In the Beginning – My 3-Week Gluten-Free Experiment – Day 1

As I stated in previous posts, I am formulating a new meal/exercise plan based on my uniqueness; age, gender, physical health and ability, time, motivation, finances (yes, that’s important too) and future goals.  When most people decide to “go on a diet,” most of the previous considerations are not taken into account. 

With the thousands of “diets” on the market, I have not yet come across one which targets anything resembling a personal experience.  You’ll find plenty of plans for those with common medical conditions such as high cholesterol, heart disease, cancer, celiac disease, lactose-intolerance, asthma or diabetes but none of them address the entire individual.  I’m proposing to address physical, medical, mental and emotional conditions simultaneously.  Since I’ve experienced occasional digestive problems for quite a while, I’m initially choosing a Gluten-Free approach to evaluate for several weeks.  

I’m not currently able to splurge on a gym membership so I’ll be starting my exercise regimen at home; with hand weights, jump rope, hula hoop, exercise band and workout video.  I had to laugh when I pulled out my selection of videos to determine which one I was going to use.  Three of the four were in VHS format from the late 80’s.  I cringe when I think I used to work out in coordinating leotards, tights and legwarmers.  The sad part is that they are making a comeback!  

I will be following the Biggest Loser series first.  Who knows, maybe I can sell the others on eBay.  The video begins with a 30-minute basic sculpting workout.  It offers two additional levels of intensity to add at your own pace.  I’m augmenting that program with two 15-minute routines using either the jump rope, hula hoop or exercise band throughout the day.  Motivation will be the most challenging part.  Hopefully, my determination and perseverance will overcome procrastination on the days I just don’t feel like moving too much.  I know I’m not alone in those occasional moments. 

Next is the cost factor of new ingredients I’ll need to purchase which I don’t normally stock such as dried beans and legumes (peas, green beans, edamame, etc.), rice pasta, quinoa, gluten-free baking products, condiments and canned items (which can be pricey).  I’ll incorporate these with the typically gluten-free foods I keep on hand such as dairy, lean meat, fish, poultry, fresh fruits and vegetables.  The most important factor in selecting gluten-free foods is to have a plan that incorporates the necessary amount of protein, carbohydrates and fats on a daily basis. 

Having just returned from a six-day trip in the wee hours of the morning, I wasn’t feeling overly enthusiastic though I managed an exercise session.  Fortunately, after scouring the refrigerator for permissible foods without having to run to the grocery store, I was pleased to find I had enough items on hand for the moment.  My meals for the day consisted of yogurt, walnuts, fresh fruits & vegetables, eggs and ground turkey. Two of my favorites were the smoothie and turkey burger (minus the bun).  I’ll still need to shop for fresh produce and lean meats along with some pantry items so that I’m not left salivating over at all the prohibited foods that reside in my cabinets.  After all, I’m the only one on this gluten-free plan and don’t expect my family to suffer through this process with me, at least not for the time being.  I’d have a mutiny on my hands.

Sifting through the myriad of gluten-free related articles and blogs I discovered online, I spotted a post which I found amusing and a bit ominous.   After their name, the person included the following:

  • Born and raised in OR; Currently living in UT
  • Gluten-free since June 2006
  • Also living with Hypoglycemia since 1991
  • Dairy-free for good since summer 2008
  • Started IBS diet and probiotics at GI’s recommendation – Fall 2008
  • Also avoiding: potatoes, beans, crucifers, popcorn, most red meat, coconut milk 😦
  • Started eating a Paleo diet Spring 2011. Love it

At first I wondered what the heck this person ate during the day.  Then I realized I am among friends of a feather and certainly not alone in my endeavor.  On a separate page, most likely in the next day or so, I will be posting a feasible weekly meal plan I can live with and summarize my results at the end of each week.  Daily postings would be boring.  Believe it or not, my stomach still feels heavy even without having consumed wheat today.   I realize I’m looking for instant gratification.  Yes, I’m a bit impatient but excited nonetheless.  This journey is definitely going to take some serious resolve.  Here we go! 

“Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe

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.