Celiac Awareness Month: Going Gluten-Free, Part 1

Celiac Awareness Month: Going Gluten-Free, Part 1

This article is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays.

I was inspired to do something towards Celiac Awareness Month after reading Shirley’s blog, gfe – gluten-free easily, and she made some suggestions on how I could do that. (I voiced interest but since I already make gluten-free foods on a regular basis, so what could I do?)

If there was a way I could do it over the Internet, I would teach cooking classes. There probably is a way, but my only issue with it is that I need a webcam of some sort. All my YouTube videos thus far have been filmed on a compact/point-and-shoot camera with the movie setting. What I’m saying is, would I have a series of video cooking classes, I’d want the videos to be better quality than they are now.

An idea to put aside for next year, perhaps?

In the meantime, I’ve decided to write a little bit about me and my eating habits, including a bit of background about the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. In part two, I’ll be writing about my start in gluten-free cooking/baking and my experience with it.

While I cook, bake, and blog gluten-free and dairy-free foods, I do not have a completely, 100% gluten-free or dairy-free diet. I can eat wheat and dairy without major adverse effects, although I only eat those kinds of things if I’m at someone else’s house or if I’m out and about. (Even then, I try to do so in moderation because I’ve noticed that when I eat wheat, sometimes I feel down shortly after eating it. Sort of like a low after a sugar rush, but feeling depressed instead of tired or sleepy.) At home, I eat gluten-free foods, most of which I’ve made. (I am the foodie of the family, right?)

I started eating gluten-free and dairy-free as part of my family trying to help my brother, who is recovering from autism, get better through diet, in addition to speech therapy sessions, Verbal Applied Behaviour Analysis therapies and biomedical vitamin and mineral protocols, briefly doing GFCF (gluten-free, casein-free) until we began the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), designed by Elaine Gottschall and Dr. Valentine Haas.

Prior to these major shifts in diet, I had tried to eat sugar-free as an experiment, of my own volition when I was about thirteen or fourteen, with the philosophy that most foods are already naturally sweet enough without added sweetener. I did it for a year. When I had toast, for example, I wouldn’t have honey or jam on it, and I avoided all refined sugar as best I could. If there was an ingredients label, I’d read it. If I ate out, I generally didn’t ask how the food was prepared or what was in it (even now, still, I’m awkward doing so – even if it’s out of foodie interest);  I stuck with what looked safest. Example: I stayed clear of the French toast and other sweet breakfast food, usually opting for scrambled eggs and toast. (Just an aside, I prefer homemade scrambled eggs to any restaurant eggs that I’ve had.)

I remember when I was at a summer camp that there was ice cream and an apple crumble or cobbler for dessert, and I didn’t eat any. While everyone else was eating dessert, I was still eating salad. One of the girls realized this and she asked if I was going to have any dessert – “It’s really good,” she said.

“I know.” I remember I helped volunteer that year and, though I hadn’t made the dessert, I had been around when it was being prepped. A story that was repeated afterward was that someone had misread the recipe and had put in five pounds of butter rather than the five cups it had actually called for.

“Aren’t you going to have any?”

“No. You go ahead and enjoy it,” I said, and smiled. She looked at me strangely for a second or two before saying, “You’re weird.” I hadn’t bothered or tried I explaining to anyone there I wasn’t eating sugar, just because I thought it would have become too complicated and I didn’t want to answer a barrage of questions about why I was avoiding refined sugar. It wasn’t until too long in my experiment that I found that I did not miss sugar.

At some point, I started eating sugar again, until my parents changed the family’s diet to help my brother, as I explained earlier in this post. With GFCF, sugar is allowed but unless we were eating a store-bought, gluten-free food, we did our baking with honey. At this point, I still wasn’t doing that much baking.

We changed our diets again when my brother’s improvements following GFCF plateaued, and we decided to follow the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). The Specific Carbohydrate Diet was actually designed to treat celiac disease, back when it was a life-threatening disease – it still is, but at the time SCD was designed, there weren’t that many gluten-free options. In the early forms of SCD, the main staple was bananas, especially banana flour. Dr. Sidney Valentine Haas, who designed the diet, slowly developed the diet to include more food but remained firm that all sugars (except honey), grains, and starches were not permitted.

While initially a diet to cure (yes, cure!) celiac disease, people with other autoimmune and gastrointestinal disorders, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, have successfully followed the diet and have been relieved of their symptoms. It’s also been popular in the autism community for its success-oriented results. Often, children with neurological issues also happen to have gastrointestinal issues. Though it is a diet that isn’t for everyone, there are people who have been cured by following it, including people who used to follow a gluten-free diet but found it wasn’t working for them. Some choose to continue following SCD, while others have started eating gluten and starches again without adverse effects or relapses.

It all depends on the individual.

Stay tuned for Going Gluten-Free, Part 2 – my experience with gluten-free cooking and baking!

Resources

For more information about celiac disease, gluten-free living, and the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, here are some resources to get you started. I also advise you to check out some of my recipes that are already here on this blog! All of them are gluten-free and dairy-free, most also adhere to SCD. You can find an index of all recipes thus far here.

If there are resources that you think should be added to this list, please share them in the comments.

Gluten-free

Triumph Dining – a resource for those with celiac disease, including tips for dining in or out.

Celiac Teen – a blog run by Lauren, a gluten-free teenager with celiac disease.

Gfe – gluten-free easily – run by Shirley, this is a great resource for those with gluten intolerance, it includes recipes, resources, and support groups.

Straight Into Bed, Cakefree and Dried – a blog run by Naomi Devlin, a homeopath with celiac disease. Includes SCD recipes.

Simply Sugar and Gluten Free – a blog with gluten-free and sugar-free recipes, run by Amy Green.

Gluten-Free Goddess – a blog with gluten-free recipes by Karina, with a side of life.

Mrs. Ed’s Research and Recipes – a blog, run by Tracee, also known as Mrs. Ed, with information, tips, and recipes for gluten-free and SCD.

SCD

Breaking the Vicious Cycle by Elaine Gottschall – you MUST read this book, all of it, before you start the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. The second edition includes a chapter covering autism.

Breaking the Vicious Cycle – official website, includes list of “legal/illegal” foods on the SCD.

Pecanbread.com – a site dedicated to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet for children with autism and gastrointestinal disorders. Please read the entire site and Elaine Gottschall’s book before putting your child or children on the SCD.

SCD Recipes – a site with many recipes for the SCD (I submitted a recipe for pumpkin pie to it a number of years ago, before blogging)

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2 thoughts on “Celiac Awareness Month: Going Gluten-Free, Part 1

  1. gfe--gluten free easily

    Zoe–You did a really great job with this post! Thanks for the super kind mentions, too. SCD is a phenomenal diet for healing. As I told you, I have had several members who have followed it over the years. Their follow-up testing (e.g., pill cam test) has showed continued improvement. That might not sound like much to some, but for someone who has been diagnosed with Crohn’s to demonstrate such improvement with no drugs is HUGE . In their cases, they haven’t been able to resume eating as they did before, but for some, you’re right it is possible. I don’t ever recommend eating gluten again for anyone with those issues, and, of course, not for anyone with celiac. Thanks so much for sharing your family’s story with us all. One other note … I’m sure you’ve thought of it, but respectfully, since you do definitely experience some noticeable issues with gluten, it’s possible that those issues might even be more severe if you’d continued eating gluten all these years. Gluten issues from sensitivity to celiac do run in families, but, of course, the symptoms can vary among family members. Interesting tale on your sugar-free period … it is foreign to most people that one can happily not eat sugar. One has to remove it though to figure out that you can without it. I’ve been there before, but still struggling a bit right now.

    Shirley

    Reply
    1. Zoe | Z's Cup of Tea Post author

      Thank you, Shirley! In regards to the issues I sometimes have with gluten, what you suggested could be a possibility. I’ve never actually been tested for gluten sensitivity, or anyone else in my family – although my Mum does have issues with wheat and dairy, which develops into a skin condition when she eats too much of either. It was really severe a number of years ago and it wasn’t diagnosed properly (it was once diagnosed as eczema, among many other things, by our family doctor, but it wasn’t); her skin would get pink and blotchy; it would also sting and sometimes it would be rough or peel. Her skin improved remarkably, though, when she took the gluten and dairy out. Like I said, the only time – if ever – I eat gluten or dairy now is if I’m at someone else’s house or eating out, but I try to moderate my intake.

      Reply

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