Thinking of Going Gluten-Free?

I am writing this long blog post to index all of the information that I’ve generated over the years in one simple place. Articles I’ve written and posted across the internet since I went Gluten-Free in January of 2005. In January 2009 I went soy-free, and in November of 2009, dairy-free. I’m a careful researcher, so you don’t have to be.

I want to start off by saying that elimination diets are not easy, and are not to be undertaken lightly for a “weight loss” plan or “fad diet” plan. If you want to lose weight. Try something like logging your food, and learning the way your body really wants you to eat.

Just so you know, Celiac disease is just one kind of disorder that can greatly benefit from a gluten-free diet. Patients with autism show great improvement of symptoms, as do sufferers of Multiple Sclerosis. I, myself, am called “gluten intolerant”. I don’t test for full-blown celiac (which means the villi in my small intestine haven’t died off and atrophied) but I do have a severe enough response to the stuff to warrant an elimination diet. I do have rosacea though, and I sometimes wonder if that’s linked to my gluten intolerance like other skin conditions.

If a doctor, allergist or holistic practitioner suggests an elimination trial, or if you suspect that you are allergic or intolerant to certain types of food, then it’s best to try a 2-week food elimination trial. The first step to doing this is to learn the ways that allergens can be “hidden” in food ingredients lists. (This stuff can hide in weird places, like tea bags, and play-dough!) Here are a few articles on the hidden allergens:

If your two-week food trial proves to you that you are better off without gluten than with it, then forge on, intrepid adventurer! If you don’t see a marked change in your symptoms, please don’t try to eliminate something “just in case”. The human body will stop producing enzymes necessary to digest certain foods, and total elimination of a food from your diet may, in fact, force you to make that elimination later on.

So, you’ve tested it, and you’ve decided it’s time to go gluten-free. “Now what?” Right? Right. First, if you don’t live alone, you need to make some decisions about your kitchen, and you need to clear out some of the hidden gluten still lurking in the cupboards. Once the cupboards are bare (or at least reorganized) you’ll want to know where to start in the grocery store. (I know, trial and error with dubious snacks can be frustrating, so here’s a list of brands I like, including cold cereal!) After you’ve been doing this for a while, you might see that it’s a tad more expensive, too. So, here are money-saving tips for the gluten-free groceries.

One of the things you’ll want to get is a bread machine! Trust me.

But, gluten-free baking is far from impossible. In fact I enjoy it! I even baked 5 pies one Thanksgiving to find the best pie crust possible. There are tons of resources out there, from cookbooks to support groups!

However, I want to point out that the “can’t have” mindset that comes with an elimination diet can sometimes be our greatest weakness. Sometimes, it’s better to focus on all of the great stuff you CAN have – like vegetables, fruits, alternative or “ancient” grains like quinoa, meat, dairy, etc. It’s not that hard to eliminate something if you simply don’t miss it when you fill your plate with delicious food!

I’d also like to note that just because it’s gluten-free, doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Learn to read the nutrition labels just as much as the ingredients lists. For instance, I’ve seen gluten-free cookies that were through the roof in sodium and sugar to make up for the lack of gluten. Why is that necessary, when Kinnikinnick can make freaking donuts that are delicious and nutritiously sound? Another thing that I’ve noticed is that gluten-free eaters will frequently go with something easy and convenient – sacrificing nutrition. That’s so unnecessary! With a little planning, we can eat simple meals that are delicious, nutritious and gluten-free. Check out my whole-family dinner recipes below – all of them freeze for single servings later, and all of them are nutritious!

However, here are a handful of recipes to get you started:

And, then of course there’s the challenge of eating out. Some restaurants really get it when it comes to food allergies. For the ones that don’t, here’s my action plan for a safe evening out. (And here’s the best way I’ve found to order in!)

The other big hurdle for most folks on elimination diets would be family gatherings and holidays. Some people will see you as whiny when it comes to your allergies. But it’s not a question of polite or impolite to be able to eat what is keeping you healthy. Of course, I’ve seen some folks go the other direction – and make people crazy with their demands. So I wrote up a list of do’s and don’t for polite society. Just call my GF Ms. Manners.

If you decide to stick with this in the long term, then your doctor needs to know about this so that he or she can monitor vital vitamins, minerals and nutrients that are often missing from gluten-free food, such as calcium. Studies have even shown that bone density loss can be attributed to celiac autoimmune functions!

If you’re looking for other pages to bookmark, check out the outstanding gluten-free Social Media site “The Gling“, as well as the Gluten Free Travel site.

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5 thoughts on “Thinking of Going Gluten-Free?

  1. What you posted on here tonight for information is really helpful…thanks, but it still doesnt answer how someone can lose weight by not eating all their calories. Those calories can be glutin free choices, I see that, but in NM, they need to be counted.
    Thanks for the info.

  2. The way I understand it, you only get short-term, unsustainable loss when you don't eat all your calories.

    I have to eat every last calorie, but it's a question of eating the foods that love me back. Gluten hates me. So I don't add that to my calorie choices!

  3. Nor would I add them or even think about using them if I were watching my glutin. What I want to know is she said on her last responce that she needs to learn to log….Well, am I the only one that noticed she is not eating even 1200 calories nor is she logging all her food. The excuse about cooking and not having them in the data is bull, because we all know that you can add a recipe and get the break down and calories per serving. Anyway, your sweet for trying to help answer part of that question. I know NM works for me, as you know also it works for you. She may lose weight but her body will finally stop working to lose weight. You have a great day!
    Thanks,
    Betty

  4. Definitely can't imagine going the gluten free route unless it stopped “loving me back” Really have a hard time understanding anyone who chooses to do this as some sort of fad. A most informative piece Lili! I learned a lot from reading it!
    Ask Garcia

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