Hitting a Wall– So soon?

My story is a little different than Jason’s.  As I mentioned in my last post, Jason has been living gluten free for quite a while.   I, on the other hand, am just approaching my third month.  I have definitely gotten used to eating gluten free, the texture of the food doesn’t really bother me anymore, and the taste of most things is fine.  I have found a pasta I like, Bi-Aglut corn pasta.  Udi’s makes bread and plain bagels that I love.  I am now a big fan of Mi-Del Chocolate chip cookies.  These are just some of my absolute favorites; of course I could list many more things, but most of them are on Jason’s list from one of our first posts.    So what would I have to complain about?

To be quite honest with you, I feel like I am hitting a wall.  I am starting to miss some of the stuff that I ate before I was diagnosed.  I now understand why people cheat.  Those Pillsbury Bunny cookies for Easter look and smell really, really good.  Worst of all, Twinkies are now in three packs for a limited time only.   We have been so busy that we have not really had the time to try to cook new things.  Being a creature of habit, I find myself eating a lot of the same stuff and right now I am kind of feeling like “how much longer can I keep this up?”  My brain and stomach are screaming “no mas!” We want something different and we want what we used to eat.  Remember the Twinkies, remember the #9 with Crab Rangoon and fried rice, remember (and this hurts the most) the chicken teriyaki from the mall food court.

I can’t tell you how many times in the past week or so that I have almost mistakenly bit into things that were not gluten free, in fact I almost just ate a piece of a Bunny cookie that was stuck on my finger a few minutes ago.

Oh how easy it would be to just say to myself “come on, what is one non-gluten free meal going to do to you?  Really Bill, just go ahead and have just one Twinkie”….STOP!!!!

A few things that you should know about this yoda:

  1. I knew that I would hit a wall sooner or later- I didn’t think it was going to be this soon, but I fully expected it to happen.
  2. I am not going to cheat- I have Celiac disease, even the littlest bit of gluten can make me very sick and could reverse the healing of the villi in my intestines (I know, TMI)
  3. I am not even going to be less diligent about cross contamination; I will still ask all the questions that I need to ask to maintain my strict diet.

I am looking at this “Wall Hitting” as a challenge. I am challenging myself to find the time to cook different things, find new recipes to try, look for different restaurants that I can try, and keep on the course that I have been undertaking successfully for the last three months.

So, if you find yourself careening towards that wall at a great rate of speed, step on the brakes and make sure that you remember why you are taking this course of action in the first place.  Take a breath and realize how much better you feel.

Ahh!, Gluten Free! Now What?! – A starter guide to the best gluten free products

Ok, so you just got home from the doctor’s office and are now frantically searching the internet for ‘gluten-free’ and wondering what the heck to do.  You may even have plans next weekend to go out and you’re wondering, ‘what will I be able to eat?’.  Then, it dawns on you … ‘holy crap!  I can’t have bread.  I can’t have beer. I can’t have cookies, cakes, or pasta!’

Calm down!  You can eat plenty!  For instance, potato chips are ok. You can still have a steak.  And, you can probably still have coffee.

It took me a long time and a lot of money to figure out what tasted good, and what I may want to pass over during my next grocery trip.  Gluten-free products have come a long way in the past ten years.  It was rare back then to see anything prepackaged, and mostly I just went without, or tried to make something at home that ended up tasting sandy, lifeless, and fell apart before making it to my mouth.  So, if you’re just starting out gluten-free, print out this list before your next shopping trip – you won’t be disappointed.  (Disclaimer: Read the labels in case there’s other things you can’t have!! )

  1. There are a few gluten free product reviews on a site called Qwowi.com, you may recognize the author.  Look for more of these types of reviews here at GFY.
  2. Celiac.com is another very good site for tips on how to keep on a gluten free diet – recipes, links and shopping can all be found there.
  3. Most local grocery stores how have natural food sections – this is where you can find gluten free products.  Here’s a few brands to stick with:
    1. Udi’s – they make the best GF bread out there.  (I’ve been told that Rudi’s is very similar, but I have yet to try it).  This bread doesn’t need to be toasted like other GF brands.  You can just plop your ham and cheese on it and go.  They make a really good cinnamon raisin too!
    2. Glutino – very good brand.  They make the closest thing you’re going to get to an Oreo.  Christine has even tried them and agrees.  As with all GF things, the difference often comes in texture, not taste.  I noticed that over time, I don’t even notice anymore.
    3. Mi-Del makes decent cookies as well – ginger snaps and oreo-like, both are good.
    4. DeBoles and other past brands make decent corn & rice pastas.  The best way to go with pasta is corn.  If you can find corn spaghetti or other pasta, go with it.  It holds up like wheat when boiled and baked.  The rice can be finicky and fall apart.
    5. Amy’s is another brand that has gluten-free options.  They make frozen dinners and such.  They also have a pretty decent pizza crust too.
    6. Foods by George is very good as well.  They make a really good brownie!  Put it out when company is over and no-one will know the difference.  They make really good muffins too.  Be sure to heat the muffins up for better results – again, without the gluten things are either really dry or really moist.
    7. Pamela’s is best for their pancake and baking mix.  The pancakes are great.  I make them every weekend.  The cookies that they sell are a bit dry, so it depends on what you like.  Get the pancake mix though!!
    8. Bob’s Red Mill makes GF oatmeal.  Oatmeal doesn’t contain gluten as wheat and all.  The reason why some celiac and GF folks stay away from oats is because they are processed in the same facilities as wheat and all.  Bob’s isn’t and it’s good.  I eat it and so does my 9 month old daughter (who must remain gluten free her first year).
    9. Cherrybrook Kitchen is another maker of baking goods.  Cake mixes, etc. – they’re all good.
    10. Believe it or not, Betty Crocker has GF stuff now too – right in the same aisle as the other baking goods.  The cake and cookies are great.
    11. EnjoyLife has come very good cookies – snickerdoodles, ginger, oatmeal raisin, etc.  They are all pretty good and they don’t have a lot of other common allergens in them either
    12. Liz Lovely has a GF line of cookies – very, very good.  We get these a lot.  My wife eats these instead of the gluten-filled ones too.  Any of the ones they make are great.  (More on these in future posts!)
    13. Chex cereals are now GF.  They’ve been advertising and all too.
    14. Fruity Pebbles is GF too!  Check the box and you’ll see.
    15. Aleia’s almond horn cookies – really good.
    16. Kinnikinick makes excellent donuts – the cinnamon sugar are great.
    17. Larabars are great on-the-go type bars.  They are gluten free.
  4. Read up on what has gluten and what doesn’t, and be sure to read labels.  Depending on how sensitive (or strict) you want to be, there are many folks who would argue that most store-bought, prepackaged things have some sort of wheat or oat-based product in them, including things like red-dye #9 and all those other fillers.  Wheat is a common filler to a lot of products, even some over the counter medicines and vitamins.  Again, be careful or as cautious as you need to be.
  5. Remember, there are A LOT of things you can still eat – potatoes, rice, corn, buckwheat (actually a seed, not a grain and no relation to wheat at all), nuts, soy etc.  All of these can still be consumed without worry of gluten.  All fruits and vegetables too.  There’s no gluten in meats either.
  6. For breading things for cooking – either crush up corn flakes or potato chips.  They both work well when breading chicken or creating some sort of beer-batter for frying.  In my opinion, they sometimes taste better anyway.
  7. Beer – there are a lot of beers out there now that are gluten free.  Bud makes a beer called Red Bridge.  It’s very good.  It’s made with sorghum instead of barley and wheat.  Sorghum beer has been being brewed for centuries in Germany and other countries, so it’s not anything novel, other than it’s gluten free and you can still have a beer with friends.  As for other alcohol, you just have to do your homework – some vodkas are, as well as some whiskey’s and scotch.

Good luck and stay tuned for more from two guys who live gluten free!

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