We've been eating Gluten Free in our house since Thanksgiving. A week before that, one of our sons had made a decision to eliminate wheat from his diet to see if it made a difference with a few health concerns. He noticed a pretty remarkable improvement within a few days. As it happened, he surprised us by arriving at our door in Boise on Thanksgiving Eve (from a parents perspective, it doesn't get much better than that!).
I spent that weekend cooking gluten free for him, found that it wasn't difficult, and continued on. I considered it a test to see how it affected Pat's and my own health.
I apologize for the silence on my blog here, but I've spent the last few months waffling between the positives and negatives of eating gluten free for the average person. There is a very small percentage of the population who are diagnosed Celiac. A second group of people are quite intolerant to wheat gluten and have disruptive health issues disappear when it is eliminated from their diet. Both of these groups should eliminate wheat from their diet and I wouldn't suggest any other course.
The larger percentage of us can benefit by reducing the amount of wheat containing products we consume and I find myself in that category.
My comments here are strictly my thoughts on the matter, so take it for that.
- I've always been a proponent of balance in a diet that contains whole foods (lots of fresh vegetables, fruits, lean meats and fish, healthy fats, and whole grains). When we eliminate something from our diets, we replace it with something else. I found that eliminating wheat put an extra emphasis on corn and rice, and from a holistic nutrition perspective, it tends to be a heavier reliance that it should be. Eating too much of one food can also trigger food allergies, whether it's soy foods, dairy, or corn and rice.
- I found that I was focusing on the "lack of wheat" as I was planning meals, and that felt disruptive to the creative process and the joy of cooking
- Whole wheat has a lot of health benefits which include promoting healthy digestive health, healthy weight control, balanced blood sugar. It is a very good source of free radical scavenging manganese, muscle relaxing magnesium and sleep promoting tryptophan. Those nutrients need to be picked up somewhere else in our diets. They can't just be dropped.
- My personal loss in a gluten free diet, and getting to the heart of the matter....Gluten Free breads really stink! There is just nothing better than a great loaf of whole grain artesian bread. It's what I missed the most in the last few months.
- I've decided that I'm going to reduce but not eliminate wheat in my natural food planning process. When I prepare meals at home, much of what I'm cooking is gluten-free anyway. Brown rice and red new potatoes are gluten-free. We occasionally have pasta and there are so many gluten-free pasta's on the market now. Corn tortillas work well and are more flavorful than flour tortillas. On the occasions that I do bake, I will use Bob's Red Mill Organic unbleached flour. My breakfast most often includes a gluten free nutritional shake. Lunch is a cup of soup, a salad, or vegetables and lean protein. It's dinner that normally includes complex carbohydrates.
I'm very glad that I spent the last 3 months in a Gluten Free kitchen. It means that I won't miss a beat when I have guests, or family in my home who need to eat Gluten- Free. I can now do that with ease.