Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

What Was it Like to go Gluten Free for a Week?

April 12th, 2010 · 29 Comments · My Story, Special Situations

Sometimes I make hasty decisions.

When I decided to go gluten free for Holy Week, I just did it.  It wasn’t until I was writing a post about it that I began to realize it was going to take a lot more effort than I had given it credit for.

Gluten is in wheat, rye and barley, which don’t sound so intimidating in number (only three things!), but as it turns out, we eat a lot of wheat at my house!  We also went meatless for Holy Week, so that provided an added challenge with one less food group to incorporate into meals.  Keep in mind I was already sugarless for all of Lent, and I gave up processed corn and soy.

The Result?

I did and didn’t want to feel differently while fasting from gluten.  On one hand, if cutting gluten gave me exponentially more energy and mental clarity, I wanted to experience that and know how to obtain it.  On the other hand, if I felt better gluten free, I would worry that I should give it up for good, and I quickly learned how much of a lifestyle change that would be for me.

Ultimately I didn’t feel any differently, although I did notice very regular bowel movements.  Every time I used the toilet, I had a bowel movement.  I’m so sure you wanted to know that.  Sorry, I should have put a poop disclaimer before writing that sentence.  ;)  The second I added gluten, sugar and white flour back into my diet, I was much more stopped up, and I did notice that the first time I had unsoaked whole wheat, later in the week, I could feel the heavy-ness, and was even less likely to have regular BMs.  Hmmmm!

What does a Gluten Free Week Look Like?

It was definitely a valid sacrifice, and I had lots of opportunities to pray.

Breakfasts:

We ate lots of soaked oatmeal, a green smoothie, scrambled eggs, and Paleo pancakes.  When my family had toast, I replaced that with a leftover baked potato.  Don’t laugh – I used to eat baked potatoes for breakfast all the time in high school!  I just remembered my love affair with those spray butters on my potatoes…blech…talk about consuming chemicals!

Lunches:

Mostly leftovers. I ate lunch at the zoo Tuesday and had a hard-boiled egg, yogurt with fruit, and a salad.  Packing a lunch without wheat was definitely trickier!  I planned ahead when making the chickpea wraps on Friday and used amaranth flour instead of white flour.

Unfortunately I didn’t think this far in advance when I made a Southwestern Pot Pie last Tuesday.  It has cornbread right on top, and my recipe uses half whole wheat flour.  Since my husband doesn’t like sweet potatoes, I had to finish the pot pie or let it go to waste, so I just ate the filling without blatantly eating cornbread.  There was certainly some cornbread mixed amongst the beans and vegetables.

Was it a coincidence that I got crabby that night before dinner?  Was it gluten intake?  Overall lack of sleep? Or was it just passing up sourdough pizza crust for leftovers?  My wise husband reminded me that I was sacrificing gluten for God, and that I ought to offer it up joyfully.

Monday:IMG_9159

Tuscan Bean Soup with Potato Salad

Tuesday:IMG_9169 Three Bean Soup, salad with homemade dressing and a hard boiled egg.  But this is what I missed:IMG_9170 Not so attractive in a photo, but the loaded quesadillas looked really, really good at the time!

Wednesday:

IMG_9184 IMG_9185

Leftover refried beans, Mexican beans and rice, and potato salad with a loaded Caesar salad.  But this is what I missed:IMG_9186 IMG_9187 Uh-huh.  That’s homemade cheese, mushroom and red pepper pizza, on a crispy sourdough crust.  That was a rough one.

Thursday:millet cakes (1) IMG_9192 Millet cakes and simple cabbage soup.  The millet cakes are very bland, kind of like salmon patties with no salmon.  This was a new variation on my cabbage soup, minus carrots, plus potatoes, with garbanzos instead of great northern beans and a little added cayenne.  It’s a big improvement on an already delicious soup!

My cravings were so BAD today! I really wanted that dark chocolate and started eating everything in sight trying to satisfy the craving – dried fruit, nuts, power bars…nothing seemed to help!

Friday: Roasted tomato soup from the freezer and more millet cakes.

Saturday: We had dinner at the in-laws, and I stayed meatless and GF through lunch, and I skipped the roll at dinner to try to stay soaked grain free and more or less gluten free.

And Sunday?  I ate way too much candy, a piece of deli pie, cured meat, and so much junk!

Have you ever tried an elimination diet?  What were your results?

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29 Comments so far ↓

  • Em.

    Gluten and I, even after all these years of knowing about my intolerance and weeding it out of my diet, have a love/hate relationship. Sometimes I love eating gluten free. Sometimes I am convinced there isn’t a single food on the planet for me to eat that’s gluten free except carrots.

    It is a super frustrating, sometimes daunting thing to eliminate from your diet. The health benefits are awesome, yes, but I feel like stomping around like an angry 2 year old when everyone else gets to eat real pizza.

    I’m glad you were able to experience that as part of your Lenten sacrifices. It’s a doozy for sure.
    .-= Em.´s last blog ..Life in Numbers: Vol 5 =-.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Em,
    Well said! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Cam Reply:

    Very well said! My experience has been exactly the same.

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  • Rebecca

    I don’t pout, I make GF pizza crust (which takes the same amt of time, maybe less, than making regular crust) and load it up with cheese. After 17 years of eating GF, and eating vegetarian most of the time, even vegan 2 days a week, I can honestly say that life is NOT restrictive! yes I have a life long disease that requires me not to eat gluten, but I don’t need shots, chemo, surgery or anything else to live a healthy life.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Rebecca

    My mantra is “its not about the few things I can’t have, its about the many things I CAN have”

    [Reply to this comment]

  • FibroHubby

    Though not gluten free myself, my wife has been for almost two months now, and I can understand the frustration. Besides the food trying to find other gluten-free items like lip balm, toothpaste and vitamins is as difficult, if not more difficult!
    .-= FibroHubby´s last blog ..Cookie-Brownie Bars Review =-.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Kathryn

    I eat gluten-free. (Most of the time anyway. I have much more pain & migraines when i “cheat” on GF.) I also eat a largely vegetarian diet (i have fish a couple of times a week).

    I find eating these things a challenge, especially at potlucks & “family” meals. I was poisoned by Splenda at a potluck last summer (it had been added to a fruit salad & i ended up in ER) & i am very reluctant since that time to eat food that i’ve not made myself.

    I would like to cut out/decrease sugar & add “low carb” eating to my current diet, but i’m finding this a struggle. I like sweets! But i find i’m in a lot more pain when i eat them.
    .-= Kathryn´s last blog ..This is the house that Jack built =-.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Kathryn,
    Eating out is the hardest part of any special diet, to be sure! What a scary experience! That underlines that Splenda isn’t “just” sugar, huh? Yikes.

    Good luck with lowering your carbs! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Esther

    Thank you for making the sacrifice, even if it was only a week, and you did eat the pot pie, and you didn’t have to bring your own meal to a wedding reception or potluck. This will still give you a greater understanding of what gluten-free really means, which will be helpful for all of us readers who are starting from the point of no wheat, no spelt, REALLY expensive oats and flours, and “cheating” on most real food is allowed but absolutely, positively NO CHEATING on gluten free.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Michelle

    I was gluten, dairy, soy, corn, nut and tomato free for almost a year due to suspected allergies in my daughter (I was and am still nursing her). I am now “only” dairy, nut and corn free. I actually found gluten free to be very easy and sometimes even miss it! There are so many gluten free options out there from breads to baked goods like cookies and cakes, pizza crusts, etc. I lost a ton of weight due to not eating bread – I was 10 lbs lighter than pre-pregnancy weight 3 mths postpartum. I think the key is to focus on what you *can* eat rather than what you can’t eat. I will say it was tough to eat out but we still can’t eat out due to the corn allergy and we actually prefer to make our own food now!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • David A

    Well done! It can be really tough jumping into Gluten Free like that. For future reference Kinnikinnick has a big line of GF baked goods and Organic Bistro has a line of low calorie GF frozen dinners. I look forward to reading about your future adventures!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Olivia

    Great experiment! Those recipes sound really yummy. Have a great week!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Elizabeth

    Some of your soups sound great!
    I have never cooked with millet before. We eat tuna patties usually once a week and this seems like a nice change. Do you have to soak millet like you would soak other grains/rice overnight?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Elizabeth,
    I did choose to soak the millet, but it was a totally easy step. Drained and cooked as usual! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Lenetta @ Nettacow

    I submitted my Yeast Elimination Diet for this week’s carnival. I found it super hard to find enough to eat since I’m picky and was exclusively nursing a 3 month old, not to mention struggling with baby blues and insomnia. I lost weight quickly but didn’t notice an improvement in how I felt since there were so many other things going on. I’ve been wondering if it isn’t time to do it again now that I’m getting more sleep!
    .-= Lenetta @ Nettacow´s last blog ..Yeast Elimination Diet =-.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Wardeh @ GNOWFGLINS

    I thought it was very brave of you to do this, Katie. :-) And you did so fantastic! We’ve been gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free before. It is challenging to work around allergies (or other reasons for elimination), but I found that it worked well for us because at the same time, we followed a whole foods diet. When all your ingredients are whole, gluten/egg/dairy can’t creep up on you and you can be satisfied by SO MANY other foods. Well… we’re back to eating all of those foods again, but when we couldn’t, I don’t think we missed it that much (okay, except bread).
    .-= Wardeh @ GNOWFGLINS´s last blog ..Vanilla Jill’s and Ducks Swimming =-.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Jennypenny

    Amy Green’s guest post was a wake up call for me. I had been struggling trying to figure out what has been going on with me. I was pretty ignorant about gluten. I thought only celiacs needed to worry about it. I hadn’t thought about being sensitive to it, unti I read Amy’s story. I had suspected that grains were the cause of my headaches and feeling sick, but I never made the gluten connection before.

    I decided to go for it, and went gluten free and refined sugar free. I was dreading it at first. But I’ve had fun trying new recipes. I’ve made muffins, pizza crust, and protein bars so far. I feel great! I find that I like the tase of gluten-free baked goods and pasta so much better than whole wheat. I’ve always hated the taste of whole wheat products, but ate them because I thought it was the healthy thing to do. Hmmm. Maybe I should have followed my instincts.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Kandi

    A valiant effort! Like pp, my kids have food allergies and were diagnosed at young ages while still nursing. Carrying an epi pen for food ingestion eliminates the willingness to cheat :) When doing a food elim for a longer period of time (vs a single week), it really is a sanity breaker to keep food in the house that you cannot eat. When my first born’s allergies were diagnosed, I removed all foods from my house that I could not eat. I was left with spices and some condiments, but not cupboards full of food I was not able to eat. It’s much more freeing to focus on the foods you CAN eat, and have nothing but those staring at you.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Jamie Ervin

    Eating GF doesn’t have to be daunting… but it can be, especially in the beginning.

    We focus on a lot of whole, naturally gluten free foods (seafood, meat, fruits, veggies, rice). There are a lot of good gf breads now (and awesome gf oats).

    I think that giving up the foods like pizza instead of finding a gf substitute (which is easy) shows a greater sacrifice than simply saying, “GF please”.

    Good for you!

    I gave up soda and coffee… it nearly killed me at first, but after the first couple weeks it wasn’t difficult. Now I’m still off soda (hopefully forever) and can enjoy coffee now and then without the dire “I need it now” feeling.
    .-= Jamie Ervin ´s last blog ..One Year Ago… =-.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Recipe for Gluten Free, Sugar Free May's Gluten-Free Lifestyle Carnival

    [...] presents Gluten Free Experience | Kitchen Stewardship posted at Kitchen Stewardship, saying, “I’m not GF, but I tried it for a week to [...]

  • tonia

    good for you trying a GF diet. keep in mind that it takes about 6 MONTHS for your body to eliminate gluten entirely (those sticky proteins!) so a week isn’t really long enough to know how your body does without the gluten. your immediate improvement would suggest that you may want to try a true elimination diet.

    Good luck!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Tonia,
    Wow, I didn’t know that! Only problem is that I don’t know if I WANT to eliminate gluten… ;)Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Rosie

    Hi Katie, I enjoyed the photos of your beautiful children. They are lucky to have you as a Mom.
    I didn’t see any reference to quinoa here. It’s gluten free & has a similar amino acid profile to milk so a whole protein.
    One book I think many here would enjoy is Allergy and Candida Cooking by Sondra Lewis with Dorie Fink. She gives very detailed receipes with glutin free ingredients. She recommends a rotation of ingredients & is very hands on as she had to develop a viable solution for herself. I’ll try to link to Amazon here:
    http://www.amazon.com/Allergy-Candida-Cooking-Understanding-Implementing/dp/0964346265/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1275244192&sr=8-1
    Best wishes.
    .-= Rosie´s last blog ..Please take action. This is urgent. Stop GE Alfalfa =-.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Rosie,
    Quinoa is a great alternative grain, and so healthy, you’re right. My husband didn’t like it when I tried it a few years ago, so I just haven’t purchased it since. I eat it with friends when I can! ;) Thank you for the resource – Katie

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  • Glenda

    Katie, I felt inspired to relate my ongoing GF experiment, which I have done for a month, now.I have also gone dairy free,(mostly) at the same time. My terrible cough, asthma related, is much improved. I have not used my inhaler at all. Also, my arthritis is improved, with only a few doses of Tylenol for aching . My daughter in law, a Dr. from Luthainia had been encouraging this for months, and after Christmas, I finally decided to give it a try. I do miss my breads, grains, etc, but love the results!! Enjoyed your posts, recipes, advice, etc. Glenda

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Glenda,
    What incredible results! I’m so glad you shared, thank you – Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Imegahan

    Got gluten challenged- huh? Now you know the pain. What I desire to find is a real gluten free sourdough starter. I came to this web site because the Wet Flour book had no such, and hoped I’d find something here (a new addition). Question: can I soak gf “flours” in kefir (we home brew), and end up with a starter? Sounds like it would work. ANy ideas? PS I am not interested in paying for a cookbook right now, or online lessons. Can’t afford it. Thanks.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Imegahan,
    I think you could search for “gluten free sourdough” and find a free resource, and I know there’s a real book completely on the subject that perhaps you could find at the library. When I’m ready to start one, I have access to the GNOWFGLINS eCourses, but I understand that you don’t want to pay for the info. You’ll just have to search a little more. Good luck! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Imegahan

    Also to be gluten free tends to mean that one abstains from, ironically the very four grains that are mentioned in the Bible: wheat, oats, barley, rye. However, this abstinence is neither for Lent, or Passover (as observed by some Jews).

    [Reply to this comment]

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Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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