Saturday, April 3, 2010

Gluten What?!

Many of you know that I have been eating gluten free since last June. It started as a trial week. I have a friend who has Celiac's at work as well as another who is gluten intolerant. (I will get to the differences later) By the second day of eating gluten free I was noticing big differences. I had been putting up with stomach growling, bloating, and other unpleasant things without realizing I could be rid of it. I would come home exhausted every day from work and barely make it through making dinner and crash on the couch. But, once going gluten free, I would stay up looking for things to do at night......I'm not kidding, I had so much energy and was so excited that I did, that I was looking for things to do.

Many of the symptoms of Celiacs and gluten intolerance are almost identical but the conditions are pretty different. Also interesting though, is that the fix is the same. A gluten free lifestyle! This is a good link to compare/contrast the symptoms for the two.

Now for those of you who aren't aware, gluten comes from wheat, barley, rye, and oats. For me, I first thought, but wait...aren't those good for you? Basically some people (this is becoming an increasing number every day) don't digest the gluten very well and it irritates the lining of your intestine. When this happens, you don't absorb the good nutrients from the rest of your foods well. (If you really want to get into the nitty gritty, look up what a good poop should be, floaters indicate low nutrition.....just sayin, I had lots of those!)

Okay, so what to do if you want to try this crazy eating habit? First of all, start reading labels....and get used to perimeter shopping. Huh? You know those rows of boxed premixed preserved for 2 years shelf food at the grocery store? Yeah, surprise surprise....its not very good for you, and it usually has gluten in it. I will go into this more in coming posts (I am hoping to make this blog a bit more about my GF adventures) but I do want to give you a few tips....

#1. Buy more produce, cook with it, learn new ways to cook it. Maybe you grew up hating veggies....try them again, your tastes might have changed.....and your digestive system will thank you for it.

#2. Eat more lean protein

#3. This seems obvious, but bypass the bakery and breads and pastas.

#4. Oh pasta you say!? I can't give that up! Well good for you there are wonderful rice pastas that I use instead. Look for them in the organic section of most stores. Some stores now have their own GF section too (Meijer, Trader Joes, Kroger)

I would recommend trying this first. Stick with things that are naturally gluten free, then you can venture into all the things that are out there to give you that bread/pancake/donut fix without giving you a belly ache. By the way, not all starches and carbs are off limits. Rice, Potatoes, Quinoa, and other grains are fine, just be sure to google them first. There is tons of info out there. Oh, and the Lipton Rice blends (the flavored ones like broccoli cheddar "rice" aren't rice!) They mix in Orzo pasta with the rice.....yeah, sneaky. Remember what I said above, read labels. Oh, and it won't say gluten. Look for these. It seems like a lot, but most of those you won't ever see, and after a week or two, you get used to it. You get a feeling for what foods are going to have stuff in them.

Oh, so by the way, some 9 months later, I have lost about 20 lbs, lost the bloat, gained better skin, more energy and even a better mood. All of which I would somewhat contribute to going gluten free. I am working out more often which I am sure helped with shedding pounds but I woudn't have had the energy before. But don't do it just for that. I can't begin to explain to you the difference in how I feel. Its awesome, and well worth giving up some hamburger buns!

Okay, so here in Cincinnati we have this wonderful store called Jungle Jim's. They have a huge GF section (amongst some of the best produce in Cincinnati) and I went in yesterday to get some flours. I am making carrot cake cupcakes for Easter. GF of course. I saw a new (to me) brand of GF bread. Yummmmmy! Its got pockets of air, a wonderful taste and doesn't crumble. So, if you can find it near you, pick it up. I have already had 4 slices! Yikes!

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