I've been exhausted...for longer than I can remember. While it's normal for me to feel tired in the middle of winter, when I think about it, I felt exhausted all last summer too. So when I was chatting with a friend about how great she felt after going gluten free, it intrigued me. At first I had the same reaction to her as I have to everyone else I've ever talked to about going gluten free: you're crazy. Bread is my very favorite food. I couldn't imagine a world without it.
Then I started reading a little about wheat & how your body processes it. I talked to some of my friends who had gone gluten free. I asked my facebook friends for information about going gluten free. Two of my friends raved about how much more energy they had, how much healthier they felt, & how they had lost some weight too.
I surprised myself when I decided to try it. I figure while it might be really hard to completely change my life forever, I could certainly try something for 30 days. I told your Daddy I was going to try going gluten free for 30 days. He had kind of seen it coming with all the research I had been doing. I had not planned on asking you or Daddy to go gluten free. There was no need to change everyone's lifestyles for something I was just trying out. You have a very short list of foods you will actually eat, & probably half of them involve gluten. I knew from the beginning that Daddy would not be giving up beer (especially since he was going to a bachelor party in Las Vegas), but I was surprised when he said he would try to give up food products that had gluten in them with me.
Our 30 Gluten Free challenge actually started the week before. We spent that week cleaning the gluten products out of our house (by eating...a lot). We basically binged on gluten & researched about going gluten free. I was surprised to realize that there was gluten in almost every single meal we eat.
Things I learned to avoid:
- Wheat, Rye, Barley
- Most flours (so also think cookies, cakes, pies, crackers, etc)
- Soy Sauce (& many sauces & dressings that include soy sauce)
- Seasoned rice mixes
- Processed lunch meats
- Pre-shredded cheeses
We stared buying gluten free products (Chex instead of Cheerios, popcorn instead of some of our typical snacks) so we didn't start the process with nothing to eat in our home. Basically, I just started looking at the labeling information to see if wheat or gluten or soy sauce was included in the ingredients. Often times, the packaging said "may contain gluten" underneath the listed ingredients. My favorite are the packages that say "Gluten Free" right up front. In general, I looked at non-processed proteins & adding more fresh vegetable options. I found & bookmarked tons of gluten free recipes in a gluten free folder on my phone.
My main hopes for this challenge were that by giving up gluten I would have more energy and feel healthier overall. While I certainly wouldn't be upset about experiencing some weight loss, that wasn't really my goal for this 30 day trial.
And so it began...
- Day 1: Breakfast was no problem. We just replaced out regular cereals with gluten free options (mostly Chex, & you & Daddy love honey nut Chex). A quick lunch was going to take a little more prep. We could no longer slap some ingredients between bread. I sliced some fruit & mixed it in with yogurt. No wonder some people lose weight when they go gluten free! Most options are more fresh & less processed. It seems like dinner was going to be more about protein & veggies. We made chicken (with this chipotle & lime marinade), sweet potato fries, & green beans. Overall, I didn't feel like I missed out at all. My food was really yummy, it just took a little more prep time than what was typical for me.
- Day 2: More energy has not kicked in yet, but it's really too soon to see a difference & probably has something to do with the daylight savings time change. When I got home, I wanted to curl into the fetal position & sleep forever.
- Day 3: We had grandma & Papa over for dinner. Good thing you can make gluten free tacos. It was a yummy choice that made everyone happy.
- Day 4: I had a dream that I was in my college dining hall & couldn't find gluten free items that weren't lettuce. Gluten on the mind maybe? I'm glad that there are good snacking options. We pretty much have every type of popcorn snack (good thing I love popcorn) & really yummy Riceworks snacks.
- Day 5: While finding non-gluten friendly things to eat at home is easy, eating out is sometimes tougher. Case in point: I was at an all day work meeting & the buffet lunch options were all sandwiches. Luckily, one sandwich was filled with veggies. I dumped them out of the wrap & hoped whatever marinade they used didn't have gluten. I've found already that there are places that make it easy to be gluten free. Mystic's S&P Oyster Company had the most amazing gluten free menu. How could you miss gluten filled options when you have lobster & avocado salad as an appetizer & bouillabaibasse as an entre?
- Day 6: I have to say, one of the toughest challenges was not to eat a few spoonfuls of the Mac & Cheese I made you tonight. There were leftovers, & they call to me whenever I open the fridge. I love Mac & Cheese.
- Day 7: As a Mommy, I feel like I used to finish your leftover food without even really realizing it. This lifestyle is causing me to finish your leftovers less & snack less on your snacks as I'm packing your food. I think that's good.
- Day 8: I'm starting to get sick of iceberg lettuce with chicken being the only gluten free option some restaurants have.
- Day 9: I made eggs today & wicked missed having toast to soak all the yolky yumminess up. For the most part, I feel great, but sometimes when I think about it, I do miss bread.
- Day 10: Before going gluten free, one of the saddest things I thought I was going to have to do was to break up with Panera Bread. I love Panera Bread, & I go pretty often for work. Wasn't I pleasantly surprised to find out there is a secret Panera Bread menu (which doesn't seem all that secret because it's listed online).
-Day 11: Oh-Em-Gee! There's a gluten free section in Walmart...that's right, Walmart. Just picked up some flour, pasta, corn bread mix, bread crumbs & granola. I feel like there is truly nothing you can't make! I'm not really looking to use them all the time, just to supplement in some of the recipes, & it helps to know it won't be crazy expensive to do that.
- Day 12: Daddy has stopped trying the gluten free challenge (an extended weekend in Vegas was pretty much the end of gluten free for him), but he still loves that I'm doing it because it turned me into his "little cook." Not that I didn't cook in the past, but I mostly cooked the same 5 meals or something quick I could find out of a box. While gluten free meals I've made are just as yummy (OK, some are way yummier), they require a little more planning because the ingredients aren't prepackaged & they are fresh. I made beef & broccoli over rice tonight (using coconut aminos instead of soy sauce). It was wicked yummy & made with fresh ingredients. I cooked the beef & broccoli without the seasoning for you so that you would eat the same dinner as us.
- Day 14: You & I made gluten free corn bread today. It was pretty good actually. I'm now two weeks in & I have to say energy wise, I am feeling a difference. Today we baked up a storm, went outside to ride bikes, did a 30 minute work-out, made dinner, & went to a basketball game. I made it through the whole day without feeling like I was going to die or without needing to curl into a ball & hibernate for a while. I'm really loving how I've been feeling. I'm surprising even myself to say that going gluten free hasn't been bad at all so far, & I'm feeling so great that this may just be more than a 30 day thing. However, I told your daddy that I don't think I could do it forever without having a cheat day each month. Warmer temps are getting me thinking about summer & there's no way I'm giving up clam cakes & fish & chips at the wall.
- Day 15: Daddy made me eggs for breakfast today. I shredded some potato, & he cooked me homemade hashbrowns. The hash browns were perfect for soaking up my runny yolk. Everything is right in the world again. We also made black bean quinoa salad for lunch. You didn't much like it much, but I thought it was super yummy (especially cold). I substituted edamame instead of lima beans, & at least you ate the edamame & black beans separately.
- Day 17: This is kind of a DUH moment, but I realized that just because it's gluten free doesn't mean it's healthy. Cape cod potato chips= gluten free. I read an article about how many gluten free substitutes (pasta, bread, granola) have more fat, sodium, & sugar than the gluten filled products (in order to make them edible). I'm glad that my journey hasn't been about eating what I've always eaten & using a lot of processed substitutes. It's been more about finding fresh foods.
- Day 18: These carnitas are crazy yummy & fairly easy to make (although, really Daddy made them). While Daddy ate his with flour tortillas, I ate mine without & topped it with spinach, tomatoes, guacamole, sliced tomatoes, & some crumpled up tortilla chips. Amazing.
- Day 19: A lot of restaurants have gluten free menus that I didn't know about previously. This is helpful, because I eat out for work a lot. Davenports has lots of options (the gluten free retro burger is not too bad). UNOs also has a lot of choices. I tried my first gluten free pizza (not too bad), & the cobb salad is amazing.
- Day 20: I found sweet & spicy black bean hummus & edamame hummus at BJs & I am in love.
- Day 21: I went out for Thai food with my best friend. I'm so glad there are so many gluten free Thai options, & Thai food is not something I have to give up...not even nime chow.
- Day 26: I found a yummy gluten free pork chop & veggie recipe our whole family enjoyed (well, mostly you tolerated it).
- Day 27: The Mews has little gluten free symbols next to it's gluten free food options. While the meals don't include ingredients with gluten, they did stress that there is chance of cross contamination. Also, most of the gluten free choices seem to be appetizers & salads (I had nachos & buffalo chicken dip with chips). Still, it's nice to have options at one of my very favorite restaurants.
- Day 28: I caved & had a gluten cheat night. I was at a bachelorette party with very few gluten free options (it was a pot luck). I either had to choose whether to stay gluten free or get something substantial to eat before having some party drinks. I figured it was healthier for me to get something substantial to eat. Plus, the bacon ranch pasta & taquitos looked soooooo yummy.
- Day 29: My hands are swollen & stomach feels bloated (probably not noticeable to anyone other than me). My stomach was also upset for 2 days. Sure, it could maybe be chalked up to a weekend of bachelorette party shenanigans, but I think there's something to the fact I haven't felt like this after a night out since I went gluten free.
- Day 30: I did it...well almost. I started this challenge thinking I would hate it & ended up surprised at how little I felt like I missed out. Do I look longingly at the french baguettes at Panera Bread sometimes? Absolutely. But overall, the food I ate was great & more importantly, I feel great. I feel less bloated & I have more energy. Your Daddy is happy, because I've started to cook actual food rather than just making pasta out of a box & putting store bought pasta sauce on top. I don't think you ever saw a difference, except now I think there might be a few more vegetables that you will eat. So, I think I'm going to take this challenge past the 30 days & keep it up. I still don't know if this is going to be a forever life changer, but it's something I'm going to keep going with for now. There will for sure be some cheat days here & there, but overall I'm looking forward to more healthy days & more energy days.
I love you so,