being gluten free. Depending on how sensitive you are, you may not be able to tolerate even minuscule amounts of cross contamination. It is worth purchasing gluten free oats while you are doing this trial to give your body a fair shot at being without the gluten. Bob’s Red Mill sells them in most health food stores and you can buy them online.

    If you have any questions, let me know!

  4. Heather says:

    So, how has it been going so far? Do you feel any different/better?
    Good luck – I hope it makes a difference! It’s hard trying to find out what our bodies are telling us sometimes…..

  5. Katie @ Healthy Heddleston says:

    I’m gluten intolerant and life has been just dandy here! It really is not big deal for me (anymore)… the first month or so was a little trickier, but being a dietitian, I knew what I needed to eat and not eat. I’ve been GF for almost 1.5 years now and if I “cheat” not only do my intestines not like it but I’m actually damaging them — so that’s the big deal.

  6. miyazawasei says:

    My husband and I sometimes go gluten free for 21 days as part of a cleanse, and in fact we are just starting one today. I think trader joe’s is a good place for shopping if you are trying to go gluten free because they label all of their gluten free stuff with a big G.

  7. Sue says:

    I’ll be so interested to hear if the gluten-free diet helps your syptoms as I also struggle with some of those issues as well. Thankfully there are so many gluten-free options out on the market. Even Marc’s carries Bob Redmill now.

    • Frank says:

      Hi Alicia,

      One product with which I’ve had a tremendous amount of success dealing with digestive issues is Align. A Cleveland Clinic Dr. recommended that I try it (along with a lot of other stuff but I attribute the Align for much of the success of the treatment) and I was very happy. Basically it helps re-populate the natural digestive tract bacteria. A variety of things (one is antibiotics) can throw the system off, this helps get it back on track.

      Frank

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