So if you following Sandy’s Gluten-Free Journey —here are her most recent thoughts. (BTW–if you are further along in the diet–don’t be confused –we are still aiming at not doing a lot of grains or gluten-free items) For many of us–(including myself)– this is a journey to a new lifestyle that we are embarking on with baby steps!!!! Keep your head in the game! (Geez I love Zac Efron and just watched High School Musical with Emma)
So far, gluten free is not so bad. It’s easy to eat meat and vegetables and fruit and not eat any bread. The thing is, the easiest thing we ever eat is a sandwich. Grab some bread, throw some meat on it, maybe some cheese and lettuce, and off you go. And bread is what we Americans use to complete a meal, to make us feel full. We sort of use it to hold everything else together, whether in the form of a sandwich or a pie or a cake…it’s easy, hand held…grab and go.
But, I am here to tell you there are other ways to eat and be satisfied.I cooked up a bunch of rice and stuck it in the fridge so I can have some whenever I need more filling up than a piece of meat and some asparagus or carrots provides.
I’ve read all the advice everyone gave me…and man, I had no idea there were so many of you out there doing this. I got comments, private messages, emails, phone calls…everybody has an experience to relate. Most of the advice is great, and I plan to try much of it, especially the polenta/corn meal mush with eggs deal and the one to add some sour cream to gluten free baking mixes. But really, so far, I haven’t needed to eat any cake or brownies.
Some people told me that the first week you feel awful, but I have not found that to be true. I feel pretty darn good. Gluten free is good for my knees and general body aches, I think.
Other people seemed to indicate that they have a bad reaction just from one tiny little misstep. I’m doing this to get rid of inflammation, and I think I’m not going to have to be quite so religious about it as someone with celiac disease. Of course, I’m also taking a really good (expensive) probiotic twice a day, selenium, CoQ-10, and several other supplements, but my goal with all that is to eventually stop taking medications for pain and high blood pressure…or at least to cut back on the ones I take now. I can see improvement already too. It didn’t take long. I had my last gluten at noon on Monday, and every day since then, I’ve had less joint pain and just feel better.
I am doing all I can to avoid gluten, but I have to wonder if I really need to care all that much about “hidden gluten” in things like spaghetti sauce. I have read too that you can overdo fruit because it contains sugar, but please…I am doing myself a favor by eating fruit instead of candy, so let’s just not even go there. Not yet.
Look for further updates. My favorite comment so far: “I’ve only been gluten-free for a week, and already I’m annoying.” I know. I know. There is no saint like a reformed sinner, so if you don’t want to hear about my gluten-free journey, don’t read it.
Gluten free update and observations:
One week ago today, I had a peanut butter sandwich for lunch. And that was the last time gluten has passed my lips.
I got all sorts of advice last week, and I’ve learned a lot on my own. Most importantly:
1. You gotta have something substantial to replace the bread in your diet. It doesn’t work to just leave off the bread; you (well, I) must find a replacement for it. This morning, for the first time in my life, I ate corn meal mush. It’s not bad browned in some butter and eaten with eggs. Grits, corn meal, rice cakes, rice, quinoa…there are lots of choices for carbs that don’t contain gluten. And you do need to eat some “fast” burning carbs.
2. I am trying to make sure each meal consists of a protein, a fast carb, and a slow carb. And I am eating about every two to three hours, trying to keep my metabolism burning at an even rate all day long.
3. There are lots of gluten-free cake, brownie, and baking mixes, some not so bad, but I don’t see the profit in replacing gluten with sugar. We all eat too much sugar, and besides, one of my goals is to lose some weight. So I can use those things but sparingly. I made some GF brownies. They were good. I ate one every night over the weekend. And then I cut them in pieces and put the rest in the freezer. They’re there if I need them, but I can’t go on eating them every day. (When I did eat them though, I had some low-fat frozen yogurt with them…I think this will be my emergency, gotta have something really good fall back item…and there they are…in the freezer.)
4. A dollop of sour cream added to any of those GF mixes really improves the flavor and texture of the end product. (Courtesy of Leslie Arcuri Zinn)
5. I got a lot of tips about “eat this, don’t eat that,” but I believe in making just one or two changes at a time, so I’m going to go ahead and eat fruit of all kinds, cheese, and yogurt. I am replacing the milk on cereal with almond milk, but for now anyway, I’m eating dairy products and sweet fruits.
6. I really do not know if it was the recent change in thyroid medication, the addition of selenium and CoQ 10, the switch to a more powerful probiotic, or the gluten-free diet, or maybe a combination of all those, but I have more energy. Lots more energy. So much energy that I have to be careful not to overdo it. I climbed three flights of stairs at the track Sunday and then went up to nearly the top row of seats after that. And I walked about five miles throughout the rest of that day. All that walking, and when I got home, I started right in cooking enchiladas for three hungry weightlifters.
7. I am sleeping better…maybe because I feel well enough during the day to get some exercise. Also, and this is huge. If I drop something, I don’t dread bending over to pick it up. I feel good. And my joints do not hurt. Maybe my muscles do after I do a lot of stuff, but the absence of joint pain is a miracle.
I think the best advice I can give anyone starting a gluten-free diet is be adaptable and be willing to try new things. I adapted when I made those enchiladas Sunday night. I made them with flour tortillas. Everybody else ate them up. I scraped some of the chicken and cheese filling out of a couple of them and ate it with some sour cream and guacamole on corn tortilla chips. I also have a half-dozen boiled eggs in my fridge for a snack when I need it. I have a big dish of rice I cooked ahead of time…I think of this as my loaf of bread…I can put anything on top of it or alongside it, and it’s a filling dish. I am eating corn meal mush and rice cakes, and I have lentil chips in my pantry…that’s me keeping an open mind about replacements for bread. So far, everything I’ve tried has been really good, so I’m going to eat some of those lentil chips with an open mind.