Cutting out gluten
I am really pleased that I wrote this diary as it has made me really think through the changes I want to make and practice some of the things that will help me continue long term.
I think for anyone who might decide that they want to cut out, or cut down their gluten intake it is important to manage expectations. I am overjoyed that the flatbread recipe worked and I enjoyed them but they do not taste as good as the original ones. None of the bread I have tried so far has been as good as wheat bread. However it is decent so I can eat it and enjoy it and also enjoy feeling well.
If I eat bread with gluten it makes me sluggish and I only knew that when I cut it out. Once I re-introduced it into my diet, it took a few months but it started to affect me negatively again. There is a trade off here between having exactly what I want to eat and being healthy and for me staying gluten free is the obvious choice.
I know that I cope with change very well, even thrive on it, so this will become my new norm very quickly. Changing habits takes time and the right attitude so it is not good for me to dwell on the differences and get annoyed when things are not the same. Food is going to be different from now on and I intend to enjoy it, there will be things which are better and things which I sometimes miss.
I noticed over the week that when I spoke to people about taking gluten out of my diet they often responded in a patronising way, sometimes like they pitied me. People said things like “oh, how boring for you to have to eat like that, poor you” and when I said it is a choice they became bemused. I found this annoying at first but I guess it is understandable as wheat products form the basis of most people’s diets. Now that I know that this decision is not going to ruin my enjoyment of food and in some cases will enhance it I am so glad I have done it.
Gluten Free Recipes
I tried a bunch of different recipes over the week to seek alternatives to things I eat regularly. There have been more successes than failures and I am more impressed with the successes than I thought I would be. The flatbreads, banana bread, crumble, sunflower and pumpkin bread and the pancakes were the highlights. The pastry was a disaster but I will try out different recipes and I am sure I will find a decent one, I have only just started.
However, eating starches and grains in large amounts whether they contain wheat or not is not good for any of us. I am going to eat food which contains gluten as an occasional treat but I am not just going to eat loads of gluten free trash instead. I will eat more fresh fruit and vegetables and less sugar. In the end we have to decide our priorities and health is an important one.
After one week gluten free I feel well and have lost a few pounds. I reckon if I had not been writing this diary I would have lost more weight and feel even better but I wanted to pack as many recipes and experiments in as I could. This meant I ate a lot and did not do as much exercise as I normally do. Next week I will be eating a lot of salad and no cakes. My sister just rang to ask what sort of cake I want for my birthday and I begged her not to make one, I can’t believe I don’t want cake and neither could she.
I will post a blog in a few weeks with some updates and some of the best recipes I have tried and developed. I am going to try a number of things to improve my flatbread recipe and then will post the best one.
They are tons of great websites to find all sorts of information about gluten free cooking and living. I owe a massive thanks to other bloggers who have spent years learning about this stuff and developing their recipes, there are some amazing, inspiring stories. I have particularly enjoyed and learned from the following blogs and websites. I would also like to thank the people who have read this diary and particularly those who have sent me advice and recipes. I will try them all one day.
Gluten Free Girl and the Chef has great recipes and loads of technical advice about how to bake great gluten free products
Yammie’s Glutenfreedom has great recipes and lovely photos (I am a sucker for those)
Forgiving Martha has a really interesting range of creative recipes
Gluten Free Goddess has taught me loads
Coeliac UK is a great place to get information about what to eat and which foods are safe to buy if you think you might have a wheat intolerance
Wheat and health
Last night a friend sent me a link to this radio interview with Dr William Davis, author of Wheat Belly. I found it fascinating and alarming. He talks about his experiences as a doctor helping people with heart disease and how he accidentally came to learn just how destructive wheat is to our bodies.
He noticed that eighty percent of his patients had high blood sugar and wondered if this was affecting their heart condition and so he asked them to try cutting out wheat from their diets. This is because wheat raises our blood sugar faster than actual sugar. He says in the interview that two slices of wholewheat bread raise blood sugar more than six teaspoons of sugar. His patients began to notice improvements in many aspects of their health and found they had drastic weight loss, fewer migraines, relief from arthritis, diabetes, joint pain and a myriad of other problems.
One of the most alarming things he has discovered is that wheat probably acts as an appetite stimulant. When Americans started eating wheat in large quantities in the 80s their overall consumption of calories increased rapidly.
I found this interview full of incredible information and hope that more people come to learn of Davis’ work. He has a blog called wheatbellyblog.com which is full of stories of people who gave up wheat and found it improved their health in many ways.
I found this interview and the subsequent reading I have done has re-affirmed my determination to cut out the wheat. I never imagined the affects on health could be so broad and so serious. Choosing to make healthy changes does not mean we all have to become joyless bores so I am going to shut up now. However I can say from personal experience that illness is pretty boring.