Friday, March 1, 2013

FF: Going Gluten Free

So a very dear sweet person was asking about going gluten free.  I wrote her a very long and complicated email back and realized I really ought to clean it up and post it here to share with everyone and also send her the link, so maybe she could figure it out too.  We all know I love to ramble!

The Why:
We started going gluten free back when we thought Sweet pea might be gluten intolerant.  We had tried cutting dairy and nothing happened.  When we cut gluten nothing happened.  When we cut both she got better.  We have since been able to introduce gluten back and she is fine with it -- her problem being dairy intolerance.  Yet, that was what lead us to discover that Lily, myself, and even my husband were intolerant. 

We didn't want to test Sweet Pea for Celiac because it is a very invasive test and she is so little.  We realized that we would be able to find out just by being strict with her diet and not making her go through a procedure that would be torture for anyone, let alone an eighteen month old!

What the pediatrician told me was that it was best to just go gluten free for about 30 days and see what happens.  It started for Sweet Pea, but I decided to do it because the more I read about gluten intolerance the more I thought I could be too.  The constant cravings for wheat, the bloated feeling, lethargic, all that.

After thirty days, Tony, Lily, and I felt amazing.  Then one day I tried one 6-inch Subway sandwich on whole wheat -- that will be ok, right?  

On the way home I was curled up in the car moaning!  I actually went home, wished I could be sick, and just went to sleep for a few hours.  I woke up feeling a bit better but not totally, know what I mean?  It was terrible.  I knew then I never wanted to feel that way again.  Every time I slip and eat something bread like that is not gluten free I get a horrible stomach ache.  Lily gets a huge headache.  Tony gets depressed and sick to his stomach too.  

Rose and Daisy don't really eat gluten either, I don't stop them, but they don't seem to worry about it unless it is cake, lol!  The little ones I do give homemade whole wheat bread.  I have come to think of bread as kid food.  They are still growing and unless they have a weird reaction to it I figure a sandwich on homemade bread once a day is ok.  But bread is truly a kid food.

The How:
On to the fun part!
It was hard, I won't lie.  It was necessary to go slow at first by starting to eat healthier, cutting our prepackages foods.  Yet when we went gluten free that was a fast transition.  It had to be, because we were so worried about Sweet Pea and had concerns about Lily, as well.  

The best sites I found for information were all Paleo sites (I posted some near the end of this post).  I am about 85% Paleo.  Paleo does not allow gluten, sugar, legumes, or milk products.  Nothing pre-packaged.  We, however, do eat black beans and garbanzo beans (I adore garbanzo beans -- even as a kid I would eat them right out of the can).  We eat only whole milk products (except we get WIC and they will only allow us 2%, so we get that).  As for grains we eat oats (there is a contraversy about whether oats are gluten free or not) and, although it is a seed and not a grain some Paleo people still say it is a no-no, we eat quinoa.  I LOVE quinoa.  It is so much better than rice.

Now this is a big thing.  When I say no sugar, that is a little sketchy for us too.  You absolutely cannot consume those chemical sweeteners (that means NO SODAS people, unless you go to the healthy section of your store).  So the only acceptable sweeteners are REAL maple syrup (not Mrs. Butterworth's), honey (try to get local), agave nectar, and stevia.  I think there is another one called xyltiol (which is natural but sounds like it was made in the a lab - we have never tried it).  We are all allergic to stevia (packaged sometimes under the name Truvia).  I can't breathe, Rose gets horrific heartburn, Tony gets... bad stomach shall we say... Lily's throat swells and she can't breathe as well!  So we use maple syrup, honey, agave, and occasionally evaporated cane juice.  

Cane juice is sugar.  It is better than refined white sugar but it is sugar.  It is organic and not as processed.  We only use it once a week in our Sunday night treat.  We go through a 10 pound bag in about 2 months (we get it at Costco).  We used to go through a 25 lb bag of refined white sugar in a month!

We also don't eat rice, other than occasional rice cakes.  No corn or potatoes.  We eat sweet potatoes like mad though!  Occasionally we will have corn, but by this I mean like once every several months!  Maybe when it is in season I will go down to our local farm and get some, but a lot of the things I hear about corn the less I want to eat it (even though it is yummy, lol).
It is hard to start, I won't kid you.  Once you get past the initial fight, you will find that when you do eat those things it will make you sick.  One of the things that truly gets me is I think, "Wow, I felt like that all the time and didn't even realize that was not normal." Stomach pains, horrible visits to the bathroom, etc that was normal.  Sorry, a bit too much information, but you need to get the point here.

The What:
So, there is a lot there telling you what we don't eat.  You look up there and you think, ok they eat local honey on rice cakes.  Is that it?  I want to eat more than rice cakes for the rest of my life!

This is the thing.  I love food.  We love food.  Food is important.  It is necessary though to eat food for the right reasons and not just to fill a void.  An excellent book to read to help you with creating a better and more meaningful relationship with your food is Cravings by Mary DeTurris Poust.

Start out slowly, by researching other meal ideas and make a menu plan.  Cut out things like pasta (I know, I know, believe me I thought I couldn't do it and now I don't crave it at all).  You will find that you can make all those things you love without adding bread or pasta to it.  Instead of spaghetti we now have Italian chicken.  I make sauce (ignore the pasta in the recipe, lol, just look at the sauce!) pour it over shredded chicken, top with grated mozzarella and but it in the oven till the cheese melts. Serve with veggies.  Have enchiladas without the tortillas.  That kind of thing. You can have some of your favorite things -- just a little different.  

And salads.  I am not talking about sitting at the counter chewing on a carrot stick looking forlornly off into space.  I am talking salads, real salads, filled with goodness!  Cashews, sunflower seeds, red peppers, boiled eggs, cold quinoa, chicken, whatever your heart desires!  Start thinking of salads not as a punishment but as a chance to get creative with your food!  Don't buy pre-made salad dressings.  Salad dressings are so easy to make and taste so much better.  I have shared some of our favorite salad dressing recipes here: FF: 0.3 and some Salad Dressings.

One thing I hate about what people suggest is taking something completely different and than calling it the same thing.  Mashed up cauliflower is NOT mashed potatoes and trying to convince yourself it is will set you up for nothing but failure.  It will cause you to feel deprived and that is far from the point.  This means, at least when just starting out gluten free, don't buy gluten free bread.  It is not like gluten filled bread.  It isn't.  You will not be happy.  If you do, be prepared for it to NOT be the same.   It is best for at least the first thirty days to avoid all things gluten-like.  Don't buy gluten free breads, pastas, etc.  After the thirty days you will be craving those things less anyway, and you won't mind the difference in textures.

The main and simple idea is this: You want GOOD food that is GOODfor you. 

No Pre-packaged??:
A small note before I share a bunch of groovy links with you.  It is best to avoid all pre-packaged food, even if labeled gluten free.  I know that is hard, especially in today's world.  You think it is a time saver, but really it isn't.  If you can, make cooking a family event, so that any extra time you spend in there you don't feel badly about.  Have your spouse or teen even just sit at the table and chat with you.  Play music and sing with the kids!  Last night there was a total party going on in our living room while Lily was getting dinner ready (I love having teens who cook).  Pandora was playing Disney music and we were all singing at the top of our lungs.  It got a bit crazy but when it was all said and done it was the best thing of our day!

So you are thinking I am nuts.  I will admit that once in awhile we do by pre-made mixes.  Gasp.  I know, I know.  And here are our favorites:

To sum up, I am going to share with you some links that I have found helpful in going gluten free and making lifetime changes to the way we live and eat. 
Knit Together: 

Elana's Pantry:

Basic Info:

These movies are not necessarily gluten free but talk about the importance of eating healthy!  I especially recommend the first two and you might be able to find them for free somewhere like Hulu.

Finallyif I can leave you with anything, it would be this -- It is not about dieting or even loosing weight.  We knew that we might loose weight if we went gluten free but that was not our motivation.  In fact, loosing weight has only been a benefit of this whole process.  We wanted to be HEALTHY.  We wanted to be able to do the things we always dreamed of doing.  Last year, when I did that 25 mile bike ride, I thought I was mad.  I was scared stiff.  I didn't really believe that I was strong enough to do it.  I was.  It wasn't easy but I did it.  And I will do it this year -- but not the 25 miler!  Look for me to do the 60 miler this year. And the year after that?  You better believe I am going to do the century ride -- 100 miles.   Hmmm, wonder if I should go for it this year.... *gulp*

We wanted to be able to go for hikes without loosing our breath.  We wanted to hike mountains and see the world from the saddle of a bicycle.  We wanted to be good examples to our children, too.

These are all things that would have been impossible at the level of health we were at.

So don't go gluten free to loose weight.  Go gluten free if you want to not only feel healthier but BE healthier.

That is what it all comes down to, with any style of eating.  Health is the ultimate goal.

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