Tag Archives: dairy-free

This gluten-free stuff sounds crazy

Before last year, I had no idea what gluten was or why someone would want to live gluten-free because it sounds crazy!  What?  Who are these people who would willingly give up pasta and beer?!  However, the more I learn about gluten, the more I realize there is A LOT more to it than I thought.  The most important thing I learned is it isn’t a weight-loss diet.  It is a lifestyle change some people have to make due to Celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity.

Let me start with some basic information about gluten:

  • Gluten is a mixture of proteins in wheat, rye, or barley (buckwheat is gluten-free)
  • Common foods that contain gluten: pizza, pretzels, beer, crackers, most baked goods, pasta.  Click here for the Mayo Clinic’s list of what is allowed and not allowed on a gluten-free diet.
  • A person can still have a gluten intolerance or sensitivity even if they don’t have Celiac disease.
  • Symptoms of someone who has a gluten-intolerance may include: fatigue, difficulty concentrating, gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, acid reflux (sounds fun, right?)
  • There is data that suggests eliminating gluten can improve behaviors of people with Autism, mood disorders (like Schizophrenia), and ADD/ADHD.

My unscientific survey of my gluten-free friends says that, if you have a gluten intolerance, eliminating it from your diet will make you feel 1000x better.   At the age of 29, I’ve already had two colonoscopies so I eliminated gluten (with the support of my doctor) for a few weeks last March to see if it solved some of my long-standing gastro issues.  It was almost an immediate improvement.  As uncomfortable as that is to share with the world (or all 15 of my readers), hopefully that lends credibility to the impact eliminating gluten can have on some people.

How does gluten impact the body?  The small intestine has hairlike structures called villi that absorb important nutrients.  For people with Celiac’s disease or a gluten intolerance, gluten causes the body to attack the villi and shorten or completely flatten them.  This reduces their ability to absorb nutrients.  You are what you eat, but more importantly you are what your body absorbs.

How do you find out if you have Celiac disease or a gluten intolerance?  You can get tested for Celiac by your doctor but the test is not accurate if you eliminate gluten before getting tested.  If you want to determine whether you have an intolerance, eliminate gluten from your diet for 1-2 weeks and see if you notice a difference.  If you notice a difference and decide to live gluten-free, talk to your doctor about whether he/she would recommend any additional supplements for you.

The good news is there are actually a lot of good foods out there that don’t contain gluten.  When Matt and I tried gluten-free, we discovered a lot of new dishes which we might not have otherwise tried (like spaghetti squash, which is now one of our favorite foods!).

For example, these are some delicious gluten-free (and dairy-free) Almond Joy bars I ate at a party last night:

so moist and delicious that I ate two

If you want to see more gluten-free foods, you should check out Elana’s Pantry.

Why am I not gluten-free?  I have limited my gluten intake and increased my fiber intake, which has been a good balance for me.  I’ve seen the most improvement in my health by trying to “eat clean”, which I will go into more detail about in a later post.

I feel like I’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg on this topic so here are some additional resources if you’d like to learn more.

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My Morning Protein Shake = L-O-V-E

Before I discovered protein shakes a year ago, I thought they were mostly for this type of person (which, as you see in ‘about me’, is not me!):

 

I was wrong.  Not only are they absolutely delicious, it’s a really easy way to get in extra fiber, fruit, calcium and protein for the day.  Besides, my morning shake makes me feel like this:

  

There are a lot of protein powders in the world so picking one really depends on your budget, taste buds and nutritional focus.  I use a gluten-free, vegan protein powder made by Arbonne.  However, I know a lot of people like the whey powder from Isagenix (share your favorite protein powder in the comments section!).  The basic types of protein powder are: milk, egg, whey, casein and soy.  I chose my protein powder out of convenience.  I was on a gluten-free kick at the time and have gluten-free friends who use the powder.  I also find whey to be very heavy so whey powders don’t work well for me. 

Will I look like Arnold does in his picture if I use a protein powder?  No.  The only way to build muscle is anaerobic exercise (i.e., lifting weights).  Protein powders act as a supplement to build muscle faster, but they alone will not help you build muscle.  WebMD has a lot of good information on the benefits of protein shakes and the different kinds of protein here

This is my shake before the Magic Bullet does its magic:

Vanilla protein powder shake

Ingredients

  • 2 scoops vanilla protein powder
  • Water (I usually make my liquid, including milk, equal to 1/2 of the shake so it is easily drinkable)
  • Frozen berries (about 1/2 – 3/4 cup.. or whatever your belly desires)

 What I include for added nutrients (optional)

  • 1/2 cup Almond or regular milk (for additional calcium and to make it a little creamier)
  • Spinach (you can’t taste it, but it adds calcium and antioxidants to the shake)
  • Fiber powder (Most people get half of their daily required fiber grams so I HIGHLY recommend this.  Between the powder and the fruit, this morning shake is 18g of fiber!  I’ve only used the Arbonne powder but I’m sure any tasteless fiber powder would do the trick)

 Blend & enjoy!

 For convenience, I take it in a to-go cup so I can drink it on my way to work:

Deliciousness on the run!