Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Gluten Free Sucks

No really, this blows.  I guess I didn't realize how often we went out to eat at restaurants or what type of restaurants we normally visit.  But the places we frequent might have 50 items on the menu, and the only gluten free options are the 4 salads listed.  Whole sections on the menu for burgers, pasta, and sandwiches.  And 4 salads tucked away in the corner is all that's gluten free.

With the kids out of town last week, we did get to go to places that serve food they don't eat.  Our favorite turned out to be Jasmin, a middle eastern bistro.  I love middle eastern food, and this is the first place I've found up here that rivals the Pita House from Greenville.  Hummos, pitas, falafel, gyro meat, chicken shwarma, tsazeki sauce, bring it on.  Love it, I could eat it every day.  And the only flour is in the pita which really isn't that bad or hard to avoid.  Most middle eastern and asian restaurants serve a gluten free base with rice or something instead of flour.  Sushi with rice, chinese or hibachi with rice, or indian food with basmati..... I have to stop now before I ruin my lunch workout and hit the buffet instead.

The problem is that our kids don't eat any of it.  We can't take them to any of the places that serve any of the foods I just mentioned.  Bigun did actually try lo mein recently, and claims that she did like it.  But I guarantee she'll forget that the next time we try to get chinese takeout.  And why do we only seemingly encourage her to only try the most unhealthy versions of multicultural foods?

Saturday in Charleston we did find the coolest place yet down there, Brick House Kitchen.  BHK had a special event going on outside, so we were able to get inside to order off of a special menu.  I ended up getting some grilled buffalo shrimp with mixed greens and grilled potatoes and it was all perfect.  No flour anywhere, the portion size was perfect, price was right, it was perfectly cooked (and it's easy to turn grilled shrimp into rubber), the decor was great and they had the Grateful Dead playing.  You never find a place like that, and I can't wait to go back.  If only it wasn't 5 hours away.

So yes after 2 weeks of going completely gluten free I tried re-introducing the white stuff.  It keeps getting worse.  Without eating any flour, my energy levels plummeted.  I mean I had no gas in the tank, ever.  Workouts got sluggish but not really bad.  But just the daily work routine and keeping up with the kids put me to sleep.  And, ironically, I also had sleep problems.  Sure, the symptoms that I was trying to get away from went away, but I'm not sure if it was worth it.

The positives from that two weeks included dropping 8 lbs, mostly from the belly fat.  Also I didn't have any kind of digestive issues or headaches (well, one headache but that's not flour's fault).  And I felt pretty good at first, but then it started a steady decline that got very deep.

Then Thursday was a pita, Friday was a pizza, Saturday and Sunday were biscuits.  Sunday also had some leftover pizza.  Overall this is still not much flour.  But the symptoms started to come back by Monday.  Heartburn through the weekend, regular headaches, and a new skin problem on my right foot.  The worst thing so far happened this morning.  I wanted to try my old favorite oatmeal breakfast again.  I made it and it was tasty.  But before I finished I felt like I was not going to be able to stand up again.  It was just sitting so heavily in my belly I felt completely disgusting.  Not cool, oatmeal, not cool.  It also didn't keep me feeling full as long as the meat & eggs usually does.  It was seriously disturbing.

So basically in conclusion I really feel the need for change, but still don't know what the right thing is to change.  I can give a thumbs up to gluten free but I know it's not sustainable long term and I don't think I have an "allergy" or an "intolerance" to wheat.  Wheat Belly is an amazingly boring book.  I only read non-fiction and love it, but I have really struggled to get through the first 14% of this book. 

There are other options.  I did really well as a vegetarian last year so I might go back to more of a plant-based approach.  I have started getting hooked on Ultra Runner Podcasts and was really intrigued by The Fruititarian, a guy who eats nothing but whole raw fruit, and tons of it.  Scott Jurek's new book is also getting high on my list.  Lots of fun things to consider. This year I have to fuel for speed instead of endurance.  I'll figure it out.


Alisa said...

I"m a big fan of the Paleo approach. I eat things like sweet potatoes and quinoa which I feel give me enough energy to keep the workouts high intensity.

I'm not strict paleo or anything (I still eat dairy) and occasionally a sweet treat but I have this to work for me. I have lost weight and mostly I notice it in my belly but I just feel healthier. I feel less bloated like I did when I regularly consumed bagels and ate massive amounts of bread and pasta.

I do occasionally eat brown rice and in fact, I tried brown rice pasta and it was pretty good.

I can't help ya with the kiddos, I think as a kid my parents always just told me that I had to try things, if I didn't like it I didn't have to eat a whole lot of it but I always remember them telling me I had to at least try it. Maybe you can try that tactic?

Matty O said...

Yeah, tough transition man. I went 6 months gluten free completely! Made my own breads, etc.

Felt AWESOME, no stomach pains and no crapping on the run every mile (which was what convinced me to switch in the end).

Hopefully you figure this out. I found out that wheat and malts got me very sick, I stay away from those and I am fine, I eat those and I get stomach aches from hell.

Keep up the good work man, cutting out the breads caused me to lose a ton of fat too :)

Catherine Hayes Brown said...

Gluten free is not that great. Tried it and believe it or not, my IBS got worse. Everyone but the docs keep telling me gluten free is what I should be feeding Caleb- supposedly improves autism symptoms. Docs and research say no. My thoughts are, unless you have Celiac disease or a gluten allergy, it is more of a placebo effect than anything. So don't feel guilty for hating it. I hate it too.

Katie Duffy said...

I hear ya. I started with the no gluten about a week ago because of some skin issues (my acupuncturist suggested it...) and I'm not sure if it's helping or not, but I don't seem to be getting all of the benefits everyone raves about. The rice pasta is ok; I bought some corn pasta too but haven't tried it yet. I have some gluten free bread stuff, too, which is fine, but evidently the Wheat Belly guy thinks they're not ok. Frustrating.

Meantime: Fruitatarian! That guy lives near me and runs in all of the casual local trail stuff (mostly in Van Corltandt Park, in the north Bronx.) He always wins. Maybe there's something to it!

Sophie @ threetimesf said...

Mmmmmm, I love Middle Eastern food - makes me hungry just reading about it!

Feel so sorry for you! Just focus on how much better it's making you feel though - you'll soon find something that works :)

Kim said...

Second to that...i went dairy and gluten free for the months leading up to the marathon after being told i have sensitivity to the two, but my colitis got worse. Blech, i feel for you buddy. Trust me i do.

Kyria @ Travel Spot said...

Yum. I love Middle Eastern and Greek foods, as well as all the Asian foods! You don't think you could sustain on those? I mean, Thai noodles are usually rice etc. Or even if you just use Quinoa, corn or Rice noodles as pasta for "regular" meals like spaghetti...will the girls eat that?

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Going gluten free is such a huge adjustment. I have an intolerance so it's not an option for me to go back to eating gluten, so knowing that has forced me to just embrace the diet. But it's easier because I don't have kids so no one really suffers on account of my diet. Eating out sucks, so I don't do it much because the options are really limited. It has turned me into more of a 'neanderthal' eater, meaning, I primarily eat meat and vegetables, but really very little meat, so mostly vegetables!

Diana said...

Just keep trying things and eventually you will find what works for your body and your life!
I don't mean to sound all snobbish, but I've taken going "out to eat" completely out of my life-with a very rare occasion here or there. It's great to just eat my own food. I buy nothing processed. I only eat what can picked, plucked, grown, and raised. Nothing from a box-especially nothing from the "freezer" section of a grocery store!
Stay strong and keep experimenting.

Fair Weather Runner said...

uhm, i have a huge addiction to tsatziki (sp?). so good.

have you considered going to an allergy specialist to get tested? just a though. might eliminate some wondering for you!

Al's CL Reviews said...

I was reading this and thought of you...next time in Atlanta you can eat pizza!


raulgonemobile said...

Steve Gibson of the TWiT family had two vlogs about going carb free, and the performance gains in exercise. (The names of them were both dealing with "sugar hill")

They're about an hour each, but interesting as another data point for how you proceed..

Hang in there.