Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Going Gluten Free....
Over the years I have had a myriad of unexplainable health issues. First it was my kidneys, then my pancreas, and then, the dealbreaker... my heart. Of course through all these illnesses, I've had a million blood tests done, ultrasounds, X-Rays, MRI's, EKG's, and I wore a heart monitor for a couple months. It's been so frustrating because no matter what the doctors have done, there has never been a clear answer. Now let me be clear. I'm not blaming my doctors for anything. I completely understand that I am a mystery. And if I were them, I wouldn't have a clue where to start either. I think at times, it's simply easier to just write out a prescription and hope that it helps. Well... my body has a problem with prescriptions and seems to, for whatever reason, reject them or react to them. The worst side effects and reaction were with my heart meds. Oh my word. Talk about feeling like crap.
In an effort to put off getting a pacemaker at age 33, I was given a couple different medications as an attempt to regulate my out-of-this-world heartbeat. Well, the doses were tweaked several times over a 3 month period, and still nothing better. There were days I would walk down the stairs and not be able to find the energy or strength to walk back up the stairs for an hour or so. It got old. A mere eighteen months prior to my heart issues, I was at my lowest weight since high school, I was exercising and running regularly and feeling amazing! I can tell you that stress is part of the problem. No.doubt.in.my.mind. But, there's an underlying problem. One that no one can seem to explain or figure out. Pains that feel like my insides are coming out my toes, headaches, freezing body tremors, water retention, kidney pain, massive heartburn, lack of energy, and of course, a heart that races faster than Secretariat.
In an effort to figure it out once and for all, I decided to keep track of my food intake. I kept a food journal for only one week before noticing an obvious pattern. Every single time I ingested any sort of wheat product was when the symptoms would be stronger. My heartburn would bring me tears and I would have to use an electric heating pad to warm up after taking a pure hot water bath. I'm no doctor, but I figured that it wouldn't hurt to cut wheat out of my diet for a few days and see if I were able to notice a difference.
Honestly... I have never even thought about what foods contain wheat. I've always just cooked and baked and enjoyed it. Well, my my. How my life has changed. People, let me tell you now. Pretty much everything I enjoy eating contains wheat. Sad. Really sad.
At this point I started to research more on a gluten free diet. Now in the past I have researched and even made small attempts at a Paleo lifestyle. It's too extreme for me. If I don't have to go that far for health reasons, I won't. Gluten free is a big enough challenge for me and I need to take this one step at a time. Of course there is always conflicting information from person to person or better yet... website to website. But for the most part, this is what I've come to the conclusion that a person is allowed when on a gluten free diet.
*Vegetables.... lots of them. Not so much corn, carrots, and potatoes for their high starch content. Any root vegetables contain more starch. So it's mainly the green stuff such as lettuce, cucumbers, spinach, celery, peppers, zucchini, etc.
*Fruits... a couple servings a day. Especially if you're wanting to lose weight, keep your fruit intake to just a couple servings a day. Although they're packed with good stuff, they also contain more sugar. This is a touchy subject and it's hard for me to understand. But I'll listen. for now:)
*Meat.. the leaner the better, of course. Chicken, Lean beef, venison, etc. If you eat processed lunch meats, make sure they aren't sweetened, they are just roasted.
*Nuts... raw, the less salt the better. Almonds, Pecans, Walnuts, Cashews, Peanuts... Nut Butters. I can't survive without them.
*Dairy... unless you are lactose intolerant. (as little processing as possible...ex. plain greek yogurt, full fat cheese, etc)
I haven't consumed many dairy products besides cheese for years, as they just tend to give me a nasty bellyache. I have become accustomed to drinking Almond/Coconut milk. Of course, I use it on cereal on occasion and drink it in my chai tea, but that's about it. I was raised on raw cows milk straight from the cow:) I've come to the conclusion, I need to invest in a milk cow. I wish I liked goats milk, as they're cheaper to feed.
*Oils... healthy oils. Coconut oils, Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), Avocado Oil, Grapeseed Oil. I have read that vegetable and canola oils both are much more processed, so to avoid them if at all possible. I, for one, really like coconut oil. I love that it has so many uses and that it is such a healthy oil. I do use EVOO to cook for my family, as they're not real into the coconut flavor.
*Avocados, olives, and other healthy oils are to be enjoyed in moderation.
When I look at it like this, it seems there is so much more that I can eat, but its certainly an adjustment. It has been so well worth the challenge tho. I feel so much better for the most part. As my mom says, you can't expect to feel better overnight as you've taken 34 years to pack all that crap in your body. I am still learning and I'm reading labels all the time. It is all about changing your lifestyle. And after living nearly 35 years eating one way, it's a bit tough to just "switch over". Now, I think the theory that "healthy eating is more expensive" is pretty true. But, oh well.
I need to be clear on one thing. My family still expects all 'normal' foods on the table. So, no worries, I'll still be sharing recipes that aren't gluten free. I'll continue baking and throwing a couple casseroles in the oven here and there. I don't know that the convenience of canned condensed soups will ever be completely absent in my pantry. However, I'm doing my best to not use them unless it's a time emergency.
I ask any of you that are regular Gluten Free Lifestylers, please offer any sort of advice or insight that you may have on this subject. I love to hear how others are coping and what helps them handle the switch....
I'm looking forward to sharing my continuing journey with you all..