Going Gluten Free with Ease: Week 1

It’s been a week since I decided it was time to fully commit to the gluten free lifestyle.  We don’t bring it into the house except for the odd pizza anyway, so our pantry and fridge haven’t seen gluten in a few years.  I’m pretty sure pizza was the only thing really holding us back.  That, and restaurants, but I’ve successfully eaten at 2 restaurants this week and it was actually really easy.  You just have to be sure to ask the right questions!  If you’re not sure, always ask.  Here are my ramblings from week one:

Soups, Sauces, and Salad Dressing. 

Always ask if they’re gluten free.  I ordered eggs benedict without the English muffin, which many would assume made the meal gluten free.  But, I asked about the sauce, which turned out to be made with wheat.  Traditionally it is made from egg yolks, water, lemon juice, and butter, but a lot of lower scale restaurants rely on a dry “just add water” mix.  Gross.  If you want to make it at home, here is a traditional Hollandaise Sauce recipe!

Bread.

Obviously, bread and other obvious wheat containing items are no longer options.  But instead of focusing on “I can’t have it,” focus instead on all of the things that you CAN eat.  Where attention goes, energy flows.  Put your energy into energizing foods such as salads, proteins, and vegetables.  If you find yourself sulking about what you can no longer eat, then it’s time to change your focus!  Think about how your pants are starting to fit looser, or how much energy you have now that you’ve given up grains. Sometimes I just think about chocolate and how grateful I am that my favourite treat is gluten free!

Environment is Everything.

It may be time to change a few of your current hang outs.  If you’ve always gone to a coffee shop and ordered coffee and a doughnut, the habitual energy of that establishment may pull you back in and you may find it hard to cope – unless your motivation is extremely high.  Some people can do it, because their reason WHY they’ve gone gluten free is so strong.  If you’re finding it difficult, it is important to put yourself in situations where you can thrive.  Most cafes in Urban areas have gluten free options, but if you find yourself in Tim Horton’s country like I am, my advice is to stay far, far away!

“Gluten Free” Doesn’t Mean Healthy

Just because the label says gluten free doesn’t mean that food is fit for human consumption.  Many large companies are jumping on the gluten free bandwagon and their foods are not pretty.  Many packaged items contain corn, oats, and rice, which are all inflammatory foods that will spike your blood sugar higher than table sugar.  There is really nothing redeeming about packaged foods!  They’re likely high in sugar and rancid oils as well.  It’s always best to make your own at home.

Drink Plenty of Water.

I have been incredibly dehydrated this week and I know it’s because I’m not getting enough water!  When you give up grains your body releases a lot of water, and since our bodies are 75-80% water, it’s important to stay dehydrated so the body can perform its trillions of daily tasks.  The easiest way to tell if you’re getting enough water is to keep track of your urine.  If it’s deep orange, you’re in trouble.  It should be almost clear!

What I’ve Been Eating

I’ve been eating lots of eggs, meat, salads, homemade pate, smoothies, green juice, and chocolate!  I went to The Beet in Toronto yesterday which is an “organic restaurant that focuses on sourcing local, organic and sustainable ingredients.” I had a green juice and a steak sandwich in a gluten free wrap.  It was amazing.  Restaurants like The Beet make going gluten free very easy when eating out.  I hope you all have amazing restaurants like it available to you!

Green Juice Feast Day

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Well I certainly didn’t plan on a juice feasting day, but that is what seems to be what’s happened.  It’s time to kick this fight against my sinus infection into high gear anyway.  Bring on the greens!

This morning, Yuri made over 2 L of green juice to take to U of T Soccer Training Camp.  However, the green juice didn’t make it to training camp.  I ended up drinking at least 1 L and it was so good that I just made another Liter!  It is just amazing how much nutrition you can pack into your day when you include green juices.

To top off my efforts to kill this sinus infection, I finally bought some apple cider vinegar (organic, unpasteurized, with the Mother).  If you’ve got sinus issues, get some apple cider vinegar and add 2 TBSP  to a glass of water, several times a day. You will instantly enjoy some nasal draining!  I am contemplating adding some ACV to water and throwing the mixture into my Neti pot, but I’m still working up some bravery to run vinegar through my nose!  I made the mistake of trying hydrogen peroxide in the neti pot…DON”T DO THAT IT BURNS and apparently can do some damage!  Rookie move on my part.

Today alone, I have personally consumed the juice of:

1 bunch of dill

1 bunch of parsley

1 1/2 apples

5 carrots

1 1/2 bunches of swiss chard

2 heads of celery

1 lemon

2 inches of ginger root

1/2 a cucumber

Shocking, isn’t it?  I bet I have eaten more vegetables today than most North Americans get in a week or even a month!  I am officially back on the green juice train.  This baby is going to come out green!

Here is the recipe for my new favourite juice.  Let’s call it the…

Dill-Inspired Green Juice

1 bunch dill

3 carrots

1 apple

1 bunch swiss chard

1 head of celery

2 inches of ginger root

Juice all ingredients and enjoy approx. 1L of amazing green goodness!

Boosting my Immune System

I’m not getting a flu shot. There is no way anyone is sticking me with a needle and injecting who-knows-what into my system.  Instead I choose to focus on eating well and cleanse my body so it can better handle any antagonist it faces.  Knock on wood, but I haven’t been sick in a few years except for a few brushes with food and alcohol poisoning.  Hint: a hangover = alcohol poisoning.  I rarely drink alcohol these days.

I’ve started using Chinese medicine to cleanse my liver. I’ve been using the product for about a week now, and I have already noticed improvements in my skin.  My hands have been rough and dry for as long as I can remember, and they are starting to heal and finally have some moisture in them.  If this rate of healing keeps up, in another week or so I should have soft hands!

Skin is a mirror of organ health. If you have unhealthy skin, your internal organs are in need of a little love and care.  Eating fresh organic fruits and vegetables are great for the liver, but you’ve also got to eliminate all the substances that make the liver sluggish like alcohol, cooked fats, coffee, and refined foods.  Foods that keep your liver healthy are foods that keep your entire body healthy.

Back when I was in high school, I was aware that my skin had a yellow tint to it.  I didn’t know then, but yellowing of the skin is a sure sign that the liver is in trouble.  My skin is now a very healthy colour and I know that my liver is doing much, much better.  It may have something to do with the fact that I drank copious amounts of Diet Coke back then.  Now I drink more water than anything else, and Diet Drinks never pass my lips.  I’ve still got some bad habits that I need to work on, but learning the truth about aspartame made me quit consuming it that second. I like my nerves, my eyes, and my brain a whole lot.  I never mess with aspartame any more and I know my liver is very happy about that!

Allergen-Free Diet for 30 Days.

I have multiple severe food allergies. If I eat wheat I get intense abdominal pain and gas.  If I eat pineapple my mouth will bleed.  Anything with yeast or sugar makes me itch instantly all over.  I haven’t drank milk in years, and if I did I would almost certainly have instant diarrhea.  I am so grateful for coconut milk ice cream!  Coffee makes the skin on my fingers swell, split and bleed within half an hour.  I guess you could say that for these reasons and more I study nutrition faithfully.

I stay away from these things most of the time, but for 30 days I want to commit to eating an allergen-free diet, catered specifically to myself.  We are all sensitive to the foods we eat to a certain degree. None of us have the same allergies, but you can bet that the foods you eat the most often are likely food sensitivities.   Most people eat the same foods day in and day out.  And most people are sensitive to these 5 things: milk, wheat, sugar, corn, and soy.  I am sensitive to the first 4, but for estrogen-dominance reasons I try to avoid soy as well.

Without going into too much detail, your body can come to crave the foods to which you are sensitive and those  foods can become drugs on which you are dependent.  Take coffee for instance.  A few days without your morning java and you could have yourself a nice little detox headache for 24-72 hours. If you are curious, go cold-turkey.  I had mine for a solid 48 when I stopped regular caffeine consumption.  You might as well add coffee to the common allergen list above at #6.  And if you eat bananas every day, your body can become sensitive and dependent on them too.  The same rules generally apply.

This is why I want to give my body a break.  I want it to heal substantially.  I want to feel even more energy on a daily basis and I want to identify the foods that are holding me back.  To aid my quest for optimal health, I will use my food sensitivity screening as my guide. This test uses your hands to complete an energy circuit and give you detailed information on how your body reacts to food.  It’s not expensive.  I believe mine was somewhere in the $120 range.

From my test I learned that there are:

118 foods to which I have a severe intolerance

34 foods to which I am moderately intolerant

16 foods to which I am mildly intolerant

And 139 that I am perfectly capable of eating!  Finally, some good news.

My method of attack in this 30-day challenge is to stick to the list of foods I can enjoy. I glanced over the list of foods I need to avoid, but there is no need to dwell on things I am not supposed to eat.  Mangoes were a surprise.  But then again I reacted to organic mangoes after my 31-day water fast back in 2007.  Mango skins gave me a rash and I was in denial.  My body knew back then that it didn’t want to eat mangoes.

As I look over the list again, there are no big surprises and nothing I can’t live without for at least 30 days, and I’m kicking off the challenge right now with a tall glass of high quality H2O 🙂  I will keep you posted as to how things are progressing – the ups, the downs, the meals, etc.

Obesity: Genetics or Environment?

overweight

Does it matter?  No.  Of course genetics play a role, but since you cannot control them, let’s focus on the environmental factors of obesity!  Genetics haven’t changed much in the last few decades, but our diets have changed markedly. So I’m going to venture a guess that environment plays a HUGE role.  Get your environment under control, and you’ll get your weight under control too.

No one ever got fat eating vegetables.  Eat your vegetables, cut down on the crap, and lose weight.  The problem is that you never see advertisements for vegetables.  All day, every day, you and your children are bombarded with commercials and advertisements for ice cream, dairy products, colas, pre-made pot roasts, chips, candy, cereals, etc.  But how many do you see for fresh fruits and vegetables?

In the last century alone we have seen the rise and proliferation of so many diseases.  It’s terrifying to think what will happen to the human race in the next 100 years.  It has been said that our generation will see their children live shorter lives than their parents, and I agree completely.  Poor diets and sedentary lifestyles are affecting our health and happiness at alarming rates.  We used to live in a world where malnutrition was the biggest problem – in North America and spreading elsewhere, it’s malnutrition coupled with obesity!  Yes, you can be fat and malnourished, and it’s more common than you think.

Obesity is very difficult to treat when the diet stays the same.  People go on diet after diet, trying – sometimes successfully losing weight, but dieting is not enough.  Until you realize that dieting is not the answer, you will remain fat and unhealthy.  A lifestyle change incorporating good quality whole foods and a consistent exercise schedule is the only way to get trim and fit – and stay there.  For some people, this may mean strict avoidance of processed foods, while others may be able to incorporate some of their favourite foods back into their healthy diet once they’ve gotten their cravings under control –  but for everyone, it means a diet high in fresh vegetables and some fruits – for life.

If you are a sugarholic, as many people are, you may find strict avoidance of sweets the only thing that keeps you dedicated to your healthy lifestyle.  Those who are addicted to sugar are the most likely to suffer from hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and are also the people who should avoid sugar altogether.  Research has shown that people who eat sugar go through withdrawal symptoms, similar to drug abusers.  When you eat sugar, your blood sugar levels spike and insulin is released to store the sugar into your cells.  Some will be used as energy, some will be stored in the muscles, but the excess will be stored as fat.  Once the circulating sugar is stored, your blood sugar levels will be low, and you will crave another sugar fix.  As long as sugar is in your diet, the cycle will continue. 

There is not one person that would not benefit from the avoidance of refined foods and the resulting blood sugar stability that comes with a wholesome, sugarless diet.  And while you may never be able to completely escape the advertisements and the bombardment of useless CRAP (Coffee, Refined Foods, Alcohol/Acidic foods, Preservatives…etc.), you can keep some awareness as to what you and your children are seeing on a daily basis.  The best advice I can give you is to keep CRAP out of the house.  You cannot eat what you don’t buy!

If you blame genetics for your problems, stop right there.  Genetics may give you the ability to become overweight, but it is your environment that causes it to occur.  Don’t give up like Oprah did either – when she started blaming her thyroid for her weight problems.  She had a thyroid problem because of her poor diet!  If you give up, you’ll never change your circumstances.  Whether it’s your weight or any other disease condition – they can all be improved – and often completely eradicated – by a healthy lifestyle.  You can blame food companies for your troubles all you want, because they are for sure part of the problem, but that too will not solve your problem.

What you simply cannot do is keep avoiding your dis-ease any longer.  After all, how many overweight seniors do you see on a daily basis?  My guess is not many.  So take control, get the help of a nutritionist if you need the support, and get healthy starting this second!  It’s never too late to change your diet – you’ll notice the effects of a healthy diet within days, and a huge difference within weeks!  The changes will be so evident that you’ll never want to go back!