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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Cleaning The Cupboards - Going Gluten Free

 Before I started this blog, I had been toying with the idea of going gluten free.  My reasons for the gluten free trial are based on what I've learned about the benefits of removing gluten from one's diet. According to Wikipedia , gluten is a protein found in wheat (including kamut and spelt), barley, rye, malts, triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye) and oats.  Gluten is often used as a food additive to flavor, stabilize or as a thickening agent (dextrin).  Gluten sensitivity can cause symptoms such as weight gain, digestive troubles and fatigue. It can also affect blood chemistry and the treatment of autoimmune disorders. Loads of people swear by it and if it might make my Fibromyalgia easier to live with, I'm more than willing to give it a go. I've been warned by medical professionals that you need to very strict about the complete elimination of gluten from your diet and that it can take from six months to a year to feel the full effects. There's a good article about fibromyalgia and it's connection to gluten sensitivity written by The Gluten Doctors:



"Anecdotally we have witnessed over and over again the resolution of the classic muscle aches and tender points in regard to gluten elimination".






To facilitate my next big step forward, a gluten free diet, I ruthlessly cleaned any and all gluten offenders out of my kitchen. Since I'm already doing low carb, it's not a huge stretch but it will mean giving up and/or replacing certain items.  Here's a list of what got axed:

*regular soy sauce (which I will replace with gluten free soy sauce)
*oat flour (which I already replaced with gluten free oat flour)
*low carb bake mix (which I can replace with a recipe for homemade low carb gluten free bake mix, which I'll be using in future recipes, I'm sure)
*low carb pancake mix
*miso soup
*low carb tortillas
*low carb pita bread
*two kinds of oats, rolled and steel cut

Most of the  un-replaceable items are also processed foods, which I'm trying to cut out completely. Which brings me to the world of whole foods. Wikipedia defines whole foods as: "those that are unprocessed and unrefined, or  processed and refined as little as possible before being consumed" ( I love Wikipedia, don't you?).  It should be very clear to everyone at this point in history that additives, especially chemical additives, are not good for a human being's general health and well being.  It doesn't stop companies that produce food products they claim to be  "health food", in all it's various guises and most people just don't read food labels carefully enough.  I know there are a lot of Low Carb products on the market and most of them are available online. When I started reading the labels I was shocked at how much crap they contained. I can't pronounce half the ingredients and all those chemicals can't be good for you. Since my main goal is to try and be as healthy as possible, I think I have to leave behind prepared foods and get used to making everything from scratch. I don't mind - it's worth the extra work to know exactly what's in my meals.

The other benefit of whole foods is monetary - most unprocessed food tends to be cheaper than processed foods in the end. I realize that organic food tends to cost more and I think that everyone has to decide for themselves how much you can afford to spend on food. So my motto in regards to this is : don't spend more than you can afford. In an ideal world, all the best would be affordable, but it doesn't work that way. For example, if you can't afford organic produce or dairy products that come from animals that are free range, growth hormone free, and are fed based upon their natural diets, don't beat yourself up too much. Same thing for processed foods - sometimes it can't be avoided. Only you can decide what's best for you and your unique situation. So shop, prepare meals and eat as well as you are able. Don't judge yourself too harshly - I'm certainly not going to judge you. It's hard enough to make even the smallest changes in our lifestyles,  so anything you do, no matter how small, it's a gigantic step in the right direction. Be proud of yourself for even thinking about making these adjustments.