Elimination stations

In a bid to work out why I'm still having tummy ouchies, I recently made an appointment with dietitian Joanna Baker from Everyday Nutrition. We talked about how some of the foods that irritate my stomach don't seem to fit with the food groups that I'm already avoiding (gluten-free, dairy-free and low fodmaps). Joanna introduced me to the low food chemical diet (also known as the failsafe diet which reduces the amount of naturally occurring food chemicals: salicylates, amines and glutamates being consumed). It sounded like a really un-fun diet, but Joanna assured me it was worth doing an elimination diet to try and figure out what my food triggers are, because I may be able to then reintroduce foods that I'm currently avoiding (OMG please someone tell me I can start eating cheese)! As an added "bonus", the failsafe diet also means I've had to avoid perfumed products, mint toothpaste, and try and stay away from perfumed areas e.g. my yoga studio where they burn incense on the regular.

An elimination diet, is a short-term diet where certain foods are removed from your diet and then slowly reintroduced to see if you have a reaction. Let me tell you, an elimination diet is NOT fun. In my case, the elimination diet was gluten-free, dairy-free, low fodmaps and failsafe. 

Here's what I've been allowed to eat over the past month:

  • Peeled zucchini
  • Peeled white potatoes/brown rice/white rice
  • Unprocessed fresh meat (excluding pork and processed meat) - must be cooked and eaten within 24 hours; or cooked, frozen and then eaten within 24 hours.
  • Potato crisps (only certain brands)
  • Eggs
  • Decaf coffee with rice milk or soy milk (gluten-free soy milk only)

As you can imagine, the past month feels like it's been about 3 years long, I'm desperate to eat something different, and I'm sick of the sight of zucchinis. However, the good news is that my stomach has been feeling wayyyy better.

And now for the exciting and scary stage. Next week I'm starting to re-introduce foods, starting with lactose-free milk. I've already decided that I'll be having my first sample at home when we have a good stock of toilet paper. Wish me luck!

If you suspect you have food intolerances or food allergies, please do not attempt an elimination diet on your own. An elimination diet needs to be closely supervised, to make sure you continue to get enough nutrition in your diet. Dietitians are also better at ensuring you're eliminating the right foods e.g. some foods are both high in fodmaps as well as high food chemical, so you could easily remove a food group unnecessarily. Find a good dietitian before giving up any food group. If you're hunting for a dietitian, make sure you ask them about their approach to make sure it matches with your goals. I chose Joanna because she is pro-whole foods, and is a coeliac on a low fodmap diet herself, so understands what it's like to live on a restricted diet. She lives in Melbourne, but does Skype appointments - so bonus for me.

P.s. dietitians are not nutritionists. A nutritionist is not necessarily qualified, whereas a dietitian is qualified to post-graduate level.

 

Oh come on!!!

You know, I've heard rumours of people who cut out gluten to be 'healthy' or 'lose weight' but I thought they were unicorns - you know, figments of someone's imagination to make horses seem more interesting. By the way, how cool would it be to own a unicorn???

While buying my weekly gluten-free fish and chips (ok, don't judge me too harshly I'm not whole foods every night of the week), the guy serving me was having a laugh at people who come into his shop and when the gluten-free burger isn't available choose instead a full gluten burger instead of a different gluten-free option. Um, what the heck? "Yup, I'll have gluten-free please, but only if it's yummy, otherwise double the gluten thanks."

Turns out that there are actually people who are on a gluten-free diet for really bizarre reasons (trendiness? a strange idea of what healthy eating is?) and there are people who do gluten-free part-time. What in the actual heck???

There is absolutely nothing wrong with cutting out gluten if you're: coeliac, gluten intolerant (legitimately) or have a genuine health issue that is improved by cutting out gluten (e.g. Hashimoto's disease).

But cutting out gluten because you *think* it's healthier than eating gluten is just silly.

Gluten-free is not healthy. A well-balanced diet, low in sugar and processed crap that also happens to be gluten-free IS healthy. That's a BIG difference. Actually, most gluten-free processed food is higher in sugar and other nasties than gluteny processed food.

And what's with the part-time thing? If you have a genuine reason for being gluten-free (see above), then you need to be gluten FREE, not low gluten or gluten-free when it suits me, or gluten-free when the food looks good. If you need to be gluten-free, there are no half measures because every bite impacts your health.

Why do I care? Because caterers, cooks and food vendors deal with this silliness everyday, so when it comes to serving people who genuinely need to be gluten-free you can see why some of them are cynical, or sometimes even a bit slap-dash with how careful they are with gluten-free meals.

As I've said before .... if you think you have a problem with gluten, get tested. It could literally save your life (coeliac disease can kill you). And if you are going to be tested you have to be eating gluten or you'll show a false negative, so don't cut it out of your diet until you're advised to by a medical professional.

There, rant over.

 

 

New Year's Resolutions

Holy smoke, where has this year gone?

It's nearly new year's and I've been thinking about my resolution for 2015.  This year I focused on improving my health: I changed my diet, gave up sugar, increased the amount of real/whole food I ate, discovered amazing cafes, began to learn to cook and started this blog. I also got to meet a whole lot of other people who are taking this health thing seriously too - so awesome to meet you guys!

It hasn't all been easy going, there have been a few slip-ups, some rotten fish, and a few dodgy comments but overall, I've managed to increase my health significantly. How do I know my health is better?

1. Heartburn reduced to only once or twice in the last six months (that's a huge reduction, and on the occasions where I did experience heartburn I know what I'd done to cause it - damn you tomatoes for being so tasty)

2. Sleeping better (most of the time)

3. No longer taking anti-depressants - this is a huge win for me, and is mostly due to improved gut health (I'll talk more about the gut-brain connection in a later blog post)

4. WAYYYYY less stomach aches

5. More balanced blood sugar level - I can tolerate eating lunch half an hour to an hour later than normal if necessary without turning into a crying/angry mess.

Not a bad effort.

In 2015 I want to continue with these efforts and ....

1. Take up meditation. My super-smart workmate Charlie loaned me a copy of his book 'Hurry up and Meditate' by David Mitchie. Meditation is amazing for both mental and physical health. I'm a chronic worrier and can see meditation could be really helpful for helping me chill out. I haven't nailed down exactly how many minutes a day yet, but I'll work that out in the next week.

2. Get back to regular exercise. At least 30 minutes walking three times a week with hubby. Or in the event of terrible weather, 30 minutes of yoga with the Wii (since I can't afford to go to a yoga class at the moment).

My awesome husband is also a blogger (yup, I bully everyone I know into blogging) and has written a great piece on how to set an effective resolution - check it out here.

What are your resolutions for 2015?  Thank you so very very much for reading my blog - I love to hear from you, so make sure you post a comment here or on my Facebook or Twitter. If you write a blog yourself, I'd love to check it out!

Peace,

Glutey Girl xox

Gluten-free is NOT a fad

The gluten-free debate has been raging loudly in the media of late.

Apparently anyone who can hold a fork is qualified to comment on whether an individual should go gluten-free, whether gluten-free is a safe option, whether going gluten-free will make you lose weight and whether the whole gluten-free thing is a total fad invented by Gwyneth Paltrow ...

Last week JayJay Harvey nearly sparked a riot on Facebook when she announced that she was trying to cut down on gluten and dairy. It turns out that JayJay is reducing gluten and dairy because she struggles with stomach irritation. Away from her Facebook page, in groups across the site, people speculated about her reasons for going gluten-free, and whether going gluten-free was a good choice.

My

recent article on Stuff

also led to a barrage of comments – many from people with absolutely zero knowledge of gluten and the physiological response it causes in the intolerant, allergic or auto-immune challenged.

Mis-information and loud opinions abound, and sometimes it would be nice to respond in person to these people and ask them if they’ve ever read a medical journal article, spoken to a coeliac, suffered from an allergic response themselves or even had a quick look on Google.

I’m sure the answer is likely to be “No I haven’t, I’m just a bigot who likes to eat KFC.”

And to you I say this: "At least do your homework before commenting. And damn you for being able to eat convenient, cheap and yummy smelling food."

There are some truths that those of us of the glutey-persuasion would love everyone to read, know, and acknowledge and here they are (with references at the bottom of the page for people who want to read more):

  • Gluten intolerance, gluten allergies and Coeliacs Disease are REAL. It’s not in our head, we’re not just fussy eaters, and real sufferers are definitely not living a gluten-free “lifestyle” for the fun of it.
  • A reaction to gluten can vary from mild discomfort right through to anaphylaxis and death.
  • A reaction to gluten can come in many different forms including eczema, stomach pain, reflux, behavioural issues and more.
  • Whether it’s an allergy, an auto-immune disease or a food intolerance is irrelevant to anyone but the sufferer.
  • Gluten does not make you gain weight. Gluten is a protein that makes food stretchy and sticky. It has little to do with weight gain or loss (unless it’s affecting your thyroid, which is the case for some people). The food that gluten naturally occurs in MAY make you gain weight. For example, if you eat lots of pies (which contain gluten), chances are, you’ll gain weight. However, the same would happen if you ate lots of gluten-free pies.
  • Diagnosis can be difficult. Coeliacs Disease, food allergies and intolerances have a myriad of symptoms, and are often misdiagnosed for years. Although Coeliacs Disease has a generally agreed diagnosis criteria, even the so-called ‘gold standard’ of coeliac testing has recently been called into question by some medical professionals. Testing for gluten intolerance or allergy is fraught with debate, with no set standard of testing approved by the medical profession. This does not mean that gluten allergies and intolerance don’t exist, it just means that we don’t yet have an agreed way to diagnose.
  • A little bit of compassion by people who don’t struggle with food allergies can go a long way towards helping people with a gluten problem to live a happier and healthier life.
  • If you want to change your diet, that’s your business (and your doctor’s). Not anybody else’s.

Take care out there guys!

Note: Coeliacs Disease is not a food allergy, it’s an auto-immune disease. When a coeliac consumes gluten their immune system starts attacking the body leading to a range of really crappy symptoms – which vary from person to person.

Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional. Please see a qualified medical professional before altering your diet.

Extra reading:

Myths about Coeliacs

Definitions of coeliac disease and related terms

Biopsy testing for Coeliacs flawed

Many, many articles about gluten sensitivity and coeliac disease, including informationa bout coeliac testing -

thedr.com

Weekend brunch at Columbus

Yesterday I had the most glorious brunch with my lovely (him of the gingery persuasion and kind heart).

Columbus Coffee on the corner of Victoria and London Street - I heart you!

What a welcoming cafe for us gluteys. 

Walking in, you're greeted with fresh, inviting decor, and kind staff who don't run screaming when you mention the word 'food allergies'. In fact, there's even a sign on the counter stating that they cater for special diets <squee>. That's like an invitation for us freaklets of the food allergy variety.

I ordered The paleo breakfast. The paleo breakfast normally consists of eggs, salmon, avocado, tomato, sprouty things, mushrooms and spinach. Because of my special requirements, I got a version without the mushrooms and tomato - and it was still outstanding.

The food arrived promptly, and looked pretty on the plate until I started mowing into it. Then all I could focus on was how good it tasted.

A huge shout out to Columbus for good, safe food accompanied by fantastic green tea. I'll be back! 

Special thanks to the guys in the Hamilton Gluten and Dairy-free group  who recommended Columbus to me.