The Gluten-Free Diet: More than Just Lettuce and Water

Although it does seem like that often, there are plenty of choices out there.  I live on campus and eat in the dining hall, so my options are even more limited, but even within those boundaries, there is always something to eat!

For example, this was my dinner last night:

Looks good, right?  It’s not the best food in the world, but at least I have something.  I got roasted carrots, risotto (there is always some kind of rice–very good option because you can add things into it), honeydew melon (always some sort of fruit available–yum yum), roasted jerk chicken (love when they don’t batter their chicken) and a, yes a slice of beet.  I forgot what beets tasted like so I gave one a try.  I forgot I didn’t like them very much.

Often times, the main line doesn’t have something that I can call an entree, so the salad bar is almost always my second choice.  I load up my salad with carrots, cucumbers, a little bit of cheese, sesame seeds, etc.  For a while I was even on a soybean kick!  There are so many things you can eat if you keep your mind open.  Your meals probably won’t be the same basic components as they used to be, and that’s okay.  Fill up on vegetables, some fruit, a grain of some sort, maybe some meat or fish and call it a day.

I absolutely hate when people see my plate of food on a bad day (aka my only choices are a salad, carrots and dip, fruit and maybe some ice cream).  They think I’m anorexic, vegetarian or some other absurd thing.  No, I swear I’m not starving myself.  Let me explain!  That is how most of my meals go.

I’ll try to keep taking pictures of what I eat to show that your options are plentiful.  And to dispel my favorite line:

“You eat gluten-free?  You can’t eat bread?  I would die!”

4 years and I’m still kickin’…I’d say I’m alright.


Celiac Problems

Since I started this blog, I’ve been reading a lot more on the internet about gluten-free eating than usual.  Recently, I saw some information about not eating specifically gluten-free foods.  Apparently, it’s healthier if you eat naturally gluten-free foods like quinoa, vegetables, fruits, meats, nuts, etc.  Now, I don’t constantly eat specially gluten-free foods (as I posted here), but maybe I’m eating too much of it.  Sadly, I still have some symptoms and I’m guessing it’s because I’m not eating enough natural foods like I listed above.

This is my cry for help.  I need to start eating healthier, more naturally gluten-free foods.  I need you out there!  For example, I’ve never had quinoa in my life.  I kind of steer clear of things that I can’t really pronounce.  But, does anyone have any good recipes or good ways to cook these foods?

1. Quinoa: Is it crunchy?  Is it soft like rice?  What do you cook with it?  So many questions.  Help!

2. Couscous: Basically, refer to #1.  I don’t have the guts (pun intended) to cook something like this. (I use Lundberg brand risotto that is gluten-free, so I’m guessing their couscous would probably be good, too.)

3. Seafood: I love me some fish.  I really do.  But I have yet to cook it myself.  I used to devour popcorn shrimp like no one’s business.  I want to use fresh seafood sometime to make a really awesome, delicious dinner/lunch.  (I have made shrimp fried rice, though, and it was amazing.  Frozen shrimp was used though. :()

4. Broccoli: Lord help me find a way to eat broccoli that doesn’t involve mounds of cheese.  I love the tops but the stems of broccoli scare me.  It feels like I’m eating a stalk of bamboo.

5.  Smoothies: I’m really, really bad at eating breakfast unless there is something right there that I’m specifically in the mood for.  This morning, I had an Udi’s blueberry muffin.  It was delicious, but again, it is made gluten-free and muffins aren’t exactly the best for you…so smoothies kind of catch my eye.  I love fruit!  So if I could put some carrots or fruit or anything else in a blender and call it a day, I’d be a happy camper!

6. Tofu: I can’t even believe I said that.  I keep looking back at that word wondering if I should delete it.  I’m torn.  Give me a good way to make tofu so I can change my mind.  I’m afraid it’s like eating a sponge.

If anyone, anyone has any way to help me with these foods, shoot me a comment below!  Or, you can email me.  My email address is on my about page.  I need to broaden my gluten-free horizons.  Please?  🙂

Wait…So What is Celiac Disease?

I’ve had this blog for a couple of weeks now and a thought just came to me.  What if people reading this don’t even know what Celiac is?  Maybe some of you reading are just starting your diet or are thinking you may have Celiac.  Well, it would probably make sense to explain what it is!

To start off, Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disease.  An autoimmune disorder is when your body “attacks” itself. It can’t tell the difference between something good (which gluten is supposed to be) and pathogens (invaders).  The way Celiac Disease works is after you eat anything containing gluten, your body reacts thinking it is an invader and damages your small intestines.  The little villi in your small intestines are what absorb nutrients, but when they are damaged, they can’t do their job properly.  This is why weight loss is a symptom of Celiac Disease.

You are automatically put at risk if you already have another autoimmune disorder or if you have relatives with any autoimmune disorders.  For example, my mom has Thyroid Disease, which is an AI disorder.  In the summer of 2007, my older brother and my younger brother were each diagnosed with an AI disorder.  They have Type 1 Diabetes and Crohn’s Disease respectively.  I got tested for Thyroid, Diabetes and Crohn’s and I was in the clear….so I thought.  1 year later, in the summer or 2008 I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder of my own!  Strangely enough, my gastroenterologist at the time said I probably had Celiac for a year by the time I was diagnosed.  So, if I were to have been diagnosed right away, all 3 of us got our autoimmune disorders in the same year.  Bizarre, right?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for Celiac Disease yet, but there is treatment.  The lovely gluten-free diet. 🙂 This means no barley, rye, malt, or wheat!

If you are having any symptoms like abdominal pain, weight loss, fatigue, or diarrhea, ask your doctor to get tested.  It’s a simple blood test to do.  It took me a few blood tests to figure it out.  I had symptoms like hair loss, fatigue, and abdominal pain.  My mom’s first thought was Thyroid Disease, but it turns out I had extreme anemia (which gave me hair loss and made me tired)  because of Celiac Disease!  There are so many people who go years without finding out the solution to their problems so please, please get tested!  Your poor intestines can only handle so much. 😦

But, on a lighter note, my parents went to my favorite pizza place tonight, Transfer Pizzeria, and they brought me back a pizza!!  Transfer has the absolute best pizza (gluten-free or not) and I highly recommend it to anyone in the Milwaukee area.  This is what they brought back for me!

 This beauty is the only kind of pizza I have had at Transfer and I haven’t had the guts (no pun intended) to try anything else because I love this one so much!  It’s a gluten-free crust with a white garlic (my favorite ingredient on anything) sauce instead of a red sauce, topped with roasted potatoes, chicken, and cheese.  I’m dying inside just remembering it’s in my fridge for tomorrow!  This comes in a non-gluten-free variety as well, so everyone go and try it!  It is the best pizza place that I have been to in my entire life.  Even before I ate gluten-free.  Try it.  You will thank me later.