Lately I’ve been getting a lot of questions about starting the gluten free diet and what else we do to
attempt to stay healthy around here. So, I’ve decided it’s time for another post on the topic.
What is gluten? Gluten is a mysterious, tricky substance found in all grains. However, the only gluten we need to worry about for Celiac and intolerance is the kind found in Wheat, Barley, Rye and all their derivatives. Gluten is the glue that makes breads, pasta, and baked goods DELICIOUS. (I’ve learned that gluten free goodies can be DELICIOUS as well, but it did take adjustment and experimentation to get there).
So, now that we have a general idea of what gluten is, how do we avoid it? The simple answer is to avoid all traditional breads, cereals, pastas, pizza, baked goodies, etc… -BUT- (and this is a BIG BUT), gluten sneaks into all kinds of foods you’d never guess, like seasonings, gravy, soup, & ice cream (and the vast majority of processed foods).
How do you navigate this gluten contaminated world? The first step is to EDUCATE yourself. Learn what gluten is and where it hides. There are many excellent online resources to help you with this. The simplest thing to do is schedule a tour with your local natural food store (Whole Foods and New Seasons both offer) to go over their gluten free offerings.
*Read labels EVERY TIME you purchase a product because formulations and processing standards do change without notice.*
*When in doubt, stick to safe, whole foods like unprocessed meat, dairy (if tolerated), fresh fruits & veggies, nuts (if not allergic), rice & potatoes. *
In addition to gluten free, the polka dot household takes a more extreme approach. We eat all natural (and organic except when impossible). This helps us avoid all those nasty chemicals like food colorants, preservatives, flavorings, and pesticides. This correlates with an Eat Clean Diet (Tosca Reno) with a few exceptions- I do not use any kind of prepared protein/nutrition shakes or bars (they are all highly processed and most contain soy) and we DO consume healthy, whole fats (butter fat, whole milk, whole eggs, cheese, coconut oil). In place of protein shakes, we culture our own kefir and blend it up with spinach, banana, frozen berries and a bit of honey. Super!
We also supplement our diets with whole food multi-vitamins, D3, fish oil, zinc + C for immunity, and calcium + D. We are taking a new approach with Children’s Calm multi with calming magnesium, so we shall see how that looks over the next few months. I add cranberry capsules & dandelion root to my stockpile of daily supplements.
I am anti-drug. This means, I do not believe in medicating children -UNLESS- you have adhered to a strict diet with supplementation and behavior modification and seen zero improvement or the child remains a danger to self or others. In my world, I’d rather deal with the crazy than medicate my child with a dangerous pharmaceutical. I won’t judge you if your choice is different, but I would like to try to help educate you into natural alternatives that may actually provide a better result.
What we are looking at for future diet alterations… SCD (Specific Carbohydrate Diet or GAPs) and further reducing the sugar intake. My kiddos do well when I limit sugars to: local honey, maple syrup, rapadura/sucanat, & stevia (with the rare bit of organic evaporated cane sugar). If they get any traditional candies or sweet foods, I see an almost immediate reaction. Further proof that sweet overload is bad news.
In addition to the Celiac, ADHD, SPD/ASD, and behavioral concerns… these dietary changes have helped me immensely with PCOS and regulating my own body rhythms. I can say that the last few weeks have taken a toll on me. I haven’t been eating properly, have had some candy and soda in addition to eating out way more than normal (this funny thing called dating). My skin is a wreck… my cycle is out of whack… I have much less energy. My body is reminding me to take care of it. So, back to eating every 2-3 hours. Combining lean proteins with complex carbs and lots of fresh foods. Bye bye soda pop, candy, and baked goods!
Our diet world is constantly evolving… it’s about optimum health and nutrition. It’s about taking care of ourselves (and me taking care of my children). It’s about saving medical costs by making wiser food choices… it’s about ridding myself of all the ‘food issues’ I brought into adulthood from my past and hopefully preventing my children from having those issues.
I’d love to hear your stories!