Have you heard of the G-free craze? If you haven’t, you must live under a rock. 😉 In all seriousness, though, it seems like there is always a new fad diet to follow – no red meat, no carbs, no dairy, etc. Everywhere I turn lately, people are talking about gluten-free diets. I would venture to guess, though, that the people who try eliminating gluten are looking for a long-term lifestyle change rather than a quick-fix weight loss plan. Articles abound discussing different ailments that seem to be cured by eliminating gluten.
Hubby shared with me an article on the relationship between skin diseases and gluten. Those who know me well know that I have a slight case of psoriasis. I have suffered from this ailment since adolescence. I use the term “suffered” lightly because although this condition has been with me for much of my life, I have been fortunate enough to not have a severe case. I get the occasional flare up on my elbows and knees, but the most annoying spot of contention is my scalp. That’s right. Underneath my hair, my skin is covered in those scaly patches. I have developed a nervous habit of poking at my skin when I am uncomfortable or anxious and that leads to small white flakes of skin all over everything. Yuck!
I have found that rubbing some EVOO on at night time helps to keep it in check, but that leads to an oily pillow case and even oilier hair in the morning. So oily, in fact, that it often takes at least two washes to get it all out. Wouldn’t it be nice to not even have to worry about applying anything on my scalp? So, in my quest to find a natural cure for this condition, I agreed to go gluten-free. For a whole month.
Hubby and I decided to make the gluten-free trial also somewhat of a jump-start, or jump-back, to eating better and exercising regularly. We had been in the midst of a bathroom renovation for the previous 5 months, and during those 5 months, we celebrated Thanksgiving, my birthday, and Christmas. You know, all those diet-defying holidays. Late nights of DIY labor and a so-messy-I-can’t-even-begin-to-describe-it house only encouraged us to frequent our favorite neighborhood spots. As much as we love supporting our local greasy spoons, we usually only eat out about once a week for both economic and health reasons. Unfortunately, in my laziness, we were up to several times per week, not including leftovers. (Oh, how I love cold pizza!) We chose to follow this meal plan from Derma Harmony just to take the guess-work out of gluten-free eating.
During our g-free experiment, I also read Elizabeth Hasselbeck’s The G-Free Diet. I found this book fascinating. She discusses concepts such as cross-contamination and how to keep a gluten-friendly and gluten-free kitchen for families who may have one gluten-free member. I also discovered that gluten sneaks into the most surprising places. I am no stranger to reading ingredient labels for additives and preservatives, but it just hadn’t crossed my mind to look for gluten in anything other than bakery products. Did you know that gluten makes it way into condiments and spices? I finally understood why I had started seeing the “g-free” label on food items. Because, well, one can never be sure! For me, this was just an educational experiment with hopefully a positive effect on my health, but for a celiac, this labeling could save him or her from a serious gluten reaction. And, while gluten in my salad dressing won’t harm me, does it really NEED to be there? Just another reason to make as much of my own food as possible.
There were a few foods that we actually missed on the g-free diet. Our everyday meals generally don’t revolve around wheat, so it was fairly easy to leave it out, but there were a few instances where the g-free alternative just wasn’t the same.
1. Pizza – We usually have pizza once a week. We have a couple local favorite pizzerias, but we also love to make it at home. (This is our favorite pizza to make at home!) Many pizza spots now offer gluten-free crust. One night when we didn’t feel like cooking, we decided to give it a go. Now, the pizza in its entirety was delicious – sauce, cheese, Canadian bacon and pineapple. But, the crust did leave something to be desired. It wasn’t horrible or even bad; it just wasn’t. . .good. (I’ve since seen recipes for zucchini and cauliflower pizza crusts that sound intriguing!)
2. Flour tortillas – We love our Mexican food. Burritos, quesadillas, tacos. There are quite a few taquerias around Atlanta that we frequent. They do offer corn tortillas as an alternative to their standard flour, but a quesadilla on a corn tortilla just isn’t the same. Neither is a burrito. These were definitely two dishes we missed. Trust me, though, we made up for them in nachos! 😉
3. Hamburgers. With Buns – During our g-free experiment, we did have a burger or two. 😉 We just used big iceberg lettuce leaves as our buns. I love a good lettuce wrap, but they don’t hold a juicy burger topped with bacon and cheese the same way a gluten-full bun does! 😀
So, you may be wondering how the g-free experiment went. Let’s just say that we are not a g-free house 😉 Honestly, in the beginning, I felt like there was a difference in how my scalp felt. At the risk of giving you more information than you may want, the itchiness never fully went away, and, at times, it was much worse, but the flakes were definitely different. Maybe I should have given it some more time. . .I do find that we’ll go several meals with no gluten now and not even miss it. While I was really hoping to find a solution to my psoriasis problem, I’m secretly glad I don’t have to give up my bread. I think with any diet craze, the key is actually moderation. Just as I think butter and oil can be good for us within reason, I also think gluten, in and of itself, is not the enemy that so many want it to be. I won’t say that I’ll never give g-free another try, but for now, I’m enjoying my whole wheat pizza! 😉
Ninth Bucket List Item: Go on a gluten-free diet for a month. Check.Share on Facebook