My Trip East – Part 3 (Diet)

Well, let me start off by saying I’ve made it through my six week initial period. How did I keep with my diet? Well, that has very much to do with my trip back east. The night before we left, we went out to dinner, and I had a dressing that had a bit of cheese in it. It was by mistake – I just poured the wrong one on my salad. So that was a minor slip-up, but so far I hadn’t really deviated from my diet in any substantial way. But then the trip came. Let’s break it down.

Gluten – I am pretty sure I kept gluten free the entire time. I have realized that I’m not so stringent on my eating foods that are processed in plants that processed gluten, or on that equipment. The fact of the matter is that my intolerance is not super severe and I don’t think that that’s the worst thing in the world. Even having said that, I only broke that convention only once or twice.

Caffeine – Haven’t touched the stuff since. I miss the taste of Mountain Dew, but I don’t think I’ve had any caffeine withdrawls. I really think monitored myself pretty closely BEFORE the diet (rarely having more than a single can a day), so that helped. I think in a few weeks I’m going to have a can of Amp before a round of doubles or a mini-tournament to see how it affect my play. Then, if it seems to go okay, I’ll add a can of Amp before tournaments. It always seemed to give me a boost. But yeah, this has been no problem.

Dairy – I’m trying to think, but aside from that small slip-up with the dressing, and eating the chicken at Qdoba (which is not dairy-free), I’ve kept pretty good here. At the 6 week mark, I’ve put diary back into my diet. I’ll talk about that briefly.

Alcohol – This is where I did not make it 6 weeks. To be fair to myself, I excluded alcohol NOT because I felt I had an allergy to it or because I felt I was drinking too much (I probably average a bottle of wine every two weeks). I excluded it just as a system cleanse kind of thing. When I heard the news of Gavin on Thursday morning, I didn’t drink on Thursday, or Friday, but Saturday night (the day before driving up to see him), my emotions started swirling. I had a single glass of wine that night at my sister’s house.

Then we drove up and went out for drinks with Jay and Jen that night. I had two drinks. At that point, I felt there was no point for the last few days going back on the wagon, and I had a drink or two over the next few days. Then, of course, I hung out with my two bosses, and they plied me with liquor, so I guess that fortunate that I had already stepped off the wagon. In fact, I might be drinking a glass of wine now. However, like gambling, I know I enjoy it, so I feel I monitor myself quite well. I’ve had no adverse effects from drinking, probably because I’m keeping it pretty moderate.

 

Anyway, the six weeks has come and gone. How do I feel? Well, Ash pointed out that I haven’t been complaining as much of Reynaud’s symptoms (cold hands and feet even if I’m sweating hot) – that’s true, but it also has been 100 the last week. So hard to really point to causation, but that’s at least a bit encouraging.

My skin has been back and forth – my rosacea has come back worse than ever, and I’m not really sure why. I DO know that I’ve been pretty lousy with my medications in general. I started supplements a while ago, and I end up taking them only 1x a day (instead of two) if at all. Not good. I have to get into a habit there.

My stomach has only had the one issue, although I still have frequent urgency with my digestive system. I was hoping some of that would go away.

I’m not so bloody tired, and I do think that’s the caffeine. But man, I miss Mountain Dew’s sweet savory taste.

So I’ve put dairy back into my diet. Originally, I was only supposed to incorporate one thing at a time (butter for a few days, cheese for a few days), but that kinda went out the window. I had potatoes with butter and milk in my first night, but then had MILK with my breakfast the next day (I grabbed the wrong carton and didn’t just want to throw out the bowl of cereal), and I’ve also had a little bit of cheese in one meal. None of that has seemed to have too much of an effect (save a bit of urgency), but I still think I’m going to try to be more methodical. If I eat cheese, I’m not going to have any dairy the next day to see what happens.

Anyway, I plan on staying with the GF. I have no reason not to, other than I really miss regular pasta. But life goes on. I’m learning how to cook other stuff, I’m perfecting the art of sweet potato fries, and I made it through.

I’ll still occasionally post about the diet. If I find any good recipes or if you have any, let’s post ’em.

Oh, and by the way, these chips rule and are GF (and available at Costco) – they’re the new staple in our house.

 

Day 26 (that’s 4 weeks plus!)

Food plods on. We’ve found the most efficient way to tackle this project is to have “stock” meals on certain days. Mondays are some pasta dish (rice noodles with jarred sauce that is GFCF, or I’ll make a delicious sauce over the weekend). Tuesdays are NEW MEAL days. This week we tried a yummy recipe that Tracy sent along for a raspberry chicken salad. It’s raspberries, papaya, and chicken on a bed of spinach, essentially. It was quite tasty, and my first foray into the world of papaya. The raspberry vinaigrette I had was a nice compliment. Thanks Foo-Bear!

Wednesdays are leftovers. Thursdays are some potato dish. Fridays are leftovers. Saturdays are stir fry. I forget what Sundays are, so they’re probably leftovers (when we aren’t having dinner at Ash’s folks’ place). Each day I seem to want to add sweet potato fries, because they are super yummy and I’ve gotten quite good at making them.

So we’re getting close to being able to “add” something. But before I get there, how am I feeling?

Well, I’d like to say markedly different, but really, I am not noticing much of a change. Except it’s stressful to shop and Ash is frazzled with having to cook specialty meals. It’ll be interesting to see how this shakes out when Ash starts her student teaching. Fortunately, that’s at least after the 6 weeks, so I’ll be able to add dairy back in, which should ease the pain a bit.

I shouldn’t say that. My stomach has only had one weird pain episode (which wasn’t as bad as it has been in the past, but more than just normal discomfort). Hard to say if that’s “better”, because before the diet I would go a few months without problems, then have a week or two with lots of problems. But I suppose not having any of the bad incidents is a step in the right direction. As for my “side-issues” (skin problems, Reynauds, fatigue), I’m seeing no change. Rather, my skin is MUCH better, but I’m currently on 4 different medications for that, so it’s hard to attribute the improvement to diet). I still get Reynauds – my hands will be very cold even when I’m quite hot. And I’m very tired, but that’s probably because Duncan got up every hour last night, and the only way he’d sleep is if I held him, so I was up for 2 hours last night just rocking him. It’s probably teething, but it’s not doing Ash or I any good.

I’m getting better about preparing for tourneys. I have a small one-dayer tomorrow, so I’m going to make a medium salad and throw it into a cooler, bringing along a few GF bars for the rounds. That should suffice. With water. I’m finding that most juices – except orange juice and apple juice – I just am not loving anymore.

Final note: it’s really weird going to a casino and ordering OJ. I mean, I have gone a few times this year, twice since the diet, and when they come around and offer you FREE booze and you say no thanks, just an OJ? It’s odd. I’ll look forward to abusing my free drink privilege somewhere down the line. (But hey, I have a four-visit-win streak going! Woo!)

Two Weeks In

I’m finding small victories in this process. The other day I was shopping for some basic stuff, knowing we were having tacos that night (I had planned on just putting the ingredients in a bowl and eating) when lo-and-behold I found a few different GF tortilla wraps. In fact, they even had the “official” GF stamp.

This also makes me wonder about things that are listed as Gluten-Free but DON’T have that stamp. I know the book I consult says to be wary of those. It’s so stressful finding things to buy that I am just counting them. Ash and i printed out a list of “secret bad ingredients”, so hopefully we can avoid even those products that purport to be GF but aren’t.

As far as I know, no real slip-ups since those first few days. I’m not going to say I’m LOVING this. I’ve had some okay meals, and I made a very yummy meat sauce that’s GF and that I eat with rice noodles. That’s not really expanding my horizons: it’s staying with comfort food, but the “safe” kind. I suppose if I’m happy doing it that way, that’s a step.

I’m really curious how we’re going to do this after Ash starts student teaching. As it is, we simply don’t have time to make meals like we want to. Most days when the kids come back, we just can’t summon the gusto to try a whole new recipe. In fact, I haven’t even done the research I need to to COOK new recipes. I’ve received a number of them from friends (thanks Sis!) but haven’t compiled a notebook yet with them.

Oh, and by the way, couscous is NOT good for me. So I may keep those recipes but substitute quinoa instead.

Anyway, life plods along. My skin is notably better, but I’m also currently on FOUR medications for it (I had gone to a dermatologist the day I started this diet). I still have frequent Raynaud’s symptoms (like right now – I’m practically sweating and my feet are ice cold). My stomach has been MOSTLY better, though I had a strange bout the other night that lasted for about an hour+ and was quite uncomfortable.

I’m counting down the minutes until I can put milk back into my diet. It’s just going to make life easier. Hopefully I don’t have any issues with it.

Days 8-10

I’m into double digits!

We’re learning more every day as we go. I found a handy list of ingredients that are “bad”, so hopefully I’ll have a better time buying things in the future. Ash did a mega-shopping spree today and overspent our budget, but as a bit of stocking-up, it’s what we needed. She bought various types of salmon (who ever knew I’d start eating fish) that are GFCF – because some actually aren’t! – and some other goodies.

In the next week or so, we might start Landen on a GF diet. He’s been having some issues which could easily be just a 3 year old having some potty issues, but the doctor suggested since we’re already going that way to give it a try. I don’t know how he’ll take to that, as his diet is as gluten-heavy as mine was. But if we can find a few special treats that he can have, it might be okay.

So I haven’t had any slip-ups (that I know of) in 5 days. Of course, yesterday we went out to dinner, and eating GFCF is not so easy out live, even with fancy allergen menus. Macaroni Grill has a comprehensive menu, but when all was said and done, I had about 5 things to choose from. Not exactly my favorite meal out, but it could have been worse.

The more I’ve been thinking about that the “first” thing I’ll reintroduce is after 6 weeks, I think it’s going to be dairy. It’ll just take so much stress off the buying and hunting for food thing. Liquor isn’t that important, and as much as I like Dew, I fully know it’s terrible terrible terrible for me. So that can wait.

One step forward…

Days 5-7

The weekend was interesting. Before leaving for my disc golf tournament, I poured another bowl of cereal and was about to put milk in it when I decided to look at the box again. It was rice cereal from Trader Joe’s. But it never occurred to me to actually LOOK if it was GF. Turns out, no, it wasn’t, and it didn’t pretend to be. It’s not like it said it was. I just made an assumption. So now I think I’ve slipped up 4 times (I had that cereal twice last week). Ash’s mom had the idea of “rating” how bad the slip-ups are. 1 being it was a sneaky ingredient I didn’t know contained gluten, 10 being me saying “screw it, I’m getting Taco Bell and having a Dewtini.” This one is a 4. It wasn’t deliberate (which is around 5 or 6 or higher), but it was stupid. I just didn’t even look.

Anyway, the actual weekend came and went with good and bad news. The good news is I was totally GFCF. The bad news – I didn’t eat a whole lot. For breakfast each day, I had 2 bananas. During each round, I had 2 GF bars, and at lunch I had parts of a large salad that I’d made. I didn’t really eat dinner on Saturday night, instead snacking on the deceptively tasty 180 Snacks Almond Pops with Blueberries. I had 2/3 of the 17 oz bag. They are good, but probably not what I should be eating for an entire meal.

When I got home on Sunday, there was no dinner, so I got more Qdoba, this time opting for the safe pulled pork.

Today, I ate an omelet that was almost made correctly, and then for lunch I finished the salad and tried reheating the quinoa meal from last week. It just isn’t reheating well. I’m feeling very frustrated with lunch. It’s rarely something I’m loving. Mostly, I’m tolerating it.

Ash gets home so late each day that we really don’t have time for dinner. I’m not sure how long we’ll be able to keep this up and keep our sanity. As it is, this blog post has taken me almost the entire day because of how busy work has been. I’ve been writing a sentence here, a sentence there… and when I get off at 4, I usually have to go get the kids right away. Methinks we might be eating out more often than we’d like.

On the bright side, I am not feeling quite as sluggish as I had before. I attribute that to the caffeine as much as anything, but that’s something. I’m not sure if it’s a psychosomatic reaction (or anti-psychosomatic) – I WANT this experiment to make me feel better, so I’m manufacturing feeling better as a result. Either way, every little positive I can walk away with is great.

Plus, the support (and recipes) I’m receiving are SO appreciated. Keep it coming! I’m compiling an e-index of recipes, as well as an actual hard copy. I know I’m not the first one going through this. I just like to bitch about it like I am.

Slip-ups: Unintentional – 4

Day 4

I’ve slipped up again accidentally. After playing some disc golf, I was informed that dinner was ruined so I should pick something up. No biggie, I stopped Qdoba and got their naked (tortilla-less) taco salad with chicken and roasted veggies and pico de gallo. Only after I ate the entire thing did I remember that, when in NY, Stephanie got the pork (not chicken) because it was the only “safe” thing. I looked it up. Their chicken has milk in it!?!?!? WTF?!?!

Slip-ups: Intentional 0 – unintentional 2

I know it’s different than eating a sandwich and a glass of milk, but still, this is much too difficult for someone as unread (unprepared) as me. I will say I have felt a little more energy lately (not a ton, but hey, everything is good). It might be because Ash took the kids this morning (THANK YOU!) and when I had them yesterday, they slept in for a bit.

The real challenge will be this weekend, when I’m gone all weekend for a disc golf tournament. Food on the road is tricky, and preparing enough food that doesn’t need to be heated up is a challenge. I’m going to make a super big yummy salad, and bring tons of bars. Beyond that, I’m not sure. I think I need more than that, but I’m stuck for things that don’t require heating up. Ugh. I’ll try to do research today.

Day 3/4

Day three was almost entirely leftovers, so not much to report there.

Today, I had two eggs with some ham for breakfast and a banana for lunch.

While getting lunch prepared, I happened to look at some corn tortillas that Ash bought, and they’re made in places that uses wheat. So I can’t have them (if I’m going by-the-letter). So out of curiosity, I re-read the label for the Trader Joe’s marinara sauce that I had planned to use for lunch, and it is made with equipment that touches wheat AND dairy. So I guess I can’t use that, and I guess that’s my first slip-up of the experiment.

Slip ups:

Intentional – 0

Unintentional – 1

 

edit: So in trying to find a fallback lunch, I found I still had some brown rice, so I cooked that with some mixed veggies. I looked for something to add some flavor, but our sauces (soy, teriyaki) both had wheat. So I looked to add a little bit of this bean burger that we have in the freezer. Nope, that’s got wheat. Okay, I figured I’d cook up a fish patty that we have in the freezer. WHEAT in the fish!!! FFS. We may have shopped well this week, but it looks like everything we own from before today is no good for me.

I’m not having fun yet.

Day 2

Breakfast – GF cereal with almond milk

Lunch – Ancient Harvest quinoa pasta with Trader Joe’s Marinara Sauce; salad with kale, baby spinach, pea pods and broccoli topped with Bolthouse Farms Raspberry Merlot Olive Oil Vinaigrette.

Dinner – Ash made a very tasty brown rice stir-fry.

Snacks – none

Notes – A few people have asked why I’m doing this. Apparently, I’ve been better at hiding my 12+ years of stomach pain better than I thought. I have had stomach issues since college, when my diet was based entirely around 8 bologna sandwiches a day. Not hard to figure out why. But I’ve had on-and-off stomach issues since then. And in recent years, I’ve developed a number of other issues, many of which COULD be related to a food allergy: terrible skin, Reynaud’s sydrome, fatigue… etc. I’m hoping to fix all of these along with my stomach issues.

I’m linking to certain products for a few reasons. One, I will be able to later reference them when it comes to shopping for more products I’m not very familiar with. It’s like my wine review column, except not so ridiculous. Two, if people with allergies are reading this and they see a product, then can be all “I know that, and it contains hydropimentoboudrixine powder, which is gluten mixed with milk covered in Mr. Pibb.” I’m still a newbie at reading labels.

For instance, I only ever started eating salads because I liked Ranch dressing. I mean, I knew they were good for me, so that’s why I ate them, but finding Ranch made it easier. Now, dairy-free ranch is SUPER expensive, so I have to find a “new” dressing. THis one I’m trying now is quite tasty. Let’s hope there’s no hidden evils. I’m hoping the merlot oils they use don’t actually contain liquor.

Day 1

I hadn’t planned on starting my exclusionary diet until tomorrow, but when I realized there were no barbecues planned, and I didn’t have any wine or Dew in the house, I figured I’d start early (meaning I’d finish earlier). I regretted it almost immediately, as about five hours into the day, I developed an enormous craving for both soda and Taco Bell. As a reminder, here’s what my diet for the next 6 weeks of will NOT include:

– gluten

– dairy

– alcohol

– caffeine

For [my first] breakfast, I had a simple bowl of imitation chex cereal with almond milk. For a while now, I’ve been fine in the mornings – I either have GF cereal and almond milk, or eggs of some sort. Occasionally an omelet when I have the time. So this was simple. Then when Ash got up (I let her sleep in since she just had both kids for 9 days), I made her an omelet and I took some of it (only her side had cheese on it). The omelet had zucchini, onion, mushrooms and celery.

We hadn’t gone shopping yet, so lunch (and dinner for that matter) were both throw-togethers. I had a wonderfully appetizing (sarcasm) lunch of white rice and red beans with marinara sauce on it, with a side of sweet potatoes. It did the trick. We were supposed to do shopping before dinner, but that fell through and I didn’t get to do it until just now.

Dinner was white rice, mixed veggies (frozen, then microwaved kind), my last salmon filet (pre-made and bought at Costco), and more sweet potato. Nothing was what I’d call particularly appetizing, however, none of it was really planned. Now that I’ve gone shopping, what’s the plan? Well, we haven’t quite gotten into exacts, but I know some stir fry is planned, and probably a pasta dish of some sort. For the weekend (disc golf tournament) I’m going to make a huge salad to bring down with me, and probably other snacky stuff.

Anyway, I doubt I’ll be this detailed during the whole process, and I doubt I’ll post every day, but so far, one day is down and I’m okay. I was VERY saddened to realize that the popcorn Ash and I love (very cheap, excellent tasting Pop Weaver brand) has milk. So that’s a no go for at least 6 weeks. Sad panda is sad.

I’ll also be noting at the end of my posts if I slip up, either intentionally or accidentally (it’s so easy to slip milk or gluten into a “hidden” ingredient in a product I eat that I would never notice.) Hopefully, you’ll never see that stat, as I do hope to maintain this diet strictly for 6 weeks. Then I’ll probably open up liquor to get through the next 6 weeks. 😀

This is going to be hard

This is an all-out call for support. Starting in 4 days, I will begin probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done to myself in my life. I’m giving up silliness.

Okay, I’m not doing that, but what I’m doing will probably be that difficult. I’m going cold-turkey on just about everything. I will be giving up:

gluten

dairy

alcohol

caffeine

FOR SIX WEEKS. And even then, I will probably only layer one of them back in (we’ll see which I’m craving most at that time). That’s going to be six weeks of really not having any comfort food except cucumbers. Wait, is Ranch dairy-free? I can’t imagine it is.

I think that’s going to be the hardest part – dairy. I’ve been moving towards a gluten-free lifestyle for the last three months now. Up until this business trip, I would say I was probably 75% GF. (This trip I’ve probably been 20% GF.) In fact, this trip, I’ve been nothing-free. I’ve had one of those four things at least once a day. I did call it my “bachelor party for my diet” for a reason. Nothing’s been to excess, but I’m certainly living up my last days of “freedom”. But milk products are in EVERYTHING. I’ll have to have Kevin and Stephanie on speed-dial. (Can I eat this product?)

Of course, my hope with this is that I see a change in my body. It’s been in rebellion mode for more than 10 years now, and I’d like to feel good again on a daily basis. Hopefully these steps will help.

But here’s where I need support. I hope to be blogging more about this. I want people sending recipes or telling me what they did when they went on some crazy exclusionary diet. I want people to make me forget how unhappy I will probably be. And if I make it, I want everyone to celebrate with me. So do it. Follow me on my necessary-but-kinda-stupid journey. I’ll see you on the other side.