The Gluten-Free Controversy Continues…

After all my research and choosing to follow a gluten-free diet for 3 weeks in an effort to alleviate digestive discomfort, I read the following article from HuffPost Healthy Living,dated July 31, 2012:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/30/gluten-free-diets-and-cel_n_1721467.html

I like to keep an eye on Mayo Clinic reports, although they are not the only resource I investigate.  The study claims that the majority of people adhering to a gluten-free diet either do not have Celiac disease or were never tested for it (like me) and chose a gluten-free diet believing it would help with the common symptoms associated with the disease such as, bloating, diarrhea, headaches and chronic fatigue.

Again, I’m still in the developmental phase of my nutrition/exercise plan, based solely on my individual lifestyle, medical issues, and the like.  I’m not surprised by the article especially where it indicates that those people who tested negative for Celiac disease do in fact experience “non-celiac gluten sensitivity.”  At the end of October, I’ll be able to decide if removing gluten from my diet has helped my digestive difficulties, primarily bloating and an overall feeling of abdominal discomfort.

Check out one of the GF Main Meal recipes below…

In addition to the formulating a 7-day meal plan which I’ll stick with for the 3 weeks; I’m incorporating exercise into my design.  My goal is several 15-20 minute exercise routines throughout the day.  This will help break up a normally tedious hour-long workout and I expect will also help maintain my energy on a more consistent level.

I realize it would perhaps make more sense to be properly tested (blood test and bowel tissue biopsy) before engaging in a completely gluten-free diet however I am not fond of the type of testing required; I don’t care for needles and haven’t had my first colonoscopy yet.  Additionally, gluten-free diets are not designed to help people lose weight which is what I really prefer to do.  My rationalization is that I’d rather deal with the abdominal discomfort issue first and then select a meal plan based on the results of prohibiting gluten from my diet.  The second phase of my goal is choosing foods that will help me lose weight as well as address other medical concerns I have.

First things first; I’m going to enjoy this coming weekend in NC with my family.  Upon my return, the real work will begin.  I have to say I’m looking forward to my experiment.  It’s only for 3 weeks.  I’m ready and willing, albeit apprehensive, to take on this challenge and make my evaluation.  This is the worst time of the year for me to be making dietary changes, with the holidays approaching.  It will be a true test of my fortitude, I can tell you that.  We will just have to wait and see!

“I may not be there yet, but I’m closer than I was yesterday.” ~ Author Unknown

Beef and Green Beans (Slow Cooker)

 Ingredients
  • 3 pounds chuck roast
  • 1/3 cup rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons molasses
  • 16 ounces frozen slender green beans
Instructions
  1. Cut the roast in to strips about 3/4 inch wide. Trim most of the fat.
  2. Combine the strips of roast, flour, salt and pepper in a greased 6 quart or larger slow cooker. If using a smaller cooker, cut the recipe in half.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to mix them together.
  4. Cover and cook on low 6 – 8 hours or high 3 – 4 hours.
  5. Serve with rice or pasta.

To Be or Not To Be – Gluten Free

Humans are creatures of habit.  I believe that because I generally wake up each morning at the same time and go through my routine like clockwork.  There is a comfortable rhythm to it and I could probably go through all those motions in the first fifteen minutes with my eyes closed.  What happens when my routine is interrupted?  It seems to throw the whole morning off. 

 It’s the same with any change though.  For the past year or two I’ve noticed changes in my body that, while minor, are nonetheless disturbing.  Did I mention it to my doctor at my annual check-up?  No, because I didn’t feel it was important enough.  I got a clean bill of health after my blood test results came back so why ask questions?  The fact that I feel bloated all the time must be because I drink coffee in the morning.  The reason I make so many trips to the bathroom during the day is because I drink a lot of water.  I feel full after a small meal because I had too much fiber.  I offered many excuses for the reason I wasn’t feeling my best and was slowly gaining weight every couple of years; I was “getting older.”

 Being a creature of habit, I did not want to change my routine.  However, after making mental notes and eventually keeping a journal, I noticed my digestive problems were directly related to either certain foods I ate, when I ate them or how much I consumed.  Before reporting these findings to my doctor, I chose to play detective.  If I changed what I ate, when and how much I ate, I should be able to determine which of the foods I consumed on a regular basis is the culprit.

 My first attempt at discovery was trying Activia brand yogurt.  The claim on their website http://www.activia.us.com/ is that Activia “is made with the exclusive probiotic culture, Bifidus Regularis® (Bifidobacterium lactis DN-173 010) and can help naturally regulate your digestive system.”  After two weeks, I actually felt worse, so that didn’t work.  Then I tried to eliminate cheese, ice cream and other milk products from my diet to see if I was still Lactose-intolerant as I had been throughout my teens and twenties.  Two weeks later, no change.  My third trial will begin the first week of October when I’m back from a short vacation and more able to carefully assess what I eat and how it affects me.

 This third experiment concerns gluten.  The reason I may be having digestive problems could be that I have Celiac Disease.  “Celiac disease is a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing parts of food that are important for staying healthy.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001280/

With the help of a registered dietitian, I intend to follow a gluten-free diet for three weeks.  We are developing a meal plan which takes into account information from medical journals, research studies and scholarly reports. 

 I first heard of this disease from a baker on a segment of a Martha Stewart show.  She described how she was diagnosed with Celiac disease several years prior and created a cookbook with dessert recipes which were gluten-free.  Shortly thereafter, I heard one of “The View” talk show hosts speak of her ordeal with the disease.  I thought to myself, this may be the ailment I have.  The only way of knowing for sure without having to undergo formal testing is take the route similar to allergy testing.  I am going to avoid foods containing gluten for three weeks and see if I notice a change.  Then I will contact my physician and advise him of my findings.

 Here comes the difficult part.  As previously mentioned, it is tough to change a habit or routine.  I’ll need to stay positive and focus on how good I’ll feel once I eliminate gluten from my diet if in fact gluten is the cause of my problems.  Personally, the most challenging part will be avoiding bread, cakes, cookies, pasta, salad dressing, sauces and soups plus a few other food products.  That pretty much covers everything I’m used to eating.

 In order for me to feel better, I’ll need to be committed to change.  Replacing foods in my diet with those my digestive tract can handle will ultimately help me achieve optimum health.  I am still not certain I do have Celiac disease.  On the other hand, what could be so bad about revising my diet for three weeks?  If it doesn’t work, I can always revert to my prior dietary habits.

 In the meantime, I’m having fun putting together a variety of meals that I’ll enjoy making and eating.  I am equipped with an arsenal of cookbooks and products specially designed for those who must follow a restricted gluten-free diet.  One drawback to this plan is that it is more expensive.  Foods that are marketed to the “health conscious” generally cost more.  Time will tell if my little investigative plan succeeds and so will my waistline.  I’m hoping for the best.

 “Perseverance, secret of all triumphs.”  ~ Victor Hugo