There are so many delicious GF alternatives out there. Rice flour is a little difficult to bake with at first when you're not used to it, but for the most part you can find ANY recipe that will taste just like the wheat-flour version. In fact, I was surprised that rice-flour baked items taste as good as they do, because before this month, I'd only tasted store-bought rice bread, and that stuff just isn't good. I actually prefer brown rice flour bread to the whole wheat bread I usually bake. I have learned that using a mix of 1/3 tapioca flour and 2/3 brown rice flour, plus 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum for every cup of flour mixture used is a great wheat flour substitute. I've used it to make bread, biscuits, pizza dough, and cookies successfully! Of course, I can't eat a lot of food I normally would -- I can't get a muffin to go with my coffee, or my mom's homemade bread, but I don't mind because knowing that I'm "detoxing" my body from gluten crosses out a lot of junk from my diet, right there.
2. I don't miss drinking milk, but I miss eating cheese.
While not eating wheat is pretty easy, I really miss cheese. There is no replacement! I would be happy with just a little cheese -- a couple ounces of goat cheese to sprinkle over veggie pizza, a little for my tacos. It hasn't been too difficult, but every now and then I'll crave some. I haven't noticed a significant difference in my skin, so I think when the month is up, I will go back to cheese. I do not want it to become a regular part of my diet again, and I'm hoping to find a source for good quality cheese (hopefully local, and perhaps goat rather than cow), but I don't have a problem with a little every now and then.
3. I need more vegetables in my diet.
We aren't big meat eaters. Sure, we love bacon, but we rarely buy it. All-natural deli meat is expensive (not to mention packed with sodium). We eat grass-fed beef at home a couple times a year, ground turkey maybe twice a month, and it takes us two or three weeks to go through a bag of chicken breasts. But boy, do we love our bread and dairy. Our diet was so heavily based on wheat and dairy, that it was a challenge to think of ways to eat without it. Whenever I tried to come up with a meal that wasn't based on bread or cheese, or both, I couldn't. One can only eat so much vegetarian chili and stir fry and curry.
Since excluding dairy and wheat, I have been forced to be more creative in my meal planning, and it's also brought to light that our vegetable to bread and dairy balance was way off. Lately, we have been eating a lot of veggies with a little bit of rice-flour items, and seeing as there really is no healthy substitute for cheese, a lot of the flavor in our meals comes from the plants. I've been experimenting with how different vegetables taste together, and how seasonings create entirely new flavors. Even our milk alternatives are plant based! It used to take us a week or more to go through a giant tub of greens, and sometimes we'd end up tossing the last bit (or picking through the wilted, slimy leaves for the crisp ones... anybody?), but these days, we go through two or three tubs a week. We eat a lot of bell peppers, carrots, celery, fresh garlic, sweet potatoes, leeks, arugula, spinach, kale, cilantro, tomatoes, avocados, and broccoli every week; before, we didn't buy some of these items on a regular basis. Instead of using veggies as a side dish to our dairy & wheat heavy meals, gluten-free and dairy-free options have become a side dish to our veggies. Knowing that our plant intake has practically tripled makes me really happy.
4. But I'm always hungry. ALWAYS.
I can't seem to get satisfied. I don't really know what to do about this, and it's mostly a question that's just hanging there. Maybe you can help me out. Why am I hungry all the damn time?! I feel like I eat two or three snacks between every meal! Why?! I eat things that should keep me satisfied longer. Healthy fats. Nuts. Avocados. Gluten-free bread. I am still craving carbs like crazy. And even though it's been three weeks since I've had anything resembling cake, a candy bar, or a delicious muffin from Starbucks, I'm still craving junk. What to do?
5. Then again, sometimes when I think I'm hungry, I'm actually thirsty.
I have a very fast metabolism and have never had to watch my weight... it doesn't matter if I'm eating a veggie-based diet or gorging on junk food during the holidays. But this makes it really hard to watch what I'm putting in my mouth. I over-eat. I am probably a prime example with what is wrong with America's relationship to food! (I blame it in part on the fact that I am breastfeeding a toddler who receives 50% or more of her calories from my body.) I've always said, just because I'm thin doesn't mean I'm healthy. I have often relied on dairy, wheat, and sugar to keep my full. Since I'm not eating either of these this month and trying to limit my intake of only refined sugar, I mostly snack on apples with peanut butter, or oranges with chopped almonds, especially when I'm craving a candy bar (which is daily, pretty much). Sometimes I would find myself wanting apples and peanut butter, even after having just finished a meal and clearly being full. Then it hit me... it's the coolness and moisture of the fruit I was craving, and this could be taken care of with a glass of water. Part of the problem with our society is that we are eating so much crap and quenching our thirst with even more crap, that we've forgotten what it's like to just drink water.
I've been trying to drink more water lately, and am slowly working my way up to drinking my water requirements of the day. There are a lot of opinions when it comes to drinking water, but mine is that it is a life-source and helps flush our bodies and keep us healthy. I tell River that drinking a cup of water is like a bath for our insides. (Toddler talk... all the moms are doing it.) Dr. Jonny Bowen in The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth likens your physical body to a body of water. After all, our bodies are made up of 83% water! He says:
You need water for every single metabolic process in the body. Water is necessary to digest and absorb nutrients and vitamins. It carries about metabolic waste. It helps "flush" fat and toxins through the liver and kidneys. Doesn't it makes sense to constantly replenish that body of yours with the equivalent of the gorgeous clean mountain stream, rather than let all that water just sit in your body and recycle like the stagnant pond?
6. And finally, if it's not in the house, I won't eat it. Duh.
Perhaps this is a no-brainer, and mostly applied to children when talking about getting your kids to eat healthfully, but it works for mamas, too! We've never been junk food people. When you don't have the money, it's as simple as not being able to afford it, and passing up those aisles in the grocery store is the norm. We just don't buy processed snack items. At home, our snacks have always been nuts, fruit, plain yogurt, organic corn chips, and salsa, with the occasional homemade cookies or coffee cake, even when we weren't eating a whole foods diet. Although I am not eating wheat, my weakness now is corn and rice products. I am going to continue this diet past a month, and I thinking of either giving up or cutting back significantly on my intake of corn and rice, at least temporarily. I don't think anyone ever needs to eat corn; we get enough corn exposure through our food packaging, personal care products, etc. (Seriously.) And I just eat way too much rice these days. So, what's the solution to this? Don't buy it. Yep, that will be hard, especially when I open the cabinet and think, WHAT THE HECK IS THERE TO EAT. But since going dairy/gluten-free has upped my vegetable consumption so much, I can only imagine what not buying rice and corn products can do. Sure, I'll miss corn tortillas and rice bread, but I can learn to do without, and it doesn't have to be a permanent thing.
My inspiration this month:
Hungry for Change
The Perfect 10 Diet
The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth