Last Friday, I embarked upon an experiment to see why everyone was suddenly so excited about Gluten-Free diets, even in the absence of gluten-aggravated Celiac disease. My seven days are up, and I must say I would not recommend this diet unless required for medical reasons. I kept a log of how I felt and some of the new things I tried along the way, which hopefully will help you decide whether going GF is right for you.
Day 1: Things are off to a good start. I made a tasty breakfast of quinoa, soy milk, banana, and flax meal, which kept me full throughout the morning. The quinoa was a great substitute for my go-to cereals, like wheat bran and wheat germ, which are not GF. Things got challenging, though, when I couldn’t part take in the bread basket at lunch . . . but I prevailed.
Day 2: I woke up surprisingly energized after less than 6 hours of sleep. Could it be working this fast?! My challenge today was going out to dinner (with PD editor Juhea, natch!), but thankfully Blossom, the restaurant I chose was vegan (and thus conscious of special diets): the menu had a handy guide that indicated what items were gluten-free, soy-free, and nut-free. I was bummed I could not enjoy a seitan dish, but overall I was happy with my other options. Without the menu’s coding, though, it would have been hard to choose what I could order.
Day 3: Another morning full of energy–hooray! I went shopping to pick up some GF items, including amaranth, almond flour, and coconut flour. These were somewhat hard to find in the grocery store (even on my store’s Organic floor), and the flours were particularly expensive. I can see that GF might be a hindrance for my baking hobby.
Day 4: I’ve been trying different kinds of bread lately–quinoa and spelt among them–with great results. But my first GF bread, made of brown rice, did not make me happy. It had a strange consistency of rice that was left to cook too long in the pot: very hard, spongy, and dry. I’m not sure what I’ll do with this loaf once this week is over. Croutons?
Day 5: Today for lunch I enjoyed a delicious GF soup, adapted from Smitten Kitchen. My miso was GF, but be sure to check the ingredients in yours (no barley!). To make it a meal, I added a scoop of quinoa and some GF/vegan almond cheese. I recently discovered the brand, Lisanatti, which I love for its creamy texture and flavor.
Day 6: For a snack, I packed one of the GF Apple Cinnamon muffins I made. These are filling and dense, but definitely not real muffins.
Day 7: I confess: today I fell off the wagon (but for a good cause!). I indulged in a piece of vegan chocolate cake during an office mate’s celebration, which I could not confirm was GF. I can imagine that socializing while sticking to GF is just as hard as it is when you’re vegan, and I sympathize with those who don’t have the luxury of “cheating” due to medical complications.
In summary, this is what I took away from this week:
Pros: More energy, interesting new food options, lost about 1 pound (although I can’t claim any of these effects had a causal link to being GF).
Cons: Felt limited by restrictions, some digestive issues (rice is binding), substitutions were not always satisfying, suffering from ketones (dry mouth, bad breath, from low-carb/low-calorie diets) near the end of the week.
Tonight, I’m going to embrace the whole wheat I’ve missed the past seven days.
Will you try GF?
More by Jen: Vegan Cranberry Sauce Crumb Cake