Diet, Food

I Tried a Gluten-Free Diet

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I Tried It: Gluten-free and VeganI was recently out with a friend when I encountered one of my first awkward-vegan moments: we’d ordered the only “non-meat” item–cryptically named–on the menu to share, and what arrived on the table was a ball of cheese accompanied with two breadsticks. I went for the bread, she for the cheese. It soon became obvious, even without our having to say anything, that we were both choosing based on dietary concerns. While I was abstaining from animal products, she was abstaining from gluten. Gluten-free (GF) has become one of the fastest growing food movements of recent years. 22% of adults have removed the protein from their diets, and there were 1,700 new GF products introduced to the market last year. (Update: The New York Times reports that 11% of American households have bought GF products in 2013. Only 1.8 million Americans (0.6% of population) actually have celiac disease). But what’s the hype all about? Gluten-free diets are primarily used for the treatment of Celiac disease, an autoimmune disease that lives in the small intestine. When a person with Celiac consumes gluten, his or her immune system starts to attack the villi of the small intestine, which prevents the absorption of nutrients. According to another estimate, about 3 million Americans either suffer from Celiac or have increased gluten sensitivity, but 97% of those cases remain undiagnosed since symptoms are similar to those of a variety of other conditions–general digestive issues, diarrhea, bloating, and fatigue, all results of malnourishment. A GF diet is the only way to stop the effects and prevent complications of Celiac. However, GF is catching on even among those without Celiac for a number of reported health benefits. Studies show that less gluten in your diet can lead to clearer thinking, reduced inflammation, and increased energy. As a vegan, I know that there are drawback and upsides to all dietary restrictions, so I’ve always been skeptical of further reducing my list of food option by going GF. Just like not eating animal products can deprive a person of essential nutrients without proper substitutes, no gluten means that you miss out on many of the health benefits of glutenous foods. Finding GF products can be difficult for people without access to expansive grocery stores, and they often come with a high price tag. I do not have Celiac disease, but for curiosity’s sake, and at my friend’s recommendation, I decided I’d try being GF for a week to see what it’s all about. But before I began, I sketched out a plan to ensure success. Learn: I did my homework to learn as much as I could about gluten and was surprised at what the actual guidelines of GF were. Gluten is protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and triticale (a wheat-rye hybrid). That means I can’t eat any of those foods or foods made with them. I consulted the GF encyclopedia, glutenfree.com, to get a list of what to look for and avoid when I went grocery shopping. The Mayo Clinic also had a handy guide to the details of the diet.

Courtesy of glutenfree.com

Substitute: I’m no stranger to restrictive diets, and I am not planning to embark upon a week of deprivation. I knew that if I wasn’t smart about finding other carbohydrate options especially, I’d be miserable and feel unwell. But you can see in the above, there are many naturally GF foods, including all fruits and vegetables, that are completely fine to eat; and for non-vegans, dairy and meat are also on the Yum! list. I was happy to see that a number of grains I already have in my menu cycle, like quinoa and rice, are also GF. This week, I’ll try adding some new things to take the place of my wheat-based bread and cereals, which I’ll be able to continue to eat even after the week is through.

Experiment: Since I love to bake and cook, I plan to find even more new recipes that are GF and report back to you Peaceful Dumplings about the ease of adopting this lifestyle.

Next page: the results of my Gluten-Free Week!

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Jennifer Kurdyla

Jennifer Kurdyla

Features Editor at Peaceful Dumpling
Features Editor Jennifer Kurdyla is a New York City girl with Jersey roots and a propensity for getting lost in the urban jungle. An experienced publishing professional, yoga instructor, home chef, sometimes-runner, and writer, she adopted a vegetarian lifestyle in 2008 and became vegan in 2013. She has written for The Harvard Review Online, The Rumpus, and Music & Literature and maintains a wellness-based website, Be Nourished, which features original writing and recipes. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram @jenniferkurdyla, Twitter @jenniferkurdyla, and Pinterest.
Jennifer Kurdyla
  • Mangalore Cafe

    There are many communities around the world who live a naturally gluten free diet.
    Bread is not in their culinary vocabulary.
    Instead of making Rice Bread you should have made “Idli” the staple south Indian Breakfast with coconut chutney. I could eat that everyday. I grew up in a urban city where my family had lost their roots, so we would eat bread and butter with eggs for breakfast.
    But when I returned to my native place in South India man I got addicted to the idlis and par boiled rice and the steamed rice dishes like “puttu”. You should try those.
    Its not at all restricting. This is what I did when I went vegan too. I never went for substitutes I just went for different cuisines.
    I need a high protein diet and my comfort food became hummus and “Khaman”(Gram flour fermented cake) Oh yes and Horsegram(“kudu”) with cos.
    Otherwise I used to like eating eggs in the morning. Instead of going in for tofu and trying to make it look and taste like scrambled egg I just went in for other cuisines and dishes.
    Idlis also my staple.
    You should try all those even if you are not GF then you would find its easier to go GF.
    I am not GF but I avoid Wheat. I don’t avoid Barley which also has gluten because it does not have the same effect as wheat.
    Infact I had GI for a while then I switched to Barley flour. Then I switched back to Organic Wheat FLour that was sifted.
    My conclusions after years of research and observation in places like India where GI does not exist even though many community eat only wheat all day long.
    Its the bran that causes the “leaking gut syndrome”. Wheat is a grass and there is a reason why its called a “blade of grass” cause grass cuts.
    If you have ever played in hay as a kid you would have found yourself bleeding tiny droplets of blood and you would have freaked out. The cuts are so fine that you don’t feel any pain. You do feel scratchy and you think its the hay scratching you actually its cutting you up.
    If you split a bamboo in a certain way it will as sharp as a sword.
    Bran also cause nano cuts in the intestine wall which is only one cell thick.
    In India wheat was first soaked overnight and then dried and then it was ground in a stone grinder. There the bran would be separated. This bran was fed to animals.
    I remember as a kid a man accusing the flour mill guy of robbing his flour cause he got only 800 grams of flour for 1000 gram of wheat. The flour mill guy explained to me that the bran is not edible, it is bad for you stomach.
    They run the wheat through the mill twice once to remove the bran and then to grind it.

    The problem is that the wheat flour industry did not want to waste this 200 grams of bran.
    So it created the biggest scam even The “fiber” scam.
    First they attributed all health benefits of veggies to fiber(instead of vitamins mineral and thousands of phytonutrients) and then sold us their waste product as a healthy food.
    They simply added their waste bran to cereal and declared it healthy and even convinced people they would get the same benefits as eating veggies…from what can be called sawdust.

    Later new grinding machines can grind the bran into fine powder but it imparts a brown color to the flour so they bleach it with chlorine(bleaching powder).
    No matter how fine you grind bran it still retains its structure and cuts you up.
    But now you also got Bleaching powder and other chemicals to deal with.
    I think basically GI is an allergy to all of these chemicals and the bran.

  • disqus_J7O865xavy

    The casein in your very NOT VEGAN “almond cheese” tells me you don’t pay consistent and thorough enough attention to what is in your food to demonstrate a restrictive diet.

    As someone who needs to be gluten free and vegan for medical reasons(Celiac and various allergies and digestive issues) its frustrating to see someone publicly comment on the diet while screwing it up so egregiously. I would never eat something off limits, I would be sick for weeks. If you can’t do it right, please don’t endanger people who need it by publicly spreading your recklessness.

    I hope you make a correction and stop telling people that brand of almond cheese is ok for vegans. Its not, and all you had to do to know that was read the ingredients on the package before you shoved it in your face.

  • Suzy Wrobel

    Hi, my name is Suzy and was just diagnosed with celiacs disease. I had no idea what this was. I had been sick, I mean sick sick for 6 months not knowing what was going on with me and my body. But my symptoms were very very different. I had been throwing up everything I ate and then some. At the time of it all starting I weighed 137lbs. I now weigh 97lbs. And trying to round this corner is going to be rough. I am lactose intolerant and have hyperthyroidism

Take care of yourself:
healthy eating diet gluten-free i tried it

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