Blog swapping this week with Lindsay from Fit & Awesome in a blog swap arranged by AJ of Confessions of a Fat Girl! I’m always curious about gluten-free food and asked Lindsay to share what food she misses and how she deals with being gluten-free – what I got was an amazing guest post that I know you all will appreciate!
Hello Raised by Culture readers! I’m Lindsay and I write about living a healthy and active lifestyle on my site, FitandAwesome.com. I’m super excited to participate in this blog swap with Xenia. My blog was started to document my journey since going gluten free. I discovered I was severely gluten intolerant through a blood test I took at my doctor’s office. I had horrible GI issues (I won’t go into it here – TMI) and I went to several doctors who all previously deemed it as IBS. It was very frustrating.
When I found out I had to cut out all gluten from my diet, I just about lost my mind. I am Italian and everything in our family revolves around food. Bread, pasta, pizza, and meatballs were a part of my daily diet and were now deemed off limits with this new diet. Yes, even meatballs have gluten in them – they are normally made with breadcrumbs as a binding agent. All of my comfort foods were yanked out from underneath me. The thought of never having pizza again made me sad. I love pizza so much. It’s always been my favorite food. Giving it up? No way.
At first I figured pizza would be something I would eat occasionally as a cheat meal. It made me feel better about easing into being gluten-free. I mean, I ate it before right? In April 2012 I remember running the Ragnar Relay race in Southern California and being so hungry when we crossed the finish line. There wasn’t much to eat, but there was pizza. Warm, fresh out of the oven pizza. I had two slices. I was so excited and couldn’t wait to spend time savoring this worthy cheat meal. Nope. This meal that I had looked forward to basically left me with horrible stomach pain and laying in fetal position for the rest of the night. Doh.
What happens when you go gluten-free is it removes the antibodies from your system. So when you eat it, your symptoms are even stronger. Since my cheat moments ended up backfiring on me, I stopped messing around and got serious. I now maintain a very strict gluten-free diet and I have not slipped since August 2012. Do I sometimes accidentally eat gluten? Yes, it has happened and it is not pretty. It’s mostly when eating out at restaurants so I have to be very careful. I call it getting “glutened.” One time I got glutened after eating steak and mashed potatoes at a restaurant. Turns out they used flour in the mashed potatoes. Some breakfast locations use flour in their egg mixes. You never know what you might get and I have learned by trial and error to be extremely careful when ordering at restaurants. The longer I have been doing this, the more accustomed I am to what works and what doesn’t so my days of being accidentally glutened are much fewer and far between.
No more pizza? What! There are so many new gluten-free options that seem to be popping up everyday. So many companies are joining the gluten-free bandwagon and offering products that are gluten-free. It’s great. While I try to stick to foods that are naturally gluten free, these foods offer me the chance to indulge. My favorite cheat meal now is a gluten free pizza with sausage and peppers from Fresh Brothers pizza. And tons of bakeries offer gluten-free options and I’ve had gluten-free cupcakes and cake on several special occasions. I also have some really great friends who keep me in mind when they plan their events and order a gluten-free cupcake just for me. It’s so thoughtful and really means a lot to me and my tummy.
My gluten-free journey has also taught me how to recreate foods I love by using alternatives. Now when I have a craving, I know how to fix it. Here’s a list of some of my favorite gluten-free substitutes for the following foods:
• Pasta: Quinoa Pasta. It’s not the same as real pasta, but it comes close. Especially if you put enough sauce on it. You won’t even know the different.
• Bread: Have not found a worthy substitute for this yet. Udi’s does make a decent one, but it doesn’t come close to the real stuff.
• Crackers: There are great gluten-free crackers on the market that I love like Mary’s Gone Crackers and Blue Diamond Almond thins.
• Cookies / Cake: There are lots of great gluten-free baking mixes available now. Pillsbury makes a refrigerated gluten-free cookie dough, too.
• Chicken Tenders: I’ve learned how to make a great recipe using almond flour instead of regular flour.
• Meatballs: I use sausage instead of meatballs when making pasta sauce. I still haven’t figured out how to make a good gluten-free meatball.
If anyone has any ideas, I’m all ears! Going gluten-free has truly changed my life. I don’t have to deal with the embarrassing GI issues that I used to, I’ve lost weight, and overall I feel better. Last year I lowered my cholesterol by 60 points and lost close to 20 pounds by going gluten free. Through trial and error I have found what works for me. The results I’ve had make it a lot easier to pass on the bread basket when I’m at the family dinner table.