Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Monday Mission: If a Food Causes You to Hurt, Cut it Out

June 25th, 2012 · 23 Comments · Big Changes, Special Situations

Tammy's bread sandwich (2) (475x356)

Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to choose to accept what you need to do in your diet to be healthy.

Impact Ratings: healthpositive

Level of Commitment: Leap of Faith

In today’s giveaway post, you’ll hear from Lenetta, a friend of mine who had to cut out gluten because of the possibility of a gluten sensitivity.

She wasn’t happy about it.

My husband also has had to give up gluten (mostly, but not all the time), and he too, was not happy about it. He’s coming around, but you’ll notice I said that he only omits gluten most of the time, not all.

You may remember Amy Green’s story of her battle against extra pounds, and finally, finally winning it with the weapon of gluten-and-sugar-free living.

Because she saw amazing results, she is happy with her restricted diet – and she knows how to cook and bake so that she certainly doesn’t feel restricted. At first, I’m sure it was tough to get started though.

Is Gluten a Problem for Everyone?

After hearing stories like Amy’s, watching my husband’s amazing experience with going grain-free and then figuring out it was gluten that bothered him, and hearing statistics like:

One in three Americans may have some issue with gluten.

I’m to the point where when anyone talks of an unexplained malady, a pain that they can’t get rid of, or a health issue that doctors can’t figure out and are just medicating, I automatically think, "They should cut gluten." When I see a child out of control or struggling academically or with their health, and especially when I notice dark circles under their eyes, I think, "I bet they have a gluten problem."

I can’t always be right. Not everyone can have an issue with gluten.

But one in three is a pretty huge percentage of the population.

So maybe it’s a good idea to follow the advice of Dr. Tom O’Brien, searing words that I heard on a podcast over a year ago and I’ll never forget:

"If anyone has a health issue of any kind, they should start by cutting gluten."

It might not help, but what if it does?

Maybe Just a Small Change

How to cook like grandmother - homemade brownies

I was reading the back story on the beginning of the Healthy Surprise company, today’s giveaway sponsor. (coupon code KITCHENSTEW for $5 off!!) I just loved what Joe had to say about healthy eating:

I like to think of eating healthy as a muscle. Its really hard to just ‘switch over’ to eating ‘all healthy’. You have to work your way towards a cleaner diet and get your discipline and palate stronger. Tastes actually change and people come to crave healthier foods and dislike unhealthier foods. I like to tell people who ask that the first step is to just start eating "food". Only eat things where you can name everything in your meal, and you can mentally visualize each ingredient. If you do that, you’re ahead of 95% of the people in this country. Counting calories and carbohydrates are a distraction. Its a way of getting people to think its OK to eat processed garbage, as long as they use a certain system for meting out how much garbage they are allowed to eat.

Maybe you don’t feel like you need to cut gluten (or dairy, or sugar, or, or, or…). But maybe you know you really should cut down on sweeteners in general. Maybe you read the real food weight loss and exercise series and thought you should start eating smaller portions or less processed food, but you haven’t done it yet. Maybe you’re not eating enough healthy fats or too many refined grains.

Most likely, you know what little change is niggling at you that you should just DO.

Gehenna Food

If you’re familiar with the Bible, you may have recognized my silly rewriting of this verse, paraphrased:

"If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it into Gehenna, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

My lack of memorization of Bible verses is showing here, as I can’t find exactly where that verse is. I might have paraphrased it totally wrong! But the point of the story is this: if something causes you to sin, it’s better to cut it out of your life rather than end up in a place of eternal suffering.

For some people, gluten (or dairy or sugar or corn or soy or…) makes them feel like Gehenna.

If that’s you, you shouldn’t be doomed to eternal suffering.

Cut it out.

Pray about it and be open to listening to God’s Word.

Be brave, be bold, and try an elimination diet, cutting out all of the possible offenders and figuring out what’s bothering you!

More information:

Have you ever thought that you might need to cut a food from your diet?

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23 Comments so far ↓

  • Jamie

    Thank you for sharing this today. It is a great reminder for me. “Listen to your body, examine your food.” My family has been practicing this over the past year. Right now we are dealing with a deodorant issue. I don’t suppose you a recipe for that? :)

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Jamie,
    Wonderful! You bet I do – http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2009/08/27/effective-homemade-deodorant-my-baby-steps-story/

    Also follow the update links in that post for more ideas…
    Good luck! :) Katie

    Jamie Reply:

    Thank you! I’ve been using baking soda with eucalyptus essential oil, but my husband doesn’t think the powder will work for him. I think your recipe will be perfect for him. I’m looking forward to trying it.

  • Jeanne G.

    I find that bread bothers me if I eat it all the time, but if I have some gluten-containing items every once in a while, I’m okay. I just have to be careful with limits. Cheap chocolate, however, clogs my throat and gives me some icky lower digestive problems…. I am going to have to give it up completely. Thanks for the kick start!

  • 'Becca

    I don’t know about Gehenna, but the scripture you’re looking for is Mark 9:43-48. I found it by typing, “if your hand causes you to sin” into Google.

    I don’t seem to have any problems with gluten. But in my late 20s I became unable to drink alcohol in any significant quantity. It’s like my body suddenly noticed that alcohol is poison, and now I get swollen hands and feet, hot flush, nausea, and headache before I can finish one drink. So I quit drinking except for Communion and every once in a while for treatment of a serious muscle spasm (it seems that when I actually need it medicinally, my body can tolerate one shot). This has been a very good move, for me. But I have to remind myself that it doesn’t mean nobody else should drink.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Of course, leave it to Becca and Dr. Google! I don’t know why I don’t think to just Google it but try to rely on searchable Bible websites that couldn’t give me the verse. ;) I was starting to think that maybe the person went into Gehenna handless, but ah, well. ;) Thanks for the help!
    :) Katie

    'Becca Reply:

    It seems so logical that searchable Bible sites would be the place to search when you’re certain a quote is from the Bible, yet it seems that none of those sites are particularly good at finding phrases. When I want to cite a scripture, I find the most effective way is to Google the words I recall; if that doesn’t bring up a link to the scripture on a Bible site, it usually will give me something like a sermon or hymn that references the scripture and often will tell me the chapter and verse–and then I can look it up on Bible Gateway and choose which translation best speaks to me.

  • Monica

    Timely article. I’m have been struggling with going gluten-free for the past year. I can do well for 6 weeks then fall off the wagon. Symptoms don’t appear right away, but take about 1-2 weeks to show up: achy joints, sore throat, weight gain, itchy ears, etc. I think I would do much better avoiding gluten if I had an immediate reaction to it. Instead, I keep thinking it’s okay to eat, when really it’s not.

  • Jill

    I know that we need to try dropping gluten for my daughter (sensory behavior) but it’s so overwhelming and I don’t know where to start. Any suggestions?

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Jill,
    Just think of it as eating more veggies and meat and not worrying so much about “not gluten” but what CAN you eat. I find it’s easier to just cut grains than to try to figure out what’s gluten and what’s not…once you get grain-free easy, adding some rice and oats (maybe) back in seems heavenly! ;)

    Start here: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2012/01/26/what-youre-not-eating-that-dont-be-overwhelmed-by-humongous-dietary-changes/ and there should be links to other resources here on the site.

    I also always recommend that people buy a bag of coconut flour. It’s pricey, but you’ll use like 2 Tbs. or 1/4 c. in a recipe rather than 2-3 c. like almond flour, and you don’t need to invest in many things like if you try gluten-free baking (there’s always multiple flours and often xanthan gum and other things in GF baking recipes – so complicated!).

    Good luck – you can do it! Summer is a great time because there’s so much fruit and yummy things in season to munch on….

    :) Katie

  • Kathleen K

    “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.” Great application of Scripture, Katie.

    As someone who’s been down the gluten free and food intolerances route, I can attest to the fact that:

    NO FOOD TASTES AS GOOD AS FEELING GOOD FEELS.

    Over the past 6 years, I’ve had problems with gluten, eggs, dairy. All at once in the beginning. Now none. Eliminate the problem food. Do not focus on what you cannot eat. Focus on what you can enjoy. Eat more fruit and veggies. Learn to prepare meats in new and different ways. Explore the huge variety of grains now available to us. Try different ethnic foods.

    BUT STAY AWAY FROM THE PROBLEM FOODS.

    Some people need to avoid the problem food for more than a few days or weeks. Some experts suggest that gluten needs to be out of your system for 3-6 months before you start seeing the effects of elimination!

    And most importantly, realize while it may be a life-long condition, there is also a chance it may be temporary. Give your body time to heal. Nourish your body with healing foods, not garbage junk foods.

    Perhaps someday, you’ll be able to eat that missed food again. And when you do? You may find the memory is better than the bite is now.

  • Emily

    I am going to be the unpopular person here. Agglutinin (WGA) or similar molecules, are found in all grains. The worst in gluten-containing grains.

    These molecules do not break down in the digestive system, and so hang around and are considered foreign invaders by the body. Whether you have an autoimmune disease or not, despite how you feel after eating bread or pasta, gluten is bad for you.

    No matter who you are. I’m not saying everyone who eats bread and isn’t specifically celiac is going to die young. But you’re not going to have optimum health if you consume grains, esp. those with gluten.

    Kathleen K Reply:

    Emily,
    Humans have been eating grains for 1000′s of years. Jesus’ disciples ate grain that they picked in the fields. Jesus himself said he is the “Bread of Life.” He didn’t say he was a fruit, vegetable, or a meat. Bread is made from grain. Therefore it doesn’t make any sense that our Creator didn’t intend for us to eat bread or grains. That said, sometimes our bodies are sick and abstaining from gluten (or even grains) can allow our body time to heal. That doesn’t mean that eating gluten (or grain) is bad for everyone. I’ve done gluten free several times (6-24 months at a stretch) and at this point, I cannot tell any benefit from GF. If anything, I feel better when I do eat some grains. If your health is better without grains, that is wonderful. Mine isn’t.

    J in VA Reply:

    This sort of describes me. I had irratic symptoms that I wondered if were related to glutin. I eliminated it for 4 months then added it back. The symptoms were gone off glutin and since replacing it.

    I just eat less now but since it’s not clear cut, it is far too much trouble to avoid it for no clear cut benefit to me.

    I also have difficulty removing large groups of whole/real foods from my diet especially when there is a Scriptual basis for eating them unless obviously harmful.

  • Krysta

    We are working on tweaking our diet now. It’s getting there and I am getting hubby used to whole grain and brown rice. Still can’t get him to eat yogurt though.

    About the kids with dark circles… They may also have a heart condition, which is where my mind usually goes first since my so had a major heart condition. :)

  • Dr. Chawan

    Sometimes people go through pain for a long time before they even identify it with whatever they’re eating or drinking. I wonder how many people haven’t figured out that they might be lactose intolerant after eating ice cream or drinking milk. Some have figured it out and will deal with the pain for the pleasure until it becomes overwhelming. Humans can be strange creatures at times.

  • Lacey @ KV Organics

    Ack! Katie! Thanks for this post today. I’ve been toying with the idea of going gluten free ‘just to see’ if it makes any difference. I guess I’m not totally committed to the decision yet because the only real symptom at the moment is dark circles under my eyes. But I’m also a tired mama of four super active kids including an 18 month old nursling who still gets up at night 1-3x. So, I guess I find myself doubting and wondering if it’s just that I’m tired… But then, our 7 year old has been a bit of a handful lately – so your reference to kids’ behavior makes me wonder more now… We did the a no sugar challenge a while back as a family and did great, but as soon as it was over my kids were right back to normal and I lost the accountability that the family challenge brought… I think it’d be that way with gluten too – we’d need to all do it to succeed. But then we visit people and, and, and… Still making excuses… Ugh. Love what you said – really just need to pray about it and obey whatever He says…

    Sorry! Thanks for listening to me ramble and think out loud… :) Guess this post hit a nerve. :)

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Lacey,
    Summer would be a hard time to start a new diet, I will agree with that. Too many parties and BBQs! But…a burger without the bun, esp. if you have onion, lettuce, tomato, sauce, maybe some guac…is still pretty awesome! So you’re right…just listen…maybe to things that make you go “ack!”

    God bless, Katie

  • bobcat

    What do you guys do about receiving the Eucharist at mass? I have cut gluten out mostly, but I’m not sure what to do about that. I already don’t drink wine because of bad reactions….that is a definite “no” for me and I have always opted to receive the Eucharist only.

    I tested negative in a bloodtest for Celiac, so maybe it is okay? (and I had consumed gluten before the test) But gluten does bother my GI, though not severely, but I get dark under eye cirlces, bloating, fatigue.

    Kathleen K Reply:

    Oh dear, bobcat, this is a difficult question. Since I’m an evangelical Christian, not a Catholic, I can’t answer to what your church teaches. However, can suggest you search the Scriptures, which are the guide for all of us who follow Jesus. I don’t believe He would require you to eat something that is causing your body to harm you. While your symptoms may not sound severe to some, there could be hidden things going on inside your body that you don’t realize yet. My suggestion is to concentrate on eating whole, health-producing foods, avoiding processed foods. Perhaps in time, your body will heal, allowing you to once again partake of the Eucharist.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    bobcat,
    For us personally, we always just ignore the fact that the Eucharist is made of wheat when we give up gluten for Lent and stuff.

    Depending on your reaction to gluten, it may be necessary to cut it ALL out though – there was a journal article referenced in that same podcast by Dr. O’Brien about a nun who just couldn’t shake her symptoms. They finally realized that she was receiving Eucharist daily, and when she stopped that, she had better health than she’s had in years (decades?). There’s just 1/8 mg or something of gluten in a host, but it was enough to keep her sick.

    There ARE gluten-free hosts, and you just talk to your priest and he can consecrate it on the altar during Mass, just in a separate container from all the others. You may have to purchase/provide them yourself though.

    I encourage you to pray about the issue – Jesus may be calling you to sacrifice partaking of the feast, and you can offer up that for your intentions, and make a spiritual communion (Google for prayers) as well.

    May God bless your diet and decision~
    :) Katie

  • bobcat

    Thank you for the response! :)

    I have never heard of “spiritual communion”…I will have to google that. It is a tough decision, yes, and I think the best thing to do will be to pray about it. I sometimes pray for God to heal me, since I do have a lot of health issues, so maybe I am not listening well enough to His answer!!! I always thought not receiving the Eucharist was out of the question, but it never occurred to me that God doesn’t want to see me suffer and that receiving the Eucharist with gluten could be part of what’s causing the suffering.

    I could possibly get a Eucharistic minister to bring me gluten free hosts….even in my home, if not at Mass? I think I could find someone willing to do that, even if only once a month or every other month. This conversation may give me the “push” to look into this. Thank you.

  • bobcat

    Also, thank you for sharing the story about the nun! It really opens my eyes about how just a little bit of a food can make a difference, and I shouldn’t brush it off. I am glad she was able to heal.

    I would pay close attention, and if witholding the regular hosts didn’t help, I would go back to the hosts with gluten. But that is very interesting!!!!

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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