March 21, 2012

One year Gluten Free!

Today is my one year anniversary of being gluten free.  It has been a journey.  You can read my initial posts early on in my journey here, here and here.  If you read any of those links you can see how dreadful it was to have my doctor tell me that I needed to eat gluten free one year ago. I literally called it my "death sentence."

Before I update you on where I am at today in regards to eating gluten free let me just tell you why I have to be gluten free. I get asked the question a lot so I figure I will tackle it here...

I have Hypothyroidism and Hashimotos disease (an autoimmune disorder.) Click here to find out more about it.  Hypothyroidism can be treated by taking a thyroid hormone - either synthetic or dessicated.  Hashimotos can't be helped by that hormone.  I didn't know this until last year on March 21.  You see my Endocrinologist only ever told me that my thyroid medicine would help everything.  Then I saw my Integrative Medicine Doctor (otherwise known as a D.O) and she told me that taking a thyroid hormone does not do anything for Hashimotos. That explains why I never felt most of my thyroid symptoms went away just taking the "medicine."  My D.O told me that there are a lot of antibodies attacking my thyroid making it not work and making it lumpy and abnormal.  She said that the more gluten I eat, the more antibodies there will be.  Getting off of gluten won't make ALL the antibodies go away (I wish) but staying away from it will allow less antibodies to be formed and make my symptoms lessen.  I wanted my symptoms to lessen so I chose to take the D.O's advice and stop gluten. Just a side note ~ there are other things necessary to help the symptoms of Hashimotos and eating gluten free is just one of them.

Sorry to get all technical but I hope that makes sense as to why I don't eat gluten.

In a nutshell let's get into the past year and my progress and what I have learned....

I had concerns when I first went GF.  How would I eat out, How would I feed my family of boys, How would I travel, and How would we afford this?

It was hard at first but now it has gotten a lot easier.

I do eat out.  My family and I only go to places that serve GF items and are knowledgeable about gluten.  If they aren't knowledgeable then we steer clear.  We don't eat out a lot though.  It is just safer to eat at home.  Having said that, there are A LOT of restaurants that have gluten free menus.  You just have to be your own advocate and know there is potential for cross contamination. Make sure you do your research online about a particular restaurant or call ahead to find our your options.  You may be sorely disappointed if you go in expecting options and there aren't. I also have had to accept that there are places I just can't go anymore.  At least not until they offer something I can eat.  I am OK with that now.

My boys and I do eat good healthy meals (and sometimes not so healthy.)  Throughout this year I have learned many tricks on how to make the same food we have always eaten gluten free.  For instance - I use La Choy Lite Soy sauce, wheat free tamari or Braggs Liquid aminos for recipes that call for soy sauce.  I have found a yummy brand of GF pasta that I like called Tinkyada. I also buy GF pasta in bulk at a local store. If I am buying canned foods or more "processed" foods I always check labels.  Modified "Food" starch and "natural flavors" can be a killer. Sometimes I have to call the company to find the source of their food starch or natural flavors. To thicken gravies or sauces I use GF cornstarch or Mochiko Sweet Rice Flour.  I make my own broths and freeze them in bulk to ensure they are free of gluten. I have found myriads of ways to adapt and be able to eat our favorite recipes.  Thank you Lord! On occasion we can still eat things like The Pioneers Womans Mac N Cheese or Paula Deens Bobby's Goulash, making it GF of course. I am looking forward to our garden and canning and eating fresh organic fruits and veggies this year.  All fruits and veggies are naturally GF!

We do travel. This past year we have traveled.  We have taken mostly road trips which are the easiest. I have to really plan ahead for traveling though.  Making sure I have all proteins, fruits, veggies and snacks is key.  I like Justin's Nut Butter packets for protein to put on celery or just to eat by themselves. I like having mixed nuts, GF yogurts, cut up carrots and various fruits (fresh and dried).  Homemade chicken salad to put on GF crackers is yummy. GF Beef Jerky was also a fun snack on the road.  There are ways to do it you just have to have a cooler and plan ahead for what you will need to eat and plan that you will not be able to find a place with GF items available.  There is nothing like traveling and being hungry (and grumpy in my case!) 

We do afford it. As I stated in one of my earlier posts about this journey "I have to learn to bake GF from scratch and not use mixes." In order to make eating GF affordable I truly have had to learn to make things from scratch.  Having a mix (like this one) is nice in a pinch but there is no way we could sustain those costs all the time.  The mixes are expensive.  I learned to make my own GF all purpose flour (made from a ratio of White Rice flour, Tapioca Starch and Potato Starch.)  I use that mix in whatever I am baking and then add a whole grain flour like sorghum, almond or coconut flour to make what I am eating healthy.  The least expensive way I have found to keep this all purpose flour on hand in big tubs is buy the flours at the Asian market and mix them together at home.  The Asian markets have the best deal on the flours in my mix.  I also order some GF items online at Vitacost which has the best prices on most products.  I make my own loafs of wholegrain bread once a month and freeze extra I will not use right away.  The best book I have found with really yummy recipes on a budget is Gluten Free on a Shoestring by Nicole Hunn.  I love Nicole.  She makes good recipes, takes good photos and has a great sense of humor.  Her book has made my life easier.

I am healthier.  I am not symptom free but I have lost 10 pounds and kept it off eating gluten free. While eating GF I naturally just eat less sugar and more whole grains and like quinoa, millet, and sorghum.  I use healthier ingredients like almond flour, coconut flour and oil, more veggies, and fruits, etc. Mentally I feel better knowing that I am not putting something into my body that is causing my thyroid to worsen which in turn can cause a chain reaction in my body.  Things like heart disease, high cholesterol, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, etc., can be caused by an untreated thryoid condition or in my case eating gluten.  I really don't want to have those problems and pray that eating this way will help stave those off.

If you are still reading..... I hope this was helpful to you.  Maybe it gave you an idea about eating GF, maybe it encouraged you to stick with it, maybe it helped you know more about me?  I realize this post wont be interesting to some people out there (especially who don't have food allergies) but I pray for those who have read to the end that it was worth your time.  Afterall, my main objectives on this blog are to inspire, ignite and encourage.  If you are trying to eat GF and it is hard, stay the path.  Seek out books and blogs for helps.  Maybe there are GF cooking classes in your area?  I assure you it will get better and easier.  It is just about education, practice and commitment.

Stay tuned for Friday's post on gluten free mini cinnamon & sugar donuts!



  1. Wow, Jenn. I so remember reading that original post and I am so very proud of you! God is good to take you through this journey and give you resources and encouragement throughout it. Yea for victory!!

  2. So proud of you, Jenn! Praising the Lord for guiding you through this journey and celebrating your first anniversary! You have definitely inspired me to take a closer look into my own health and eating habits. ;)

  3. Hi Jenn, It is an encouragement to hear about how something that appeared a "drudgery" (to me in some ways) has turned out to be a lifestyle. In the past couple of months, I've been limiting high fat and high sugar choices, and it is making a difference. I am encouraged by this journey you've shared along the way!


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For any and all health advice/suggestions and/or posts on this blog, I do not assume any liability for you. The posts and comments on this blog are not meant to be a substitute for your own practicing physician's care in your life. These posts are based on my experience and research in my own healing journey and are placed here to encourage and help those ailing with their health. We are all individuals and there is not ONE pat answer or resolution that applies to everyone across the board.