Before you say “Nope, No Can Do, Not Me” hear me out.

I’ve been dreading this week. I’ve known this week was coming since the inception of this crazy idea of 12 weekly challenges popped in my head.

I’ve tried to convince myself to do anything but this.

I’m a routine girl. I like my Thomas’ Multigrain Light English Muffins every workday morning. My husband is Irish and LOVES bread. (The man seriously could live on bread alone.) And I swear it seems my kids these days only eat pasta and tidbits of protein that are breaded and baked.

However, there’s 2 reasons why this has to happen.

Number 1. It’s the right thing to do for me as a dietitian. One of the things I pride myself on as a practitioner was trying the things I’ve asked my clients and patients to do. A walk the talk sort of thing. My first 24 gram sugar challenge several years ago didn’t stem from trying to lose belly fat. It was because the American Heart Association came out with new guidelines encouraging those at high risk to limit added sugar to 24 grams per day for women and 36 grams for men. End of story. I needed to know how hard this was, how much it cost, what was the time invested and ultimately was it doable and sustainable. I now can answer all of those questions because I lived it.

The number of patients that come into the hospital having gastrointestinal issues is on the rise. And there are a number of factors that play a part in those issues with diet and stress being the forerunners despite what some gastroenteroloists say (but that’s for a different day).

With additional GI issues, especially involving anemia which is a classic sign of undiagnosed Celiac disease, I often find myself talking elimination diets starting with gluten.

The handout I give these patients is extensive and overwhelming. However, given that I’ve been doing this for over 17 years now the number of certified gluten free foods on the market has grown exponentially. This helps alleviate some of the burdensome behind this diet restriction need.

Reason number 2. Curiosity. 17 years ago, the only time I spoke gluten free was with a side client. I was predominately a full time long term care dietitian with a side private practice gig in a doctors office. If I was a 3 toed sloth I could count on one hand how many patients I had that were gluten free in the nursing home.

However, NOW I can name a dozen friends plus that are either personally gluten free or take care of a spouse, child, in-law that has decided to go gluten free. Some have pursued this lifestyle because of belly issues, others for weight control and/or thyroid problems and others because they see benefits in their mood and energy levels. And some say they’re gluten free but honestly they’ve just cut out wheat.

I’m anxious to see if I feel different after 7* days. If my mood has changed (or if I’m miserable because I miss my favorites). I want to see if and how much my grocery bill appears to go up. If my belly feels different, although I’ve never had belly issues before. I’m a fiber nut!!

I want to try new food products and be able to tell clients, patients and friends “oh stay away from that one!” or “wow that tasted too good to be true.”

I want to discover new go to recipes. Or at least look at some of my old standbys and see which ones already fit and which ones need to be modified.

Week 9 from March 6th to the 12th is going to require A LOT of pre planning!! My Pinterest board has been started. A box of Barilla Gluten Free pasta has been purchased (with a coupon! score!)

I plan on reaching out to my gluten free savvy friends and fellow RD’s for menu inspiration. So if you are reading this now. This means YOU! Please share here or on my Facebook page.

In the meantime what is Gluten? Simple answer: a protein found in certain grains that includes:

  • Wheat
    • All varieties including einkorn, emmer, spelt and kamut
    • All forms including wheat starch, wheat bran, wheat germ, cracked wheat and hydrolyzed wheat protein
    • All flours that contain wheat including plain flour, white flour, bromated flour, enriched flour, phosphated flour, self-rising flour, durum flour, farina, semolina (couscous) and graham flour
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Cross-bred grain varieties, such as triticale (a cross between wheat and rye).
  • Oats (unless certified Gluten Free due to cross contamination in processing facilities

This list isn’t even everything! Some Celiac patients can’t even have malt flavoring like in malt vinegar or Rice Krispies. Yes there’s malt flavoring in Rice Krispies. And they even have to be mindful of how their medicines and vitamins are made.

The Mayo Clinic has this lovely list of gluten containing foods to avoid:

  • Beer
  • Breads
  • Cakes and pies
  • Candies
  • Cereals
  • Communion wafers
  • Cookies and crackers
  • Croutons
  • French fries
  • Gravies
  • Imitation meat or seafood
  • Matzo
  • Pastas
  • Processed luncheon meats
  • Salad dressings
  • Sauces, including soy sauce
  • Seasoned rice mixes
  • Seasoned snack foods, such as potato and tortilla chips
  • Self-basting poultry
  • Soups and soup bases
  • Vegetables in sauce

What can we eat??

Foods that are allowed include rice, wild rice, corn (maize), sago, soy, potato, tapioca, beans, sorghum, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, arrowroot, amaranth, teff, Indian ricegrass and uncontaminated oats.

Are you crying with me yet? Or are you ready to tackle Week 9 with everything you got!!

We are in the home stretch and if it wasn’t for any of you out there I would have thrown in the towel weeks ago. I know I’ll need your help to get through this!!

As always grab a friend (or enemy) and join me for the final stretches of The 12 Week Challenge.

(*On a side note, typically when using an elimination diet with a client/patient I ask they give it the good old college try for 14-21 days to see if benefits occur from eliminating a food group. If you’re trying this because you have GI issues and want to see if it helps, go for 2+ weeks.)


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