Rethinking Being Gluten Free

When we had change Matthew’s diet to be gluten free (GF), it was a huge change. At least so I thought. Don’t get me wrong there is a lot to learn. But, it’s not as bad or as difficult as I initially thought. Unfortunately, for us, we found out that Matt was gluten sensitive late in the game. Fortunately, for us, gluten sensitivity, wheat allergies, Celiac Disease are now common knowledge. There are also people who are choosing to cut out gluten to live a healthier life style. So, chances are you know someone or have heard of someone being GF. There are GF items or even a section at most of the larger grocery stores. Because of this, we have some alternatives and it’s easier to pick out food that have the GF mark on it. We got lucky. But, there are still some things to learn. And not everyone understands what it really means to be GF.

There are some great articles out there of people tackling becoming GF. Search for those and read them. Everyone has great information to contribute.  I wanted to share the things I thought about and simplify them to make what seems like a huge mountain to tackle really a tiny hill.

Most of your time is dedicated to educating  yourself on what gluten is and what ingredients in processed foods are really gluten hidden in strange names. And understanding what you can and can’t have. Here are some great sources for understanding what it means to be gluten free:

Once you understand what it means, it makes things a lot easier. Here is a cheat sheet that can be printed, to carry it with you and review it at your leisure. I keep one in my wallet and one on the fridge. Hidden Sources of Gluten & Questionable items

The reality of understanding the list, is if you tend to purchase processed foods like, canned foods, boxed foods, pre-made items. Then the list above is important. Go to some of your favorite items and check the ingredient list. Next look for alternatives. So, for example, I make spaghetti sauce using canned tomatoes. I rarely make it from whole tomatoes unless I have time. Which is almost never now. I needed to find an alternative because the canned tomatoes I used weren’t GF or healthy. Start by finding alternatives to ingredients that you normally buy. And find alternatives to some of your favorite foods. The good thing about that is you get to taste test things.That’s also the bad thing. Not everything tastes good. But, don’t give up. You’ll start finding some really tasty things.

We normally cook most of our meals. We had to move away from using seasoned packages, premixed dinners and soy sauce. I’m filipino… No soy sauce? I almost had a mini heart attack. But, there are GF alternatives for those. Cooking things homemade gave me several great changes. It forced us to eat healthier as a family and it gives me an opportunity to teach my son how to cook for himself. He’s going to be on his own one day, so he has to understand how to cook GF.

We still have some issues going out to dinner. But, we are fixing that by finding the types of restaurants that have GF menus. It’s not perfect, but we’re working on it. And it’s not as terrible as I originally thought it would be or how it was the first few months. It gets easier! Perspective is truly the key. Instead of focusing on the things that you have to avoid. Try focusing and making it fun to find the things you can enjoy. And it doesn’t have to be always alternative to. So, he can’t have bread. He doesn’t like the GF bread, so guess what? We don’t buy bread or GF bread. He makes Rice, eggs and bacon for breakfast now. For me growing up, that was my normal breakfast.  If you focus on the cant’s you will be limited to many things. Once you think of what you can, your options are limitless. In reality most of the foods can be home made with bare minimum and raw tasty ingredients that are GF. Steak and potatoes or for me steak and rice. Roasted chicken with root veggies, break it down to good old classical homemade without canned this or boxed that and you have more GF options.

Now that we have a better understanding on what he can eat, we’re now moving on to the things he truly misses. Tortillas, pancakes, waffles and cookies.  I’m just glad we’ve been able to buy GF candies or an occasional GF (extremely yummy) cupcake from ConfeXion Cupcakes to replace the sweets he misses. Baking is a bit more complex. It’s the next thing we’re going to tackle!

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Gluten Free For 10 Months

Matthew has been gluten free for about 10 months now. I have to say. Seeing the changes with him, I’m still a bit surprised. It’s hard to believe that an allergy could cause so many issues.

Initially, the issues we were wanting to deal with were his constant headaches, dizzy spells, tummy aches, and of course the reaction of him swelling. But, it was more than that. He’s a very different kid today. He use to keep to himself.  He was very emotional and moody. He use to argue a lot and get into angry little fits. He didn’t like to play outside, he preferred to be inside, watching TV or being on the computer. He also wasn’t as quick in conversation. You can see him processing and at times it would take him longer to process a conversation.  His grades in school were also bad.

In the first 4 months, the dizziness, tummy aches and headaches went away. 6 months later he lost about 20 lbs and is no longer moody or emotional. He likes playing outside. Don’t get me wrong, he still likes being on the computer, but he now prefers to be outside instead of on the computer. He’s learned how to skate. He’s more social. And he comprehends things a lot quicker. His grades are so much better than before. His teachers even commented on the change. He’s just a different kid. The only thing we did different is removed gluten from his diet.

I’m really amazed at how much he’s changed. I wish we found this sooner. The only thing the doctors and specialist could attribute the issues were his allergies to pollen, dust and pets. But, I’m glad we never stopped trying to figure out how we could help him. Going gluten free has been very beneficial to him.

Gluten Free Home

January started with a quick trip the ER for Matthew. We didn’t know what he was reacting to. But he was reacting. A few months later the same thing. Again we were baffled. I had done research and had come to the conclusion that he had a gluten sensitivity. So, we worked with his doctor to do testing. But, she had also recommended doing an elimination diet. At least for 4 weeks. This because the gluten tests don’t always show positive. And they’re not very good at showing a sensitivity. The tests results did return negative. But, I continued with the elimination diet.  After 5 weeks we sat down and tried some wheat. I gave it to him in small doses and we checked his pulse over the next 15 minutes. Within 4 minutes his pulse went from 60 to 80 per minute. The test confirmed his sensitivity.

Now that I know he has this sensitivity. We have made a lot of changes at home. We tried to do what we can to make it less of an impact. But, it’s really hard. Pretty much most of what is processed has gluten. We are forced to go to a healthier diet.  Which isn’t a bad thing. But, it’s a change. We really didn’t have too many processed things, at least so I thought. But, having to be consciously aware of what we’re buying has been a learning experience.

My main concern and new initiative is to teach Matthew how to cook for himself. So, that when he moves out he knows how to eat properly.

I’ve been searching online and I found a few good sites. We’ll start our trial this coming weekend. I’m excited and little bit scared. But, we’ll figure this out!