Embracing a Gluten-Free Lifestyle

Why Change?

I had plateaued with my weight loss and my body felt absolutely awful. Half the time I felt as if my blood had been poisoned and I was always tired and had to push myself to get moving. Slogging through life.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHow Did I Modify The Virgin Diet?

The Virgin Diet by JJ Virgin didn’t work for me. She doesn’t advocate moderation because if someone has a peanut allergy, the tiniest bit of peanut is still going to be disastrous for them. But I cut what allergen’s I could easily cut (corn, soy, peanuts) and kept the others in strict moderation until I could deal with them separately. I worked in baby steps cutting back on sugar. It took a long time but that’s the way I work – baby steps.

My weight began dropping off again but the more it dropped and the longer I went with moderating and lowering certain allergens, the stronger the side-effects became.

What Did I Discover?

After a time I came to realize that my two main problems were gluten and dairy. When I cut them out of my diet entirely, I felt great.

But it was difficult keeping those two allergen’s out of my diet altogether. Namely because my favorite foods include pizza, beer, and chocolate chip cookies. But every time those foods would make an appearance in my system, I’d suffer through the following:

  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Painful Gas
  • Acne
  • Diarrhea
  • Water Retention
  • Heartburn/Indigestion
  • Feeling of Blood Poisoning

How Have I Taken Out Gluten From My Diet?

A gluten-free diet is not cheap. At all. When people complain that they can’t eat healthy because veggies are so expensive, that’s not far from the truth with gluten-free items.

Now, if you want to take the organic route, it can be cheap enough because contrary to what people say veggies are not that expensive.

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Here’s a list of substitutes that worked in my diet:

  • Peanut Butter –> Almond Butter (MaraNatha)
  • Bread –> Rice Cakes (Quaker)
  • Crackers –> Crackers made of Seeds or Brown Rice (Organic Baked Brown Rice Snaps Unsalted Plain, Van’s, etc)
  • White/Wheat Flour –> Gluten-Free Flour (Arrowhead Mill’s, Chebe, Namaste, etc)
  • Cheese –> Goat Cheese
  • Milk –> Coconut Milk, Almond Milk (Silk)
  • Whey Protein Powder –> Brown Rice, Soy (Plant Fusion, Brown Rice Protein Powder, Soy Protein Powder)

That’s mostly it. What? No cookies?

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Before you ask, yes, there are non-dairy chocolate chips out there. It took a long time but I found them!

What kind of snacks are available other than crackers, veggies, and fruit?

  • Pamela’s cookies
  • Larabars
  • Granola (my fav is Pumpkin Flax Plus Granola from the dispensers…I think it’s organic; careful – some granola has added ickies)
  • Banana Chips (again, I get mine from the dispensers)

Yep. My diet can be very plain. But you can make lots of really yummy things with those substitutes and fruit/veggies.

For example:

  • Rice Cake with Almond Butter, drizzled with Honey – Dessert
  • Rice Cake with Almond Butter, topped with sliced Bananas – Snack/Breakfast
  • Goat Cheese mixed with Fig Jam spread on Brown Rice Snaps (a little goes a long way so keep it light) – Dessert/Snack
  • Chocolate Soy Protein Powder, Banana, Strawberries, Peaches, Spinach, Unsweetened Original Almond Milk blended in a Blender – Breakfast Smoothie

Sounds yummy to me! When I want something really special, I’ll get the baking ingredients and make it myself like I do with pizza:

  • Chebe Pizza Crust Mix (allergen-free except I use real eggs instead of egg substitutes)
  • Montchevre Goat Cheese
  • Tomato Paste (try to spread it light)
  • Spinach
  • Mushrooms
  • Black Olives
  • Pepper, Garlic Powder, Basil

It was absolutely delicious! There was something about either the crust mix or the goat cheese though that didn’t agree with me and made me painfully gassy. My belly was literally inflated to the point of looking 6 months pregnant. I hadn’t tried either kind before so I don’t know which one the culprit was. I don’t remember what kind of pizza crust mix I used before. I’d hate to think it was the goat cheese because it was really yummy. Not too sharp like the previous kind I used.

It’s really disappointing because Chebe was the easiest/quickest pizza crust mix so it didn’t take nearly 2 hours to make like the previous attempt with the other mix. But there are other flours and mixes available so it’s not a big deal.

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This isn’t the first time Chebe has disagreed with me but I thought the other times were from sugar because they were hand pies. I may have to watch my step with them in the future.

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Is it easy keeping gluten out of my diet? Not at all. It seems everywhere I go has mostly gluten products. And when they do have gluten-free food, it’s horribly expensive. I’ve never been more encouraged to eat home in my life. Even going to a friend’s house can be difficult unless they know I avoid certain foods and are considerate enough to cater to that.

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What’s the hardest part of being gluten-free for you?

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About Katie St. John-Shin

I believe in living life and not letting it pass you by. I mean, come on, if you really want to do something but don't have the courage to do it so you let the opportunity disappear, you may regret it for the rest of your life. How can you know what you're capable of unless you go for it? Like every writer, I naturally plan on becoming a world-famous writer. I love reading, writing, fitness, coffee, watching my favorite movies/shows, listening to music, and trying new things even if they're sometimes terrifying. I'm a stay-at-home mom, a writer, and a POP Pilates instructor. I didn't think I'd succeed at that last one but I did it! I confronted my fears, dealt with things I didn't want to deal with, and completed the training! POP Pilates classes are coming soon to mid-Nebraska!

Posted on April 16, 2014, in Personal and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. My boyfriend’s sister is GF and I’ve baked/cooked more gf stuff for her. Love the cookie recipe! Will have to try! Thanks for this post!!! 🙂

  2. You’re welcome! You’re so nice to go out of your way to make GF food for her! So many people won’t and just stop eating with me altogether because they think it’s too much of a hassle.

  3. Yay! Thanks for the post. 😀 I’m gradually convincing myself to try going GF, to the point I *almost* bought GF flour yesterday. Except spending $11 on what is essentially half a bag of flour was way out of my price range. So you’re not kidding about it being expensive. Sheesh!

    • Yeah, baking is a HUGE indulgence these days. Most days my meals consist of smoothies, oatmeal (I turn it into a very filling indulgence), egg “sandwiches,” salads, fish, and rice. Sometimes I’ll stick some Korean soup in there but it’s not often. I find ways to keep our grocery bills down. It helps that we have a set cash allowance for it so it’s either cut most of the treats and don’t overeat or face the wrath and tears of a very hungry family. Oddly enough I’ve never had difficulty in cutting the treats down. 😉 Hungry, miserable husband is bad enough. Hungry, miserable 4-year-old? Yeeeeaaaah…No. Definitely not.

  4. Wow. I can’t believe you posted this back in APRIL. How has that much time passed already???

    Anyway, I just found out I have to cut out milk and everything made with yeast for at least three months (and possibly forever). Also a bunch of other things like nuts and oregano and barley and…all kinds of things I can’t remember right now, but they’re not so tough. I can’t do almond milk/butter because of the nuts thing, and I can’t do soy because of my thyroid. I dislike the taste of coconut; does coconut milk taste like one would assume? I’ll probably just have to get used to goat everything…

    The doc also suggested I go gluten-free, just until my gut heals…but I think I’ll just go gluten-low until we have a second source of income. I can’t afford all the flour and blah blah blahs right now. Same with healthy substitutes in general.

    This post is going to be very helpful. Thanks again for posting it!

    • I’ve been told that keeping the gluten light is just as bad as not being gluten-free at all because the gluten is in your system no matter how little you eat. I’m sure that’s true but every kind of food will affect people differently. A morning bun usually has almost non-existent effects on me while a cinnamon roll from the supermarket I’ve found will blow me up like a balloon. Yeah, that was a fun night. A bit painful but mostly I was just glad my hubby and son were the only ones around to hear my burp and fart up a storm all night long. I feel kinda like Leonard from Big Bang Theory. He gets the toots whenever he eats/drink dairy. Not that they ever show it but they’re always making jokes.

      If you can’t have nuts of any kind or soy and you don’t like coconut (hate it myself), I’ve heard of sunflower milk. I’ve never seen it, but I read about it in a magazine. It’s probably hella expensive though. Yes, coconut milk tastes like coconuts. I don’t know what your sugar intake is supposed to be like but you can get a chocolate or vanilla protein powder to disguise the taste of the coconut milk. That’s what I always did because I can’t stand coconut. Nastiest taste. blech! Why does everyone like coconut?? Cucumbers too. 2 worst tastes in all of nature! I’m sure I can find worse but right now they’re at the top of my list. Oh yeah. And kale. And actually I’d eat cucumbers and coconut before touching kale again so I guess that’s the worst for me.

      Good luck with your diet! You should know tons more about it than I do because you actually studied dietary…stuff whereas I pick it up as I go along. I’m sure you’ll be able to find things that you can eat and drink. It’ll just be difficult at first. 🙂

      • Thanks! I agree – there will be tons I can eat…it’s just a matter of finding them. And surviving long enough to do so. 😉

        Really, the harder part is finding things the hubby is okay with. It’s actually driving him more crazy than it’s driving me, because he doesn’t want to eat anything I can’t have. He’s nice like that (now if only we could make “candy from work” and “soda pop” fit into the same category…).

        Ugh. Kale is NASTY. People keep telling me to try kale chips because they’re super nutritious, salty, and crunchy, but ewwwwwww! I actually don’t know if I hate coconut because of the flavor and the texture, or just the texture. So maybe I can learn to enjoy coconut milk… :/ That sounds like it might be my only option.

        For protein powder, I don’t know if there’s a kind of protein powder I can have. I can’t do soy and I can’t do whey…I think I’ve heard of a kind made from eggs, but I’ve never seen it. And I imagine it would be crazy pricey.

        I’ve also heard that about gluten. 😉 I’m not gluten-sensitive, though, so I don’t know if quantity makes a difference or not. Gluten-sensitive people get eaten up by it no matter how much is involved, but I don’t know if that’s the same just on its own or not. :/ My doc seemed to think it’s bad enough to try to go free. But then I lose pasta and I have no more of my staple foods left. So…I might do it once I’ve gotten used to eating in a totally different way, but I’m keeping my pasta for now.

        It looks like I’m going to end up on an essentially Paleo diet, and that pisses me off. Not because I have anything about the dietary goals of the diet, just because it’s totally not actually reflective of a true paleolithic diet. They’re using pseudo-anthropology and making it sound scientifically authentic when it’s not, and that makes me angry. Plus, I just don’t like meat as much as it would need me to. 🙂 But I’m all for loading up on fresh fruits and veggies…so long as my bank account can handle it…

      • Lol You can always think of it in terms of a heakthy diet instead of calling it a Paleo diet. I was pretty good about doing something like a Paleo diet but now I’m all over the place and suffering greatly for it. I really need to get back to what I was eating in the fall.

        There’s brown rice protein powder that’s not expensive. It’s about $10 at Fred Meyer’s. That’s not in CO but it does Kroger like King Soopers. I’m going to grocery shopping tomorrow so I can actually eat at my parents’ house so I’ll take a look when I go. I miss my shakes, have gotten so lazy with them after discovering oatmeal. Hey! There’s something you can eat! Oatmeal! I put granola, cinnamon, salt, almond milk, and honey in mine. My granola has a mixture of pumpkin seeds, flax, etc in it. So delicious! It’s not steel cut oats like is mainly recommended but they’re old-fashioned oats. Takes about 2.5 minutes to nuke.

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