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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Glimpse of My Gluten Free Day


I thought it would be fitting to give a glimpse into my day as a “gluten-corn-dairy-sugar-starch-free” consumer.  It might shed some light on why it is so hard to not eat forbidden foods.  As a point of reference, I can only eat the following things for the time being: multi-vitamin, 96 oz. water, nuts, fiber, beans, veggies (no corn, potatoes or tomatoes), lean protein, and all spices except for garlic and pepper.   I can’t eat any starches because those turn to sugar, wherein lies my original problem----body sugar regulation issues.

But I can eat any vegetable I want! 

This gluten-free, etc. life isn’t quite automatic for me yet.  I still work REALLY hard at it.  I get a lot of admiration at work because people think I’m “healthy” with my vegetable break mid-morning, my mug of hot water and fiber and 5 water bottles full of water versus going to the soda machine.  It takes every muscle in my body not to go to the vending machine during the day.  I’m hoping those cravings get easier because sometimes a Starburst from the candy dish is too tempting!

Every morning, I make a variation of this breakfast.  Since I can’t have any sort of starch for the moment, gluten-free (GF) muffins, cakes, brownies and the like are not options, so I have to plan ahead. 

Today’s breakfast: Zucchini Egg Odiferous Splenderosity

Ingredients:
·         2 eggs (I use one egg white so that it’s not too much of a serving of protein-  matter of preference)
·         Zucchini- however much you want (a cup diced)
·         Seasoning blend: paprika, onion powder, oregano, basil, salt.



Directions: Saute veggies until soft.  Add eggs and scramble (on medium-low heat).  Add spices.  Serve warm.  Eat with a side of legumes. 









Variation: Saute frozen vegetable blends like bags of stir fry vegetables or chopped broccoli and a frozen onion.  This makes it seem different every morning.  I like to change-up my spices, too. 

It sounds boring, but since I’ve eaten this for breakfast, I never hit that “10:30 slump” everyone has at the office.  You know- the time everyone goes to refill their coffee cup at the Thermos or raid the vending machine.  I never crave that in the morning.  I have steady energy throughout. 




At the same time I’m making breakfast, I’m also making my lunch protein: two hardboiled eggs (of which I only eat the whites.  The rest of lunch is simple- frozen or fresh veggies and beans. 



People at work always ask, “Aren’t you getting too much protein with all those beans?”   According to my nutritionist and sources I've found, beans are a main source of fiber, not protein.    

Little Known Fiber Facts:
  •      One cup of black beans has 19.4 grams of fiber! (I love black beans-  there are lots of other options)
  •       Beans have significantly more carbohydrates than protein (They’re in the wrong section on the Food Pyramid, too, with that information.)
  •           Beans don’t give you gas, but organisms that break down their sugars do!

Most beans have no more than 9% protein versus at least 22% carbohydrate.  That said, they’re really a carb!  From a nutrition class in college, I learned that beans are an “incomplete protein” which means they have to be combined with another substance to become a complete protein.  Rice+beans= complete protein.  It’s not as efficient as say a piece of meat, but if you can’t eat meat, I imagine it works!

My lunch bag usually looks starts like this.  I should pre-portion the nuts and beans, but I don’t often plan ahead well enough to do this.  This larger can of beans is two days-worth really!


 10:30, 1:30 and 3:30- black beans and/or fiber.  Whatever I can fit in.

Throughout the day- Lots and Lots of Water and snacks consist of vegetables.

Tonight for dinner, I made shepherd’s pie.  This is a great gluten-free option to make in a pinch.  It’s dairy-free, too!  I had so supplement vegetables as the peas weren't really enough of a portion.
I even included a layered view!

If I had more foresight, I would have made my usual recipe with mock mashed potatoes (made from yellow split-pea lentils) instead.  I guess that will be a post for another day.  The link to the mock mashed potatoes is here:Mock Mashed Potatoes.  And I have to admit, this meal was a bad example of a "starch-free" food. I made it because my brother was eating over and I don't normally subject people to my diet.  

So that's generally a pretty good example of what I eat!  I’ve just started looking at food less as enjoyment and more as “nourishment”.  At least at this point in the diet, I have to just focus on eating what I should be eating- no matter how bland it is or what it tastes like.  And with all the effort so far, I’m feeling a lot better and I’ve already lost 10 pounds…I just can't cheat...

Does this may mean I have to start eating beets?  Only time will tell.

All I can say now is that I will still be tempted by dark chocolate and we'll see what comes of that.  It's my "downfall" food. If I eat it, there's no telling what bad food I'll eat next!

Have you tried going gluten-free?  What was the hardest part for you?  
What's your downfall food?  

Peas and love,

~Kaaren

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Beginning


Vegetarians are on the right track.  They question their food sources and strive for a healthy variety.  Chiropractors know that the body, if helped along naturally, can fight off most common conditions with alignment and exercise.  Homeopaths know how to use natural substances to cure ailments and aid in natural bodily processes.  On the other hand, the field of medicine is vast- with each kind of doctor specializing in varying degrees and types of cures, wellness, and disease including bacterial, viral and fungal.

Where does a meat and vegetable-loving, chiropractic-supporting, homeopathic-following nut belong on the spectrum of health and wellness?  In my own category, that’s where!

I started a blog about being unemployed, which was going well, until the point I was employed again and then I didn’t have much to say about it.  However, with all that’s going on in my life with food thus far, I thought it were only natural to write about my journey on a possibly life-long gluten-free, corn-free, dairy-free, soy-free diet that I started on- a few years into a stressful job and a few years after a trip abroad. 

I guess I’ve struggled with food as long as I could remember including not being hungry and digestive issues, however, the last 5 years of my life stand out as the roughest.  I started a stressful job in ’06 and despite my best efforts, I struggled with mood disorders, extreme digestive symptoms (I’ll keep the details private), inability to sleep more than 2-4 hours at a stretch, dry skin, hot earlobes, dark- dark circles under my eyes, and the most disturbing of all – a largely distended stomach that incited questions of pregnancy at EVERY family gathering and at teaching functions.  After a number of exams and a few tests, I was diagnosed with lactose and soy intolerance, but the problems didn't go away once those were eliminated...

 The numerous doctors I sought out dismissed me.  After I explained my symptoms, a few medicated me.  Most probably saw me as a hypochondriac.  One day, the doctor I saw at a wellness clinic opened my eyes to new health facts I hadn’t been aware of- the healing power and harming power of food.  After seeking information out on my own and reading a few books, I settled on seeing a nutritionist who turned my world (and what I knew about food) upside-down for the better!   

I am not a doctor and don’t claim to have the cure for any illness, but I do believe in the power of being a critical reader and thinker- and that my knowledge is limited to the information I seek out on my own.  I question what I eat and also what I read.   I’m excited to share new information with you- information I struggle with about current food, new and alternative nutritional beliefs and information, and how going virtually corn, gluten, dairy and soy free is going.  And sometimes, how it isn’t going.

In case you’re wondering about the cake in the background, I did bake it myself when I started going on my restrictive diet.  There's a glue stick behind it because I was probably prepping something for my classroom.  There is no glue-stick IN the cake.   Why did I make it if I can’t eat it, you ask?  Because not everyone who has a birthday around me deserves to eat cardboard while I’m learning to cook with alternative ingredients.  This was the real deal- a genuine German Chocolate Cake with 5 separate sub-recipes.




Thanks for reading!