So what do you eat then if you can’t eat gluten?
HEard that before?
“Well for breakfast I have a rice cake, then I have a apple for a mid morning snack, followed by a pizza made of cauliflower, chickpeas and some other random stuff for lunch. And for dinner I might have some steamed veggies. Dessert? Oh, I just munch on some blueberries”.
The above is what I would love to respond to someone, but the truth is, they would most likely believe it. There is a lot of confusion, misunderstanding and lack of knowledge when it comes to what people think gluten intolerance life is all about and how it actually is.
Being off gluten does NOT mean we are deprived of food in any way. It is not limiting and boring and tasteless. It is not endless rice cakes and bland crackers. These days you can get anything in a gluten free version: Pasta, lasanga, bread, rolls, wraps, burger buns, hot dog rolls, pizza’s, cookies, crackers and so it goes on. However, just like with wheat versions of these foods, only eating these kind of foods is not healthy.
What going off gluten also did for me
When I first got married and for most of my twenties, We ate a lot of processed foods. Cold meats, meal boxes like pastas with sauces. Boxed fish, boxed crumbed chicken, sauces out of jars, tinned stuff….so much processed food! I had no idea how unhealthy our diet was until only years later! Going off gluten forced me to reevaluate so much about the modern way we as humans consume, store, buy and think about food. Suddenly I was forced to read labels and ingredients on EVERY single item I purchased. I had to ask what was in the food when going out to eat.
I became AWARE of so much stuff I had been blind to before.-me
When I was forced to start making my own sauces, and preparing my food from scratch, I developed a new respect and appreciation for food. Food in its natural state. I stopped buying the tinned, boxed, pre-packaged stuff and began chopping, dicing, slicing and making everything from scratch. Food tasted better and I knew exactly what was going into it.
So much of food today has gone from one process to the next that in the end there is little wonder they have had to add vitamins and minerals back in to give it some nutritional value. I am grateful for what gluten intolerance has done for my health and for my family’s health as over the years we have eliminated many bad habits. Not just going off gluten, but going off sugar too. It was my journey of going sugar free that impacted my whole family and for many years now, none of us for example have sugar in our tea or coffee. In fact I can go a whole year on a 1kg bag of sugar in our household!
I make most of our food from scratch. When I want to make a sauce, I make it myself. Bechamel sauce with butter, milk and corn flour.
So what do you eat?
There is so much goodness in REAL food that one can hardly say you are missing out on anything! Breakfast is either eggs, smoothies or yogurt with fruit and my smoothie mix. Sometimes I make pancakes or almond flour flapjacks. Eggs are a staple in our house, Free range eggs. We eat them boiled, scrambled, omelettes. I make my own bread so I always have a slice or two with avo or peanut butter or cheese and tomato, cucumber and lettuce. Smoothies: especially in summer, so filling and nutritious. With full fat plain yogurts, fresh fruits, added collagen and plant based proteins and fiber. Dinner is the easiest : pasta and lasagna with a beef sauce or ratatouille at least once a week, chicken, fish, veggies, salads, roast veggies. We occasionally will have burgers, pizza is every Friday night! And we braai at least once a week. My diet is rich, nutritious and hardly boring! Loads of eggs, protein, fresh fruit and vegetables and since I am not dairy intolerant, I eat a lot of plain full fat yogurt and cheese.
One last thing…
Slightly off topic here but there is another question that is considered impolite to ask a person who has a digestive condition or auto immune disease like Celiac disease…“What happens to you when you eat gluten?” It is the same with asking someone with IBS what happens when they eat dairy. The ugly side of gluten intolerance is well …ugly. But for those of you who must know, There is a lot of unpleasant digestive, abdominal stuff that goes on, for some this includes vomiting. It normally comes with huge amounts of pain that radiates throughout the body. This includes joint pain, inflammation anywhere in the body not just the colon. Migraines, depression, brain fog, lethargy and extreme fatigue.
So I hope this helps to allay some of the misconceptions out there about a gluten free diet.