Category Archives: Gluten Free

Falling off the Ladder

   While I was on vacation, I must have eaten something I hadn’t. I am not sure if it was some old home fries, which I suspect or something from a buffet, which I equally suspect. When I make meals, I know exactly what ingredients go into the meal and how it is prepared. This is never guaranteed when you eat out. Even when you think a food is made a certain way, you still cannot be sure. We started our trip on Monday, by Tuesday late morning my stomach ached as it did when I first started this venture towards healing. It seemed as though I had erased 5 months of healing in just a day or two. I had just started experimenting with introducing a small amount of potato back into my diet. I had been adding just a small amount to my stir fries. That seemed okay, but maybe the home fries were more than I could handle. Who knows? It certainly could have been something else taken from the buffet.

   So to put aright this reversal in healing, I found an Aloe Vera drink at the store. It seemed to help. I have returned to my no grain, no nightshade diet in hopes of restoring the healing that I have lost. This was definitely an important lesson for me. I wish I could be sure of the catalyst for this stomach ache. I will have to experiment further in the future.

   Since I have been avoiding irritants for several months now, I wonder if any reappearance of an irritant creates an even stronger reaction than before. I liken it to those who have partaken of large amounts of alcohol and build up a tolerance to it, and then stop can have an increased reaction if alcohol is re-introduced.

   Anyway. I am back on track. I do feel a little bit better. I am travelling back of the ladder to healing once again.

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What’s Different?

What is the difference between my current diet and the ones that I tried before? First of all, only time will tell how successful this diet will be. The purpose of this diet was to improve my digestive symptoms. I am currently in my tenth week of Gluten free dieting which includes a month without any grains. My stomach is finally beginning to feel better.

But one additional effect of this current diet is that I am losing weight. I again, emphasize, this was and is not the main focus of this diet. But, hey, I will take it. Since I need to lose weight anyway, it is a most welcome addition.

My previous diets were just a lessening of the volume of food and calories that I was eating before. Even increasing whole grains and fiber were part of those diets. I now understand the effect of glucose spikes in the blood caused by wheat and other grains. Two slices of whole grain wheat bread raise your blood sugar levels higher than a Snicker’s bar. This in turn creates an insulin reaction that ends up storing the sugar as fat.

Even though I was tracking my calories and eating less of them, I felt deprived. The wheat and grains caused me to be hungry and stimulated my cravings for starchy foods. I would lose weight for a short while, but as soon as I began eating again, the weight would come back on, and sometimes even more. I was caught in the same endless cycle that many people are in.

So what makes this different? Removing the wheat and grain from my diet has caused me to seek out other sources of nutrition, namely fresh fruits, vegetables and meats. Vegetables, especially, are low in calories but high in nutrition. You can consume several cups of baby spinach and broccoli and barely break 150 calories. I have purposely tried to keep my carbohydrates below 100g per day. I am eating between 90 – 150g per day.

Again, what’s different? Because of the food that I am eating, I feel fuller on less calories. I am not hungry as often. Since my blood sugar is being kept stable from the naturally low glycemic effect of most of the foods I eat, I avoid the sugar crash and subsequent cravings that come with it. I am simply not hungry all the time as I was in the past. That is be big difference when it comes to hunger.

My past diets made me hungry or feel deprived. I really didn’t feel much better, even when I did lose some weight. Since I have stopped eating grains, I have experienced many benefits, many unexpected. I knew about the brain fog, as it happened to me before almost after every lunch. I did not expect my energy levels to go up as much as they have. I did not expect my arthritis pain to go away. I did expect my stomach pain to go away, but it did not while gluten free, but is now much improved as I am grain free.

Yesterday, I took a 5.5 mile ‘forced march’ hike with my son. My joints did not bother me. I was a little sore when I got home but it wasn’t arthritis pain, it was a ‘dang, that was a hell of a workout’ kind of pain and it felt good!

Benefits so far: more energy; more alert; no arthritis pain; less hungry; less cravings; fresher foods; cooking adventures; better mood; and better sleep.

When I tell people that I am grain free, they sometimes ask, “Then what do you eat?” That is a very fair question. It is a question that I would have asked myself if someone told me they were grain free. Wheat, corn, soy and rice is in the majority of foods in the American diet. The diversity in the store is actually based on a limited set of ingredients. So once you explore the outside aisles you can begin creating vegetable and meat dishes that are not only delicious but very nutritious and healing to your body.

Is there a difference this time? You bet there is. I am feeling better in so many different ways; it is absolutely amazing how diet affects your overall wellness. Of course we know what you eat is important, but until you experience such a change in your life, you will never understand just how important.

My wish is for a better health, better foods, and a better life for you.

Gluten Free Adventure – Part 2

Like many things in life, plans morph into something unexpected. My overall pain and arthritis pain has greatly subsided on the weeks of avoiding wheat, barley and rye. However, my stomach was still very much bothering me. Always being the inquisitive one, I began seeking information as to why my digestion discomfort continues. On this information search, I discovered a short video as to the number one mistake people make on a gluten free diet. Well, of course, that piqued my interest. The mistake was to not avoid all grains. The doctor spoke of a condition called Leaky Gut, or more clinically, intestinal permeability. Since my gut was not feeling any better on the GF diet, I decided that I would go on a Grain Free (GrF) diet. So I am now making it a point to have no grains, no nightshade vegetables (potato, tomato, eggplant), no peppers, and very limited legumes. I am also cooking all vegetables so that they will be easier to digest.

My current goal is to eat no more than 100 grams of carbs per day, mostly from vegetables and consuming low glycemic index foods.

Is it working? I have been on this diet for two weeks and my stomach has calmed down a little. More time will be needed to see if this is the right path. In the meantime, my wife and I are having an interesting time preparing very low carb meals that are satisfying. What we have discovered though, is that our cravings have subsided. We are less hungry even though we are consuming less calories. A side benefit is that we are losing weight.

Losing weight was not the plan or purpose of this adventure. The plan was to feel better and gain more mobility as well as heal our guts. My wife has digestion issues as well, but not the very same issues. Her gut is actually reacting better to the diet more quickly than mine. I am so very glad for her.

I am becoming more and more convinced that inflammation is generating a large host of problems for individuals. I am glad that the science is beginning to accumulate to help people find the answers they need and are right for them.  Body chemistry differs so blanket answers are difficult to form. Just like persons react differently to medications, the same can be true for foods.

One group of professionals is telling me that they have no answers and yet I seem to be finding them.  The internet is a wonderful tool to seek out those who looked for answers before. Are they all right? No. What works for them might not work for me. What works for me, might not work for you. Each of our bodies is unique. Differing blood types, differing sensitivities, and metabolic profiles require differing approaches. I believe the best way to achieve success is to try these different approaches, paying close attention to what our bodies tell us. There are so many diet ideas out there. The A to Z Diet study compared four popular diets showed that the subjects reacted differently to the same diet. So far, on my current path, my body is reacting positively, so much so, I do not want to do anything to reverse the progress.

I will gladly listen to a hundred differing opinions and seek out a common thread and test it for truth then to listen to just one voice which has already proven to me that it just isn’t working. But even with that said, I want to give thanks to all the friends, family, professionals and internet contributors that are accompanying me on this journey. It isn’t over yet and just may last the rest of my life.

My Gluten Free Adventure – Part 1

In late August of 2013, I suffered a terrible pain in my abdomen. It was on a Friday. I suppose that I will blame my gender for not having it checked out right away. I went to work, but didn’t last very long. I ended up going home sick. Resting during the weekend did not help because I asked my wife to take me to the urgent care center on Monday morning. Urgent care directed me to the emergency room of the hospital.

The doctors at the hospital and my own doctor could not determine what my issue was, but after taking an anti-spasmodic drug for a week, my stomach reached a tolerable plateau of pain. In December, I expressed to my cardiologist that I did not feel up to taking the scheduled stress test because of my stomach and arthritis pain. They did an echo-cardio instead. My cardiologist suggested I try a gluten free diet, just for a month, to see how I would feel. He had other patients that expressed improvement while on that diet.

On January 4, 2014, I began my gluten free adventure. I had decided that I would try the diet for two months instead of one. This is my fifth week on the diet. My stomach still bothers me, maybe relief will come later, maybe not. But, my arthritis pain has greatly subsided. The numbness in my right foot (neuropathy caused by statins) comes and goes instead of being constantly numb and painful. Overall, I am feeling much better.

I removed statins from my life a couple of years ago. Statins caused my entire body to ache and my joints almost too painful to move. It became a struggle to move. I was using a cane to walk around and thought that I would soon need a wheel chair. After reading anecdotal articles on the internet about statins, I announced to my doctor that I would no longer take them.  In 2 -3 weeks, my mobility returned, my pain levels dropped but still had evidence of arthritis. The numbness in my right foot never improved. I thought I had lost that forever.

The gluten free diet has changed even this. It is not an easy diet, especially when one such as I love the tempting treats at Dunkin Donuts. I am not a Celiac. I certainly appreciate how hard it is to avoid gluten completely. Celiacs have to avoid cross contamination, which is extremely difficult. It restricts where they can eat. Dining out is even more difficult. I can clearly see how this is a very real burden.

I am not even sure that I have a gluten sensitivity. But one thing I know for sure, is that eating gluten free for the last 5 weeks has drastically reduced my overall pain. I just saw my doctor. My cholesterol numbers, especially triglycerides has fallen and my good cholesterol HDL has gone up. I have no doubt at all that gluten raises cholesterol in my body.

My wife has joined me on this adventure, even though she did not have to do so. We have been experimenting with stir fried vegetables, fruit salads and parfaits, using meats as a flavoring and adding fresh fruits and vegetables to all our meals. Our Wegmans store has a Gluten Free (GF) section. It is quite nice. But I am not sure that gluten free necessarily means healthy. The GF items seem to be loaded with sugar and high in calories. I suppose they did that to make them taste as good as the gluten containing food.

When I started the diet, I actually gained weight. I believe that the gluten was inhibiting my body’s ability to take in nutrients. After three weeks, my weight had begun to plateau and now for the last two weeks my weight is beginning to fall slowly.

The other challenges are getting enough fiber and nutrients usually obtained from gluten foods such as enriched flour. I have been using supplements to make up the difference.

The pain reduction has convinced me that I want to stay on the GF wagon for the long haul. And my experience with statins is to never take them again. I am convinced that gluten and sugar cause inflammation throughout the body and raise cholesterol levels. The GF diet helps in areas that I would not have considered connected.

Wishing you well. Wishing you peace. Take care.