4 Sep

I failed to provide the gluten-free resources and tips I meant to this past month, but here’s the thing: I’m busy!  It’s summer and my wedding is less than a month away, so I hope you can all forgive me!  The good news is that when I write the book, I will be much more thorough.  Let’s get down to business.  Here’s the gluten-free diet report:

Cravings experienced: I wanted cookie dough!  I found some gluten-free cookie dough, but there was almost a bug spray-esque aftertaste to it. :-/  I’m guessing the undercooked potato starch was the guilty culprit.

Sins to confess:  As the year progresses, I am getting lazier (and hungrier!).  At the beginning of the experiment, I was more likely to shun absolutely everything unless I was 100% sure that it was 100% safe!  Lately, I’m more apt to glance at the ingredients list and eat things that I feel I can reasonably assume are safe.  For the most part, my assumptions have been accurate (I would look things up after the fact out of guilt and curiosity).  Here are a few specific sins I am still tormenting myself over:

*I drank some hazelnut flavored coffee and THEN emailed the company to ask if it was gluten-free.  Some flavored coffees are flavored with malt (which is derived from barley).  This particular brand turned out to be gluten-free.

*I ordered off of a gluten-free menu at a sushi restaurant, but failed to double check with the waiter about the fried tofu I ordered.  Cross-contamination is a concern as other breaded items could have been fried in the same oil.

*I found a report from 2009 claiming that Almond Joys were gluten-free, so I happily munched on the snack size bars Derek brought home.  Later, I found an updated gluten-free candy list and discovered that Almond Joys are no longer guaranteed to be safe.  Ey yey yey!

Here’s what I ate my last day on the Celiac’s disease (gluten-free) diet:

Breakfast:  Cooked gluten-free oats (soaked overnight in apple cider vinegar – don’t knock it until you try it!) with 1/2 banana, blueberries, strawberries, butter and chia seeds; 1 hard-boiled egg

Lunch: Big bowl of vegetarian chili with tomatoes (duh!), zucchini, black beans, tofu, jalapeneos, serrano peppers, & potatoes; chunks of cantaloupe

Supper: Lentil soup (with mushrooms, collard greens, tomatoes, tahini [gluten-free soy sauce], carrots, celery, ginger, & lemon juice + Sunshine Burger brand Garden Burger (sunflower seeds & carrots are the base for this surprisingly simple and tasty gluten-free veggie burger); cantaloupe carob smoothy with almond milk

Lessons Learned:  The gluten-free diet has the advantage of being better known than many of the other diets I’ve undergone.  It was fairly easy to find gluten-free alternatives almost everywhere I went.  Sometimes I had to go out of my way to acquire specific things.  For example, if I wanted gluten-free hamburger buns, I had to make a special trip to the health food store as the grocery store located near my house doesn’t sell any.  However, there is still a gluten-free section at this grocery store, so I could buy bread or rolls instead if necessary.  I went to a training session and was able to order a gluten-free version of the menu selection of my choice, but my hotel restaurant had very limited options (I was told that grilled chicken was my only guarantee).  For all pervasive food allergies and intolerances, traveling with some safe options is a fail-safe survival tool.  I brought canned fish, fruit, popcorn, gluten-free bread, & an almond butter packet on my training journey.  I ended up eating all of it, so it seems I planned accordingly!

As a dietitian, I had enough background knowledge to be able to identify obvious gluten sources, but I learned that certain additives are not so cut-and-dry.  Modified starch can be derived from a number of different sources, one being wheat.  If one intends to be as careful as possible (which should be the ultimate goal of a gluten-free celiac’s diet), manufacturers should be contacted if the sources are unspecified.

My approach during this diet was probably similar to that of a person who is just getting a feel for exactly what a gluten-free diet entails.  I learned as I went.  I have been so busy lately that I was stuck doing the best I could rather than the best possible.  I am disappointed in the number of sins this month but am proud about the vigilance I maintained toward certain practices:

*Always using tin foil underneath my gluten-free breads when using my toaster oven (which Derek uses to toast gluten-containing breads)

*Cleaning out my cupboards at the beginning of the month and attempting to segregate gluten-containing foods in the lazy Susan (although I later discovered a jar of barley flour in my “safe” zone – I don’t know if I thought this was buckwheat (which is gluten-free) or what happened there…)

*Avoided sharing peanut butter and butter containers with Derek (due to cross-contamination concerns)

*Using water (rather than my tongue) to seal envelopes [The glue may contain gluten.]

*Not purchasing foods (such as popcorn) out of bulk bins (which may be cross-contaminated with gluten)

Meanwhile, I’m eating as though I have a parasite lately.  It’s been fun tasting all of the different versions of commercially available gluten-free goods including: waffles, muffins, doughnuts, breads, etc.  My love of food has transformed into a somewhat terrifying obsession, adding a new element of understanding to my empathetic repertoire: eating disorders and dieting.  It turns out when I am told that I can’t have something, I really really want itBased on what I have heard and read from others with certain food restrictions, this can lead to denial and binging.  For many, there is a definite struggle towards acceptance when informed “You know this thing that you’ve always loved?… Yeah, you’re just done with that!”.  With gluten being my only roadblock during the month of August, I gorged on all things previously restricted.  Trying to sort out emotional eating and hunger gets even stickier when dietary restrictions are imposed upon someone.  I expect even more enlightenment in this department as the experiment marches on.

I didn’t get around to the macrobiotic diet mini-experiment as I had intended, so I’ll have to squeeze that in somewhere else.  Finally, I have officially given up the factory vegan lifestyle I was aiming to follow.  Ultimately I (finally!) decided that trying to restrict one category of food at a time is hard enough!  In the beginning of the year, I asked this question: “How long can we fight with our what our bodies demand and what our mind has made up?”  The answer I discovered?:  Not very long if you want to maintain your health and sanity.

Upcoming post: 2 week wheat and fish allergy


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