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Tiny Mission Gluten-Free Conclusion

“It may be what I am including, rather than what I am excluding that is making the difference.”

I suggested this in my first post about my Tiny Mission turned huge mission and it resonated with a few people.

I have finally completed my two month experiment being gluten-free. (And the first sentence is a spoiler!)

It’s been an exciting journey. Lots of good things have come from it.

I have been battling candida for several months, culminating in prescription antifungals (three weeks into the experiment) and a recommendation for taking probiotics permanently. Just before this, a rather bad flare up manifested itself, lasting for two weeks.

After 60 days gluten-free, the only difference I noticed was a slight reduction in the brain fog, the filmy cloud that hangs over my brain.

At day 40, I was experiencing less bloating, I am not sure whether it was the food, the antifungals or both.

I lost 2 kilograms and put 700 grams back on in the first three weeks. I ended up 1.5 kilograms lighter than when I began – this is my pre baby weight! Yay!

At day 50, after four days of an upset, bloated tummy with immense hunger, I decided to listen to my body when it demanded gluten. I had a little wheat flour over two items, two days apart.

After day 60 I gently began reintroducing most glutenous grains. I am still too scared to try oats again after an intense reaction at week two.

I have had no negative reaction to gluten so far.

I am going to focus now on what I am eating. I will nourish myself in the best way possible and I believe that includes a diet high in vegetables,  fruit,  whole grains, meat and dairy alternatives (for the most part).

Gluten-free goodies
Gluten-free goodies

It was a good experiment, unfortunately gluten wasn’t my magic bullet, but it did help me to examine my eating habits and encourage me to be wary of too much of anything.

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Gluten-Free, How I Did It

You’re exhausted, you’re in a lot of pain and you need whatever fuel you can find in your kitchen. So, it seems an insurmountable task, to go gluten-free.

But there are plenty of blogs, books and websites about being gluten-free.

In my Tiny Mission Gluten-Free Part One, I suggested a few links for further reading. In particular, I have found Elisabeth Hasslebeck’s G-Free books to be super helpful. Her first book, The G-Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide educated me about the different names for glutenous grains and how to be gluten-free. Her second book, a cookbook Deliciously G-Free: Food So Flavorful They’ll Never Believe It’s Gluten-Free outlines many recipes that I will work my way through.

Gluten-Free, Hassle Free: A Simple, Sane, Dietitian-Approved Program for Eating Your Way Back to Health by Marlisa Brown was another useful book.

Long before I considered a gluten-free trial, I fell in love with quinoa and millet. These have been the basis of my cross over.

So here’s a few steps to help you get started:

1 – Fall in love with the non-glutenous grains
Quinoa can replace rice, oats and flour. Millet makes a satisfying porridge. Pay a visit to a bulk foods/organic/health food store and work your way through the options.

2 – Focus on what you can have
Lots of fruit and vegetables, I cram kale, carrot, celery, banana, apple and almond milk into my morning smoothie. There are plenty of recipes out there to replicate those things you just need, like cookies! You are looking for wholefoods. A lot of processed foods have gluten in its various guises snuck in there.

3 – Experiment with recipes of your favourite meal made gluten-free by experienced g-freers
Buy, borrow or print out a book of recipes that you can work through during your experiment.

4 – Clear out your kitchen (removing temptations and putting replacements in)
You may feel terrible with cravings and withdrawals in the first little while, so make sure you have safe treats (like dark chocolate, corn chips etc.).

5 – Jump in.
Don’t beat yourself up if you have a hiccup (I found out, two weeks in, that my chicken stock had a wheat filler!), just carry on. I made up little templates for comparing how I felt before, at two weeks and at conclusion. I also made up a template to log daily food, exercise, rest and symptoms.

Just a little note on my progress: I am four weeks in and feeling pretty good. I don’t tend to crave gluten any longer. I have made some amazing gluten-free meals including a simple batter for chicken tenders that my husband and son enjoyed. After introducing oats for one meal last week and enduring a very upset stomach, I have decided to give it six months (yikes!). Now I am beginning to tighten up what I am eating, I am more prepared with healthy food options (when I was super hungry during the withdrawal phases, I could be found with corn chips and dark chocolate…)!

I’d love to hear your favourite g-free meal ideas and tips?

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Tiny Mission Gluten Free – Part One

Alongside my coQ10 Tiny Mission (which is a long one), I’ve been looking into dietary changes.

I slid, rather than dove, into my gluten free experiment.gfree

After some recurring problems with candida, I had mostly given up bread already (which was most of my gluten battle).

I had circled the gluten free idea for ages. A naturopath suggested I give it up. Research and blogs of fibromyalgia/CFS warriors suggested the same.

Here’s a few links about non-Celiac gluten sensitivity:

Is Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity a Real Thing? 
Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance 
Following a Gluten Free Elimination Diet 
Improving Fibromyalgia Symptoms with Food 

I let a negative celiac test give gluten a stay of execution.

After reading It Starts with Food and deciding a gentler approach to elimination would be wisest, I made plans to go gluten free.

I’m a planner. I will not make a decision that could knowingly increase my pain and fatigue levels, I have a responsibility to my baby and my husband as well as to myself.

So I created a plan, worksheets to track progress and lists of food ideas. A month long trial excluding gluten, initially including oats, would begin on June 1.

As luck would have it, I ended up with a super bad virus on May 30 and experienced such severe fatigue and pain that I got a fright! But I managed to fight through it and get back on track just four days late.

I began the gluten free experiment on June 4.

Let me just say that I had no idea that withdrawal would be so bad!

It felt like I was withdrawing from a heavy addiction. From day one I was ravenous and desperately wanted gluten and sugar (not that I was avoiding sugar any more than moderation). By day three I experienced a detoxifying lot of bowel movements, this continued into day four.

The day four symptoms were probably due, in part, to being exhausted post virus plus being up with a teething baby. However I had a massive headache, sightly diminished hunger pangs and a general blah feeling. Unpicking the general fibromyalgia/CFS threads from the flare up from the viral infection from the gluten withdrawal threads would be impossible.

I was gentle with myself, allowing myself to eat what I liked (without gluten). I found a nice half vegetable, half fruit smoothie was useful in getting me through the morning. I just can’t fill up at breakfast time, so thinking of morning tea as second breakfast helped. I allowed the chocolate craving within reason with some dark chocolate. Fruit, vegetables, our usual meals with quinoa or rice, some gluten free bread, smoothies and nuts and seeds where my staples.

Day five and six were good days! I felt like my head was clearer and my energy levels had risen.

After a week, I thought I was feeling better and a little less fogged. Certainly less upset in my stomach. However, I can’t be sure as 15 days in, I realised that some wheat fillers had snuck into some of the foods I was eating! In addition, as soon as my virus cleared up, my son gave me a lovely mucus-y cold! After three weeks sick and just over two weeks gluten free, I think that it is worth it.

It may be what I am including, rather than what I am excluding that is making the difference, but I am pretty happy with the results. My husband has been amazing, twice he has done the supermarket shop and brought back a whole heap of gluten free products (I was too stingy and ended up struggling for what to eat) but he has joined me with gusto. I have been having more quinoa and millet – both have far more vitamins and minerals than rice or glutenous grains. Breakfast smoothies full of fruit and vegetables have amped up my fruit and vegetable intake. Whole foods are taking centre stage.

Here’s a couple of things I have been reading to help me continue:

The G-Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide 
Hidden Sources of Gluten
Grass Fed Girl blog
Gluten Free on a Shoe String blog

I was going to post my part two after my month and reintroduction was completed. However, I added oats back in for one meal and experienced severe stomach cramps followed by a mini version of the withdrawal process afterward. So I am going to do six months (yikes!). I will update then 🙂