I thought I should say a few things about the gluten-free “diet” and why I had to do it because I know there is a lot of stuff out there and it’s confusing, especially because it is becoming so trendy. You hear a lot about gluten-free foods and I know it’s annoying. I see you roll those eyes. It’s not for everyone and is certainly not a mechanism for weight loss because the processed gluten-free food is probably worse for you than regular processed food. There is no perfect diet – you just have to listen to your body. Forgive me because as a scientist sometimes I get inside my head and don’t really explain things in an understandable way. So here is my attempt.
I’m not jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon.
I’m pretty sure I have Celiac disease and have had it my entire life – it just got exacerbated by stress, my immune system being compromised because I lived in a building with toxic black mold and eating a lot of gluten/sugar when I was in Chicago. Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disorder that damages your intestines and is linked to neurological problems (they thought I had mini-strokes or a brain tumor at the time). I’ve been listening to my body and watching the effects of what I eat and making sure that we take out anything that makes me sick (diarrhea, mood changes, cloudy brain, rashes, eczema, joint and skin pain, bloating, inflammation, anemia, depression and the list goes on…). I also have lots of chemical sensitivities, which they found at the Mayo Clinic plus a blood clotting disorder called Factor V Leiden. And now I can’t eat casein anymore, which is found in milk fat and processed meat – so I can’t eat cheese and that is the worst of all to me. No more queso for me and #THATSUCKS!!!
So this isn’t a moral choice, it is just about listening to my body. As we embarked on this journey we realized how many weird ingredients are in our food, some that probably can’t hurt you but we really don’t know because none of it has been tested. Then there are some that aren’t even listed on a label that can hurt you and your kids because developing children are especially vulnerable. So we are living in a world that is one giant chemical experiment.
And some of you may be fine but some of us are not and I know that I’m not. So I made some changes.
We cleaned up what we eat so that most of it is unprocessed natural food that incorporates spices that are good for us and eliminates a lot of refined sugar and bad fats. We try to get our vitamins, minerals and all the goodies from fresh whole foods while avoiding a pile-on of the bad stuff (pesticides, antibiotics, preservatives, dyes, BPA, dioxin…). Although, I was a vegetarian for a long time – I have to eat meat because I’m anemic.
I honestly wrote The Weekly Menus to help other people that need to be gluten-free and struggling with what to eat but apparently they’ve all written their own cookbooks, too. But I enjoyed the journey of writing it and developing recipes. It’s fun to share inspiration because we all aim to find healthier foods and indulge in some of our favorite decadent ones, too. All I’ve done is clean up some of my favorites so they are safe for someone that can’t eat gluten or casein. But it’s normal food with normal ingredients (some are gluten-free like the soy sauce and pasta or garbanzo bean flour) but you can use whatever works for your family.
There is no right answer or “diet” because our bodies, gut bacteria, genetics and environmental exposures are all different.
I just want to open up the dialogue without scare tactics or the notion that one thing is better than the other. We have to help each other out and I’m doing the best I can for my circumstances. And it’s overwhelming. But it’s better to be preventative than be thrust into a battle to survive. I’ve already done that once. The reason that I’ve lost weight is because we figured out that my digestive system wasn’t working; let it heal and got it working again; kept processed food to a minimum; and we started to exercise more consistently. Real food, customized to optimize, is the best medicine.