Friday, May 20, 2016

Chop, chop!

Bruno's Ristorante (across the street from my home) offers
Whole30 compliant dishes--beautifully presented! Lucky me!

After nearly three weeks on the Whole30, here are a few observations: In general, the diet isn’t really too difficult. For me, dairy has been the most daunting sacrifice. (I sure do love me some cheese—and sour cream. Yeah, and yogurt. Well, and of course, ice cream.) I don’t miss grains much at all, and I haven’t had the sugar cravings I was expecting.

Furthermore, my gut issues seem to be improving—except for when I go overboard on the salads and spinach, which can cause a quick trip to the restroom. I don’t feel nearly as bloated and uncomfortable as I did before I started—and my jeans aren’t quite as tight as they were. (No more lying down on the bed to pull them on!) I can’t really say whether or not I’ve lost weight, because, according to the rules, I’m not supposed to weigh myself while on the diet.

Another thing I’ve noticed about this diet is that I’m never hungry between meals, which is not normal for me. I’m usually hungry all the time. Additionally, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how energetic I’ve felt nearly the entire time. I have continued to run/walk (Galloway style) at least every other day while I’ve been on the diet without additional struggle.

Time-consuming, but worth the effort!
Drawbacks to the Whole30 include the amount of time it takes to prepare meals, especially cleaning and chopping all those vegetables. But I’ve found that roasting just about any vegetable is easy and doesn’t require a lot of cleanup. I’ve also found that if I set aside a block of time—say 3-4 hours once or twice during the week—I can do a lot of the preparation in advance. It also cuts down on time to prepare double or triple the amount of vegetables I will eat at one meal, so that I have leftovers to use at future meals.

Another drawback to Whole30 is eating out. Many restaurants are very accommodating, however, and I can always order a salad, minus the croutons and the cheese, and either dress it with vinegar and oil or take along my own homemade salad dressing (which no one yet has seemed to mind).

While most people who try the Whole30 don’t have celiac disease, it’s a good diet to determine if the food you are eating is keeping you from optimal health. It has encouraged me to eat more mindfully and to improve my eating habits. I’ll report on my 30-day results in 10 more days, but in the meantime, you’ll find me in my kitchen chopping away.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Keeping it simple

A turkey and cheddar panini on gluten-free
bread can't be beat for a quick and easy lunch!
Not long after I was diagnosed with celiac disease, a friend said to me, “Oh, I’d die if I couldn’t have bread!” But celiac disease is not a death sentence. Trust me, you can live without wheat, barley and rye and the foods that contain them.

While it isn’t always easy, and you will definitely miss many of your favorite foods, eating completely gluten-free is very doable—and, if you give yourself time to learn a few new skills (like reading food labels and roasting vegetables, for example) and to acquire a few new tastes, you might even find that you are eating much healthier on your gluten-free diet than you were before your diagnosis.

Chicken salad with fruit and cheese is
also a simple favorite!
If eating gluten-free seems overwhelming to you at first, follow my best tip: Figure out a couple of simple meals that you can always enjoy for breakfast and a couple that you can always enjoy for lunch. Then keep those items on hand at all times. My go-to breakfasts are yogurt and applesauce, gluten-free oatmeal, or bacon and eggs with a side of fruit. My lunch favorites are turkey and cheddar paninis (on gluten-free bread, of course), chicken salad (made with my own home-made mayo), or a green salad with my favorite toppings (avocado, tomato, cheese, boiled egg and gluten-free dressing). I eat these nearly every single day.

Having your breakfast and lunch “fixings” already available simplifies your day and gives you more time to research interesting dinner recipes, collect the necessary ingredients, and prepare your evening meal, where variety is more important and (hopefully) time is more plentiful.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Standing on my head

Can I make it for 30 days?
Throughout my journey with celiac disease, I’ve been my own guinea pig, testing the effects of coffee or corn products, for example, to see if they bring on celiac symptoms, which I frequently “enjoy,” even though I believe my diet is completely gluten-free. Currently I’m trying out the Whole30 diet, giving up all grains, dairy, sugar, and alcohol for 30 days—the month of May—to determine whether or not I am sensitive to foods other than wheat, barley and rye. As my dad used to say when I was facing a particularly difficult period of time, “Hell, Linda, you can stand on your head for 30 (or whatever the number) days.”

I’ve thought about trying this diet before, but I couldn’t work up the resolve to stick with it—or even to start, really. But last week, after having some mysterious celiac symptoms, I dusted off my copy of It Starts with Food by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig and reread the entire book. I also ordered The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom (also by Melissa Hartwig). While this plan may seem a bit extreme, I’m certain that “clean eating” is healthier than my current modus operandi, and hopefully I’ll make some helpful discoveries. If I seem a little grouchier than usual during the next 30 days, therefore, you’ll know that I’m missing the cream and sugar in my morning coffee—and I’m probably getting a little tired of standing on my head.