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Monday, May 7, 2012

Starting a Gluten-Free Diet

This past weekend I came down with a vicious stomach virus, which means the Husband really dealt with a ton.  I spent more than 48 hours in my bedroom, with the door sealed, because Squirt immediately squeals for me whenever she spots me. And oh, my lands, y'all, was I totally not up for 20 renditions of "Sheep in a Jeep."

(So I hid.)


But this means that the Husband, who has traveled for work the better part of this month, completely cared for the girls for three days - including feeding them. Now, this normally wouldn't be a big deal because we are SO not a "my husband is babysitting the kids" family. I mean, he's an incredibly hands-on dad, but he hasn't been here all that much for the last month because of his work travel schedule.  And we've been gradually adjusting to a gluten-free life while he's been away.

Talk about stress.

The poor guy could barely feed anyone anything, what with Squirt's newly-discovered allergies and my stomach revolting at the thought of any type of food smell.  (And can I just whine for a minute and say that it's Cruel and Unusual Punishment that saltine crackers are made with gluten?  Because there is only so much rice and bananas a gal can eat.)  Which is why I came up with the idea for this post...

You just found out that you and your family have to go gluten-free.  Which is, like, more than half of the grocery store.  What in the heck do you do now?

People cope and adapt to this different ways.  Many, I've found, run out to the store and purchase every gluten-free processed food they can find.  And that's one way to go, for sure.  This past month we've definitely found our favorite GF processed foods, but I think the better way to go is to rethink the foods you've been eating.  Because it's healthier.  And it will be cheaper in the long run.

But those first few weeks?

It's SO overwhelming.  And you don't have the specialty flours you need.  Or the kitchen appliances that aren't already contaminated.  Or the knowledge of which gluten-free brands rock and which ones stink.  And on and on.  So here's a recipe-free list of fairly common foods/ brands to get started on a gluten-free, lactose-free diet.  I wish I had written this before my Husband flew solo this weekend.

fruit smoothies (make your usual, but instead use Lactaid, soy, rice or coconut milk)
slices of sharp cheddar cheese
scrambled, fried or hard-boiled eggs
omelets with veggies and sharp cheddar cheese
fresh fruit (no syrups, cans or plastic cups allowed) or applesauce
General Mills Chex cereals
lactose-free yogurts (Yoplait now has some, although we prefer Stonyfield or Green Valley Organics)
van's gluten-free frozen waffles (even Target sometimes carry these)
apple butter spread on a rice cake

This first week, avoid bacon, sausage, hot cereals and breakfast bars, unless they are certified gluten-free.

leftovers from last night's dinner
a veggie salad with hard-boiled egg (avoid salad dressings this first week - many have gluten)
lunch meats from one of these companies (we use Boar's Head or Applegate Farms)
baked potato loaded with sharp cheddar cheese and veggies
fresh fruit (no syrups, cans or plastic cups allowed) or applesauce
steamed or raw fresh veggies
natural peanut butter on celery sticks
lettuce wrap sandwiches (avoid dressings this first week - many have gluten)
hummus or black bean salsa with corn chips
chicken quesadilla on corn tortilla (just read the label to double-check the tortilla is GF)
risotto or rice with fresh steamed veggies

This first week, avoid eating out as hidden gluten exists everywhere, including school lunches.  And don't completely meltdown during the most bread-centric meal of the day - you WILL be able to eat good bread again, but don't try to tackle that three days after diagnosis.

First, examine all of your current favorite recipes to see if any are naturally gluten-free or could be with minimal changes - like adding cubed potatoes or rice to a soup instead of noodles.  Once you've done that, I strongly suggest creating simple meals this first week, consisting of a meat (seasoned only with salt, pepper and/or herbs), steamed fresh veggies and rice or potatoes.  You could also dust off your slow cooker to make soup, especially soups using ingredients with healing properties like cabbage, fennel, garlic, ginger and/or parsley.  (Just avoid using flour as a thickener, bottled seasonings, pasta or dumplings when making the soup.)  Other ideas include:

omelets loaded with veggies and sharp cheddar cheese
stir-fried meat and veggies served with rice (but only if you can find gluten-free soy sauce)
baked potatoes loaded with sharp cheddar cheese and veggie
bean and cheese burritos made with corn tortillas (just read the label to double-check the tortilla is GF)

The rule for dinner is to keep it simple, and to make enough for lunch leftovers, if possible.

Any other ideas, y'all, for meal planning the first week after a gluten-intolerance or celiac diagnosis?


Christina said...

I totally understand the difficulty in finding foods for a gluten-free diet, compounded by the addition of another diet restriction/complication. I have a gluten-sensitivity in addition to fructose malabsorption. I rely on mostly fresh fruit/veggies, not processed foods, but that is limited because I can't eat apples or sweeteners like honey!
My favorite find is Lärabars - gluten-free, few ingredients, and DELICIOUS!!!
My second favorite healthy and diet safe find is quinoa - it has protein in it, too!

Here's my typical day:
Breakfast - eggs with cheesen or oatmeal with peanut butter (and coffee, of course!)

snacks - chocolate milk (usually almond milk), banana with peanut butter, or Lärabar, and sometimes chocolate :-O

lunch or dinner - salad, fresh veggies (especially green ones!), chicken, quinoa <---this stuff is AWESOME.

Some gluten-free bread I found that I occasionally buy is by Rudi's. It tastes good, just too bad that it's so expensive.

I hope there were some new things in there that you might find helpful!

Anonymous said...

My married daughter was diagnosed gluten intolerant after our son developed Crohn's earlier this year. We also have adopted 3 times with 2 of those girls having gluten issues so we are right there with you. The great news is that my daughter has a GF blog with fabulous meal ideas my girls will eat. She's adapting many regular recipes to make them GF and I don't have to do the work! Here's the blog. www.glutenfreejulieb.blogspot.com.

AmericanFamily said...

I know this may not be helpful at all right now, given your current issues with eliminating foods, but....

We have two severely lactose intolerant people in our house and neither of them can get away with eating Lactaid and "lactose free" diary products. While they theoretically have 0% lactose, my girl still ends up with severe cramping and my husband with other digestive issues, so we have to go completely dairy free for them. L has been tested for allergies, so we aren't sure what is going on, but if we avoid dairy alltogether it seems to be a non-issue for her.

I only mention it in case you seem to still be having problems despite all your eliminations.

Casa Bicicleta said...

I have nothing constructive to add I just want to send my support TM. I am still in awe of all you are accomplishing. :-)

Renee said...

It looks like you're off to a good start on the GF diet!!! The hardest part about being GF for me is getting my meals to still be packed with flavor and variety. I was bored and desperate after the first few weeks. The spice rack and newly planted herb garden became my new best friends after the first few weeks! However, I learned early on to buy organic spices because some are supplemented with gluten by-products. The best idea all around is to buy/grow fresh. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs can go along way. A good percentage of Kraft salad dressings are GF - check the labels. I use them for marinades on meat and such and dips. I also keep a small bottle in the fridge to take along when I know I'll be eating out, so at least I can order a salad or a boiled chicken breast.
I also keep a variety of rices, such as Jasmine and Basmati, along with quinoa stocked in the pantry. They each have a distinct flavor and are versatile.

Todays meal plan:

Breakfast - Yoplait, banana, and iced hibiscus tea

Lunch - homemade ham salad in a lettuce wrap with veggies, homemade roasted red pepper hummus with Blue Diamond rice crackers

Dinner - grilled beef and veggie kabobs (marinated in Kraft Italian dressing), baked potato wedges with cajun seasoning, fresh fruit compote

Snacks - homemade seasoned Chex mix, dried fruit mix

Anonymous said...

The Stonyfield is not lactose free unless you use the soy, BTW. Found that out the hard way with AJ. The only one that we found to be truly lactose and gluten free was silk. The kefir is great for enzymes as well.


Anonymous said...

Veggie soup, mmmm! Non-contaminated beans can be made into soup, hummus and other dips, patties, enfrijoladas and tacos (corn tortilla), added to salads... I've heard of black bean brownies, but haven't tried them. Uh, baked salmon, Chilaquiles, enchiladas?, spaghetti squash with homemade marinara (fresh tomatoes) sauce, grilled veggies, marinated portobella mushroom, arroz con pollo... We love mexican food, maybe this can give you ideas/variety: http://www.mexicoinmykitchen.com/ They're not all gluten free, though. I also love 101 Cookbooks, these are gluten free: http://101cookbooks.com/gluten_free_recipes/ Yum! I'm getting hungry!!

Anonymous said...

I'm gluten & lactose free as well and I admit, it is a bit of an adjustment, so I feel ya! There are great rice crackers and pastas that satiate the cracker/pasta cravings. Udi's bread is a personal fave, we have them at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods here. Pamela's baking mix is a great GF baking mix too. If you're trying to avoid eating too much soy, I'd recommend almond milk as well. It's creamier than rice milk and loaded with nutrients! As an alternative to rice, I usually opt for polenta or quinoa.

I personally love these 2 blogs and have gotten some ideas from them!


Jason said...

Nice informative blog, thanks for sharing.