This is the fun part. How have we changed what we eat since the Celiac diagnosis?
After getting some education about inflammation and autoimmune conditions I was very inspired to go grain free and refined sugar free. I like to call this “not quite paleo”. We aren’t ready yet to go real Paleo which eliminates grains, refined sugar, dairy, legumes and processed foods.
I just knew this is what I had to do at this time in our lives. And I also knew that whether or not it was a popular decision that my children had to go along with us.
Well, it was not popular, in case you were wondering. Now we have had a decent amount of experience with special diets, my oldest 2 girls had fabulous diets for the first several years of their lives while my oldest was completely off dairy. When that allergy “went away” we got way more normal and ate much of what everyone else eats, the Standard American Diet. Then along comes daughter # 3 and I realize that I have been blessed beyond belief with two children that allowed me to believe I was some kind of mommy genius in the food department (a department with no small amount of mommy trauma associated with it). Now even more crackers, chicken nuggets, pizzas and mac n cheese (the organic kind…at least) were being served at our table. So we had some work to do, even if we were to just turn to the Standard Gluten Free American Diet.
There was a lot of complaining about leaving some of their favorite foods behind, I felt that too. I had to get some replacements in our kitchen fast. I ordered two life saving cook books that the girls regularly pull out to peruse and request the next trial recipe, Wheat Belly 30 Minute (or less) Cook Book by William Davis, MD and Paleo Cooking from Elana’s Pantry by Elana Amsterdam. I have been thrilled and relieved to find recipes using Almond flour, coconut flour, flax meal, hemp seed, chia seeds, honey, maple syrup, veggies, dried fruit, nuts, coconut milk and coconut oil, eggs, butter, etc. My rule is that in our home this is how we eat, but outside our home they get to use their own judgement. I am hoping that they will be inspired to start making choices consistent with mine (hahahahahaha), actually what I really, really hope is that they will take ownership in their life long health.
A question I get asked all the time is…What do you eat for breakfast? Important question for the most important meal of the day.
Is it still the most important meal of the day??? Was it ever???
Anyway. My favorite breakfast is plain whole milk (traditional) or 2% greek yogurt, sweetened with raw, local honey or maple syrup. I add all sorts of things, this morning was hemp seeds, diced apples and cinnamon. Often times I will add walnuts, sometimes it’s thawed frozen fruit and almonds or dried fruit and almonds or pecans or walnuts. Eggs are another great option, but for some reason they don’t fill me up, I need cheese and some kind of veggie added to them. Sometimes I eat apples with almond, peanut or sun butter. The main thing is to get enough fat and enough protein in your breakfast. When you are cutting out a major staple in your diet, you have to replace it with something that will be satisfying, we have “cheated” a couple of times and purchased gluten free granola for the kids, but other wise there are no cereal options and unless it’s homemade grain free bread, that’s out too. Plus we had to ditch the old toaster and haven’t replaced it. Our old staples for quick, get-out-the-door breakfasts are gone.
For lunch…blah, lunch. I home school my children, so I am making lunch at lunch time for the four of us everyday and honestly it drives me nuts. It always has, some days I just say “eat what you can find”. Because our kitchen has very few snacky or processed items in it, this is even more difficult. No such things as grain free mac n cheese (yet, and you better BELIEVE I will buy that, you know if it’s organic and non GMO…) We do smoothies about twice a week for lunch with something like apple slices, celery and peanut butter. My A+ lunch is a salmon patty with salad or sauteed vegetables (a brilliant idea I got from a friend). Tomato soup is another good one and yes, it does have sugar and it also has rice flour in it. I would love to make my own, but that along with homemade condiments have taken a back seat so far. We also use bibb lettuce wraps a lot for tuna or lunch meat or tacos. We have a great local butcher that does all uncured, nitrite free, gluten free meats, that’s another decent way to get protein at lunch.
Dinners are “easier” to accommodate the grain free, sugar reduced lifestyle. I put that in quotations, because I don’t consider making meals virtually from scratch every night easy. It was hard figuring out what to substitute for the starch or grain on our dinner plates for awhile, but now we don’t even hesitate. It’s just stir fry with no rice or noodles, more veggies, more fat like butter, sour cream, coconut oil, nuts, olives. We do eat potatoes and sweet potatoes, but pretty infrequently. I even made spaghetti with sweet potato noodles and it was really good (only one kid ate them, but I am hopeful), we eat chicken lettuce wraps, meat loaf, fish sticks breaded with coconut oil (that needs some perfecting), taco salad, smoked salmon salad, crustless quiche or omelets, homemade chili (my specialty) and soups.
We have been eating this way for 3 months. The hardest part was converting our kitchen and it still takes a lot more time in the grocery store finding the stuff that we need. Part of that is just finding gluten free items that are also grain and refined sugar free, but also not processed with wheat (try this sometime, just for fun).
I would not be able to convince you that this is an easy lifestyle to choose. There are many things that are pretty tricky (say, Easter candy and snacks) but my husband and I had a transformation of heart and somehow something that may seem impossible became a necessary challenge (as is spelling necessary). I do believe that everyone is lead differently in the way that they eat, but I think most of us would agree that taking the road less traveled will lead to better health. With Celiac disease in the family I could not ignore the harm that gluten was doing to one child, but I had a choice to isolate her or to join her and make the hard decision to toward better health for all of us.
I have noticed a few really positive differences since changing our diet, one is that our moods have been more even. I have noticed this in myself and my two oldest children, we feel more relaxed and don’t get as frustrated as easily. We are more sensitive to sugar, my youngest (the recovering carb addict) mentioned that something she ate made her feel icky because it was too sugary. Less snacking, there have been a handful of days that the children have not snacked at all through the day, they had four meals spaced out voluntarily. The fact that this has only happened a few times may seem insignificant, trust me it’s not. The major sugar cravings and desperation for food NOW has all but completely stopped for me. I would go through periods of intense sugar cravings and also bouts of feeling nauseated if I didn’t eat between meals, taking out the grain and sugar has almost completely eliminated that feeling. Then of course, weight loss.
We have made a choice to be much more conscience of what we are eating and therefore I spend a lot more time in the kitchen, this is not my natural habitat, I would be lying if I said I love it. Hell no, I don’t love it, but what I love is feeling better, watching my children feeling better, doing something better for my family. I made two batches of “cookies” on Tuesday and it took 2 days to get my kitchen back in order and for me to even want to go in there, but I did it and made another meal, and that’s all I have to do. I am NO super mom, but…
“Nothing can stop an idea whose time has come.” Victor Hugo
There are times when I really need chocolate and I do have a stash of very dark, fair trade chocolate for when that comes up, I am not dead, I still need chocolate.