Sunday, May 23, 2010

20 New Things: Eat only gluten-free foods for one day

I actually refrained from gluten for a whole weekend! This month is Gluten-Free Month and, in honor of the celebration, the Gluten Intolerance Group along with Pamela's Products ran the Gluten-Free Challenge. For one weekend, May 22-23, people pledged to eat only gluten-free foods.

Gluten doesn't just mean bread and pasta. It pops up in all manner of processed foods that you wouldn't expect because it's used in several food additives. Fortunately, the Dutch are much better at putting allergy information on food products than the US is.

Lots of websites and blogs were posting delicious gluten-free recipes for people to try this weekend. Unfortunately, almost all of them required an oven or other various kitchen appliances I currently lack.

Being also dairy intolerant and reluctant to eat meat, my gluten-free weekend consisted mostly of fruits and vegetables.

Participating in this challenge was important to me because, for almost a year now, I have been fairly positive that I am gluten intolerant. I hope to finally get tested this summer upon my return to the States. Right now you guys are probably thinking, "girl! what's the matter with you? why are you still eating gluten when you know it hurts you?!"

Here's the thing, cutting gluten out of your diet pre-diagnosis is not recommended. If you stop eating gluten, your symptoms (eventually) stop and it may be more difficult to recognize in the tests. As bread is my favorite food group, I have had no problem whatsoever following the advice to keep eating gluten (my stomach kind of hates me, but whatevs, we've never been bffs). However, I do love experimenting with gluten and dairy free recipes and experiencing the utter joy of being full and not simultaneously having a stomach cramp.

As I mentioned before, my only major kitchen appliance here is a stovetop (i.e. no microwave or oven) and I don't eat meat or dairy products. In addition to those challenges, I have to go grocery shopping in Dutch. Given the language barrier and my rather small food budget (selfishly, I'm glad the Euro has decreased in value so much recently -- down twenty cents to the dollar since I arrived!), I wasn't able to visit an organic food store and purchase fancy gluten-free crackers or bread like I would back home.

Keeping all of those challenges in mind, I'd say that the weekend went by fairly easily. My meals and snacks were VERY basic, but I think they are a good indication that poor, kitchen-challenged college students have the ability to eat gluten-free if they want or need to.

Here's a breakdown of my meals:

Applesauce with cinnamon
Banana with peanut butter
(I've been waking up pretty late recently. So breakfast is pretty much a small snack before eating a full lunch an hour later.)

Mixed green salad with broccoli and oranges

Grilled vegetables and tofu in tomato sauce
     including green beans, broccoli, corn, onions, carrots and zucchini

It was definitely a challenge mentally, but not so much logistically, which is good to know if my future does include a 24/7 gluten-free diet. For now, however, all I'm thinking about is those shortbread cookies and pretzel sticks in my pantry that I get to eat tomorrow.


Abby said...

good for you for trying this! i've been gluten free for almost 2 years and it's been great. i was forced to become so much more creative and my system is happy, too! if it turns out you need to do this full time, it's scary but not that bad. there are a million +1 things you can do with a corn tortilla!

Abby said...

p.s. saw your blog address on a yes and yes comment.