If It’s Free It’s For Me


(Title quote stolen lo, these many years ago, from Atlanta Braves announcer and former major league pitcher Don Sutton.)

Late last month, my sister had some testing done and, as a result, was put on a food elimination diet for a month. She has some digestive issues, apparently, so to test things out, she was told to eliminate gluten/wheat, dairy, soy, and peanuts from her diet.

Welp. There went half her diet. And, because we eat the same meals most of the time, that meant I needed to do my best to accommodate her dietary restrictions. I figured, what the heck, can’t hurt. It’s only for a month, right?

The problem is that we are a bread-, pasta-, and cheese-intensive household. Less so on the soy and peanuts, though soy in particular is an ingredient in many things. Many, MANY things, as I discovered when I started sorting through our pantry. We took a box of pantry rejects to our parents and another to the food bank, and since we had a weekend before the new rules kicked in (sister was working a convention), we used up what we could.

Since then, sister has been following her restrictions carefully. I’m being less cautious—still eating some cheese and bread, mainly—but I’m probably about 85% on board. I’m cooking meals that are mostly veggies and meats and eating fruit for snacks and desserts. We’ve tried out some “junk” food made without the verboten ingredients, and some are pretty decent. (Some not so much.) And we’re spending more at the grocery store, though part of that is because we’re trying out different types of products: coconut vs. almond milk, for example.

The verdict? Well, without doing anything else, I lost 12 pounds in 4 weeks. I’m less tired during the day. One day I forgot to take breakfast with me to work and ate a cheese Danish from the vending machine (which I’ve done before without noticing any issues), and 2 hours later I was faceplanting into my keyboard.

The weight loss isn’t a surprise. I’m eating fast food way less because it’s mostly sandwiches and basically no baked goods. I’m eating more fruits and vegetables, and I’m probably eating less overall, too. And eating healthier also generally means more energy.

Mostly, though, I’ve been thinking about the wheat restriction. I know “gluten-free” is as much a buzzword now as “low-carb” was a few years ago. It’s trendy, though of course that doesn’t mean it’s not a real problem for people who have gluten/wheat allergies or serious sensitivities. But even if you set that aside, just think about HOW MUCH wheat is in the average American diet. We eat sandwiches morning, noon, and night, pizza and pasta like it’s going out of style, cereal AND toast for breakfast, rolls at every meal. And most of it is made with enriched white flours, which have no real nutrition except the vitamins that are added by law.

Seriously. Sensitivity or not, there’s no way that’s healthy.

On Tuesday, my sister had her follow-up appointment. Blood testing confirmed her sensitivity to gluten, particularly rye (which she doesn’t like anyway), as well as a possible egg sensitivity. So we have dairy back, but we’re planning to keep up the gluten-free life for the most part, with an occasional splurge, and we’ll start working on the egg problem soon. We’ve been doing fine without having some form of bread at every meal, and I don’t see any reason to change that.

Especially if the numbers on my scale continue the downward slide!

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