Sunday, August 12, 2012

Gluten free, week one.

I realize some people think we're nuts because we are always changing our diet. I've been gluten-free, raw vegan, vegetarian, and a list of other things at various points in my life.  Why do we change what we eat so often?   Well, we start out doing great, but then something happens- a big move or a major event (like our daughter's brain surgery)- and we're just scrambling to survive so eating healthfully takes a backseat.  We end up eating out a lot, and then the whole lifestyle diet change goes out the window because, like I said, we're just trying to get through the moment.

Then we get through the moment and realize we're completely exhausted and feel like crud because we're not getting adequate nutrition and we're eating junk. We go back to the drawing board and get ourselves back on track.

I'm really thankful that my mom raised me to be aware of how my body functions in regards to my food, and how to adapt the family diet to deal with health issues. My mom is allergic to wheat flour and my dad has Celiac Sprue.  As a kid, I had trouble with diary, and, while I can now handle certain dairy products in small amounts, other dairy products (and too much dairy in general) will have my throat closing up and rashes forming along with, um, some quality time with the toilet. (Fun!) All of our children, save for Nolyn, also have dairy issues as well.

My husband has gone gluten-free at various times in our marriage, but we recently came to the conclusion that it would be best to to GF as a lifestyle change rather than just a diet. (Previously, we did a specific GF diet to cleanse our bodies of yeast which was overpowering our systems.)

When I was in the chiropractor's office, I came across this article tidbit which really pinpoints what I came to understand and why we're doing what we're doing.  It was a debate between Vegans and Paleos in a health mag, but I can't remember which.

"There is a dizzying ocean of literature in the field of immunology, gastroenterology, neurology, and metabolic science pouring out right now and underscoring the adverse impact of grains in all these areas of health. I would also say that there is a lack of grasp of the depth and breadth of gluten's devastating influence over more disease processes than I have room to list here (no fewer than 55 diseases are known clearly to be associated with grain consumption).  The undeniable connection between grains and every manner of immunological, inflammatory, neurological, and physiological disease process is literally overwhelming and deeply, deeply troubling.  It is literally a public health catastrophe.  According to the journal Gastroenterology, the incidence of full-blown celiac disease (the mere tip of the gluten-intolerance iceberg) has increased 400 percent in the last 50 years alone.  No one who lives or breathes anywhere on this planet has a 'grain deficiency'. . . but countless millions suffer from the myriad potentially devastating effects of grains on their health, many of whom don't even suspect the underlying culprit.  What is 'extreme' is not the avoidance of grains but their unprecedented and unnatural prevalence in our modern food supply."
[Nora Gedgaudas]

In the beginning, I decided it would be best to avoid making my favorite glutened things with gluten-free flours and such except for on rare occasion.  I committed to making our meals full of naturally gluten-free goodness.  This also makes it cheaper to be on a gluten-free diet as all those alternative flours can kill a budget.

Green beans and sausage

Salad with radishes, onions, carrots, tomatoes, salami and turkey

When I first decided that it would be good to go gluten-free, I weaned myself off of "bread yumminess" by allowing myself one gluten item a day for a while.  Previously, it was in about every meal we had in some form (flour-thickened soups of gravies, battered and fried American fair, tortilla wraps or sandwiches...).  I realized it was a bad idea to be eating something so often, which is another reason why I felt it would be good to cut it out for a time.

We've now been officially gluten-free for a week, except that I've cheated twice. I had a tortilla wrap sandwich once when I was in a situation where there wasn't any GF options (although I could have removed the tortilla and eaten it as a salad, I suppose), and yesterday I just had to have a piece of my granny's chocolate crunch cake that she made for our birthdays.

Even with my cheats, I've noticed several things from my first week.  I had been really bloated and (hi, TMI) gassy for a couple months and- BAM- first day without any wheat, the bloat went away along with FOUR pounds.  That's a lot of water weight to be holding on to. Secondly, in addition to dropping those four pounds, I have also lost an additional pound from just eating healthier and, yeaahhh, not making cookies and cakes on a daily basis.

I also started the 30 Day Shred back up. My calves ached for several days after my first work out, but I know if I stick with exercising regularly, I'll eventually be able to make it through a work out without my whole body screaming at me.  The kids really love doing work outs with me, so we're calling it Homeschooling Physical Ed. :)

I know a lot of people who have gone gluten-free just to "try it out" and stuck with it after realizing gluten was the cause of other issues. My friend (and midwife) Nanci noticed her migraines completely disappeared once she cut gluten out of her diet.  Her daughter, Emily, says that gluten causes her eczema. Another friend, Ana, realized that gluten was the culprit behind several minor issues, like a burning feeling in her nostrils that had really irritated her, among other bigger problems.  For my mother, I think she said that wheat causes her to experience chest pains that make her feel like she's about to have a heart attack. My dad's stomach would go insane over just a Cherrio. 

Really, I figure we don't lose much by cutting gluten out of our diet even if we don't think we have a gluten problem. After being GF for a month or more, many realize that gluten (or wheat) is cause of various issues they never would have pinned on gluten or wheat.  Many have found cutting out wheat helped them lose weight they had not been able to get rid of for years.

I'm sure some of you are also gluten (or wheat) free. If so, what changes in your health have occurred since removing it from your diet?

2 comments: said...

I was diagnosed with Celiac disease and must follow a strict gluten-free lifestyle as well. I'll be keeping an eye on any recipes you try! :-)

Chrissy said...

I went GF in March after months of horrible stomach pains & vomiting episodes. My GI did many tests & found not much going on. (although he does think my gallbladder will be taken out in the future) After I started eating GF I noticed my stomach pains lessened & my ibs flared up rarely. For the most part I feel good. I do notice when I've consumed gluten accidentally because I will feel awful. My GI wants me to continue on this diet.