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Glutin-Free Man

Benefits Of Living Gluten-Free

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This is something I've been thinking about for a while, and thought I'd share with the community.

What parts of your life have improved since starting to follow a Gluten-Free diet?

I'm not referring simply to the lack of symptoms of gluten poisoning, as I was (virtually) symptom free for 39 years, and only took a couple months to self diagnose once I started to recognize there were symptoms.

I'm talking about things which are genuinely better due to following a gluten-free diet than they would be if you could eat the same way as everyone else.

I could sit down and make a huge list of things which are not better - and I'm sure most of you think more about those things most of the time. I know I do.

I thought it would make an interesting topic of discussion to try and identify the things which are better, if only to add some variety to the forum.

So... I'll start.

I've always enjoyed cooking. That's actually how my wife and I started dating. She lived across the street from me, and for a while we took turns cooking for each other and my roommate (who didn't, and still doesn't cook -- he'd bring the beer.)

I used to really enjoy baking bread, and was seriously considering building a bread oven in the backyard, in order to bake good quality bread.

Now I'm mostly unable to eat bread that I don't bake myself, so I find myself baking bread regularly (about 2x a month on average - I make extra and freeze it). I find that none of the commercial products, or even the local gluten-free bakery, can make bread that tastes as good as what I make at home.

So, I guess a "qualified" answer is that:

Now I can bake bread that's better than I can buy from a bakery.

Granted, if I could eat wheat, that wouldn't be true, but it's still somewhat of an achievement.

For a non-qualified answer:

My wife and I both like to cook.

Neither of us like to substitute ingredients for ones we can't eat. Before I learned how to make genuinely good tasting gluten-free bread, I preferred not to eat bread than to try and pretend that awful tasting pre-packaged breads were a reasonable alternative to wheat-based breads.

So, when I learned that I was gluten intolerant, instead of trying to make substitutions for meals that I already knew how to cook, I decided to learn to cook new foods that didn't require wheat, rye, or barley ingredients.

When I learned that I was also casein intolerant, I extended that effort to include foods that don't include dairy ingredients (which I think is actually a harder task than avoiding glutens).

I made a list of foods that we already cooked which didn't contain wheat or dairy, or that weren't seriously compromised by the removal of those ingredients.

Then we started looking at other types of food, which aren't as dependent on wheat and dairy as the typical American diet.

We learned how to cook a variety of new foods - among them Mexican, Chinese, Mediterranean, and (Asian) Indian foods that we enjoyed, but didn't really make up a large part of our diet previously. We now eat at home far more often than we used to, and are generally more thoughtful about what we eat than we were before.

I'm actually healthier than I was before I got sick. I've lost about 40 pounds since becoming gluten intolerant, and am managing to keep that weight off for the first time in 20 years. I'm doing that while eating as much as I want, whenever I want (just not always what I want).

I've learned a lot of new cooking techniques. Lately, I've been making quick pickled vegetables, which my kids love, and which are a good thing to bring to parties.

I just finished my first batch of home cured sauerkraut. It was awesome. My wife made home cured corned beef last month. It was better than any I've ever had before.

It's true that some of these things may have happened if I wasn't following a Gluten-free Casein-free diet, but I'm sure I spend a lot more time thinking about and preparing food than I would have previously.

I'm bringing up my two young children to enjoy eating a variety of foods, and I'm helping to prepare them for the possibility that they may also need to follow this diet in the future (thankfully, neither of them has shown any symptoms to date).

So -- what other benefits can you name from living Gluten (or other ingredient) free lifestyles?

Thanks,

David

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Completely off topic, but can you please share your bread recipe? It's hard to find good ones!

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Being able to go places where the bathroom is more than 7 ft away; enjoying life as a whole again without as much fear; using imodium rarely instead of daily; feeling good again (which I didn't for years); also learning how to cook in new ways. That's just the beginning.... :lol:

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OK, I'm not the Celiac in the family, but I can give you my 2 cents...

Of course, having a healthy son, but you already knew that!

I truly enjoy my time in the kitchen with and without my son. With - watching him grow and learn to feed himself is incredible. Just tonight he got his first minor burn. Instead of it being traumatic I saw it as an "awww...my baby's growing up" moment. He shrugged it off and learned a valuable lesson - minor burns won't kill you, but they do hurt like a dickens! We have so many great times in the kitchen. We frequently make dinner together just the two of us after school and before hubby gets home. We have some of our best talks then. I think we're closer than we would've been otherwise. Without him - I have learned to love cooking. I used to really stink at it. Now I'd say I'm pretty darn good. (she said ever so humbly :rolleyes: )

We have become food snobs. I'm shocked at the poor tasting food we used to think was good! Most restaurant food is just awful! I didn't know that before Celiac!

People we've met - we've met so many great people that we never would've known. We've experienced incredible acts of kindness that have brought tears to my eyes. We're part of the Celiac family, and it's nice!

We enjoy helping others learn to live with Celiac and eat fabulously!

My son will tell you it's kind of nice to always be able to have treats YOU like instead of eating what someone else picks. If you have to bring your own food you always get to decide! For birthday parties he always takes chocolate cake - no white cake for him, no siree! For holidays, he always picks his menu. Christmas Eve is a good example. My grandmother always serves Italian beef sandwiches before church. Although very yummy, they are not one of his favorite foods. So the last two years he's picked shrimp fettuccini alfredo!

Sure there are times when I know he hates having Celiac, but there are also times he tells me "having Celiac is awesome!" (his exact words) Life's what you make it...

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Thank you, David. A great time for this, as I've just come back from dinner at my Celiac sister's house and been glutened again. Love my family, hate their cooking habits/food.

I love that I am so much more tolerant now that I am Gluten Free. Before my diagnosis, I hated a lot of things. Movies were all stupid, TV shows were stupid, my co-workers were stupid, everything was a big waste of my time and energy. Not that I had any energy to begin with. . . ;)

Now that I am gluten-free, I actually enjoy all of these things. I watched Zombieland when it came out and LOVED IT!!! I love spending time with my husband again! Co-workers. . . well, that's a story for another day, but I have a much higher tolerance for them now. I laugh more often. I feel like I've lost 20 years of worry, pain, and stress. YAY!!!! :P:P:P

-Daisy

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I am definitely healthier... not just symptom free which all by itself is wonderful. but I am healthier than i was before. I can also look at a label on pretty much anything in the grocery store and know if it is a good product which has led to not-gluten-free hubby doing the same. we also spend quite a bit of time in the kitchen cooking together which is fun. its also the best ever excuse to not eat something at a party :P (just kidding about that one... kinda)

what else? i've learned a lot about being healthy from starting this diet and it definitely makes you appreciate the small things in ways most don't

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Well, Id say that I get a lot of satisfaction from making all of my food from scratch at home, especially bread. There is a lot to be said for bringing a sandwich to work and eating it and remembering that it is home made, and high quality, without additives, and perfectly tailored to what your body needs. Its not something I would be saying had I not found out that I am gluten intolerant. Its also been a great joy to have an excuse to not eat the cupcakes and cookies everyone brings to work. No one gets gluten free ones, so I cant be tempted! :)

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While I'm naturally an introvert, I had become practically a recluse because it just took SO much energy to get out (getting 5 children ready to go out didn't make it easier lol). I am finally able to actually enjoy being out and about, spending time with friends without being so exhausted I had to come home and crash for hours afterward, and having the energy to enjoy my friends' children again. As much as I love children, it had become too much to divide my attention and get to know and keep up with them.

I feel at least 20 years younger and probably better physically overall than I did when I was in college 30 years ago. Avoiding a few grains and their derivatives is a small price to pay for finally being ME again!

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I'll throw in on this one - what a great thread!

I LOVE the fact I'm getting away from sugar. I've always considered myself a sugar addict. Candy and chocolate beckoned me with a fervor so intense, I rarely if ever resisted. It got so bad I would literally be ill eating it, and still want more. Ironically I've been able to maintain my weight via exercise, by the pull of addiction was miserable.

I still enjoy a little sugar, but eating more vegetables and proteins...I don't feel the need. I am choosing the food, instead of feeling like the food chooses me. Make sense?

I also love the fact I'm NEVER bloated. Oh my gosh...when I hear people complain about heartburn and acid reflux and bloating...I feel like I have the answer to the world's problems: stop eating wheat! (And eat less food, eh?) :)

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well i'm only 6 weeks into my gluten free life but i feel more peaceful. i recognize the freedom that i have with being celiac. i can control my health by eating even though i have limits to what i can eat. i LOVE sugar. i'd rather have something sugary and sweet or doughy any day. but with having to give up the doughy goodness of ordering a pizza and eating breads and sweets i've also been able to put the reigns on my sugar cravings. food controlled my declining health and after seeing some positive changes giving up food made with gluten ... once again i realized the freedom i have with this disease. its ironic. i am grateful! i'm not looking at it as giving up what i can't have ... just finding new things to enjoy and learning to make other things like cake and pizza gluten free. :)

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I could list much of what's already been listed, but I think the best thing is realizing, yet again, just how awesome my family and friends are. My husband is as careful as I am about making sure I don't ingest gluten, many in my family can't have gluten, but those who can are careful to have gluten-free foods at gatherings (plus, they know all about cross-contamination, so I know it's safe), and my friends didn't so much as bat an eye when I told them and are totally forthcoming about what's in what they make and aren't at all offended if I don't eat something they've made.

I always knew I was surrounded by great people, but now I have something that reminds me just how kind they are on a regular basis. Honestly, that makes the whole ordeal worth it.

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I used to be one of those people who ate the cookies and cakes being offered on holidays at the office even if I didn't like them (I hate store bought baked goods)because I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings. Now that I can't have gluten I can just say "thanks for the thought but I can't eat that"! No one is offended or pressures me because it's a medical issue!

Another benefit is eating healthier when dining out. I used to love whatever was carby and cheesy but not anymore! Plus saving calories on the bread basket and dessert menu.

Not to mention that I've not had to take Immodium in months. I used to have Immodium, pepto, phenegran, and Kapidex on hand at all times because I never knew what my stomach would do!

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I love the fact that I've increased the variety of food in my diet. I used to be such a picky eater. Now I know that it was because almost everything I ate made me sick, and the food we ate was gluten-laden. The places we ate stuffed us with gluten. The dinners I made were all gluten-based (because that's what we ate when I grew up).

Now I eat lots of yummy fresh food (love berries!) and I try to eat something new every week. This week it's... drum roll... Pamela's coffee cake. It's my daughter's 14th birthday and that's what she's chosen. Even though I'm the only celiac, my family is so, so, so supportive that they choose gluten-free for their birthday celebrations. I hope I can find the coffee cake somewhere since it's so new. Maybe Whole Foods will have it. Cross fingers.

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I like that there are so many people in this thread enjoying life, rather than complaining about the ruddy hand that's been dealt them. ;)

I like that I feel so much better than I EVER have, in my entire life, since going gluten free. I said to my doctor the other day, "I just can't figure out why anyone would NOT go totally gluten free if they were diagnosed Celiac. If they feel as crappy as I did while eating gluten, and then feel this great NOT eating gluten, it seems a no brainer!"

I can walk my dog without dragging my arse after only half a mile. Though along with the Celiac I have fibromyalgia, I have had a lot fewer flare-ups.

I too have more tolerance for stupid people ;) and I can deal with stress a lot better than I could before. And I wake up easier in the mornings, even though I will hit the snooze button, just because I don't want to go to work. Not because I don't feel like I can't. If you follow.

And I like the idea of food in general. Whole, natural, good, fresh foods. I think the Western diet is way too dependent on packaged convenience foods. I cringe when I see my neighbours or co-workers in the grocery store, with their buggies piled high with pain inducing junk foods. I just want to shake them and tell them they can be so much better than junk! ;)

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Good thread! I love the fact that I know longer eat processed foods anymore and cook everything from scratch. My hubby and I have found since my diagnoses 2 years ago that we enjoy cooking together! I also love having clear skin and healthy fingernails that actually grow! :)

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Completely off topic, but can you please share your bread recipe? It's hard to find good ones!

Sorry about that - I suppose I should have mentioned it. I've been making bread from Annalise Roberts' Gluten Free Baking Classics. I really like her "French/Italian" bread - it's actually got a very nice crusty outside, and reasonably dense crumb. Her "Basic Sandwich bread"(follow the link for the recipe) is a very nice, light, fluffy, high-rising sandwich bread. She's got others, but between those two, I've been very happy.

David

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Wow! Thanks for sharing everybody. It's really encouraging to see so many positive replies.

I'm also glad to see that I'm not the only one here who really loves to eat. I've just got to be more careful now about what I eat!

David

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I am just thrilled that all of my quirky, annoying, little things I couldn't figure out before all make sense. The hair falling out and bruising due to vit. defic. and the stomach issues, anti-social stuff. And not to mention it is not very easy to enjoy time ALONE with your husband (get it ?) when your bloated, gassy, and angry all the dang time.

I like just being good...I don't always need to be great and on top of the world...but I'm no longer bad. Good is good...I like good :)

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I would say my biggest non-health related benefit is having developed a rear end. I'm a very pale-skinned, doll faced white woman and I cannot TELL you how many black men have hit on me since I gained 20 lbs, all in my rear and legs. It's SO MUCH FUN. I never used to get hit on by anybody, and now white guys still ignore me, but black guys love me! I like to think that the white men in my area are just ignorant.... :)

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