This is how it went for me:
Yay, I now know what has caused all this itching and red skin. (I mean I have only been trying to find out for several months!). I am gluten and cow’s milk intolerant!!
NOTE: for those of you with Celiac disease, my heart goes out to you! My eczema is painful and irritating but having Celiac has to be much worse.
This should not be too difficult, right? Just not eat any gluten or any dairy products…and that is when the fun (?) started.
Yes, it is challenging, and even a little depressing, when you learn that to feel better and be healthier you need to be gluten free. There will be days you would soooo love a conventional pizza from your favorite pizzaria or some southern fried chicken, but the effects of that much gluten are just not worth it. Yes, I strayed and thought I could eat just a little gluten and it wouldn’t be a big deal…so wrong. I wish I could tell you I jumped right in and was gluten free from day one, but that is so not true. There was much trial and some painful errors. I will tell you, being gluten free is challenging. I feel life is all about learning and change, so this is just another chapter to be embraced and enjoyed (yes, enjoyed).
So here are the steps I took to be gluten free:
1. Research what is classified as gluten.
Gluten, according to the Mayo Clinic site I used, is found in many grains, such as barley, rye, tirticale (yeah I didn’t know either) which is a cross between wheat and rye, and the best known WHEAT!
OK so now I know what gluten is, what can I eat?
2. Foods that are GLUTEN FREE:
Think healthy, natural and NOT PROCESSED.
Any food in its most natural state, is going to be the best and most healthy.
Many healthy and delicious foods are naturally gluten-free:
- Beans, seeds, nuts in their natural, unprocessed form
- Fresh eggs
- Fresh meats, fish and poultry (not breaded, batter-coated or marinated)
- Fruits and vegetables
- Most dairy products
***Since I am dairy free, I eat mainly goat and some sheep cheese products***
3. Go through my food pantry, refrigerator and freezer.
I had to give away, donate or discard a LOT of food that I had.
It’s just so easy to have a lot of processed items when you are a working, single mom or a student or anyone who tries to make meal preparation in record time!!
When you start reading labels, you will be amazed, stunned and even upset/MAD/depressed that gluten is in so many products.
4. Go to the local farmers market or grocery store. Buy fresh fruits, produce, fresh meats and eggs; only buy processed items labeled as gluten free. NOTE: there are some foods and condiments out there that are gluten
free and not labeled as gluten free. READ ALL LABELS!!
Being gluten free is not cheap, and when you first shop it is going to take a LONG while on the grocery aisles reading labels, but hang in there: THIS A ONE STEP AT A TIME PROCESS!!
Avoid all food and drinks containing:
- Barley (malt, malt flavoring and malt vinegar are usually made from barley)
- Triticale (a cross between wheat and rye)
5. So what grains are allowed? Again, I went to the Mayo Clinic website and found:
Many grains and starches can be part of a gluten-free diet such as:
- Corn and cornmeal
- Gluten-free flours (rice, soy, corn, potato, bean)
- Hominy (corn)
But make sure to read the labels to determine if they have been milled with other grains not allowed on a gluten free diet. I personally prefer Bob’s Red Mill and Pamela’s Artisan Flour.
- Durum flour
- Graham flour
6. Sooo you must AVOID, NOT LOOK AT, MAYBE GO OVER TO THE NEXT GROCERY AISLE when you see any of these items unless they say GLUTEN FREE!
- Cakes and pies
- Cookies and crackers
- French fries
- Imitation meat or seafood
- Processed luncheon meats
- Salad dressings
- Sauces, including soy sauce
- Seasoned rice mixes
- Seasoned snack foods, such as potato and tortilla chips
- Self-basting poultry
- Soups and soup bases
- Vegetables in sauce
I KNOW the list seems endless, but hang in there, you CAN do this.
Also, check your medications which may use gluten as a binding agent, food additives such as malt and modified food starch and others and the BIGGIE: PLAY DOUGH, yes play dough. I was playing with my nephew and his play dough and the outbreak I had was awful, so no more play dough for me!!
The Mayo Clinic was an excellent source of information when I was new to all things Gluten Free.
WHERE DO I GO FROM HERE?
I know that was a whole lot of information, but so necessary.
For breakfast consider fruit, eggs, steel cut oats, yogurt, smoothies; you can live without toast! I would recommend let your tastebuds and body adjust to no bread before you purchase any gluten free breads. Gluten free flour has a different taste and texture, so the first gluten free bread you buy will probably be a great shock to your tongue (and brain); so not what you were use to eating!!
Snacks, yes I ate snacks.
Again, fruit, rice cakes, raw vegetables, hummus, gluten free crackers, to name a few.
Lunch and supper can be challenging in the beginning.
I ate a lot of roasted vegetables (SOO LOVE these), rice, potatoes, turkey, chicken, salads. The list is endless, you just need to remember THE MORE NATURAL THE BETTER.
Of course boredom and self pity WILL show up, be prepared!!
Look at some of your pre gluten free foods; how can you convert them? I have converted some family favorite casseroles and they are just as good, if not better, then pre gluten free.
You will NOT be deprived and you WILL FEEL SO MUCH BETTER!!
On the days when I try to feel sorry for myself, I just remember life is a journey and this is the path I am on now.
I look at all the good things along this way: feeling better, thinking more clearly, being resourceful and making some new, fantastic journeymen along the way!
This is a one step at a time process.
Remember to laugh, pat yourself on the back for all of your accomplishments and dust off the seat of your pants when you trip up!
As they say, practice makes perfect; THIS will get easier.