Jan 24, 2011

My Gluten-Free Adventure

I have a love affair with gluten products: toasty bagels, tasty crumpets, little bundles of mini-wheats are part of what gets me out of bed in the morning.

That's why I cringed when my Internal Medicine Specialist suggested that I try a gluten-free diet. While my blood tests did not indicate Celiac, my physician told me that many of her patients improve on a gluten-free diet, even if their blood tests are negative for the antibodies.

After fighting the idea of a diet overhaul over Christmas (who wants to miss out on cookies! pies! christmas pudding!), I decided last week that it was time to take the suggestion seriously.

I started off at the grocery store. We are fortunate to have a large store nearby that carries a large line of gluten-free products. Along with a mountain of fruits and vegetables, I bought "replacements" for all of the carbs I might miss:

- gluten free bagels
- gluten free crumpets
- gluten free bread
- gluten free pizza
- gluten free brownie mix
- gluten free frozen entrees

There! That wasn't too hard. Until I hit the checkout. My usual mid-week shop for fruit and bread comes to around $50, this week, my bill was $135!

But I'm determined, so I marched my groceries home and prepared to implement my new plan. I was about to put my $6.00 gluten free bread in the toaster when I came across a website telling me that I would risk contamination if I didn't get a toaster of my own. Okayyy, that's a little much, but I'm game. I dutifully wrapped my bread in tin foil and put it in the toaster oven, hoping that no gluten molecules would find their way into my foil packet of rice-flour goodness.

Next was the peanut butter issue. Apparently the gluten-free person cannot share a jar of PB with a gluten-eater in the house either. Alrighty then, good thing there is an extra jar in the cupboard!

My first bowl of gluten free cereal had the distinct aftertaste of sushi - not my idea of the "honey" flavour promised on the package. This might take a while to get used to...maybe after a while I'll forget how good my morning mini-wheats used to taste.

I am now five days into this diet today and - kind of - starting to get into the groove. Now I'm looking for more affordable ways to eat. This means that I am going to have to learn how to cook. My mother will be so proud.

I'm also amazed by how many products contain gluten. Makeup, juice, sauces, yogurt; you name it and it likely has gluten in it. There are whole websites devoted to naming the offending products.

Time will tell if this massive life change will improve my health; but hey, nothing else has worked so far, so - other than bread, cereal, and most everything else that I like to eat - what have I got to lose?


  1. GF is expensive! I fail to see why it's necessary to have separate jars of PB, as long as clean knives are used and there's no double-dipping.
    Good luck! I hope you find that it's helpful.

  2. I use almond flour to make muffins and I don't use any gluten free bread products--that keeps the price down. I eat more meat, veggies and small amounts of fruit. No cereal or bagels.

    But it's a whole different way of eating that takes time to evolve. It's a process.


  3. Do you have a Trader Joe's near where you live? If TJ carries a GF version of something, it's WAY cheaper than at the regular grocery stores. I gagged on the GF waffles they carry, but even though I'm no longer GF, I'm still buying their GF pancakes, which my 6-year-old claims are tastier than my husband's scratch pancakes. :-)

    I haven't been reading long enough to know how much you cook, but anything you can make yourself is bound to taste better than any prepared GF foods you can buy at the store. Or mixes.

    My GF trial had an interesting result -- I discovered that if I'm not eating gluten, my system can suddenly tolerate dairy WAY more than it can when I'm eating gluten. Weird, eh?

    For me, I mostly stopped eating most substitutes. Especially early on, I couldn't get past the weird flavors. For me, the hardest thing was finding something I liked to eat for breakfast. I was a bagel or toast eater for so long, it was a really hard transition. Once I got past having to have something I considered "breakfast food" for breakfast, life got a lot simpler. :-)

    I never stopped missing bread, though.

    How's the GF thing going for you?

  4. @ Aviva
    Actually, I'm glad you asked how it's going, as it has been about a month now since I started my GF program..I notice absolutely NO DIFFERENCE in the way I feel at all.

    Sadly, I am still as fatigued, migraines, congested and sleepy as ever. So, I suppose either I am a) not gluten-sensitive; or b) need much longer to see improvement. However, I have lost about 6 pounds the past month, so I suppose that it nothing to sneeze at!

    DH and I do not cook AT ALL. We only put an oven in our kitchen when our house was being built because we knew we would need one for resale value.

    What I have found since I started is that I am paying much closer attention to the foods I'm eating. I am reading the labels more carefully and being mindful of what I put into my body. Yes, this means cooking. Tonight I had broiled salmon with sweet potato and salad - with a big bowl of fresh strawberries for dessert. It was heavenly.

    Breakfast would have done me in too, except that the first week I started, I found these amazing corn english muffins. Topped with peanut butter and my morning Starbucks...heavenly.

    I've also been learning to bake. I'm already on my third GF brownie recipe. Today a package arrived by courier. It was a large, heavy box. On the side, it read: BREADMAKER. I think that this might be my Valentine's Day gift (as DH is away). I told him how much I missed bread, but I definitely didn't expect a breadmaker! I have never made bread in my life. Oh well...change is good, right?

    We really do need two jars of PB in our house. If you put a knife in to spread the PB on a slice of toast, and then put it back in for another slice of toast, the PB is now contaminated with gluten. Does this really, really matter? No idea. I'm just doing anything I can to try getting well.

    You have the self control of a black-belt! I simply could not give up on my carbs. I don't eat any chicken, beef or pork, so I'm mostly limited to seafood in my diet. It is taking some getting used to, but I'm enjoying it so far. We have not tried dining out yet. That worries me. We love Harvey's Veg Burgers and Quizzno's Veg subs.

    ...starting to get a little hungry as a write...

  5. Hi there,

    You might want to get a test done with Enterolab for gluten sensitivity and also an ELISA blood test for allergies. In my case, after eliminating gluten and dairy I found out there were other masked allergy reactions going on. At first I assumed that since I wasn't completely well after going gluten free that I could go back to eating gluten, but I was SO WRONG! I have finally come to terms that I need to stay gluten-free as well as dairy-free.

    Corn is the latest thing I am testing, and I feel SO tired after ingesting it. It is quite common to have multiple food sensitivities - just check out the forums at celiac.com and you will see that you are not alone!

    I hope you feel better:)