A reader commented that she would like to hear more on the realities of going gluten-free. How does one do it successfully? After a bit of thought, here are some of my ideas. They work for me and my family, but everyone is unique so I make no guarantees. For example, my husband will follow me down every nutritional path I take and just eat the things he misses when he is out or at lunch during his work week. I KNOW that not everybody’s spouses take to change so readily, so I wish you good luck with your families. 🙂
- Stop Snacking! Seriously, that is where the bulk of glutenous foods are found (bread, chips, cookies, crackers, brownies, cake, etc). It may sound crazy, but I challenge you to give up a snack or two a day until you basically don’t need them anymore. How? Make sure that your breakfast and lunch are VERY nutrient dense. Focus on a quality protein, some fat like butter or coconut oil, and ample veggies. This would mean eating a breakfast of eggs fried in butter with fried peppers and zucchini on the side, a lunchtime salad with canned salmon on top or a hearty stew made with lots of veggies and beef or chicken. I really don’t snack. In fact, my kids don’t snack. We eat three meals a day. Then the kitchen is closed (because seriously, all this cooking is a decent amount of work!) 🙂 Sometimes I will have a small snack before bed like a glass or wine or a handful of almonds. PS – This change was a LONG time in coming. When I was first married I would make brownies most weekends and keep refrigerated cookie dough on hand so that I could pop a couple of cookies in the oven on a weeknight. I understand change is daunting!
- Figure out new food “vehicles.” Did you know that tuna, salmon, and egg salad are all awesome served on slices of cucumber, in mini-sweet peppers, or wrapped in romaine lettuce? “Cauliflower rice” is a great base for curries and Chinese inspired dishes, while zucchini and spaghetti squash make very tasty “pastas” for a Bolognese sauce or favorite meatball dish. Sandwiches are a no-go. Instead, look to make wraps of lunch meat and cheese with pickles, cucumbers, avocado, (even sometimes sauerkraut – think pastrami sandwich without the bread!), and a bit of mustard. To be honest, it takes some time to build a new repertoire of easy-to-turn-to meal ideas. Be patient with yourself. I have done this for a year and it is only finally becoming second nature.
- Tap into the reality of what gluten does to you. For those of you currently battling Hashimoto’s, think about your symptoms. Do you want them to continue? Once I truly understood how destructive gluten could be, it was much easier for me to give it up. I don’t give brownies, cookies, cake, or bread a second thought now. It is NOT negotiable. No thanks for extreme fatigue, weight gain, hair loss, depression, or any of the rest of it. I will skip eating it. And, if I am hormonal I will eat chocolate. 🙂 I recommend Trader Joe’s dark chocolate covered almonds with sea salt and turbinado sugar. Awesome.
(My husband has started making fun of my bacon eating habits. Should I request this T-shirt for Christmas?!)
- Don’t buy gluten-free products. They encourage your love for those items and make it hard to say no to the real versions. They are ridiculously expensive. Often, they are pretty bad for your body. I know it sounds crazy, but I don’t think they do anyone any favors. Except on your birthday. Yes, have a gluten-free piece of cake and enjoy. I have included an excerpt of an interview from bodybuilder.com of Dr. William Davis, cardiologist and author of the new book Wheat Belly, to give you more food for thought:
Your book argues that the whole gluten-free craze in food marketing is, well, kind of a crock. Can you elaborate on why you think this?
“People who eliminate wheat will often turn to gluten-free foods. In fact, most doctors who diagnose patients with Celiac Disease will say, “Go eat gluten-free foods.” What they’re telling their patients to do is seek out foods that are not made with wheat gluten but are instead made with corn starch, potato starch, rice starch, brown rice starch or tapioca starch. Well, the only foods that raise blood sugar MORE than whole wheat are corn starch, rice starch, potato starch, and tapioca starch. These are flagrant, rapidly digested carbohydrates when they’re in the powdered form as presented in gluten-free foods.
It’s not uncommon for someone to go on a gluten-free diet and find that their diarrhea and cramps are now gone. Only now, they’re diabetic and fat. While those foods don’t trigger the immune phenomena, they trigger the carbohydrate phenomena worse than table sugar. So “gluten-free, multi-grain bread” sounds for all the world like a great thing. Well, it’s terrible for you.”
We are in an environment that is gluten-saturated. It can feel impossible to avoid at first. Show kindness to yourself. Be patient if it takes awhile to carry out changes. However, love yourself enough to keep pushing forward. Your quality of life is that important!
(photos: organizesimplifyconnect.com, kraftrecipes.com, dessertdarling.com, pdxpaleoproject.com)