A gluten free diet is not just something you try; it is
something you have to commit to. It
means that you can’t eat wheat, barley, rye, triticale and possibly oats. Some gluten intolerant people can tolerate
spelt. Some people just have wheat
allergy. Some people have Coeliac
disease which is an autoimmune-type reaction.
The body reacts so strongly to gluten that it causes malabsorption of nutrients
and damages the small intestine.
How do I know about gluten free diets?
My father had Coeliac disease, or so the doctors thought. He caught a tropical illness in New Guinea during WWII and it resulted in what they called a ‘malabsorption of the syndromes’. This meant that he couldn’t absorb any of the nutrients he ate and had to take about 75 vitamin and mineral pills every day. I remember him standing in front of the medicine cabinet throwing them down his throat without water – there were just so many.
Dad had to be on a gluten free diet and in the 1960’s that was harsh. There was nothing in the supermarket like what we can buy today. I remember the hospital gave us packets of bread flour which Mum had to cook for Dad and the taste of that bread was pretty miserable.
Gluten gives elasticity to dough and helps it to rise. Imitation meats are most often made from gluten. Today we have many gluten free breads, cakes, biscuits, and muffins all made from a variety of flours. Many of them taste wonderful but many of them still taste like the bread my poor father had to eat. In fact, I think he gave up and just stopped eating bread and cakes altogether.
When I turned about 40 (about 1998), my body started having difficulty digesting anything with gluten in it. I decided to go on a gluten free diet to see if things improved. Now when you go on a gluten free diet like this, you have to remove ALL gluten from your diet. If you read labels on your foods you will find that many say that there may be traces of wheat and/or peanuts in the product. It is better in this day and age though because so many people are becoming sensitive to gluten.
Add a Sugar Free Diet
Now a few years previous to this (1992), my 3 year old daughter had a health crisis going on and my naturopath recommended she go on a sugar and yeast free diet. Do you know how many food items have sugar in them? Even toothpaste! So the gluten free thing added to a sugar and yeast free diet became a big complication. I had to take almost everything out of the pantry and give it away.
Off I went to the supermarket in search of food that had no sugar, yeast or gluten. I came home with fruit and vegetables! I very quickly realised that I would have to make everything from sauces to jam to bread and biscuits. In 1992 were virtually no products that were sugar and sugar substitute free on the shelves. The only sugar substitutes I would tolerate were stevia and honey.
I must apologise for calling honey a sugar substitute. It is a stand-alone food and medicine that far surpasses sugar as a sweetener, is far superior in taste and nutritional value, does none of the harm that sugar does, and is a wonderful medicine that has been used for millennia. Today, as in the past, many people use honey to cure many ills, especially combined with other ingredients like honey and cinnamon cures. For me, the honey vs sugar issue is a no brainer. In fact I have apple cider vinegar and honey in hot water every morning of my life to alkalize my body.
Getting back to my story, I realised I needed help if I was going to get my 3 kids to eat again. So I went to the local library (no internet in 1992) and found a couple of recipe books for people on a sugar free diet and a gluten free diet. I was saved!
I quickly shopped for the recommended ingredients at our local health food store. To sweeten foods I bought a bucket of honey, real maple syrup, cans of apple and pear concentrate and dates. To make gluten and yeast free bread, cakes and biscuits I bought rice flour, maize flour, potato flour, Xanthan gum (gives your bread stretch) and guar gum (makes your cakes stick together), and aluminium-free baking powder.
Goddess in the Kitchen
I got to work on making the kids food they very quickly adapted to. In fact they insisted that it all tasted better than what we were buying from the supermarket. Yes it was a lot of work, especially making sauces and spreads. But it was so worth it. My daughter showed signs of recovery in just 2 days. I took her off the cortisone and pethidine (she had a lot of pain) and she was completely recovered within a week! She still had a way to go with putting on the weight she had lost but that week was a Eureka moment and I felt like a Goddess in the kitchen. I had healed my child’s serious illness, which the doctors could only band-aid (and badly at that) by changing and supplementing her diet. I also gave her probiotics and homeopathic remedies every day.
Not only had we hit upon the correct healing path for my daughter but I realised that sugar (she is actually OK on wheat) had been killing her. She had lost so much weight that I couldn’t buy any undies that would fit her – they just fell off and no doctor could tell me why. She remained sugar-free for several years and now only has some. She doesn’t like sweet foods.
Am I cured?
My gluten free diet lasted 2 years. Then I was at a festival one day and bought a couscous desert from the Hari Krishna stand. I had eaten about half of it when it dawned on me that I shouldn’t be eating this. Traditionally it was made from millet but in modern times it is made from wheat. I felt a moment of panic because any gluten had always made me extremely sick for at least a week. But then I realised that the panic was in my head, not my body. I thought that, well we would soon find out if it was going to make me sick but I was feeling OK about it.
That couscous did not make me sick. I know the Krishna’s bless their food but it was more than that. I started experimenting with organic wheat and found my body tolerated it. I now eat some wheat but mostly I buy rye or spelt bread and flour. I keep my wheat intake to a minimum and ensure I have days where I eat no grains.
The two years on a gluten free diet seems to have mostly cured my intolerance but I remain cautious because ‘cure’ is a strong word not to be brandished about lightly. I know white bread causes me intestinal discomfort so I don’t eat it. It tastes bland anyway.
What about you?
If you have classic coeliac symptoms then you should get yourself checked out. If you feel you want to change to a gluten free diet you can see a naturopath or nutritionist. For recipes, there are many books on the market now and the following are my recommended selection. In the column to the right you will find advertisements for online health food stores. They will have everything you need and wherever possible choose an organic version for optimal nutrition.
Good luck with your gluten free diet, your sugar and yeast free diet, and may you be blessed with great nutrition and glowing good health.