Friday, May 17, 2013

Going Gluten Free

I’ve never been one to follow fad diets. I am firmly convinced that you should eat what you enjoy and enjoy what you eat. The problem with this philosophy is that I enjoy chips and chocolate and pasta way too much. For a while there I was dining on KD more often than could possibly be good for anybody. I’m not much into cooking and I don’t have an adventurous palate at the best of times, so quick and easy is my typical kitchen MO.

I have this daughter, though, who decided to cut gluten from her and her children’s diet (along with most dairy and sugar). Her enthusiasm for healthy eating was, I admit, resisted on my part, even though I saw the positive results she was getting. All the hype about gluten actually irritated me (not from my daughter, but in general) and I rolled my eyes at many people who seemed to be lapping it up. Then the popular Wheat Belly book started making the rounds. As a librarian, it is difficult not to be exposed to these trends and, while I usually smile and nod around gritted teeth when patron demand guides my acquisition budget to them, I will, on occasion, check out (literally) these books to see what all the hype is about.

More and more, people were telling me about their personal experiences with going gluten free. In the past year or so I think I’ve seen several hundred pounds disappear from the bellies of people who espouse the gluten-free life style. I use life-style rather than just diet, because that’s what it is!

A few weeks ago, after only the first few chapters of Wheat Belly, I decided to give it a try. Life without pasta was going to be a challenge, but I persevered. Rice pasta, rice and potatoes are now opening up a whole new world of eating experience for me.

I really missed my peanut butter and jam sandwiches, too. No bread = no toast, no eggs Benedict, no creamed tuna on toast, no grilled cheese sandwiches, no garlic toast, no croutons. Bah! How do people live like this?!

Well, I guess they get creative. And that’s what I’m doing. Gluten-free pancakes work perfectly for sandwiches, eggs Benedict and creamed tuna. Not so much for grilled cheese or garlic toast or croutons, but hey! life’s full of little trade-offs.

I was also dismayed, after recently discovering the wonders of spanakopita, to discover that gluten-free phyllo pastry is non-existent. What? No spanakopita? Unacceptable!

Enter Google and the unearthing of a simple recipe for gluten-free pastry suitable for spanakopita pie.

Enter, also, DebiLyn Smith, author of Running From Cancer: a Tilted Memoir, for Sinless Chocolate Macaroons (page 209). These little treats are amazingly delightful in spite of the fact that they contain no sugar and no flour at all. (Running from Cancer is available at in paperback and Kindle editions, but not on yet.)

And enter as well, my health nut daughter, who recently visited me for a week and showed me just how tasty the GF world of cuisine can be.

In just three weeks I’ve lost 7 pounds. I feel more alert and I sleep better. I have a noticeable rise in energy. And I’m not constantly hungry!

I can still enjoy chips and chocolate. But I don’t feel compelled to wolf down a whole chocolate bar or hoover back an entire bag of chips; a couple of bites and I save the rest for later. (Apparently GF saves money and cuts down on garbage, too!) I find myself more inclined to reach for a piece of fruit or some veggies and dip than junk food. And passing up powdered donuts and mini cupcakes is way easier than I thought it would be.

Hot dogs and hamburgers without the bun are not so bad. I have to eat them with a fork instead of my hands, but I can live with that.

I am amazed, having become a label-reader, how much wheat there is in the food we buy. It’s everywhere, in everything. And, I’ve discovered, it’s addictive. Polypeptides produced in the digestion process actually penetrate the blood/brain barrier and interact with opiate receptors in the brain, giving a mild high and causing – sometimes sever – withdrawal symptoms. Wow! That’s crazy! All because wheat has been so genetically modified to increase yield over the past 60 years or so that it is, in effect, a drug. I won’t get into the economic realities that go along with that. Suffice it to say that it’s one of those little details that food manufacturers and government licensing bodies don’t want consumers to know. (I do love a good conspiracy theory!)

Anyway, I’m off now to enjoy a bowl of porridge and some fruit… yes, an orange sounds yummy. And later spanakopita pie and Sinless Chocolate macaroon baking will be in order. Curry rice noodles, anyone?

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm....I thought there was gluten in most grains, including oats, as well as in potatoes. But if cutting back on the carbs is working, good for you! We're doing the same kind of thing - eating Wasa crackers instead of bread, mashing cauliflower instead of potatoes. Do you know that you can put PB&J on rice crackers?? Keep up the good work - good to hear you're feeling good with this life-style change.


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