Why Going Gluten Free isn’t as Bad as you Think

Why Going Gluten Free isn’t as Bad as you Think

Go gluten free?  No bread, bagels, pasta, pizza, cake or cookies?  Are you crazy????

 

I know.  That is exactly what I used to think.  But as I wrote last week, the decision was made for me.  As soon as I understood that my autoimmune disease had been caused by gluten, there was no question—I went cold turkey immediately.  As I detailed here, my Sjogren’s is now all but gone and gluten will never be part of my diet again.

 

So how did I do it?  At the beginning I simply stayed away from no-no foods.  There were still starches that were ok—rice, potatoes, quinoa and millet.  I also ate lots of protein, nuts, fruits and veggies.  It was a bit boring, but manageable.

 

My first aha from being gluten free was mind blowing.  I have always struggled with food and cravings.  Staying fit, for me, was 100% about discipline.  If I let my guard down, if I ate whatever I wanted or followed my hunger signals I gained weight.  Period.  My body and I were in a battle that was fought on a daily basis.  Even though I often “won”—it was a struggle and something that took up major time and energy.

 

The huge surprise I got when I went gluten free is that my cravings stopped.  When I took the wheat and sugar out of my diet, my blood sugar must have stabilized.  It was like a miracle.  Suddenly I was not hungry all the time.  I became “normal”–I would get hungry, eat a meal or snack and then go about my day—instead of constantly craving “something”.  As I said, it blew me away.

 

While I have not lost weight in the past six months, for the first time ever, I have effortlessly kept my weight stable.  I no longer weigh myself everyday or feel that food is the boss of me.  The guilt I used to feel for not being able to “control myself” is completely gone.  Good riddance!!

 

While gluten free has become big business for food companies, please beware.  Many of the gluten free options are just as over processed and nutritionally void as their gluten filled neighbors in the grocery store.  Please don’t be fooled by fancy marketing.  You still want to steer towards whole, real food.

 

That being said, the alternatives I have found have been a pleasant surprise.  Buckwheat pasta is my favorite.  You must be sure to get 100% buckwheat, but despite its name, there is no wheat in buckwheat.  Cooking buckwheat takes a little bit more love. You need to stir often while it cooks and rinse the noodles after they come off the stove—but it’s worth it.  They completely fulfill any desire you may have for pasta.  You can top them however you like and are equally good made with Asian or Italian flare.

 

We also keep brown rice and quinoa pasta in the house.  They both cook up the same as flour pasta and are surprisingly good stand ins.  For bread, we choose Udi’s brown rice bread.  When nothing but a sandwich will do, this bread does the trick.  It tastes best toasted.

 

The flours that now stock my pantry are almond flour, coconut flour and buckwheat flour.  I also have gluten free flour for recipes that call for small amounts.  Where I used to coat chicken or fish with breadcrumbs, I now use almond flour.  It adds a slight nutty taste and cooks up light and crunchy.

 

For breakfast, I have altered a South Beach Diet recipe for pancakes.  If you mix ½ cup gluten free oats, ½ cup cottage cheese, 2 eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla in your food processor, you will have a delicious pancake batter that cooks up the same way you are used to.  Despite having more texture than regular pancakes, my family gobbles them up.  Try them—you will be shocked.

 

Buckwheat crepes are also a huge hit.  We make them both sweet and savory.  Delicious.  You can find the crepe recipe here.

 

There are tons of gluten free meals and desserts that you can find online—specifically on Pinterest and Mind Body Green.  We have made a few cookie recipes, but none that are good enough to share.  We will keep trying.

 

Eating out is easier than you think.  Many restaurants now have gluten free menus.  For those that don’t, salads, sans croutons, are usually a safe bet.  You can find a protein source with a side of veggies almost anywhere you eat—just make sure nothing is coated with flour or breadcrumbs.  If you go to a burger place—order yours over greens.  You won’t even miss the bun!

 

No longer suffering from my autoimmune disease is all the motivation I need to stay gluten free.  Keeping my weight stable and no longer feeling controlled by constant sweet and salty cravings has been an added bonus.

 

Would your health be better if you cut gluten?  Do you have some great recipes that keep you gluten free and happy?  Please comment below.

 

 

 

 Picture courtesy of my eleven year old daughter, Sydney–who is also gluten free.

 
 
 

13 Responses to Why Going Gluten Free isn’t as Bad as you Think

  1. This is super-interesting and very motivating. Thanks, Lorna!

  2. Silvia says:

    Lorna, You got it girl! It’s usually when you try and recreate a wheat product like pasta and pizza using all purpose GF flour that the results are disappointing.

    I love soba noodles, made from buckwheat, filling and tasty and Asian rice noodles that are perfect with so many sauteed sauces. On the other hand I don’t care for the texture or taste of brown rice pasta or pasta made from corn. I have to order some buckwheat flour so I can try making fresh pasta with that.

    I’ve been on a cooking marathon this week for a GF menu that I’ll be offering and I’ve made some amazing GF dishes. I just made crepes with white rice flour and they came out delicious and GF bread crumbs and croutons. Next up is GF chicken pot pie!

  3. lornagager.com says:

    Yum!!! What a perfect time of year for chicken pot pie. My mouth is watering.

    I definitely need to try the rice noodles–I love angel hair pasta, those will be a great stand in.

  4. Krista says:

    Lorna, this is so helpful. Thanks for sharing your questions and learnings through this process! Your journey is inspiring! :) xo

  5. Nathalie says:

    Hi Lorna, This is such a great article, thank you! I do use a little gluten in my diet (no wheat though) and am perfectly happy with how I feel, but I know there are so many people out there who simply cannot handle gluten and have no idea. I always encourage people to just try and eat as much simple and real food as possible and see what happens. The results they get are often as mind-blowing as yours and, once they are used to feeling GREAT, they give up all the junk easily. :-)

  6. lornagager.com says:

    Nathalie I think that is so true. When people realize how great it makes them feel when they cut out gluten (or junk food) they never look back. It is often so much easier than people think it will be. Thanks for your comment.

  7. Cathy says:

    Hi Lorna,here is what works at home: quinoa, brown rice and millet as grain,I use them on their own or mix them,cook them as risotto-type dish with lots of veg,pulses,..etc.A simple version of the Paella is our favorite.I also often cook Indian food (without the naan!).Simple sweet potatoes wedges with roasted chicken are a big hit.I love buckwheat pancakes and make them using only buckwheat flour,a bit of salt and water.I then use them as wrap or fill them with a pizza-like filling and under the grill for a few minutes.Any leftover pancakes are eaten for breakfast with almond butter.I added pumpkin seeds to the batter yesterday and it was lovely.I have tried a few of Dr Blums recipes and they are really great.I baked her almond muffins and they were a real treat.It is sometimes tricky but with a bit of organization it works and I feel so much better for it that I don’t think I’ll ever go back to gluten!

  8. Cathy says:

    Oh I almost forgot, Nigella Lawson olive oil and chocolate cake is to die for! and really easy to make too! :)

  9. I came back to this article to make my food shopping list! I’m going to try your pancakss. Thanks!

  10. Will definitely try your pancake recipe. Thanks! My whole family (me, hubby, kids) live gluten- and sugarfree since last summer. I have to say, it was not particularly easy and we are still trying to find our way. :-) But the benefits are mind-blowing. Seriously, to me it is like a miracle what food can do. I would have never believed what is possible just by changing your diet. I have to say though that here in Germany eating out is pretty much not an option. :-( Most food places have no idea what glutenfree means, so even if you order things that are glutenfree, cross-contamination could be a problem. And just like you stated above – the gluten-free products you can buy (which are readily available) are just as processed and full of sugars and other not-so-healthy things that you really want to stay away from them. But I guess things will pick up in the future … and hopefully in a few years to come people will be more aware of gluten here in Germany as well. :-)

    Oh, and I LOVE to bake. I took a long break when we went gluten-free. But now for Christmas I have been experimenting a bit with old recipes I had … Thinking of sharing a cookies recipe on my blog before Christmas. :-)

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