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My journey to living Gluten and Dairy Free

As some of you may know from my Facebook post last night, I have just been diagnosed with gluten intolerance.  Before you understand the significance of this discovery, let me back up a bit.  In 2008 I was diagnosed with Infectious mononucleosis, or for short Mono.  It took my body a good six months to slowly recover and after that my health really began to deteriorate (I developed Shingles in 2004 but that's another story).  Also in 2008 I was diagnosed with sleep disordered breathing (Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome) and was put on CPAP.  From 2010 through 2011 I had become sick almost continuously for roughly fifteen months straight.  From upper respiratory infections to bronchitis to the flu to the common cold I was busy trying to get "healthy" every day.  I wanted to work out and was committed to getting my muscles back (mind you that I competed in track and field all four years of college) and tried multiple times to get into a new habit and routine.  Every time I tried however, I would become sick again.  On a daily basis I felt fatigued, nauseous and battled an upset stomach and diarrhea.  Often I missed my period and thought numerous times that I was pregnant.  At one point I was so ill that I had to be driven to the emergency room in the middle of my work day.  My resting heart rate was sky high, I was dizzy, lethargic, nauseated, fatigued and had a high fever.  Sometime during the next week or so during a doctor follow up, I was diagnosed with severe Asthma and Anemia.  Immediately I was placed on multiple medications including two inhalers.

After trying the medications and inhalers for about one month I decided that I wanted to take a different and more natural approach in addressing my overall health.  The medications didn't seem to be of any noticeable benefit to me and they caused nasty side effects.  Instead of accepting a "bandaid" approach to my health I wanted to be proactive and address the underlying problem(s) in order to find a solution.  So, I informed my Physician's Assistant that I would be discontinuing the medications.  She proceeded to tell me that I "needed more education" and that was when I made the decision to seek out a local naturopathic physician.

From the very first visit I was told that I probably had some food allergies causing severe inflammation in my airway and in my gut as well as some possible deficiencies in my nutritional diet.  He instructed me to eliminate dairy from my diet for two weeks.  Within those two weeks I had lost 12 pounds and felt the best I had felt in many many years.  We did a CBC (complete blood count) and found that my iron was low and my vitamin D was the LOWEST he had ever seen.  He started me on some vitamin supplements and some probiotics immediately.

Let me tell you this:  in the last year of taking these supplements and probiotics, I have been sick twice.  TWICE!!!  Amazing.  As much as I LOVE dairy, I have made a conscious decision and effort to really minimize my dairy intake and it has made a world of difference in how I feel and I am so grateful.

During my last follow up visit we discussed taking a blood panel in order to look further at 99 different food allergens and food "families."  This particular test identifies antibodies in the immune system related to immediate and delayed hypersensitivities to foods.  The results showed an overwhelming indication of sensitivity to all gluten foods (barley, wheat, whey, etc.), eggs, bananas, mushrooms and the list goes on.  I won't bore you with the list of all my allergies but my physician did instruct me to strongly think about trying a gluten and dairy free diet for thirty days straight.  Wait, no dairy or gluten for a month?  What will I eat???  My heart sank.

However, I said yes.

This is my life.  This is my body.  And this is the new reality that I get to explore and experience.  I did however grieve a bit last night knowing that my life would be drastically changed forever.  Instantly my mind went to all of the foods I COULD NOT EAT and was a bit overwhelmed.  On my drive home I started making a mental list of all of the foods which are no longer available for me and I had a meltdown.  Let me put it this way.  I am not a cook.  I can certainly follow a recipe but haven't developed the act of patience in the kitchen.  Or in the grocery store.  Did I tell you I very much dislike grocery shopping?

However, I said yes.

Yes to healthy foods.  Yes to dairy free.  Yes to gluten free.  Yes to taking control and being proactive about my health.  I know there will be a huge learning curve for me and I'm sure I'll want to give up but I am so hopeful to feel better.  So hopeful to have energy.  So hopeful to start working out again.  So hopeful to be healthy.

In beginning this lifestyle change I have started searching for recipes online and am researching good gluten/dairy free cook books.  I think for me, creating a list of foods that are naturally gluten free would be a good starting point before I start diving in to cooking.  What a journey this will be!

Have you ever eliminated dairy and/or gluten from your diet? What was hardest for you? What success tips or ideas do you have to share?

Comments

  1. My daughter was GFCF (gluten free, casein free - casein is the protein in dairy) for about 5 years. She was also free of soy, corn, nitrates, nitrites, and sugar. It was tough at first, but once you learn a new way of cooking (find recipes that are naturally GFCF) it opens an entire new world of food!

    TIPS: Give up on bread - it's just not worth the cost/flavor. (If you must have it, use a really good recipe and make it yourself).

    Substitute spaghetti squash for pasta.
    Substitute chicken broth for milk/butter in mashed potatoes (heck, you can even substitute cauliflower for the potatoes while you're at it)!
    Substitute rice for any number of grains - rice flour (grind uncooked rice in a coffee bean grinder) substitutes for malt-o-meal. We've done spaghetti sauce on rice. We love stir-fry. Add honey, cinnamon and coconut oil to cooked rice for a yummy oatmeal substitute. Blend water and cooked rice together to make rice milk (you can add some high quality vanilla flavoring). (*You can also make nut milk by soaking raw nuts overnight, then blending them with water. Our favorite "milk" was rice/cashew milk). You can also order Vances Dairy-Free milk powder for a popular substitute (although homemade is still cheaper).

    Many, many homemade soups can easily be gluten/dairy free.

    The tip to baking gluten free is (1) mix your flours and (2) use a binder. Good flour mixes will include different types of flours (for example, tapioca flour is very light and fine, whereas almond flour is very heavy). Generally a mix of about 3-4 different flours will give you the best results. The most common binders are xantham gum or guar gum, but you can use egg, applesauce, flax goo (1 Tbsp flax seeds boiled in 1 cup water - turns gooey) or Knox gelatan. Also, know that homemade GFCF bread does NOT bake properly in breadmakers, you should not kneed GFCF bread dough, and gluten free bread dough will not generally resemble regular bread dough and often turn out right regardless.

    ReplyDelete

  2. Here's some of my favorite recipes (I've served each of these at events like birthday parties or Thanksgiving dinner with no one even knowing they weren't "normal" recipes).

    GOOD DINNER ROLL RECIPE:
    *NOTE* In this recipe, I "guesstimated" all the amounts...So if it said "1/2 cup" of something, I used a "1 cup" measuring cup, and eyeballed it. I've done it this way a few times now, with the same wonderful results each time! Basically, I'm saying it's hard to mess it up.

    I use my kitchen aid to make this.

    1/4 c very warm water
    2T honey
    2.5 t yeast

    Mix water and honey in the kitchen aid bowl. Sprinkle in yeast, but do not stir. Set aside to let yeast rise.

    In a separate bowl mix:

    1 cup tapioca flour
    3/4 cup rice flour (I use brown, but the original recipe said white)
    1/2 cup cornstarch
    1 T xanthan gum (more or less, I don't like the flavor so I tend to be light on the "gums" in anything I bake)
    1 t salt

    ADD TO THE KITCHEN AID BOWL (with the yeast mixture)

    4 T melted lard (shortening, margarine, or oil may work as well)
    1/3 cup honey
    2 large eggs

    Mix together until all mixed. Then add:

    1/2 cup carbonated water
    Dry ingredients

    Mix together ingredients. This actually starts to take the form of "normal" bread dough!

    Form into dinner rolls. Place in COLD oven, and turn oven to 350 BAKE. It will start to rise as the oven warms up, and rises more as it bakes. Bake about 20-25 minutes until top becomes golden brown!


    GLUTEN FREE PIZZA CRUST
    (Note: This recipe does NOT work for bread/rolls/etc. - only pizza)

    This recipe is great because you can pre-make these and freeze them, or you can mix the dry ingredients and make an "instant pizza crust mix", or just make the whole thing from scratch at once!

    DRY INGREDIENTS:

    Amounts in () after the ingredient is to make instant pizza mix

    2/3 cup brown rice flour (3.5 cups for instant)
    1/2 cup (slightly heaping) tapioca flour (3 level cups for instant)
    2 tsp xanthan gum (3 TBSP for instant)
    1/2 tsp salt (1 TBSP for instant)
    1-3 tsp italian seasoning (1/3 cup for instant)

    REMAINING INGREDIENTS:

    1/3 cup warm water
    1/2 tsp honey
    1 Tbsp dry yeast
    1 tsp melted lard (can sub coconut oil)
    1 tsp rice vinegar (can sub cider vinegar)
    1 egg (can sub 1 tsp unflavored gelatin powder)

    PIZZA CRUST

    Mix water and honey. Add yeast. Set aside to let yeast rise

    In large bowl mix all dry ingredients using beaters (not dough hooks).
    Add lard, vinegar, egg to dry ingredients and mix Add yeast mixture to dry ingredients and mix on high for 3 minutes
    ** if the mixer bounces around the bowl the dough is too stiff. Add water one table spoon at a time until the dough does not resist
    beaters)

    Spatula out into pizza pan. I have a 12" round stone I use for this. It makes a nice thick crust. I tried a thin crust on my cookie sheet and burned it each time.

    Use a wet spatula to squish the dough until it is flat. You can also sprinkle it liberally with tapioca or rice flour and use your hands to do shape it.

    Bake 10-15 minutes on 425. Remove from oven, add toppings, bake until toppings melt.

    FOR INSTANT PIZZA MIX:

    Combine dry ingredients in the portions listed in () above.

    Store in airtight container.

    TO USE:

    Mix water, honey, yeast. Let rise. Add lard, vinegar, egg. Mix in 2 -2.5 cups pizza mix. Beat on high 3 minutes. Follow directions above for baking.

    TO FREEZE:

    Use either method of making the pizza dough, (from scratch or instant) and bake in oven 15 minutes. Remove and freeze.

    TO USE: Let thaw 10 minutes. Add toppings. Follow directions above for baking.

    ReplyDelete


  3. CHOCOLATE CAKE:

    I have this recipe I have been working on for cake, adapted from Special Diets for Special Kids by Lisa Lewis. I'm sure you could double the main flour mix, but this is the most my largest bowl would handle. I got 4 "ready to use" cake mixes out of it, and it took less
    than 15 minutes start to finish to get the cake mix ready for later use! (Then the cake only took 5 minutes prep time!)


    MAIN FLOUR MIX:

    6 c rice flour
    4 c sorghum flour
    2 c tapioca flour
    1 c potato flour
    4 c xylotol or fructose (sugar?? Never tried it with sugar)
    1 c powdered sugar
    4 c coco

    Mix all above ingredients together very very well. Divide into portions that are 4 3/4 cups. I just put it into quart-sized freezer bags.

    Add to each bag:

    3/4 t salt
    1.5 t baking soda
    1.5 t xanthan gum or guar gum
    3 T dry milk substitute (I use Better than Milk Rice)

    Close bags and store for later use! (Sooo easy!)


    To make the cake:

    1 bag of mix
    1 c oil, or melted shortening/lard
    2 c hot water
    1/2 c honey (need liquid sweetener for moistness)

    OPTIONAL: 4 T vanilla.

    Mix oil, water, and honey. Then add the bag of powdered mix, beat for two minutes. Cake batter may not be "runny" like a boxed cake, it may turn out more "dough-like" and that is okay. You can use a wet spatula to press it down into a pan. I bake mine in a round pampered chef stone. You would probably want to grease and flour the pan before using it, unless you have a really really good "non-stick" pan. Bake at 350 for around 15-20 minutes.

    Here's four popular (and reputable) brands to buy Gluten/dairy free:

    Ener-G Foods
    (800)331-5222
    http://www.ener-g.com

    Kinnikinnick Foods
    877-503-4466 ***For GFCF foods look for the ALTA logo
    http://Kinnikinnick.com

    Kirkman Labs
    http://www.kirkmanlabs.com

    Miss Roben's
    1-800-891-0083
    http://www.missroben.com

    Hope this helps!

    It seems overwhelming at first, but it's really just a matter of learning new ways to do old things. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. P.S. I just saw that you're possibly trying this for only a month. Here's seven meals that are naturally gluten-free:

    1. Turkey, green beans, mashed potatoes (made with broth instead of milk), cranberries.

    2. Hamburger patty, salad, apple slices.

    3. BBQ ribs, baked potatoes with homemade gravy (meat juice thickened with tapioca starch, salt and pepper), cooked carrots and rice, orange slices.

    4. Taco salad

    5. Stir fry (Braggs amino acid is a PERFECT gluten free substitute for soy sauce).

    6. Lemon pepper chicken. (almost any flavor of chicken, really)

    7. Chicken and rice soup (chicken broth, rice, vegetables, seasonings to taste)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just figured out how to reply instead of comment, oops!!

      Hi Jodi!! Wow, thank you so much for all of your tips and recipes! I will have to print these out for sure and go through all of them! Thanks for taking the time to share with me, I so appreciate it!! Actually, my gluten and dairy free "trial" is indefinitely but my doctor wanted me to start slow with a short term goal. I will be checking out these brands you've provided for me for the future. I am so glad there are others out there going through this process who have become successful! Have a great week!! -Julie

      Delete
  5. Hi Jodi!! Wow, thank you so much for all of your tips and recipes! I will have to print these out for sure and go through all of them! Thanks for taking the time to share with me, I so appreciate it!! Actually, my gluten and dairy free "trial" is indefinitely but my doctor wanted me to start slow with a short term goal. I will be checking out these brands you've provided for me for the future. I am so glad there are others out there going through this process who have become successful! Have a great week!! -Julie

    ReplyDelete

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