Recently, I have had a few friends reach out and ask me about our experience while eating a gluten-free diet. There was a common emotion among all of them. Overwhelm. Fear. Deprivation. But, I’m coming here today to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way. Our transition to gluten-free was not difficult. I hope I can share some tips in helping you to make the transition if you find you need to.
**Disclaimer: My family and I no longer eat gluten free, but we did for over a year and it was great.
When I made the decision to eat this way, it was purely out of necessity. That seems to be the only reason people make radical changes like this, doesn’t it? I had just undergone a major surgery and the trauma that comes with surgery of any sort put my body into a bit of a tail spin. Upon coming home from the hospital, I began to break out in these itchy rashes. I had never had a surgery before and since leading a relatively holistic lifestyle, I’d never been in a situation to need the medications they gave me during the process. I wrote off the rash to an allergic reaction to something I’d been given and ignored it.
After a couple weeks of the rash not changing – not getting worse, but not getting better either, I went back to my doctor. He wasn’t my regular doctor and tell me if you’ve had this happen before… I shared my struggle with him and he literally rolled his eyes and threw drugs at me as if I was wasting his precious time. Really?? I didn’t have the rash before I went in for the surgery and when I came out and it developed, I wanted to know why. I didn’t want to mask it with drugs if I could help it. I wanted to get back to homeostasis. What is so wrong with that? He told me, “You’ll spend thousands with an allergist to find out the root cause. Just take this oral allergy medication and apply this cream. You’ll be fine.” Um ok.
So, I took his meds home and did what I was told for the first day. At the time, I was running a business from my home with 35 employees across the country. I was also homeschooling my 3 girls. To say I was busy was an understatement. But what I discovered after the first dose of the pill he gave me was that all I could do was sleep. Business? What business? Oh, you mean I’m responsible for children?! No, that’s not happening. Suffice it to say that I did not complete that prescription and chose to suffer with my rash. Several months later, a friend suggested going to my chiropractor and requesting a saliva test. The test revealed that I had a sensitivity to gluten and so my journey began.
The discomfort that I experienced when eating bread, drinking beer, or consuming any gluten products was significant. Additionally, consuming these goods required that I be near the bathroom for the following 24 hours. (Yikes!) So, I had already begun to remove them from my diet. No amount of tasty food was worth the pain! Dairy also bothered me and I learned later that the fats in dairy can be really challenging to digest in people with gluten sensitivities. Since then, I’ve moved to rice and/or almond milk. I limit my cheese intake as well.
The first and easiest thing I did in moving to a gluten-free lifestyle was simply to stop bringing it into my home. My family of 5 didn’t revolt as much as I thought they would. And with so many others struggling with this issue, I was pleasantly surprised how much GF stuff was available in my local grocery stores. Even Walmart has an entire gluten-free section.
Pastas taste pretty similar to regular. I ate corn tortillas instead of flour. If we had hamburgers, I just skipped the bun and ate mine on a bed of greens. Bread was probably the most challenging item to give up because let’s face it, GF bread in the store is not always the tastiest. So, I made my own! I bought my flours from Amazon Subscribe & Save and had them delivered on a regular schedule. I mixed them into “dry ingredient” baggies where all I had to do was add liquid ingredients to my bread machine, pour the dry ingredients from the baggie, and turn it on. Easy! They were tasty and dense, so sandwiches were usually open faced. But they were a much better substitute and my kids loved them.
I do enjoy a beer every so often and that was one thing I had to give up completely. If I was out with friends, then some of the alternatives were wine, hard cider, or mixed drinks. All in all, this really wasn’t an issue to just give up all together.
Some of the staples we enjoyed were quinoa, rice, and lots of veggies. I incorporated digestive enzyme supplements as well as probiotics and an excellent multivitamin into my routine as well. (If you want detail on which ones I used, contact me.) After eating this way for over a year, we began experimenting with reintroducing gluten in small amounts and I was pleasantly surprised to find I no longer responded to it in the horrible way I did before. We still don’t eat a lot of bread, but I’m glad to know that giving my body a break from it was what I needed to do to allow it time to heal.