My whole life I have craved pasta, cookies and bread. I grew up eating meatballs, macaroni and gravy every Sunday and it was one of the few traditions my family had! As I got older and lived on my own, I leaned on easy fast foods which included things in a boxes, things that were frozen, bagels, English muffins, and of course, my daily go to chocolate chip cookie. It couldn’t be just any cookie by the way… it had to be the perfect consistency of fresh-baked, soft, yet dense cookie. I NEVER made my own, so the search to find ones that satisfied, was time consuming.
When I became pregnant with my first son at age 35, despite my desire to be as healthy as possible, I was starving, nauseous and did I say STARVING yet? It became a free for all because eating was a full-time job. I needed to eat every 2 hours and half way through the day I was already out of ideas. “Go to” foods like Lucky charms (all cereals), calzones, and pizza were a staple. I did like vegetables so throw in some nice sautéed broccoli with garlic, and I had a very strange mix of healthy and not healthy foods.
After my son was born, I really cannot explain the EXHAUSTION I felt. Maybe it was the sudden inability to rest when you wanted to, or that you were simply on call 24 hours a day…day after day…or that after having my own “life” for 35 years the sudden shift to take care of another human and the endless needs and responsibilities overwhelmed. Or maybe it was my unhappiness about where I lived or how little the love of my life seemed to help me. Maybe it was my diet, and my inability to change and my belief that if only I had the energy I could fix everything in my life. In the meantime, my chaotic diet continued and so did my utter exhaustion.
There were times where I would GIVE ANYTHING, if I could just lay on the couch for an hour. After 3 years, when my son stopped napping, it became literally impossible to make it through each day without laying down when he napped. I just couldn’t function from 7am in the morning until 10 pm at night without a break, and I finally needed to reach out for some help…. I was in a crisis.
I decided to see a nutritionist, even though I thought I KNEW exactly what I “should” be doing, and just wasn’t. I couldn’t rationalize paying for what I thought I knew, yet on some level I realized that maybe I did need support since I wasn’t actually succeeding in what felt like anything at the time…
In our FIRST meeting, my new health coach mentioned that it sounded like I may have a WHEAT allergy. Interesting I thought… she suggested I CROWD OUT THE WHEAT (my favorite concept by the way). I honestly am not even sure I knew exactly what wheat was at the time or the vast amount of foods it is an ingredient in. She started me off by cutting it out all day and only having it at dinner. The logic, is that she thought it was making me tired, and to see if I had more energy without it. The secret logic I guess was to slowly make me less reliant on it. Later she confessed she thought it was the root of several of my initial complaints.
With help from her including my own personalized recipe book, some quick cooking lessons, and samples of new gluten-free options, I learned some basic tricks and I eagerly began to cut out the wheat during the day. Sometimes it seems like I need “permission” to make changes in my life..does anyone else feel that way?
Anyway, this first step seemed simple enough and it honestly was! I do believe this is a GREAT way to START. You are not yet taking on the challenge of being entirely gluten-free, yet you are slowly learning how to replace foods and CROWD IT out without feeling deprived or overwhelmed.
Side note, this clearly does not count as being gluten-free, nor will you get the 100% health benefits of being gluten-free, but what this WILL DO, is guide you toward the eventual shift. It is the STEP in the right direction. THE baby step we all need to help us shift without feeling overwhelmed or deprived. It is a STEP and a GOOD ONE.
Here’s what I did for breakfast, Start by replacing toast and the like with:
- Rice/Millet bread, Brand was Food for Life. Spread on a little almond butter and honey. DELICIOUS, warm, yummy, dense, and satisfying. Others ideas are to put an avocado on top, or an egg, or both.
- Learned how to make brown rice or quinoa for breakfast. Save a little from last night’s dinner. Put a half of a cup in a pot and warm it up with a little rice milk or almond milk, add cinnamon, walnuts, bananas, apples, raisins, etc. whatever you want and have handy. Drizzle a little honey, and another delicious satisfying meal. (and a good way to use leftovers)
- Eggs. A good protein breakfast. Try it with veggies.
- Cottage Cheese and apples, honey and raisins..if you dying for a sweet breakfast
- Smoothies. Later to become my “can’t live without it” food.
Here is what I did for lunch, No more sandwiches. This one was a little hard at first, but not really!!! Replace with soups, salads, and gluten-free wraps, even GF pasta!
- Have any naturally gluten-free soup, this included beans, veggies, and any soup without flour in it! Have a side salad if soup is not enough. If you are a home cook, I LOVE to make a large batch of soup and have it for the first few days of the week. My favorite is split pea, lentil, any bean veggie & my moms’ chicken soup. (replace chicken noodle with chicken rice).
- A classic healthy, favorite lunch of mine is a brown rice veggie bowl. (This is my new tradition for meatless Mondays) In general, I don’t LOVE meat. I do eat it, but I eat more for protein and because I guess I do crave it occasionally. I eat plenty of beans and LOVE them and would usually choose bans over meat anytime. I base this meal off of a lunch I used to get when I lived in NYC. My favorite place was called SOUEN, and it was one of the healthiest places to eat for many years in NYC in my day. You could order ANYTHING off the menu and know if was good for you. They would make the perfect health bowl with a perfectly cooked acorn squash, carrot, brown rice, sea vegetables and a miso tahini sauce. The definition of YUM and the meal I always try to emulate. By the way, learning how to make a few satisfying dressings is a KEY layer to really shifting your diet and being happy about it! Dressing makes a HUGE difference on how NOT to get bored with veggies. I will include some tahini dressing ideas this month on the blog.
- Dinners and Snack ideas will follow in part 2 of this post next week…
My best advice is to start making changes with breakfast and lunch only, and use the CROWD it out method by my lovely Coach Sharon Goldner. By starting slowly, you wont get overwhelmed, you don’t have to take on the biggies yet, like cutting out pizza. Plus, you get to see how you feel ALL day by limiting gluten and hopefully see some improvements by making some small changes! Just increasing your veggies and naturally GF grains should make a difference!
So that’s my story on how I started. While no diet is perfect, I made some of the most major shifts in my health by eating this way. Please comment with questions or areas where you feel stuck and I will try to help as best I can. Good Luck, hope you enjoyed my story!
Xoxox Love and Healing, Laura