Health/Fitness
44 Comments

I Survived the Holidays, Gluten-Free!

When I decided to go gluten-free right before the holidays, I knew it would be a challenge, but I also knew that if I could do it at this time of year, I could do it anytime, anywhere.

Well, I did it, and I feel triumphant.

It wasn’t easy, but I was never truly tempted to cheat.  I knew going in that there would be lots of temptations, so I was prepared to be strong. The thing with gluten-free is, you really can’t cheat. You’re either gluten-free or you’re not. If you’re going to cheat, you might as well not bother avoiding gluten at all. As Nora Gedgaudas is fond of saying, being mostly gluten-free is like being a little bit pregnant. Even trace amounts of gluten can cause prolonged inflammation and other symptoms. [source] For that reason, cheating really isn’t an option.

And that is why I have been so diligent about keeping gluten out of my diet. It seems extreme, I know, but it’s an all or nothing kind of deal, so I set out to do this 100%. Otherwise, any level of sacrifice would be in vain. The only way to know if I’m truly sensitive and if going gluten-free can heal my gut is to avoid it completely for a few months.

The other reason I refuse to cheat is because I know that even one exception to the rule would be the beginning of the end. I’ve been on fad diets several times over the years, and I know from experience that the first itty-bitty cheat is the gateway to more cheats, bigger cheats. It may be just a morsel, but that one deviation from the rules, no matter how small and innocent it may seem at the time, gives you permission to cheat again. The human subconscious is a powerful thing. Anyone who has ever been on a strict diet knows that each successive cheat has a way of getting more substantial and more frequent. Sure, you can tighten the reigns again and make a fresh start, but I don’t want to be on that roller coaster ever again.

I knew that if I allowed myself just one taste of those homemade sweet rolls or just one bite of that homemade cherry pie when I was at my mother’s house last weekend, unless it made me sick enough to never want to touch gluten again, it would have just opened the door to trying the next gluten-full treat that looks too good to resist.

So I abstained.

I sat beside my daughter as she slathered butter on those homemade herb rolls, and I ate pork and veggies.

I sat at the table while everyone dined on homemade sweet rolls, and I ate an egg.

I sipped coffee when everyone else ate dessert.

And I focused on how good I feel now. When I was tempted to swipe just a bite, I thought about how I used to go to bed and wake up in the night sweating and nauseous after a dinner full of gluten. Suddenly that pie didn’t look so good anymore.

(Although those rolls still looked pretty darn good!) Bread is my thing, can you tell?

But truthfully, it was never really THAT hard to resist.  It wasn’t hard because I feel better than I ever have in my life, and I don’t ever want to go back.

I came home feeling empowered. Now I know that I can do this for the long haul, if need be.

And guess what greeted me upon our arrival at home!? A box of Udi’s Gluten Free bread products was on my kitchen counter. It had arrived while I was gone. It felt like a mini-reward for sticking to the plan all month.

When Udi’s contacted me about trying some of their products, my initial reaction was to decline. After all, I’m focusing on getting more healthy fats and protein and veggies into my diet, and even gluten-free carbs tempt me to overeat. And there’s the issue of processed foods. But when I took a look at the ingredient lists, I was thrilled with what I found. They use real eggs in their products, they are sweetened with evaporated cane juice, and I can pronounce just about every ingredient on the list. I did give them some constructive feedback about the canola oil, but other than that everything looked great. I was eager to give it a try. Even if I don’t make them a regular part of my diet, just to have an occasional treat is such a luxury now that I’ve been without my beloved baked goods for so long.

I truly didn’t expect them to taste that good. I’m pretty snobby when it comes to prepackaged foods, but they are actually DELICIOUS. I had a chocolate muffin for breakfast yesterday and a blueberry this morning. They really do taste like they could have been made in my kitchen. And slathered with butter and with a side of coffee . . . DIVINE. I’m really going to have to pace myself with these guys.

Honestly, I didn’t set out to write a tribute to Udi’s in this post. In fact, I wasn’t asked to blog about them at all (although I will be writing some articles for their website about my gluten-free journey; I’ll let you know when they go up) but it was such a treat to enjoy a muffin again, and ironic that I was munching away while writing this post, that I couldn’t help but share.

So here I am, with 2011 barely underway, and I am so glad I started this experiment when I did. I feel like I’ve gotten over the hump, and now all I have to do is coast.

As an aside, I cannot BELIEVE I just wrote 2011. Which brings me to the ever-present question, do you say two-thousand-eleven or twenty-eleven? Inquiring minds wanna know.

Join the Conversation

44 thoughts on “I Survived the Holidays, Gluten-Free!

  1. Well done! I’m glad you’re feeling so much better. That’s definitely a good motivator! My die-hard gluten-free friends use Udi’s products and petitioned our grocery store to carry more of them. I love their granola because it’s pretty low in sugar and very filling. I’m still feeling the need go gluten-free but don’t have the guts to take the plunge. I also think my baby may have a milk allergy so the thought of giving up dairy and gluten right now is overwhelming. I can’t do my typical babystepping method so I keep hemming and hawing about it all. Blehh…

    I say, “two thousand eleven.” I think since we’ve said, “two thousand four, two thousand eight,” etc, it sounds odd to suddenly say, “twenty-eleven.” 🙂

  2. I don’t know if I really EVER say the year out loud – almost always it’s written. But in my head it’s two-thousand-eleven. And it always takes me forever to remember. I’m sure there will still be crossed out 2010’s on my checks come June.

  3. Congratulations on your gluten-free holidays! Well done! As for the year, I’d say “twenty-eleven.” It seems like once the year becomes more than four syllables, it’s time to shorten it! 🙂

  4. Congrats on the gluten free! I just gotta ask though did u lose any weight? Not that u needed to….but if I went gluten free I would want that to be one of the side benefits.

    1. I have, but I didn’t want to make a big deal of it b/c I there’s nothing worse than hearing a skinny chick brag about losing 5 lbs. lol. But I have lost a good 6-7 lbs, although I did have the stomach flu so I’m working pretty hard to keep it off. I really was hoping that going gluten-free would give me the nudge to lose 5 lbs that I’ve been fighting with for a couple years now. The scale is back where I like it to be, and that feels VERY good.

      But more than that, I don’t have the protruding belly that was really bothering me. I’m not sure if it was the extra 5 lbs or the gluten that was doing that to me, but it’s almost gone. I’ve also gotten really lax about taking probiotics, and for about a year, I HAD to take them regularly or I got really bloated. So all in all, I do think going off gluten has helped the weight/body image issues I was struggling with.

      AND I’ve put my shapers into the back of my closet! I was wearing one almost daily, but no more! 🙂

  5. Wow, what a great report!

    Can you share the brand probiotics you took? I’m considering adding them to my routine and brands of, well everything actually, is so very confusing for me.

    1. Sure, Udo’s Choice is the brand I have in my cabinet. They make a lot, I took the adult 8 strains or something like that. I also was taking saccharomyces boulardii by Jarro but I’ve run out. That one came highly recommended as a good one to take after you have a yeast infection, which I never had, but I took it anyway, lol. I don’t know if I needed both or if i needed them at all (now with the bloating gone due to gluten free, I wonder) but I know I noticed if I went off them.

  6. You go girl! I think that is great that you managed to do so well through the holidays. I’ve never managed to stick to any kind of sane eating plan through the holidays.

    And I say twenty-eleven.

  7. Bravo, Jo-Lynne! Udi’s products are AWESOME! I steer any GFers that come into the store where I work straight to the Udi’s. It’s great stuff. Keep going, girl!

    Kim

  8. Okay, so I’m starting at the beginning and going through your posts regarding whole foods. We’ve slowly made some changes, but are looking to be a healthier family…your posts have me very intrigued!

    Love your blog!

  9. Congrats! That’s a big achievement!

    I say “Two Thousand Eleven.”
    BUT…
    Next year I’m thinking it’ll be “Twenty Twelve.” I think it’s the alliteration that gets me. Nothing like thinking ahead, huh?

  10. Udi’s are the best gluten free bread and muffins ever! I thought I’d never have a sandwich again! I ate a grilled sandwich for every meal for a week after I found that bread! lol! When I went to Japan I carried a loaf in my backpack! Yes, a little over the top but at least I wasn’t gluten-ed!

  11. Congrats! I did gluten free for over a year, and got used to it. Yes, I did miss the bread, there is no true replacement! But it does get easier as you discover more and more of what you can eat. I cook 100% from scratch so I just modified everything myself. I learned to bring my own salad dressing with me to restaurants, and discovered that we had numerous gf restaurant options! A local italian place called Maggianos has gf pasta and it tastes INCREDIBLE! Way better than brown rice, quinoa, corn, etc….You cant tell its gf. The brand is Notta…(notta.com) Anyone gf should try the wide noodles, YUMMO! I bought several packages and my family loved it! Good luck on your venture for better health! I, fortunately, was able to start gluten again after a negative small intestinal biopsy, it turns out I can not eat Corn or Soy! WHich is tricky too, but not as tricky as gluten!
    Keep us informed of how your surving!

  12. Congratulations! Your gluten-free journey is inspiring, but although I’ve cut way back I don’t think I could survive without the occasional baguette dunked in olive oil! Out of curiosity, when you were visiting your parents were they supportive of your decision to go gluten-free? My mom has such a tendency to be supportive of my “real food” ethos while at the same time slinging the occasional barb or two or four about how I survived my childhood even though I was allowed to eat Ho-Hos.

    1. Yes, fortunately, they are very supportive. I don’t know if they “get it” really – the all or nothing aspect anyway. It’s more of a “she’s being so good” kind of attitude, like I’m on Weight Watchers or something. But I know not everyone really gets it and that’s okay. They are certainly behind me 100% because they’ve seen how much my health and weight and mental well being have improved with my diet changes. My mom was a crunchy granola way before it was cool, so I grew up on a lot of homemade foods, and she is very happy that I’ve returned to my roots. 😉

  13. Yay for you for sticking with it! Bread & rolls are my thing (bread ever since I started making your homemade recipe!) but I don’t have a gluten allergy. Have you ever read Makeover Momma? http://www.makeovermomma.com/ Bailey has a gluten allergy and I believe one of her girls does too. Do you know if your kids have a sensitivity?

    1. I’m not sure if they do; I kind of think my middle child might, but she also LOVES her carbs and I can’t imagine taking her off of them so I haven’t attempted that {yet}. 🙂

  14. You are an inspiration. I can’t wait to read your next gluten free post. I’m not quite ready to give it a try. My new GI doctor had me get a gallbladder ultrasound and hida scan and of course all is normal. Now she wants me to have an upper endoscopy. Still wondering if going gluten free would help. This may be too much info, but I did eat a lot of pasta for dinner and had gas ALL night long. It was so yummy though, Chicken & sun-dried tomato penne pasta. Do they make gluten free pasta? I did notice the other day that Bisquick now has a gluten free mix. Good to know since we use it for pancakes every Sunday. Are you eating any gluten free bread? I just don’t know that I can give up on bread, etc.

    1. Yep. I had all those tests and many more. And they turned up nuttin’. So strange.

      They DO make gluten free pasta. There are TONS of gluten free recipes for baked goods, sweet rolls, and almost anything under the sun. Udi’s makes gluten free bread (as do other brands) and muffins and pizza crusts and more. If you really WANT to find substitutes, you can.

      If I were you, I’d try eliminating either dairy or gluten and see if your symptoms improve. They seem to be the biggest offenders. I was afraid I was going to have to go off dairy, but I think I’m okay with it. YAY! 🙂

      I put this off for months, and I really thought I couldn’t do it, but once you set your mind to it, it really IS worth it. 🙂 Good luck!

  15. Sorry to comment yet again, but…aside from eggs, what do you eat for breakfast? That is when you don’t happen to have a delicious Udi’s muffin to warm . 🙂

    1. Well, um. That’s a tough one. LOL. I make breakfast meats almost every day – sausage or bacon. I have that with my egg or by itself with fruit. I also drink eggnog. I know some people eat leftovers and things that aren’t typical breakfast fare. Gluten free oats are easy to find, and you can make granola or oatmeal. I just bought some and am looking forward to eating granola again! Even though I think I do better with no grains, I’m going to allow myself the occasional treat. I plan to make a soaked recipe, so as to make them as healthful as possible.

      1. Thanks…I thought lunch would be the tough one, but Breakfast is proving to be challenging. There are only so many ways one can make eggs. And since I’ve taken the cheese out, they are even less appealing. Working on it…will figure it all out someday. 🙂

  16. Congratulations on staying on course for the holidays! I’m with you that feeling good trumps the temporary taste of something (most of the time). I don’t have gluten issues, but eat a really clean, mostly plant based diet and have finally learned to turn down foods that are going to make me feel bloated and blah in a few hours. It’s just not worth it.

    As for oats (per the above comment), I just finished a bowl of steel cut oats with coconut butter and raw cocoa that was heavenly. I too pre-soak. It not only makes them more digestable, but also shortens the cooking time. A win-win in my book.

    Also – I’m starting to play around with Kombu to make beans more digestable. Do you have any experience with that?

    1. No, I’m not a big fan of beans. 🙁 I would like to know how to most easily soak oats for making granola. The only recipe I found requires soaking, drying, and then making it, which is WAY too much work for me.

  17. Woohoo! I don’t know if I could do that. I know what you mean about just that one bite. I’m like that with chocolate, well, really anything sweet.
    I think what scares me the most about gluten free is the lack of bread. Bread, glorious bread. Hum, just read some other comments that bread does indeed exist. But is it as good?

    1. Nope. You just kind of have to get used to not having it. It is hard, but once you start feeling better, it’s just mind over matter. And honestly, I LOVE BREAD. But I just think about how I feel after eating a half a loaf, and I don’t mind so much that I can’t have it, lol.

  18. My fiancee has celiac disease but we both eat gluten free together almost all the time … especially at restaurants. It’s no fun to feel like an outcast so we “pretend” to both require wheat-free and the server is much less confused 🙂

    Good job being so dedicated through a very tempting and delicious time of year … and with one stone I wish you all the best for two-thousand eleven!

  19. Hmmm….so far I’ve been saying “two thousand eleven”, but that may change. I haven’t seen your earlier posts about this- what made you go gluten free?? What about other grains? Are you eating rice products, corn, potato chips, things like millet bread, etc? I ask because I had a naturopath physician tell me that it is “written in the sky” that I should avoid ALL grains…which is a hard pill for me to swallow, since bread was my first love until I was close to 30 years old. Now, I can’t tell you how much better I feel that I have completely restricted my intake of grains over the last few years- my intestines thank me, my weight stays where it should be, my moods are more even, I could go on…what about you?

    1. Yep, it’s made such a difference. I do occasionally indulge in gluten-free grains but I’m not sure corn agrees with me. It’s hard b/c I make homemade bread for my family every week and today I made homemade mac and cheese that looked DIVINE. But it’s not worth how it makes me feel.

  20. I know exactly how you feel, I must say though that after I realized how much better I could feel (by not eating gluten) It really isn’t a temptation-even chocolate chip cookies don’t tempt me. I have been gluten free for 2 years now and am grateful that it seems to have caught on with the rezt of the world. The option now compared to just a couple of years ago are astounding. I also agree that discovering Udi’s products was a life changing moment. Good luck to you!

  21. I started my gluten free journey much the same as you 7 years ago. Gluten free has come a long way even since then. Udi’s breads are the best. If I want a sandwich that’s where I turn. Their sandwich bread doesn’t even need to be toasted if allowed to come to room temperature. Eating gluten free is like planning a trip to Italy, but the plane landing in Holland instead. It’s not what you live without, it’s just a different way of living. Most
    people don’t understand, but even those people are usually kind and understanding. I actually love being gluten free. It challenges me to think different and I’m grateful for that! Good luck on your journey. I agree that it’s all or nothing and I feel better for it. I know you will too!

  22. I went gluten-free in late summer, 2010. I had been plagued by non-stop….ahem….problems in the lower tract. For months! And, finally, when I became so worried (and annoyed!) about my constant trips to the restroom, I went to the web, where I found a site for checking symptoms. My symptoms match those of Celiac disease. From that day forward, I have been gluten-free. I have not been officially diagnosed, because I refuse to make myself sick again by eating gluten so that the antibody will show up for a definitive diagnoses.
    I was wondering if you have “officially” been diagnosed with Celiac’s, gluten allergy, or sensitivity?
    I know there is no harm in staying gluten-free, but it WOULD be nice to know if it’s just a sensitivity, and that maybe I could have a gluten-filled pizza, or some nice spongy bread sometime!
    Were you actually diagnosed as gluten-intolerant, or did you do it by process of elimination (no pun intended!) like I did.
    Thanks!

    1. I was diagnosed with a sensitivity on a blood test. I was not tested positive for celiac.

      I kinda want to try some gluten at some point and see what happens, but I’m nervous… 🙂 Even with sensitivity vs celiac, I understand that you really need to be all or nothing about it.

  23. I’ve just come across your blog through a link on a friend’s blog. I have Celiac’s disease and have been gluten free for about 2 years now. I love the Udi’s bread! What a lifesaver. I don’t eat it very often but keep it in the freezer so I can have a sandwich when I’m in a time crunch. There is also a store in Tumwater, WA called G.F. Joe’s and they are a completely gluten free store. They carry a European brand called SCHAR which has amazing french bread, ciabatta rolls, ladyfingers, and more. What a find! Sometimes you just want to have a roll with your dinner. They are all parbaked so you heat them in the oven. I had never seen this brand before and I can’t recommend it enough. It’s as good as the day I ate my first sandwich on Udi’s gluten free bread. This aren’t things that I eat every day but can be a nice treat.

    About someone’s comment on breakfast, I make a crustless quiche at the beginning of the week and heat up a piece most mornings. It’s a lot more flavorful than a boiled egg when you need a quick and easy meal fast. It can also be good for lunch with a salad. I just follow my favorite quiche recipes and just omit the crust. 🙂

    I know it is a difficult lifestyle and I had many days of cheating because I wasn’t commited and the chocolate chip cookies just looked so good. I have started doing some baking to have when I feel the urge to have something decadent. It helps when you get to the point where you feel deprived.

    Good luck on your journey.

Want More?