In 2006 or 2007, a co-worker suggested that I eliminate wheat from my diet, based on the symptoms I was having at the time–bloating, weight gain, flatulence (gas). I had a hard time with that concept, but decided that I could try it with the chicken cheese steak sandwiches that I loved to eat once or twice a week and really didn’t need to eat–sooo good and fattening! So, I gave them up–just like that! {snap}. If you think about it, we have been conditioned to eat wheat at every meal:

  • Breakfast–toast, waffles, pancakes, cereals
  • Lunch–sandwiches, pizza, pasta, bread with the meal, desserts
  • Dinner–pasta, pizza, rolls or bread with the meal, desserts

I said this to make a point–it ain’t easy to give up wheat! It’s everywhere and there is some gluten in most of the processed foods we eat. People with celiac disease cannot ingest any grain gluten have a very difficult time finding foods they can eat.

After that success, I tried eliminating other foods, one-by-one. Eventually, I started reading ingredient labels, specifically looking for wheat, especially when it was ‘hidden’ in other ingredients.

When I started acupuncture in 2010, my acupuncturist told me the same thing. The added benefit by that time was to reduce the pain I was having with the fairly new diagnosis of fibromyalgia.   It has taken seven years to get where I am now. I am not gluten-free, but I am severely gluten-reduced (GR). I have educated myself on what to look for with regard to wheat, hidden wheat and other gluten-containing ingredients. I changed how I cook certain things, like salmon cakes–no more bread crumbs to give integrity (keep the cake from falling apart). No more soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce–they have malt, maltodextrin or maltodextrose (can be made from wheat or other gluten-containing grains). I joined a website, glutenfreebaking.com, so that I could make some Christmas cookies that I could eat. I surprised my family with gingerbread cookies that were largely made from rice flour. I only tried that once, but I know that I can only improve on my first attempt!

I am no GF angel. I backslide every now and then. But I limit my slides–most of the time. If there’s a birthday at work and cake is served, I get a very thin slice–more like a sliver–because it tastes good! When I just plain fall off of the GR/GF WAGON by eating some wheat several days in a row, I can count on water retention, gas and more pain about 7 days later.

I am now at the point where I bring as little wheat and gluten into the house as my family will tolerate. I will buy things for them that they like, but I stay away from them for the most part (or restrict myself to an occasional small bite–it’s not worth it to indulge further than that). I don’t eat regular cereals anymore because, guess what? They’re made from wheat! Awww, dang! I gave up sandwiches a few years ago–I have missed sandwiches…sigh.

So, what exactly does gluten reduction do for me? Well, it reduces the burning of my joints. It’s the inflammation that gluten causes, creating the burning. It also keeps me from bloating (water retention), getting ‘gassy’ and keeps my weight down. The other major thing that I reduced is SUGAR, CORN SYRUP–especially high fructose corn syrup (nasty stuff that–Google it so you know what it really is!) That meant giving up sodas, ice cream, candy, etc. A lot of food companies have substituted high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) for sugar, because it’s more economical. Sugar causes inflammation, too. It also makes you FAT.

There are several GF cooking websites–Google a list and check them out. Get the books, Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight or Wheat Belly (two versions of the same book) by cardiologist William Davis. He found out a great deal about the history of wheat–what it used to be and what it was genetically engineered into and we eat today! After it worked for his own health, he created GF diets for his patients whose health was in jeopardy. Heart disease, diabetes, obesity. Gluten makes you fat. He gives a list of the foods we should avoid and substitutions and also several recipes! Good stuff.

When I make spaghetti, I make two different pots of noodles. I found a nice brand of spaghetti noodles, Schär, from Italy that holds its integrity. I boil my noodles first and put them in a container and then boil the rest of the family’s noodles. Before I combine their noodles with the ground turkey tomato sauce, I dip a goodly amount out and pour it over my noodles.

I had been eating corn tortillas as a substitute for sandwich bread for breakfast and lunch sandwiches (only at home) this year, until I found this wonderful bread made by UDI. I discovered them at the Silver Diner Restaurant in June. They have a gluten-free (GF) menu and use the UDI Hamburger Buns for the Turkey Burger on the GF menu!! Soooooooo goooooooooD! I can have toast and sandwiches again!! Yippee!! Unlike all of the other GF breads I have tried, the UDI bread doesn’t crumble when you touch it and it actually tastes very good–no one would know that it is GF unless they were told. Schär makes bread too, but it’s NOT good. It crumbles and tastes like cardboard. You have to experiment. Under the ‘Educational Resources’ page, I’ll list the other things–not many at this point, but I’m still looking–that I like. Let me know what food brands and specific items you’ve had success with.

I am not pain-free, but the pain is managed with dietary changes (drink more water!) and the pain medications, Lyrica and Ultram. Water actually helps to reduce the inflammation and lubricates the joints (and other body parts, too). Water is very important with or without pain.

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