I have been meaning to update on my diet- the gluten (GF), dairy (casein) free (CF), low-sugar and low saturated fat diet that I have been on for 6 months now (wow, time has been flying by), it has been a learning experience and I really wanted to see some benefits before I proclaim this is the cure all. Of course I cannot really know that it is not working unless I get frequent attacks and here is hoping that it is working and I don't have any major attacks anytime soon.
If you have the time, please read this article really explaining why I have chosen to start this diet [here] or this last blog 1 month into the diet [here].
I did not want to touch on the positives without talking about some of the challenges. AND it can be a challenge at times.:
Eating at other people's homes - I love all of my friends and family, but with a lifestyle change like this for me, it has been a change/challenge for others (without that being the purpose). No one can just invite me over; gluten and dairy are in many forms and more than just the obvious. People cannot have the knowledge base of the months of research that I have done and although they want to be nice - I cannot eat at most people's houses (sorry).
A lot of friends have learned this quickly when they bought a gluten-free brownie mix to make me that contain milk or they found a dairy/gluten free mix and realize they do not have Vegan margarine called for in the recipe. Whey is in almost any margarine, you have to buy a Vegan brand and that means running out and purchasing something that you may not ever use again. Other culprits of hidden dairy can be found in boxed GF cereals, GF breads, Deli Meat, Vegetarian Margarine (not vegan), and GF protein bars. Sometimes things will be labled well, so look for gluten-free/casein-free products or gluten-free/vegan products. Gluten can be just as bad and is added into things like soy sauce, deli meat, seasonings, thickeners, malt flavorings, etc.
Anyway, these things are harder to spot than you think. My grandfather found this out when he bought some bbq meats at Ol' Carolina Restaurant for July 4th. I asked him to call about whether their meats were gluten & dairy free. "Ah, chicken and ribs are gluten and dairy free!" Sure enough their chicken and any poultry product of theirs contain gluten because of the seasoning (luckily I was good with the ribs).
To get around this, I plan to eat before we hang out with people or bring my own food or invite them over for a GF/CF meal. Of course that causes its own problems with folks getting their feelings hurt, etc. In our society many social activities occur over food, well that poses a problem for those of us who have made diet changes. I can't help but offend some, at this point though the people who really love me will accommodate.
Being around food when I am hungry - I learned this early on, make sure I am never really hungry. This is tough and means packing lunch, dinner, snacks, etc to make sure that at no point in the day that I feel this way. Over the past 6 months it has happened twice; one time when my mom had called a breakfast place and they said they could accommodate my diet. I had run 8 miles that morning, waited for everyone to get ready, got to the restaurant and they really could not accommodate. I sat there feeling tired, low blood sugar and watching everyone eat delicious looking toast, omelets, gravy, etc while I was hungry. It took everything in me not to cry.
The second time it happened was just a few weeks ago on our vacation. I had planned to eat at Wendy's for lunch (I can have their baked potato and chili) before we were to meet some friends at a pub to watch the final world cup game. I got to the Wendy's and they were out of baked potatoes and chili and I had no alternative plan. At that moment the weight of the past year landed on my shoulders and I felt how sick I was and how much of an impact this has made on my life. I was again, almost in tears.
Food is a powerful thing. If you are hungry, you can forget it, diet changes will be HARD. As long as I am in the same day to day schedule I am fine, but when traveling or changing things I find myself struggling. BUT, I have to say over the course of 180 days - 2 have been really hard - well that is ok.
Still liking the taste of things - Just because I started this diet does not mean that things do not still sound delicious. Some days I want to rip into a crusty french bread loaf and drizzle brie all over it all the while having a few tasty micro brews. I chose this diet for my health and health reasons ONLY. I am acting on the strongest self-control that I have EVER tapped in to. My secret? I imagine myself putting lesions on my brain with every bit of dairy and gluten that I eat.
We cook A LOT - This is both a good and bad thing. Good because I am exploring cooking like never before, I change the menu a lot to keep it interesting and I find that the meals we make are ususally gourmet & delicious. Bad because when you work a 60 hour week, sometimes energy is tapped and the idea of cooking just wears on you. I also have to plan the meals for the week - sit down make a plan, write down all of the ingredients we need to buy and then go grocery shopping, phew...I should win an award for organization. :)
The cost of groceries has sky rocketed - Yeah, when you eat pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables (usually try to get organic and right now we are paying into a CSA) and your diet requires special GF/CF purchases, you find that the cost has almost doubled when we go to the grocery store. However, we are not eating out much, so I guess it evens out. Sometimes the sticker shock can get you.
I also have incorporated a pile of supplements; Morning - Multi, Acidophilus, Vit B12; Lunch - Calcium; Dinner - Omega 3-6-9, Vit B12, D3 and Calcium. If you know about supplements, then you know that they are not cheap...especially because I take so many.
This seems like a lot of negatives, but really the positives to outweigh any issues stated above. I will write another blog about the positives in the next few days.