Over the years I have encountered many people who quietly live with chronic maladies such as eczema, psoriasis, irritability, anxiety, depression, migraine headaches, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and digestive disorders, and they wonder if gluten, (a protein found primarily in wheat, barley, and rye products,) might the culprit. Some of them have heard about food elimination diets but have no idea how to successfully go on one. Well, here’s my plan for an easy GLUTEN ELIMINATION DIET. Keep in mind that if you are very diligent and have absolutely no gluten for three weeks, you will only have to do this once. If you only cut down on gluten, your body tells you nothing. You must rid your system of ALL gluten to get the proper results. Also, the actual diet is easier than you think if you plan well and focus on all the things you CAN eat, rather than all the foods you CAN’T eat.
(On a side note, I have known people who did a complete colon cleanse, as if they were preparing for a colonoscopy, using a natural product containing magnesium citrate. The used a brand called “Natural Calm” and mixed a cocktail of 3 tablespoons of magnesium citrate in hot water. Apparently, it tastes like unsweetened lemonade, very palatable. Once their colon was clean, no gluten remained in their system and they were able to see if the effects of eliminating gluten were beneficial. )
This experiment will take approximately four weeks, three weeks for your body to expel the built up gluten and see how your body feels eating gluten free, and one week to reintroduce gluten and see what ailments might return. It will be easier to have the whole family go on the same diet but if you have someone who is digging their heels in the sand, just tell them to eat whatever they want like OUTSIDE of the house, but in the house gluten free foods are their only choices for 3 weeks.
First, a little allergy background: There are four general categories of irritants to the body: food, animal dander, chemical smells (bleach, formaldehyde in clothing, nail polish, etc.), and environmental particles (dust mites, mold spores, pollens, etc.). Most sensitive people are challenged with more than one of these categories but it’s the food irritants that are the easiest to control. Let’s dive right in.
gluten – A protein found in wheat, barley, rye, spelt, and kamut, and all of the by products made from those grains (like malt found in most breakfast cereals, beer, regular soy sauce, and most commercial salad dressings.) Oats are inherently gluten free but there is so much cross contamination, that oats usually contain enough gluten to cause some serious damage. Generally speaking, stay away from processed foods with ingredients you can't pronounce and anything with regular flour (pasta, pizza, 99% of the bread and breakfast cereal out there,) as well as oats, malt, BHT (found in most chewing gum), potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate, dairy products (which include lactose, whey, and casein), and red and yellow food dyes. Most gluten intolerant people are sensitive to these foods as well.
Go through your cupboards, refrigerator, freezer, and pantry and bag up all of the foods that contain obvious gluten as well as the more obscure additives like modified food starch, (unless it specifies corn,) durum, and semolina. If you have been eating a traditional American diet, you should have about 70% of your food in bags. Put them somewhere out of eye sight (perhaps the garage, or the bottom shelf of the refrigerator, or in the back of the freezer) and head to the store to stock up on your next two weeks of acceptable foods.
Although some restaurants are trying to have alternative choices for those who are gluten intolerant, it’s best to eat at home for these two weeks. Bring snacks with you when you leave the house so you won't be hungry and desperate to eat off the diet.
Here are lists of acceptable foods:
Breakfast – gluten free cereal with almond milk, homemade home fries, fruit, beans and rice, eggs
Lunch – rice crackers with good peanut butter and jelly, home cooked meats (chicken turkey, roast beef,) rice pasta with garlic and oil, salad, tuna or salmon with Best Foods Mayo, baked potato with broccoli, homemade potato salad, rice cakes topped with tuna, corn chips. Costco sells deli meats from Columbus that are gluten free.
Dinner – meats, poultry, fish, or beans, brown rice, rice pasta, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, healthy oil potato chips, homemade cole-slaw, homemade potato pancakes thickened with rice flour, vegetables, salad. Many of the Wishbone salad dressings are GF.
Snacks – dry roasted nuts, celery and carrot sticks, cucumbers with salt, potato chips, fruit (melons, blueberries, and peaches), smoothies with almond milk, and honey, apple sauce, jicama, an avocado with salt as a dip.
Start the diet. Be creative and always take some carbohydrates with you when you go out the door (like chips or rice crackers.) One very important thing to keep in mind is that food, which you are sensitive to, can act like a drug. There might be withdrawal symptoms. On day three, my six year old daughter had a screaming tantrum for almost an hour in front of the refrigerator begging, I mean desperately begging for a piece of bread. I almost gave in but something told me to stand firm. Boy, am I glad I did because from this diet we found out how intolerant she was to the gluten in the bread. It was my homemade organic whole wheat bread sweetened with honey that caused her to have the most violent reaction.
After 2 weeks, add gluten back into your diet at every meal. Do this for a week unless you have negative reactions. Keep a journal of how you sleep, how you feel emotionally, and what your body does physically (rashes, irritability, tension, gas, sneezing, itchy nose, palette, or skin, joint aches, respiratory congestion, stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea, inflammation, etc.) If there are no negative reactions, you can go back to eating gluten. If you are not sure, keep the food out and test it again later. If you have a reaction, stay away from gluten.
Well, good luck with the diet and stay healthy!
Call me if you have any questions.
Arnel 805 322-6900
GLUTEN FREE: rice, corn, any type of potato, quinoa, amaranth, millet, buckwheat, tapioca
GLUTEN to stay away from: wheat, durum, semolina, rye, barley, malt, beer, bulgur wheat, spelt, kamut, flour, bleached or unbleached flour, Ezekiel and Manna bread .(both are made from sprouted wheat.)