Monday, August 15, 2011

The 3-Week Gluten Challenge

I have a friend called Stevie who's just gone back to college to study ...uhm... natural stuff and nutrition. He's been following the paleolithic diet for a while and he's lost weight (obviously as there's hardly anything to eat on it) and is bendy in ways I've not been since Gym Club in the Upper Fourth.

I don't necessarily believe we should all eat like cavemen. Just because they ate what was available to them doesn't mean it's the perfect diet. Recently Stevie posted an article on facebook called: Why be Gluten Free, about the benefits of gluten free - for everyone not just celiacs.

Now I have a confession to make. Despite looking ok for my age (no comments please :P), even though losing 20kg would make me look ten years younger, I have small aches and pains that remind me of my fast approaching half-century. I hate it. Both being overweight and having joint pains and stiffness if I stay still for too long. Eight weeks ago I wrote a post where I resolved to get-a-grip on overeating. Four weeks later I was doing so well I even announced my weight as I never expected to see that weight again. And after another four weeks I have 'given some weight back' and can report a grand loss of 2kg (4.5 lbs) in eight weeks! That's pathetic. It's a little over 1/2 lb per week. Yeah, yeah, better than nothing, right direction, blah, blah, blah...

So I was feeling sorry for myself when I read the gluten article and was drawn in by the connection of gluten in the diet to joint pains in particular, and a whole load of other ailments in general. I told Stevie I was willing to try it for a month. He replied that three weeks would be enough. Three weeks is exactly the time I have left until my 49th birthday. It was obviously a sign, so I accepted the challenge.

I looked into going the whole hog and trying the paleodiet, but as I don't cook meat it wouldn't leave me much to eat (although planty of vegetarians do it apparently). [Did you spot the typo? I left it because it made me smile]. Also the cavemen wannabees don't eat any grains - rice, corn, beans or potatoes. A bit too Atkins for my liking.

My 3-week challenge is to go without bread, crackers (rice crackers are ok), pastry, cake and biscuits for the next three weeks. I looked at my weekly menu plan and I can substitute polenta for the flour in potato kugel and vegetable burghers. I can eat salatim with rice cakes. And when we have pizza I'll have my topping on potato. Then there is the vegetable streudel and cheese burekas.... Hmm. Ok the one streudel I have in the freezer can stay there for three weeks and DD can have the burekas. I can also make pasta for DD and not partake myself. However, I cannot forego my spaghetti tofunaise once a week as I've too many jars of tofunaise sauce in the freezer. One portion of spaghetti for supper once a week isn't terrible. And even if it is - too bad, that's what I'm doing. Anyway, I don't want to cause an intollerance by completely abstaining.

Just for good measure - and because I'm desperate, I'm also not going to eat any dessert other than fruit (not big on desserts anyway) and I'm giving up crisps (again) after reading this article on The Five Fs Blog. Thank you Kate for finding Dave. I wrote a comment on this post saying that I actually gave up crisps for over two years once, after reading that if you give your child one small packet a day in his/her lunchbox, over a year it's the equivalent of drinking 4 cups of cooking oil. (It may not have been 4 but it was a lot).

I'll report  back next week and also tell you what I ate as I don't intend to starve myself. I read a few celiac recipes and I decided that I'm not into making glutenous dishes with flour substitutes - yet. I'd rather give up the cake and pizza than make gluten free sponges and pizza bases.


  1. I did this a couple of months ago, mainly to see if it would cure my chronic sinusitus. Sadly the sinus headaches remained but so many other health issues cleared up.

    I ended up eating bread/wheat again as we were going back to England for a week and didn't really want to put my inlaws out, but I've been feeling lousy and getting stupidly bloated again (which is no fun when pregnant), so I've decided to start again tomorrow.

    I've read many reports that say to try and go lactose free at the same time because lactose can also be the cause of a lot of the issues that gluten raises.

  2. VBinCatalunya - I am actually very curious to see what will happen. I don't want to give up the dairy because we don't do meat at home so cheese is a big part of our diet. Also I don't want to become a complete faddy eater - woops too late :)

  3. Good luck! I have a fantastic birthday and can't wait to hear how the gluten free lifestyle goes xx

  4. why not get some gluten free pasta for your tofunaise? do you know my stepsister? her husband and one of her daughters are ceoliac they have a fantastic range of gluten free stuff - some of which is sent to her by her stepsisters in UK he he

  5. Hi Debbie - My nephew is also ceoliac (celiac? - which is it, I've seen both?) and unfortunately has no choice bit to use the gluten free pasta. I don't want to get into that partly because ordinary pasta is one of the things that is cheap hear and partly because it's like a vegetarian having fake sliced meats and veggie sausages. Either you're doing it or you're not. And I love chewy pasta :)

  6. The thought of not eating gluten, leaves me feeling unwell. I love my bread! Good luk

  7. LOL Jen - me too. Bread is one of my favourtie things, which is why cutting it our could be the key to my problems. Anyway - lets see what happens.