My Gluten-Free Journey
Amonth has passed since I began my professional plant-based cooking course with Rouxbe. I’ve already discovered so much about healthy eating and creative plant-based cooking these past few weeks. Cooking school couldn’t have started at a better time! It has motivated me to reset so many areas of my life, especially my diet.
The day before my first day of cooking school, I went to a naturopathic clinic due to severe itchiness on my back. I’d been suffering for a couple months and was desperate for a diagnosis and treatment. After a thorough initial interview and appointment with my dermatologist, I was diagnosed with eczema.
We went over my food intake for the past few weeks. It dawned on me that I had been eating a lot of wheat products for breakfast and dinner! My gut had developed a sensitivity and intolerance to gluten. My dermatologist recommended I go on a gluten-free and vegan diet. I was already on a vegan diet, so I knew that part wouldn’t be too challenging. Going gluten-free, however, was going to be a challenge.
Eczema was my body’s way of crying out for a change in my diet. Sure, treating my skin's symptoms without addressing or eliminating the cause might have worked quickly, but it wouldn’t have been a long-term solution. It would have been like mowing ugly, unwanted weeds instead of plucking them out.
Before getting married, my husband and I resolved to opt for natural, chemical-free, and healthier ways of treating sickness, even if it may take longer than a conventional alternative.
My doctor sent me home and recommended a wild weed salve to apply on my eczema spots. She also gave me detailed recommendations and resources for my new diet. She gave me a list of foods to eat and foods to avoid, and even printed gluten-free recipes for me to try!
Determined to heal my eczema without the use of medications, I was ecstatic about leaving the clinic without a prescription for medications. Instead, I had a grocery list of healthy ingredients! I’ll choose the local health food store over the pharmacy any day! I've always been inspired by these wise words:
"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." - Hippocrates
One morning, the waft of my husband’s freshly toasted multigrain bread stretched my willpower. I didn’t realize I had gotten so accustomed to eating bread and other glutinous foods! My meals seemed incomplete without them, and I was so close to asking for a bite of his bread.
But! I resisted the urge and said no.
Seeing the struggle I was having that morning, Kerwin graciously decided to support me by eliminating glutinous bread from our shopping list. Since then, he’s gone out of his way to go on multiple gluten-free and vegan food treasure hunts at the grocery store. I’m grateful beyond words for his support!
It’s been twenty-nine days since I started my gluten-free diet. Oh, I’ve been counting the days. I could talk about the foods I miss eating, but the truth is, cooking school has really empowered me to explore what I can cook and eat, instead of missing the foods I can’t and shouldn’t have!
Here are just a few of the benefits I've been experiencing:
No brain frog. I didn’t realize I was suffering from brain fog until I was free of it! I’m able to think and process things clearly.
Increase in energy
Satiety without feeling heavy or bloated
More focus throughout the day
Improved sleep quality
Reduced itchiness and spreading of my eczema
Improved and prolonged stamina
Reduced abdominal cramps
Intentional Tips for a Gluten-Free Lifestyle
Set yourself up for success by resetting your refrigerator and food pantry. This was one of my first few cooking school assignments. Eliminating unhealthy foods and ingredients has made it so much more motivating to stay on track!
Keep your why in mind, especially when eating at restaurants.
Curb your gluten cravings and focus on the plethora of gluten-free alternatives you can eat, instead of thinking about the glutinous foods you can’t eat. Attitude makes all the difference!
Be in control of your health by choosing what goes on your plate. Prepare your own meals using fresh, organic, nutrient-dense, and locally grown produce.
Do your research to find out which grocery stores have gluten-free selections and also know where their gluten-free sections are located.
Shop and eat with intention by making it a habit to read the ingredient list on all food packaging.
If you like regular pasta and would like to eat gluten-free versions, fret no more! Some stores sell brown rice, black bean, red lentil, and quinoa pasta. I’m sure there are many other options out there! [If you know of other options, I would love to learn about them in the comment section below!]
Get to know your beans and legumes! Did you know there are over a thousand different kinds of beans? I didn’t…until I got to the legumes section of my cooking course. Check out Rancho Gordo’s website to see some varieties you may never have heard of before.
Eat at regular times to avoid unhealthy snacks (which often contain gluten), especially when you’re not at home.
Get in the habit of packing your own mix of nuts and seeds, should you need an emergency snack when you’re out and about. My personal favorites are cashews, sunflower seeds, walnuts, almonds and chia seeds.
Ask a dear friend or family member to keep you accountable.
Prepare your own meals to bring to gatherings. (I initially had a hard time with this, especially because I didn’t want to draw attention to the fact that I was on a new diet. I felt guilty for not sharing in the joy of eating everyone else’s food, but I realized I had made a choice to heal my eczema and that, if asked, I would then have the opportunity to share my health journey. Once I accepted this, I felt comfortable bringing my own gluten-free meals to potlucks. I was comforted to know my friends were willing to support me and cheer me on!)
What tips would you add to the list above? Do you know of any good gluten-free bread recipes? Please leave a comment below.