Spring Cleaning Carnival: Get the Gluten Out

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SPRING CLEANING BUTTON I’m pleased to introduce Amy Green of Simply Sugar and Gluten Free to host this week’s Get the Gluten Out” carnival. Here is the abridged version of her entire story. See the list of all the carnival topics and hostesses here.

My Story: Going Gluten-Free

imageBeing overweight was a way of life for me. From 2nd grade to my late 20’s I went on every diet published. The only consistent thing was that I always gained the weight back and a little more.

My life revolved around food. I ate huge quantities of food, always by myself. I never let anyone else see me eat a bag of chocolate chips or an entire box of  animal crackers.

At my highest weight I was over 180 pounds and only 21 years old.

Out of sheer desperation I saw an doctor that practiced alternative medicine. My life and health was a mess. Being fat was just one problem. I was depressed, moody, inconsistent, had persistent headaches, and struggled many days to do what most people take for granted.

After spending some time with me, Dr. Baron told me to quit eating sugar and wheat. His words were, “It’s going to kill you.”

Wanting to be well, I followed his instructions carefully. Difficult didn’t begin to Amy in 2000explain the change. Gluten-free flours weren’t readily available and sugar is in everything. After a few weeks I started to feel better and life started looking good again.

I was young, though, and not understanding the full implications, I started eating wheat and sugar again. It didn’t take long for my life to unravel. Any weight that I lost was quickly regained and I was binge eating again. Moodiness, depression, and just not feeling well pervaded every part of my life.

Six years later, a girlfriend of mine nervously told me that she had a problem with food, explaining that flour or sugar caused her to develop huge food cravings which always resulted in a eating too much.

I had the same problem. Dr. Baron’s foreboding words rang in my ears.

Relieved and a little concerned, I wasn’t sure I wanted to give up wheat or sugar. No bread. No brownies. No pretzels. I knew I had a problem but, at the time, no flour and sugar was a bigger problem. I decided to keep doing what I had been doing. It worked. Sort of.

image Months passed. The day came when I realized that I could no longer manage my food problems. I remember being completely stuffed, my stomach in pain, and I kept eating. I’d lost all control. In tears, I called my girlfriend and asked for help.

When I eat flour or sugar, my body starts to crave more and more. In fact, no amount of flour and sugar was ever enough. This is why I failed at every diet I’ve ever tried. I couldn’t eat flour or sugar without having cravings, which always resulted in too much food. The only option was to let go of the flour and sugar and find another way to eat.

I didn’t eliminate sugar and gluten from my diet to lose weight. I only wanted some peace in my life. But one day, I was getting ready for work and my clothes were loose. I smiled, grateful that I was fully aware of what had caused the change.

It took a lot of prayer, patience, and determination to live a better life. Some days it still does. People always ask how I “live like this” as if it’s a step down. The honest truth is that it’s a step up. For me, there is no bigger prison than living in a body I hated and not being able to get out.

My weight has been constant for almost 6 years, about 110 pounds. Food no longer rules my life. I have a freedom that brings joy and peace. I am healthy and happy with who I am and how I show up in the world today.

So, what’s gluten?

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve been asked this, I’d be really rich.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. It’s what gives structure and form to our breads, rolls, and cookies. Sounds harmless, huh?

For most people it is. For those with Celiac Disease, though, gluten causes an autoimmune response and the body produces antibodies that attack the intestines. Over time, this can cause a myriad of problems including stunted growth, anemia, osteoporosis, vitamin and mineral deficiency and depression.

I don’t have Celiac Disease so I can’t talk in detail about how it impacts life. The Gluten Free Homemaker is a great resource for anyone wanting to learn more.

Gluten intolerance, on the other hand, doesn’t involve an autoimmune response but still causes gastrointestinal distress and has a significant impact on health and well being. For someone like me, wheat impacts mood, hunger, weight, mental clarity, and general well-being.

Is gluten-free healthier?

Not necessarily.

Many heavily processed, gluten-free shelf products are higher in fat and sometimes sugar to create a consistency like their wheat laden counterparts. Starchy flours like tapioca, white rice, sweet rice, and cornstarch often make up the majority of the baking mix. I’d be a liar if I told you they were healthier.

But wait…

Enter healthier baked goods with brown rice, buckwheat, sorghum, garfava, coconut, almond, and garbanzo bean flours. gluten free almond butter jelly cookies Whole foods instead of processed shelf products. Lots of fresh fruits and veggies. Nutritious whole grains like millet, quinoa, and amaranth.gluten free pumpkin pie ice cream sandwiches

You may not need to eat gluten-free, but you can certainly improve the quality of what you eat by taking some cues from those of us who do. After being sick for so long, we seem to develop a passion for health and well being. Going to any length to eat well is what we live for.gluten free cranberry walnut bread

To be Continued…Practical Steps

Tuesday at Simply Sugar & Gluten Free I’ll have simple ways you can start to make healthier, gluten-free changes in your diet. I’ll also have a Linky up so you can add any gluten-free recipe or related article.

Here’s Katie’s contribution with some basic gluten facts and her personal GF challenge!

Next week’s hostess is Beth Terry of My Free Plastic-Life, and the theme is Getting Out the Plastic Food Storage Containers. Get any posts on alternatives to plastic ready to go!

Isn’t Amy incredible? Her food photos always make me drool! You can bet if you have recipes on your blog, you have some that are gluten free. Take a look. Visit Amy. Link up, gain knowledge, and get a chance to win…

GIVEAWAY:  Tropical Traditions Coconut Flour

I hadn’t a clue how to tackle going gluten free, but I thought I’d get some gluten free flour so I had some ammunition for new recipes. Tropical Traditions has the best coconut products anywhere, and I got to try out some coconut flour (you will too!). This is what I made today for “dessert” after lunch:cherry almond coconut crepes (9) cherry almond coconut crepes (14)

It was totally dessert, but no added sugar or gluten. It doesn’t even feel like Holy Week! I better find some more terrible tasting GF recipes so I’m really sacrificing! 😉  Should I share this recipe next week?

If you would like to win a bag of coconut flour from Tropical Traditions, here are 10 ways you can get entries into this giveaway:

  1. Link up to the carnival at Amy’s post.
  2. Leave a comment (follow her directions) at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free.
  3. Leave a comment at this post with any information about gluten or your story.
  4. Subscribe to the Tropical Traditions sales newsletter to get special offers (and find out when they have free shippping!).
  5. Subscribe in a reader or via email to Kitchen Stewardship (or tell me if you already do).
  6. If you have a blog or website, post about this giveaway linking back to this post.
  7. Follow me on Twitter AND Tweet about the giveaway (just click the button at the top of this post).
  8. Tell me the coconut flour recipe you’d most like to try from this list of coconut recipes.
  9. Place an order at Tropical Traditions for anything and leave a comment for a bonus entry. If you’re a first time customer, please select “Referred by a friend” and in the box that says “How did you hear of us?” enter my sponsor ID number… 5503722. You’ll get a free book about coconut oil that is truly fascinating, and I’ll get a good deal from TT too!
  10. Stumble or Digg your favorite post or recipe at Kitchen Stewardship.   (What is Stumble?)

(If you receive KS via email, you will need to click over to the site to leave a comment.)  Please leave all your entries in separate comments so it’s easier for me to count.
GIVEAWAY CLOSED; I’m not closing comments, but the winner has already been notified.

I will use random.org’s integer generator to choose the winner. The giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents. Entries will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. EST on Sunday, April 4th, and I’ll post the winners by the following Monday.

Cleanwell Giveaway Winner

The winner of last week’s carnival Cleanwell giveaway is Kristi, a commenter. Congrats!

Disclosure: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product. See my full advertising disclosure here.

Click here for my disclaimer and advertising disclosure - affiliate links in this post will earn commission based on sales, but it doesn't change your price.

118 Bites of Conversation So Far

  1. says

    We’ve been gluten free since August, when we found out that our youngest, Emily, is extremely gluten intolerant. People always ask us what we do for lunch. We used to have sandwiches all the time too. We do have some gluten free bread that we like, however, we mostly do leftovers from dinner the night before: soup, rice pasta, mashed potatoes, polenta, roast chicken or beef, beans and rice and of course lots of veggies. It’s actually simpler than making sandwiches, the work was done the night before!
    .-= christina´s last blog ..My Dad’s Favorite Applesauce Cake – Now Gluten Free =-.

  2. says

    I have a number of friends who have raved about how much better they feel after going gluten free even though they don’t have celiac’s. Given my weight, Amy’s story makes me even more tempted. It’s just such a HUGE change . . . Baby steps, right?
    .-= nopinkhere´s last blog ..Overboard =-.

  3. Deb J says

    I have been working on going gluten and sugar free. I am a diabetic and I also have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and Multiple Chemical Sensitivities. I am working on getitng the chemicals, plastics, glutens and sugars out of my diet. I think it will make a huge difference.

  4. says

    Katie – thanks so much for the honor of letting me share with your readers. I’ve obviously gone gluten-free for reasons other than Celiac but it’s been life changing. I still have some shame about being so big and out of control, so sharing my story is always a little humbling. It seems to help others, though, so it’s a way for me to be of service and turn a darker part of my life into light.

  5. says

    My relationship with gluten is pretty simple, I have celiac disease, so it isn’t in my diet. I was sick for a few years, but after being diagnosed, I started to get healthier, gain energy and not have as many stomach aches. It’s a slow process, as your gut must heal, but within a week I felt better and within a few months, I was doing things that were almost normal.

    Currently, I bake and love to play with my gluten-free flours. Some expect to give up all of that, but I’ve found that I do it much more and love it even more as well =D.
    .-= Lauren´s last blog ..Cara Cara Orange Tian for Daring Bakers =-.

  6. Lanise says

    I have a sneaking suspicion that a couple of my kids may have a gluten intolerance. But, if we decided to go gluten free for a while, I also want to make sure that I feed my kids whole foods and not refined/processed foods. How can I tell which of the flours that are used in gluten free recipes are not refined?

    • says

      I would think, though I could be wrong, that all flours are refined to some degree since they are no longer in their natural state. Gluten-free flours are different than wheat flours in that some are ground from beans so there is no bran or germ to remove. In the case of rice flour, brown rice would be the one you’d want to use instead of white or sweet rice as it uses the whole grain.

      Try buckwheat, sorghum, garfava, garbazno, and millet flours. They’re all delicious and offer more nutrition than a white gluten-free flour.
      .-= Amy @ Simply Sugar & Gluten Free´s last blog ..Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free: Guiltless Pleasures March 2010 =-.

  7. says

    My friend sent me a link to this site, she’s the best! I had been trying to go wheat free this past month and over the last 2 weeks I’ve fallen back in to the habit of eating everything… and I mean EVERYTHING.

    Amy, thanks for sharing your story. I think it’s the encouragement that I really need to do this. I’m challenged to get rid of the sugar as well (although that’s going to be harder than the wheat).

  8. Deirdre Hopkins says

    I am interested in this topic because my 3 month old baby had been having intolerance issues. After eliminating dairy I am moving on to gluten. Any info is helpful!

  9. Emily Lorenz says

    Wow, this is very interesting to me. We have a good friend who was recently diagnosed with Celiac, so it has mildly been on my radar. After reading this it leaves me thinking. . . after just having our third child and currently nursing, I have developed an addiction? to what I call ‘baked goods.’ Full of both sugar and gluten. I have actually commented on this to people recently – before kids I actually disliked most bread products and of course ate my share of sweets, but tended to stick to ‘my share.’ I was thinking of my mom, and other women, myself now included, I know and the seeming drawn to these types of foods. Guess I don’t really have any conclusion other than that there does seem to be some sort of connection between eating them and wanting more and Amy’s story and comments put more meat to thought. I look forward to perusing her recipes and thinking more about the place of both gluten and sugar in my families diet. Thank you both!

  10. Pamela says

    I am just beginning this gluten-free journey for my family after thyroid issues ranging from hypothyroid to thyroid cancer were diagnosed in each of us last year. We began just last week – and eliminated almost all refined sugar at the same time.

    I have trouble figuring out just how gluten free we need to be – do I need to be radical about it and examine every single item in the house or is eliminating the stuff I know of enough? I mean, do I need to Google every condiment we use to see if it has any hidden gluten in it or will we notice improvements, if any of us prove to be gluten intolerant if we eliminate most gluten?

    I’m also trying to find a gluten-free recipe for bread that my family likes. My mother bought us a loaf of bread made with rice flour and nobody liked it. We made a loaf of bread from a Pamela’s mix that we did like but it was very expensive for us and my husband is unemployed. Not the best time to begin what appears to be a rather expensive experiment.

    • says

      I rarely eat bread – it seems to be the gluten-free ‘holy grail’ but honestly, you can get more bang for your buck eating delicious whole foods. There are so many nutritious varieties of beans and rice to try that will satisfy you without draining your pocket book. Polenta is a fabulous choice, too. We grill the leftovers the next day for a satisfying bread-like treat.

      Here’s my oven baked polenta recipe and my restaurant style black beans recipe. Simple and delish!
      .-= Amy @ Simply Sugar & Gluten Free´s last blog ..Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free: Guiltless Pleasures March 2010 =-.

      • Pamela says

        Thanks, Amy. I found your blog last week when my cousin sent me a link to it. Her daughter has had celiac almost since birth. I’ve enjoyed reading your story and browsing the recipes. I’ve tried a few already and they’ve been terrific. I appreciate the fact that you are also sugar-free because I am trying to reduce the amount of sugar consumed in our family as well as eliminate gluten. Can’t wait to check out the recipes you suggested.

  11. says

    When I went gluten-free about a year and half ago, I wasn’t sure what I was getting in for. But after my health dramatically improved and I started getting “plugged in” with all of the wonderful gluten-free, health-concious bloggers out there, I think it’s safe to say that going GF was one of the best things I’ve ever done!
    .-= Hallie @ Daily Bites´s last blog ..Buckwheat and Fig Butter Scones =-.

  12. says

    I love this story and it hits so close to home. I have the same problems with cravings for flour and sugar that you describe and when I completely cut them out a few years ago I was a happy skinny chick. After adding them back in I’ve found myself 40 pounds heavier again with the accompanying moodiness and depression. I’ve been gluten-free for a week now and already starting to feel better. Thanks for sharing your story!!!

  13. Karen says

    People should also know that weight gain can be an indicator of Celiac. If a person has a lot of auto immune disorders that are not being relieved with medication and/or vitamin deficiencies-this can also be an indicator. New studies are showing more people that are overweight are being diagnosed than underweight….which was always thought to be the big indicator. My sons and I have been gluten free for a month. I have gone down 3 sizes, feel better than I have I think ever and my sons improving more everyday from their autism/sensory/behavioral issues. My baby is also doing better being breastfed. Life is good gluten free! I am getting my mother in law to go gluten free too and I cannot wait to see her difference in a few weeks!
    Thanks for getting the word out about Celiac and gluten intolerance!

  14. says

    Having been gluten-free for awhile, and entirely grain-free (and unlike most gluten- and grain-free people, also bean and nut free), gluten-free isn’t daunting at all! Anymore, that is. It sure was at first. Now we are lucky that my daughter can tolerate sprouted spelt (but NOT any unsprouted flours — don’t go there!). It is amazing what the change can do to you. I weighed 30 lbs. more when I ate “healthy” food that included a lot of grain and starch and thought that was just how it was. I wasn’t sick, though, like Amy. But I changed my eating habits and the weight fell off and stayed off. I told my husband a year ago I would NEVER weigh this little (112 — I told him anything less than 120 was “unrealistic”). Changing how I consumed gluten and grains was a big part of it.
    .-= Kate´s last blog ..Baby Steps in the Medicine Cabinet, Part 2 =-.

  15. Leah F says

    I have been diagnosed with IBS since 2001 but following the IBS diet with extra fiber does not do much to help me. I have been seeing more information lately about gluten and wonder if that could be more what the problem is instead of IBS. Some of the foods that they list to cause IBS problems do not effect me.

  16. Rebecca says

    As I write this I am trying to come to terms with the fact that probably do not tolerate gluten well. I have chronic health problems and was gluten free for 2 years or more in an attempt to feel better. I certainly was not “cured” but lately I have added wheat back to my diet and my husband mentioned that he noticed I have been feeling worse lately since eating wheat again. I don’t know if it is a coincidence or not, but I will try again. Wheat is so yummy, though, right? sigh….It does help to have so many tasty looking recipes like Amy’s to help out. I appreciate your story, too Amy. Your candidness is much appreciated.

    I would love to try some coconut flour in gluten free cooking.

  17. says

    I wanted to leave a tip about saving money on almond flour- because that stuff is expensive. Trader Joes has a decent print on Almond Meal- about $4 for a bag- but it has the skins and doesn’t work for all recipes.

    If you want the skinless you might be paying upwards of $7 a lb.

    I picked up a coffee mill that you can set the grind size at a thrift store for $4 to grind my own GF flours and one day I realized that blanched, slivered almond grind like a dream in it.

    They just zip right through. And this means that I can probably grind my own almond flour for around $4 a lb

    .-= My Petite Chefs´s last blog ..Chocolate Coconut Oil Frosting =-.

  18. Cathy says

    I would most like to try the Scottish Shortbread recipe in the coconut flour recipe section of that site.

  19. KatieC says

    I also just subscribed to Tropical Traditions’ sales newsletter.

    And…I’m gluten free since October, when bloodwork confirmed what it was doing to my body. Immediately before being diagnosed, I was (almost subconsciously!) trying to stuff my face with every glutinous product I could get my greedy little mitts on. I would route myself by bakeries on the way home from work and pick up a roll; sweet or yeast, didn’t matter to me. I don’t think I wanted to realize that was the reason why I would have bouts of excruciating pain. I was baking loaf after loaf of bread at home, as well. So needless to say, after being diagnosed my world changed exponentially.

    Already being pretty handy in the kitchen and committed to making as much as I could right in my house, I had a definite advantage to many facing their initial diagnoses. I started playing with packaged flour mixes (which were slowly crushing my soul) until I was brave enough to buy my own specialty flours and feel like I could goof around with moderate success and minimal waste. I’m getting there, but it’s a process. After having reliably turned out almost perfect loaves of bread, for some reason they’re now all partially raw and much flatter. Trying to figure out what gives can really drive you crazy!

    Fortunately I have a very supportive husband who will go to bat for me with any restaurant server who crosses our path with ignorant resistance. I’m spending a bit more money at the store these days, which is uncomfortable for us, but he is very understanding that I’m still learning, and this phase won’t last forever. Plus, he can see how much better my health is, which, honestly, is his most likely motivation for supporting me. I’m a lucky girl. :) Sorry, did you ask for my gluten story, or my gluten novel? Ramble, ramble, ramble she does, given any opportunity. 😉

    Thank you for your website. I am so inspired each time I visit. I’ve made several “baby leaps” since stumbling upon it late January. I need more of your philosophy in my life.

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