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Where Do I Start With A Dairy/gluten Free Diet?

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Hello. I am new to the board. I am wondering how I go about starting a dairy and gluten free diet? I would like to see if it improves my stomach problems but I have no idea where to begin or even what foods to eat & avoid. I'm not sure if my issues are from dairy or gluten. Ever since I was a teenager (I'm 28 now) I have had problems with my body not absorbing nutrients from food. I have always had to be near a bathroom anytime I ate anything. I sometimes couldn't finish a meal without needing to go to the bathroom. I also get a lot of bloating & stomach pains after I eat. I was told I have IBS. I also get headaches sometimes. Joint pain. And have insomnia. I am always tired & have no energy.

I also have Muscular Dystrophy and have been in a wheelchair since age 13. I have never been more than 70 pounds. I always thought it was because of the MD but now I'm thinking it has more to do with my stomach, since I see other people with MD who are not as thin as I am and who do not have trouble gaining weight. I came very close to getting a g-tube a few years ago but decided against it at the last minute.

There's no problem with my appetite, like a lot of people think. They assume I just don't eat. But I eat a good amount of food. It just doesn't stay in me very long.

Some things I eat on a regular basis are:: steaks, chicken, pork, rice, potatoes, Mac & cheese, pizza, pasta, broccoli, asparagus, bananas, cookies, chips... Pretty much anything I want.

Should I first try going gluten free and then if my stomach doesn't get better from no gluten try no dairy? I hope it's a gluten problem because I don't know if I can live without dairy. I love cheese way too much. ;P

What foods should I avoid? How do I go about this?

And how can I make it so that my boyfriend (who I live with and cook for) doesn't have to go on the diet too? (although he probably should because he has some stomach issues too)

I would really like my stomach to get better and wouldn't mind finally gaining some weight too.

Help? Thanks!


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Hello and welcome to the board and gluten free living.

First off, living in a mixed household (gluten and non-gluten eaters) is fraught with hazards and both parties have to be particularly careful. I know some households that make it work but most find it simpler to make the whole kitchen gluten free. This is something you will have to work out for yourselves. If your partner is to continue eating gluten you will need your own spreads, peanut butter, etc., your own cooking utensils. your own colander and toaster, and your own dedicated (high-up - which will not work well for you) shelves in pantry and fridge so that gluten food will not fall down on your food. Your partner will have to be scrupulous about keeping counters clean and handwashing, as will you, because gluten clings to everything including handles and knobs, towels and dishcloths. It is going to be incredibly hard on you cooking gluten free and gluten food and if your partner has issues too, it would make sense to go completely gluten free. Despite what some doctors would have you believe, the gluten free diet can be incredibly healthy; as with any type of diet, it is the foods you choose to eat within the range available to you that makes it healthy or unhealthy. There are whole grain/seed breads that surpass regular gluten bread in nutrient content if you choose wisely.

If you have celiac disease, it will have destroyed the part of your small intestine that manufactures the enzyme to digest lactose (milk sugar). This means you should probably avoid milk, cream, ice cream, anything high in lactose. There is hemp/almond/rice milks available, coconut ice cream, so you don't need to feel too deprived. The dairy products that are produced with the help of enzymes (cheese, yogurt, sour cream) are often tolerated, you will just have to experiment and see what your body can handle.

Gluten of course means anything with wheat, barley or rye (and it is best to avoid oats as well and challenge it later - some celiacs can handle gluten-free oats, some cannot.)

When you first start the diet, it is recommended that you avoid processed foods as much as you can. Eat only chicken, fish, cooked veggies, fruits, rice, nuts, seeds. Raw foods tend to be hard to digest for the first few weeks so you will have to stick it out through a rather bland unvaried diet for a few weeks until you have some healing in your small intestine. It is recommended that you shop the outside of the supermarket and only venture into the middle for things like rice and gluten free pasta. Avid things with more than two or three ingredients until you learn how to red the labels for hidden gluten.

To help you along, supplements of digestive enzymes (to help with digestion) and probiotics (to promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut) are recommended.

To eliminate gluten you should check all your personal care products (lip gloss, toothpaste, hand lotion, etc.) and all your prescription and OTC medications/ Unfortunately, the FDA does not require ingredient labelling on these so you will have to enlist the help of our pharmacist or call the manufacturer if you can't ascertain whether or not the product is gluten free.

Be aware of gluteny kisses - your boyfriend should brush his teeth before kissing you after eating gluten. He can of course continue to eat gluten outside the home if he finds it is not a problem for him, but he will cros-contaminate you if he kisses you without brushing his teeth.

So that is the nutshell of going gluten free. Fire away with any other questions you have. And go to celiac.com and read as much as you can there - there is a wealth of information. :)

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I'd definitely try both at first, for the exact reasons mushroom mentioned.

For starting off, here's what I would say is a concern, and then an easy list of foods to try for a couple weeks, anyway.

You have to treat gluten like you'd treat raw meat - wash anything that touches gluten before it touches your food, and that includes your hands. Use separate cutting boards. Anything wood (or often plastic) is porous to gluten and can release it back in your food, so metal utensils or a new cutting board/wooden spoons just for gluten free stuff is useful. Also, soap and water will wash away gluten (sometimes with scrubbing, if needed), but things that only sterilize - like hand sanitizer - just kill germs, not gluten.

As for eating - there's a definite learning curve. I'd second mushroom's recommendation of eating whole foods.

You want to avoid wheat, rye, barley, and oats (I'd even avoid the gluten-free oats - some celiacs react to all oats. Might as well be totally safe when starting out, and add them back in if gluten free turns out to be good for you). These can all can go by a few different names on the label - they have a good list here on the celiac.com site of ingredients to look for and avoid. But just a couple big ones to look out for that you might not know about: soy sauce usually has wheat, malt is made from barley, natural flavors can be a problem (although most often are corn based).

When you see the list of ingredients, if you're like a lot of us, you'll see it as another reason to eat simply at first, because it's just so much easier than reading all those labels! Because almost anything can have this stupid stuff added, from ketchup to soup, so it's a lot of label reading.

It can be helpful to chuck thoughts of what is 'normal' to eat at a particular time of day. When I lost cereal, and pancakes, and waffles - breakfast became a whole different thing. I tend to have veggie dishes for breakfast as often as not, now.

However, eating simply doesn't mean it has to be all plain and bleh - you just have to add more of some things and do a little more work. It'll taste different at first, but it can work.

When I was starting out, I found myself using more salt and chile at first, to help me through missing other flavors my tongue had been used to. I use a lot of herbs - you have to add a lot more of them, but fresh herbs can add some nice flavor to a lot of dishes. Fresh chiles are great, too, if you can tolerate them. Onion and garlic are great. Ginger root is nice for asian dishes, and a nice tea, too (lots of recipes for ginger root made into tea, on the web).

If you are buying herbs, I would honestly think about buying herb plants and planting them. They cost about the same amount as the herbs themselves, sometimes more, but they'll keep growing the herb for you, so a better bargain, if you can keep them alive where you live. :-)

Easy starting dishes that don't take too much thought (or money):

baked potatoes - top with dairy free options, like chili (there are gluten free versions, or you can take some chiles, beans, and tomatoes and make your own), grilled veggies, sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions, that sort of thing.

rice dishes - make some regular white or brown rice and add some chopped veggies into it once the water has started to boil. Or toast some almonds and add those in after the boiling has ended and it's steaming for a few minutes. Add a little smoked or fried fish - Crown Prince brand canned fish, like brisling sardines, are almost all supposed to be gluten-free.

- if you get gluten free soy sauce (San J makes some), you can stir fry veggies with water, garlic, and then add a little gluten-free soy sauce at the end for more flavor. Serve over rice. Veggies that we've liked the best with this were asparagus and bokchoy.

- roasted root vegetables, like potatoes, carrots, beets, or parsnips. Use olive oil and a little salt and roast in the oven until done.

- acorn squash. Bake in the microwave and then dip into pure maple syrup (if it is pure and with no additives, it should be gluten free). This one would also be a good calorie boost for you .

- Baked sweet potato or potato fries. Just peel, chop into fry-sized pieces, and bake in the oven at 400 for about 45 minutes or so. It's not amazing, but salted, it's okay, and it's filling.

- salads with a little vinegar and olive oil - just check the vinegar to make sure it doesn't contain malt, and it's usually okay for celiacs. Or a little lime juice and honey mixed together can be a good dressing for spinach salads. Or spinach with chopped strawberries or orange pieces and no dressing at all.

- porridge works for breakfast, if you want a breakfast food. They have gluten-free porridge mixes (Bob's Red mill has a few, I think - they will say gluten-free on the label). Personally, I intensely dislike the feel of porridge in my mouth, but it's filling and it was not too much work, in the beginning. You could add whole dates that you cut up, or mashed banana or some maple syrup, if you need something sweet. Or if cost is an issue? Get a cup or so of white/brown rice, put it in a blender, blend that stuff until it's powdery, then maybe 30 seconds more, and then you've got a good powder to make rice porridge with.

- plain meats, beans or nuts, like mushroom was suggesting. Put some salt on some beef/chicken/pork and let it sit (in the fridge, of course. :) ) for 15-30 minutes, then bake it or fry it in olive oil, if you need the extra calories. Add nuts (check to make sure they aren't processed with wheat.Same with the beans) to meat dishes, salads, porridge. Beans mix well with the rice or potatoes.

- most people use the corn tortillas. Last I heard, Mission corn tortillas are supposed to be pretty gluten free. Also, Maseca corn masa is one you can use to make your own corn tortillas - which are really easy and taste awesome, actually. So you can have these with beans, meat, whatever. Toast them in a toaster oven to make them into a giant chip, essentially. :-) Or make a mexican lasagna with these, layering tortillas, cooked meat, and some chiles or roasted veggies. Ours worked well with boiled chicken, corn tortillas, and bell peppers, tomatoes, and chile peppers that we stir fried really quick. I think maybe we added some salt, too.

- Soup. Just put water in a pot, add some chopped up chunks of meat, some salt, and a few veggies, and boil until it's flavorful. You might want to add in some herbs, and maybe wait on a couple of the softer veggies until nearer the end. Beans that are nearly cooked or cooked are great with this, too. Beef, tomatoes, onion, garlic, and bell peppers are an easy one, and chicken, carrots, celery, onion, and garlic are another traditional one - you can just take a whole chicken, remove the giblets, and let that sucker boil, you know?

Good luck to you - I hope this turns out to be the answer for you!

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The other posters had some great ideas. I honestly have a hard time affording the specialty gluten free items that are available in the natural food stores etc. so I have a list of great items I can get at most stores that are more affordable for me. All the Chex cereals (except the wheat of course) are gluten free. This is my breakfast staple along with bananas and boiled eggs. General Mills provides a list of their gluten free items on their website and the list is actually pretty extensive. Rice is my staple grain. I make it with almost every meal. I love to make spaghetti with gluten free pasta (can find it in most grocery stores with the other pastas.) The trick I've noticed with cooking it is to let it cook longer than most pasta. It has a tendency to stick together otherwise. Classico spaghetti sauce in the jar is gluten free. Most mayonnaise is gluten free... Helmanns Canola Oil one I know for sure is gluten free. I make a lot of tuna salad lol. Lea Perrin's worcestershire sauce is gluten free. I make a killer stir fry that I substitute the soy sauce for worcestershire sauce. The only seasoning I ever use is Konriko's Greek Seasoning. It's gluten and MSG free and very low sodium but tastes amazing. I use it on everything from burgers to veggies and even to season my boiled eggs. Walmart and Sams carry this snack food called Veggie Straws that are gluten free. They taste like potato chips but are a little healthier. My boyfriend buys huge bags of Craisins at Sams for me to snack on at his house. I eat natural popcorn a lot and don't have a reaction to it but I'm not sure if it is one of the products not processed with wheat. On the Border tortilla chips are labelled gluten free and salsa generally is as well. There are a lot of products around that are gluten free you just have to find them. :) The biggest help for me is reading labels. I've been caught off guard by how many things I thought wouldn't contain gluten but actually do. I hope the diet switch gives you some answers!

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