Tag Archives: gluten free


Yesterday, I succeeded. No gluten, no dairy, no refined sugar. Today, tired and achy, my body feels pretty good.

Somehow, though, my brain remains disconnected from the remainder of my body. I awoke on this cool, wet morning craving a hot breakfast. A breakfast of biscuits and meat (preferably bacon, but my brain is not discerning at this point) made by someone else. Or perhaps brunch with cheese grits and toast at the local vegetarian restuarant.

How is it that my brain and my food cravings are so disconnected from my body. How is it that for at least a decade I poisoned my body with foods that created pain and discomfort? How?

Today marks day two of what feels like a great privation. Mind you, I recognize that for centuries people lived without these foods, but my diet tended to focus on these now known poisons.

Cutting out sugar for a brief period of time had been a challenge. During and after the hives, I did eat refined sugar because it was quick and easy calories when I didn’t feel like eating. Refined sugar is an addiction for me. A crutch. I bemoaned the exclusion of candy corn from my diet last night as I moved quickly through the now formidable Halloween isle to obtain dog food last night.

Gluten exclusion has been ongoing with the exception of Zaxby’s boneless wings about once per week. This must stop. The meal from Zaxby’s isn’t even filling any more. And yet, I would eat it because my brain craved it.

The dairy, chief suspect as culprit which caused the hives, presents a more significant challenge. The foods that maintained me through the gluten privation, pizza and potato skins, must be avoided to test the theory. My default calls for take out must be changed.

Instead of a steaming hot gluten and dairy filled breakfast, I made the smoothie. Filling and full of vitamins and minerals, I still crave the hot breakfast, but alas I am full and unable to eat more. My brain hasn’t given up though.

Thus, I seek a way to retrain my brain quickly. Though, no one seems to have a magic pill or miraculous trick. I’m told it takes 21 days to create a habit, or retrain a brain. Here’s hoping the next 20 days go smoothly. I’m finding different options for take out. Creating new defaults for food options. Only 19 1/2 days to go.



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The Illusion of Comfort Food

Yesterday, the fourth day in a row that I drove by my formerly favorite biscuit purveyor, I stopped and bought one.

Yes, I understood that the biscuit contained gluten. I recognized that the biscuit would cause me discomfort. My brain’s urge continued to override my body’s warning. I caved.

After I devoured half the biscuit without my customary Diet Dr. Pepper, I stopped. What was it about this biscuit that compelled me to break the promise not to hurt myself? This biscuit, the first gluten I’d eaten intentionally in weeks, had no particular taste. In fact, as the saliva moistened the biscuit, the bread transformed into a pasty consistency.

Why in the world would I cause myself discomfort and potentially pain or embarrassment for a piece of pasty bread? How could I crave such a bland comfort?

No answer came. This food that had served as a crutch for so long no longer provided the benefit my brain promised.

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Unimagined Benefits

This week I hosted dinner for some college friends. One friend stayed with J and I while in town for a conference. We agreed to dinner on Wednesday for the group.

After watching Game 6 of the Stanley Cup, our guest expressed some concern that we would be out to dinner during Game 7. “No, I’m going to cook,” I said. Since discovering my gluten intolerance, I cook for groups and eat out much less. This practice saves me from unexpected surprises.

Wednesday rolled around without much notice, or so it seemed. Buying, and forgetting, groceries at the last minute, I asked our guest to run to the store for ginger. She agreed, while I made pear salsa from the pears included in this week’s produce bin, the jalapeno from farmer’s market, throw in a Vidalia onion, red onion, red pepper and lemon juice. Then let it sit in the fridge for an hour.

As the first guests arrived with their 19 month old, everyone chatted and socialized not having seen our houseguest in awhile. The weather outside changed progressively to match the thunderstorm watches and warnings. Inside, the house felt bright and happy. I heard the sounds of the “toys” we keep hitting the floor. The 19 month old sought out the refrigerator alphabet kept specially for my friends’ children.

Another friend arrived on foot with her dog to join Sugar and Max in the backyard. Her husband would follow, she said, when their two year awoke from a late afternoon nap. The dogs joined us inside as the skies darkened and rain fell.

One friend joined me for cooking, as I acknowledged that my time management and planning had not been very effective. We chopped vegetables and cooked listening to the BBC on NPR and chatting. The pork roasts cooked in stages, taking longer than I planned.

As the meal came together at last, we gathered at the table. Minus the 2 year old and his father, and J who had an appointment. The storm added lovely punctuation to our meal. We ate, we talked, we watched the 19 month old. Most importantly we laughed and smiled. My friend’s dog rested at her feet.

The table was cleared unexpectedly. I discovered much to my joy the dishwasher filled and started while I ate. After the worst of the storm passed, we still had power. Our group passed easily back to the living room from the dining room. When the storm refugees arrived, the party regrouped to the table. While I sat on the couch with my dogs to calm them as the weakened storm continued, the wonderful sounds of friendship caught my attention. We would have missed this communion at a restaurant. What a blessing!

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Gluten Free Biscuits: A Journey Unexpected

My stomach pain prompted this gluten free life. I would not willingly choose to forgo biscuits, birthday cakes, wedding goodies, donuts, and just about every other processed food under the sun. The grocery store and convenience store now present a veritable mine field of unhealthy choices.

I miss biscuits more often than anything else. Bacon or sausage filled biscuits for breakfast. Biscuits bring back memories for me. On Saturdays, Daddy would retrieve biscuits from the local fastfood joint. Later when we moved to the greater metropolitan area of a small town, we would get biscuits from the gas station down the road which purveyed the most wonderful meat biscuits.* Then, when I began to drive, I would have a biscuit and coke each morning on the ride to school somehow managing biscuit and drink while driving a stickshift.

As I realized gluten might be the source of these debilitating stomach pains, my diet changed. For the first month, I did well forgoing a morning biscuit. Stress, however, intervened following a jury trial. Spent and exhausted, I just really wanted comfort food, a biscuit.

Biscuits were comfort, part of my routine. Somehow this bread and meat could make my world feel normal when my body just could not rebound in the manner sleep provides most days. Satisfying this craving for “normal” created stomach pain that inhibited my ability to function properly.

My gluten free baking started with sausage balls to sate the cravings. Last week, I made gluten free biscuits. Understand, I did not make biscuits before these dietary adventures started. No one could match moma’s biscuits and I did not wish to try. Gluten free however would never measure up so I created no unreasonable expectations for myself.

Baking gluten free biscuits, I have found, incorporates another of my endeavors, mindfulness. Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Biscuit Flour** contains very good instructions for making their quite tasty biscuits. At one point, the instructions say to mix the butter with the biscuit mix until it looks like cornmeal. How does this include mindfulness? When you begin, the flour feels very soft and light. As the butter combines, the flour develops a heavier, grainier feel. Ignoring the instructions, I mixed the butter and flour by hand. The unbuttered soft flour is easier to find by touch. The whole process requires focus and attention.

After adding the milk, I create drop biscuits, deviating from the instructions of cutting biscuits from rolled out dough. Again, attention to the cohesiveness of the dough dictates whether the biscuits will crumble upon contact with a knife or cut with ease to provide the optimal biscuit experience. I roll the ball of dough in my hands until its smooth. Then, I press on the dough, forming the biscuit. Adding or subtracting dough to find the perfect size. Rerolling when necessary. Watching as the biscuits bake and perhaps rise and expand ever so slightly. Tasting the fruits of my labor.

Perhaps, I should have been making my own biscuits all along. Comfort cooking in addition to comfort food.

*Moma’s biscuits always beat these others.

** Others have suggested Pamela’s Gluten Free Pancake Mix or Bisquick Gluten Free. I have not tried these but the suggestions come from experienced gluten free bakers whose advice I trust.


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Random News: June 5, 2011

Stories you might have missed.

Do what you love and the money will follow! A font designer who loves his job. He took his hobby and found a vocation. We should all be so blessed.

Dear Mr. Murdoch: I’ve paid for a subscription to the NY Times, must I still be subject to the full page ads that interrupt my reading? What exactly am I paying for?

Who’s idea was that? The New York Times tracked down, sort of, the alleged victim in the case against John Edwards. She cares not how he used the money. Why does the U.S. Government?

Gourmand Pets? Get a grip. Apparently some pet owners serve gourmet food and treats to their dogs. I do not understand. “Does not compute.” My dogs eat Dog Chow. I’ve been accused of spoiling them because I let them hang out the couch. Clearly, I have no idea.

Second careers with gluten free results. Apparently, gluten free is the new fashionable food. I eat gluten free to avoid chronic stomach pain. These folks have left careers and found a second working life as gluten free bakers. Hopefully, another example of “Do what you love and the money will follow.”

More help for anxious kids. Granted, he’s not cheap. But child psychiatry could be helpful for kids with anxiety at any income level. Just takes finding the right person. Helping children with anxiety could change their lives and help them be more productive earlier in life. Other communities have therapists who can help children at much lower rates.

Depressing news about the Housing Market (unless you’re a buyer). Living an hour from Atlanta, in Georgia (these are two very distinct locales), we tend to be effected by the Atlanta market, as distinct as we may be from those city people. The AJC is reporting that the Housing Market continues to slide downward. Bad news for sellers, but great news for home buyers.

Narcotics sales on internet new target? More of the Federal government targeting low hanging fruit. Two U.S. Senators want “federal authorities” to investigate internet site that sells illegal narcotics. Wow! Last week, we learned that the Attorney General wrote states with legalized medical marijuana that the long arm of the Federal Government would pursue criminal charges against those state authorized businesses. Then, the “federal authorities” indicted John Edwards for “misappropriating” rich people’s money. Here’s an idea, why don’t the “federal authorities” pursue and prosecute the drug cartels that dispense marijuana and cocaine, in its various forms, to the wider population? Why don’t the “federal authorities” use their resources to track down those who created the torpedo that sunk our economy? Too hard. They just want the easy way to make headlines. We’re tough on crime while crime persists on the streets of America.


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Conspicuous Consumption

No wonder we suffer from overeating and obesity in U.S. Food is everywhere. Images of food invade our consciousness through television ads, radio spots, internet images, billboards and just business signage. We cannot escape food.

On the 5th day of my dietary experiment, excluding gluten and refined sugar from my diet, my boyfriend and I traveled to a local chain bookstore. Bookstores inspire detailed inspection for J. I opted for a cup of tea. Torture. Cheese cakes, cupcakes, crispy rice cakes, I could go on. The bookstore, a place offering intellectual stimulation, subjects us to further fat exposure. Granted, the counter of decadence is located at the back of this particular outlet but served tea from the counter next to case of gluten and sugar laden hazards.

In early January, 2011, I suspected that I suffered a gluten intolerance and began an experiment. For more than a decade, I suffered from stomach pain, which dozens of medical tests failed to diagnose. By mid-February, a test with very, very excellent cake produced the determinative results: gluten caused my stomach pain.

Since that time, my eating world changed dramatically. Importantly, I’ve developed a reprogramming plan. When an advertisement presents itself for a food I love but should not eat anymore, I think about the effects that the food will have on my body. My mouth may water but imagining the stomach pain, the headaches and the foggy brain remedies the impulse to run out and purchase a pizza, lasagna, cake…etc. In fact, many name brands now generate a negative response immediately rather than the former craving.

The choice to forego refined sugar for a month has sharpened by observation of these pervasive food exposures. No wonder Americans suffer from obesity and lack of awareness of what we eat. We stumble through life bombarded by images and sales and mouthwatering offerings of food. Without awareness, we consume these products ignoring the ingredient and nutrition labels. We pay no mind to the quantity or quality of the items placed before us on a plate or wax paper or out of a foam box.

No wonder then that our collective failure to attend to our diets leads to increased obesity in adults and children, increased diabetes and hypertension in people of all ages. That we lack the ability to discern a craving from biological need to replenish resources leads to the consumption of the wrong foods for the wrong reasons.

If the adults in our society lack the ability to differentiate between the needs of the body and the “joy” of eating whatever one wants, how will children ever learn to care for themselves?

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