Thursday, January 5, 2012

Gluten Free We: Days 1 & 2

Yesterday Ben and I started the New Year off well: we went gluten free. Not just gluten free, but dairy (lactose) and processed sugar free as well.

My husband has a very sensitive stomach and many foods cause him all sorts of drama in his gut. He is often in pain and feels miserable because of something he ate. It hasn't been easy to pinpoint what is causing his system stress, and on the advice of his doctor, we're trying an elimination diet. I've suspected gluten for a long time, but Ben's thought carbonation, beer, and some types of dairy have been the culprets. Though he's had these issues for years, he's never wanted to risk missing out on his favorite foods for the sake of his stomach. Well, now, considering his pain is getting worse and more frequent as well as a general desire to clean up our diet, we're finally embarking on the elimination diet train, with a few tweaks.

It may be that Ben is officially Celiac and allergic to all kinds of things, but this month is about identifying some key triggers and cutting them out, mainly gluten and dairy, specifically, lactose. The processed sugar thing is just something I've been wanting to do for a while and now finally have the gusto to actually go for it.

We decided to be totally original and start our diet on January 1st, but the effects of the night before lingered a bit longer than we hoped and we decided to start on the 2nd.

The game plan was simple: no gluten, no processed sugars, no lactose (and minimal other dairy products) and for me, no coffee.

On the morning of day 1, I was pumped and ready to do this thing. I had to go to work, making my normal dash out the door with a cup of yogurt or a piece of toast a no-go, so I prepared some green tea and some gluten free oatmeal. The oatmeal was not what I hoped it would be! I had to doctor the oatmeal up with a little raw sugar and a bit more water, and even then, I felt like I was munching on the ground as I ate. Oh well, I hopped in the car and finished it on the go.

The rest of the day consisted of fruits and veggies, as well as my first can of gluten free chicken noodle soup. The broth was a little thick for my taste, but it wasn't bad. I was excited to be doing something positive with my diet and I thought the headache I had coming on was bearable and probably to be expected. I trudged through the rest of my day with some more veggies and lots of water.

When I got home I was famished and my headache was getting worse. Ben made a delicious dinner of brown rice and quinoa with black beans, ground turkey and fresh salsa. We even had some "Food Should Tast Good" multigrain chips to complement the meal. It was so yummy and I was starving, I had to literally force myself to stop "tasting" my food before I finally sat down to eat. I devoured my dinner and settled onto the couch for some TV.

All of a sudden, the fatigue I had been ignoring all day crept up with a vengence. My head began to pound and it was all I could do to get myself upstairs and ready for bed. I started to really question what exactly I had been eating before today. How was it that one day of clean eating could effect me so drastically? How horrible was my diet that 16 hours without gluten, dairy and sugar would make me feel like a truck was doing circles on top of my head? I pondered this as my head hit the pillow and I slept like a rock.

5:45 am on day 2 came quickly, but I felt refreshed after my sleep. I can't say I had a ton of energy, but I wasn't as sluggish as I normally am, but that could be because I went to bed at a descent hour the night before. Anyway, onto breakfast: We had invested in a juicer the day before we started this diet and Ben was going to make me my first one for breakfast. I was a bit skeptical, but excited. Ben made me a pear, green apple, cucumber and spinach juice and I toasted us each one Wildberry Buckwheat frozen waffle. This breakfast was much more palatable than day one's was! I quite enjoyed my juice and noted that the cucumber has a very strong, refreshing flavor, and the waffles (I am a die-hard Eggo lover, btw) were quite delicious, if only a bit mushier than regular (processed) frozen waffles. Not to shabby for day two!

I went onto work enjoyed a Cherry Pie Lara bar while I charted. This was a crazy day at work, but I didn't cheat or steal any crackers out of the pantry (I am a big fan of Saltines, especially when I'm slammed and I just need something to fill my stomach). I was super excited for my lunch of leftovers and snacked on some tangerines in the hours between my morning snack and lunch (which was around 3 pm because we were really, really busy).

I was feeling pretty good energy-wise, and still proud that I didn't bend at all - nor did I feel super tempted to - even when someone broke out donuts and chocolate bars, but I could not shake my headache. It was killer. I noticed I started to get snippy and impatient. People were irritating for things that should not have been irritating. I needed some coffee.

Now, I should explain my coffee addiction to everyone. It's not bad, in fact, considering I have one cup of black coffee or espresso a day (sometimes we go crazy and steam milk with our espresso) and an additional latte 2 or 3 times a week, it's quite mild. However, these two days of no coffee sure put my statements of "Coffee doesn't really effect me, I only drink it because I like it, I don't need it" to rest once and for all: I NEED MY COFFEE!

Around 3pm I couldn't bear my headache and my trusty self-indulgent and destructive thoughts started to kick in full-force and I caved:

And, as if God himself sanctioned my coffee splurge, Starbucks was brewing their final bag of Christmas blend. I couldn't even get this stuff at Christmas! I dived into that black, miracle liquid and all was right with my world. About 10 sips in, my headache was gone and my smile was back. I floated through the rest of my day and chose not to think about what a powerful drug caffeine truly is.

Though I felt a bit bad I couldn't even make my restrictions last two whole days, I felt OK with my decision that one black coffee a day really wasn't so bad.

Dinner was one of my favorites, "Filipino Breakfast" but modified. We used brown rice fresh from the rice cooker, not fried, and Amino Acid soy sauce instead of traditional soy sauce, which contains wheat. It was super delicious and though the new sauce was a bit more "earthy" it was a delicious meal!

Ok, so that wraps up day #2 (and it's currently day #4) and I've got to get this published and move'm just gonna go...

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