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Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Going Wheat & Dairy Free


Over the past 12 months, I seem to have had one health issue after another, nothing serious just minor problems like sinus infections, menopause related issues, sleep problems, and achy joints to list put a few. Chatting (okay I was having a moan) to a herbalist friend who has a sound knowledge of nutrition, made me realise that many of my problems could be coming from the food I eat.

Her solution to my problems involves ditching dairy and gluten containing foods for 2-4 weeks to see if it makes a difference. My first reaction was "OMG No way!", giving up bread, ice cream, cheese, pizza, chocolate and all the other things I love, my body would not be impressed. But then I got to thinking maybe its not impressed eating all this stuff and the constant health issues are its way of protesting at the daily diet?

Dairy free I think I can manage easily, I've discovered that chocolate coconut milk is really rather nice in coffee, almond milk is an acceptable substitute in tea and for cooking, I don't eat that much cheese, so I can do without that short term, if it turns out I am intolerant to dairy, then I'll have to try to find a substitute for cheese. I rather like vanilla soya yogurt for my cereal and smoothies, although from what I'm discovering soya can become a problem as well. But as it isn't forming a large part of my dairy free regime I think it will be okay :) I've discovered that 70% cocoa chocolate contains no dairy so although I'm not a fan of dark chocolate, I can learn to live with it, if it means that chocolate won't be off the menu.

Avoiding gluten is going to be tough for me, a lot of the things I make and bake have some form of gluten in, it was an eye opener in the supermarket last night reading labels and seeing that wheat and barley and a variety of other gluten containing products were in things like sweet and sour sauce, baked beans and even quorn mince contains barley extract! I bought River Cottage Light & Easy by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall last week, and he offers some dietary changes that seem easy. By light he's referring to light on gluten and dairy, not light in calories, so it isn't a diet book, its a means of retraining your culinary skills to work with products you've not used before like rice and chestnut flour and dairy free milks. My herbalist friend believes that "if you eat 'real food' you can have as much as you want", a theory I'm out to test.

As of today, I'm embarking on a gluten free, dairy free regime with the exception of oats, my main aim is to avoid wheat, barley and rye based gluten. If after 4 weeks I still have a problem then I'll cut out oats, but first I need to find a substitute for porridge and something to put in cereal bars. I did once try quinoa porridge but it was not something I enjoyed, what I don't want to do is remove all the nice things like pizza and replace them with a form of pizza that is acceptable but not enjoyable.

I've stocked up on pasta made with corn, rice noodles, buckwheat flour and noodles, rice flour and some gluten free bread flour and also dairy free milks, tonight we're going through the cupboards to do a label check on staples and anything not suitable is being put to one side until after the 4 weeks. If there is no health change then I can go back to them, but I have a feeling that won't be happening.
So the next 4 weeks will see me attempt to create bread without wheat flour, feed us without the use of dairy and work with a set of ingredients which are alien to me.

The plan is to also consume more veg, an area I regularly fail at, less sugar, less stodge and also get more exercise, we recently invested in a cross trainer and I'm slowly making progress. I'm so out of condition and unhealthy that going from a 1.5 minute session to a 2 minute session was something to punch the air and feel happy about. It's a little and often thing and the goal is to build up to 3 x 15 minute sessions per day, so far I've gone from 3 x 1.5 minute sessions (4.5 minutes) to 3 x 2 minute sessions (6 minutes).

We'll see how it goes, here I'll post recipes, observations and changes, the object is to become healthier, lose weight and make my body able to live to a ripe old age, my hubby has a constant chestiness which he hasn't been able to shake, lets see how it goes...

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Thanks for your comments on my cards and posts, they are very much appreciated, I'll get back to you as soon as I can if a reply is required. Hugs - Debs x