Going Gluten-free- My Journey to Wellness

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I wanted to share my recent guest blog published on Modern Day MS! http://moderndayms.com/2019/01/going-gluten-free-my-journey-to-wellness/

GOING GLUTEN FREE- MY JOURNEY TO WELLNESS
by Traci Thau · January 10th, 2019

ONCE UPON A TIME I ATE WHATEVER I WANTED…… I had constant migraines, crushing fatigue, heat intolerance, digestion issues and insomnia. One day I was given a challenge: give up gluten and starchy carbs for six weeks and see if symptoms resolved.

At the end of challenge I had more energy, lost stubborn weight and my insomnia, migraines and heat sensitivity improved. I also learned I had Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity. If I wanted to continue to feel good, I was going to have to change my diet permanently.

The first thing I did during my six-week trial was give up processed food. I didn’t want to figure out what had gluten in it, so I focused on eating real food. I ate chicken, beef, fish and vegetables. I made batches of veggies twice a week so that I didn’t have to cook all the time. I mostly ate at home so that I would have complete control over my diet. When I did go to restaurants, I would ask for plain meat or fish to be grilled or cooked in just olive oil, sea salt and pepper. I’d also ask for it to be cooked in a separate pan free of gluten. I’d order my vegetables steamed or sautéed in olive oil and garlic. These were simple requests, so I didn’t feel like a bother. I thought my transition to eating gluten-free was pretty easy.

Then I went to my first house party and just like that, there was nothing to eat. The same thing happened at nearly every BBQ and social event I was invited to. Suddenly, I became the difficult one to have over for dinner because of my ‘weird diet,’ aka, real food. This was almost a game-changer for me sticking with the plan. I didn’t want to go back to feeling sick all the time, so I had to figure it out. After leaving many events cranky and feeling shaky because I was hungry, I learned a few tricks. They are as follows:

Tips for events where you can’t control the menu:

Before any party, eat first. Yes, it’s annoying to have to do but it’s more of a hassle to get dizzy and faint.

Bring snacks with a healthy fat/protein ratio to keep you satisfied. A small tin of almonds or a protein/nut bar can fit into the smallest purse or pocket.

For a party, offer to bring something. My staple is a simple crudité, so I know I have something to eat from the start. I usually bring bean chips too.

For a BBQ or dinner, bring a filling side dish that can be your entire dinner if need be. I bring a vegetable quinoa, a red lentil veggie pasta or a roasted vegetable platter. All of these are ‘normal’ foods so nobody even notices they are gluten-free.

I have been known to bring an insulated cooler bag with all of the above (Appetizer, side dish, snacks) plus gluten free vodka or wine, to a party. At first, I worried I might insult the host but mostly they are relieved not to worry about what I can eat, and they don’t have to feel bad if there is nothing gluten free.

Restaurant warning:

Gluten hides everywhere. For someone with Celiac disease where cross-contamination can make them ill, eating out is a very different story than what I described for me. Although I try to avoid cross-contamination, my goal is to just not eat gluten.

Ideas for eating gluten-free on the go:

Carry gluten-free wraps in your bag. You can go into any deli and most convenience stores and buy sliced meats and cheese and make a wrap or fill it with PB&J or roasted veggies and hummus. Anything you want. I even use them at BBQ’s for burgers or hot dogs. I like coconut wraps. They are really thin and light to carry, and delicious!

Get a smoothie or Buddha bowl. A Buddha bowl is often made with quinoa or brown rice with vegetables and a protein. They make them at most natural health food stores.

Rice cake thins and nut butter. (They come in individual packets)

Apple slices and nut butter or hummus.

GF granola and coconut yogurt with cacao nibs or chia seeds.

My favorite easy gluten-free meals/recipes:

Breakfast-

Cream of buckwheat (Follow instructions on box) with coconut milk, blueberries and walnuts or pecans. (Drizzle of organic honey or organic maple syrup)

Lunch-

Chocolate-cherry smoothie- 2 scoops chocolate protein powder, 8-10 oz unsweetened vanilla almond milk, ¼ avocado, ¼ cup pitted cherries, ¼ cacao nibs, ¼ chia seeds, ¼ flax seed, 3 ice cubes. Blend.

Dinner-

Pizza with roasted cherry tomatoes and vegetables

Roast a pint of cherry tomatoes with olive oil and oregano for 8-10minutes on 400 degrees. Smash up and set aside for pizza ‘sauce’. At the same time roast whatever vegetables that you want, set aside.

Crust- Whisk together 2 cups almond flour, ¼ cup coconut flour, 2 TBSP arrowroot flour, 2 TBSP flax seed, ½ tsp black pepper, ½ tsp sea salt, ½ tsp basil, ½ tsp parsley, ½ tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp baking powder, sprinkle of desired amount of oregano. Adjust spices to your liking.

In a separate bowl, whisk 3 large eggs and 4 TBSP of olive oil. Pour into dry mixture and form dough into a ball. Roll out dough in between two pieces of parchment paper so it doesn’t stick. Place pizza crust and parchment paper onto a pizza pan. Remove top piece of parchment. If the dough is too dry, spritz with olive oil.

Place into a pre-heated oven 375 degrees. Bake 20 mins for crispy crust. Remove to add toppings. Bake for 5-10 minutes until cooked. Enjoy!

It’s been about seven years and I’m still gluten free. I believe my current health would have been very different story if I hadn’t changed my eating habits. Instead, I have improved my digestive health, increased my energy levels and learned to use nutrition to help control my symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Giving up gluten was the first step on my journey to wellness, but the story continues…

How will you change your story?

Traci Thau is the founder of MS Wellness Project- Living & Thriving with Multiple Sclerosis; a blog and online support group created as a free resource to exchange healthy diet and positive lifestyle habits to encourage and inspire others with chronic illness to take control of their health.

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