I absolutely love how much better I feel when I whole-heartedly stick to my gluten free, sugar free, allergen free diet. It's really not at all as depressing as it sounds. I enjoy a great big bowl of oven roasted veggies, I've discovered a love for all things coconuty, and I've even acquired a taste for eccentric grains like amaranth and teff. My diet has allowed me to explore a whole world of food that I never knew existed, and it has showed me that it's possible to take back that reigns in my own battle for health. It's sort of been empowering, and has acted as a creative outlet as I embark on a journey to figure out what the hell I'm supposed to eat.
Once I overcame the initial cravings and made the life altering commitment to remain 100% gluten and sugar free (without slip-ups, cheat days, or "little nibbles"), I no longer experienced those gripping cravings or that overwhelming desire to devour a loaf of french bread. Magically, previously unrelenting symptoms began to significantly improve. But sometimes, just occasionally...for a few moments...
I really just want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
I start to remember what the peanut butter looked like as it united with the bread, filling the nooks and crannies with its gooey texture as I spread it with my knife. I remember that first, soft bite into the fresh, fluffy bread, the sweetness of the jam mixing ever-so perfectly with the saltiness of the peanut butter. I remember that notorious sticky feeling left behind on your fingers after you finished devouring its delightfulness, and licking it off before washing it all down with a glass of milk.
Then I do a mental head slap. As much as I might miss a good PB&J, I don't miss the way I felt after eating one. The weeks of digestive upset after taking just one bite, the terrible headaches, the alarming tachycardia, the listlessness and feeling as though I were walking around with bricks in my pockets and lead in my shoes. Most of all, I really don't want to have to stick an epi-pen in my thigh as my throat begins to close after a hint of peanut hits my tongue. The detriment is just not worth the few moments of bliss. Plus, I'm not sure what I would tell the doctor upon arriving for medical aid. "What seems to have happened here?"...."Umm, I had a run-in with.....a peanut butter and jelly sandwich."
When it comes down to it, I will always choose health over instant gratification. So, instead of indulging and hindering my plight to wellness, I figure out a replacement to satisfy my culinary wishes and snack-time desires. Instead of a PB&J, I reach for a bag of Lundberg Wild Rice Cakes, Organic Sunbutter (the consistency is satisfyingly reminiscent of peanut butter), and a few raspberries to go on top. Because I made it over the "hump" and don't truly crave anything anymore, it does the trick.
This past weekend on the Infectiously Optimistic facebook page, a handful of patients expressed their struggle and frustration with sticking to their prescribed diets. They had fallen off the wagon or had mulled over quitting in entirety, and had become caught in the notorious cycle of cheating, reigniting cravings, sparking inflammation, and enkindling discouragement. This spoke to me, and I was overcome with a desire to help. I feel so strongly about the amazing things that maintaining a healthy, allergen free, anti-inflammatory diet has done for me, and I want others to reap the same benefits too. I want each of you to know what it's like to realize that something that you have employed and done for yourself has positively affected your health and your journey to wellness. I want you to experience the empowerment that comes with that, and I want you to know that cutting something detrimental out of your lifestyle isn't a loss, especially when you experience consequential physical gains. Improvement can't take place without consequential change.
So, I took to my facebook page to ask you a question:
Now that you have gone gluten, sugar and allergen free, what do you miss or crave the most?
And then I set out to find replacements for your "forbidden favorites".
Devi: Almond Roca
Replacement: Elana's Pantry's Almond Joy Bark
You can make it even diet-friendlier by using Homemade Carob Chips instead of using unsweetened dark chocolate.
-Or, for a chocolate-free version, try Healthy Pursuit's Coconut Almond Bark.
Replacement: Sketch Free Vegan Eating's Raw Cheesecake (contains nuts)
Nikki: Crusty Bread (with a soft center)
Replacement: Affairs of Living Quinoa Millet Sorghum Sourdough Bread
-For an even crustier exterior and "whiter" center, try Nourished Kitchen's Coconut Flour Bread and remember that if you are allergic to eggs, you can replace them with "Flax Eggs" or 2 Tbsp of Chia Seeds per egg.
Tomato Sauces and Products (for those who are nightshade free)
Replacement: Affairs of Living Tomato-Free Pasta Sauce
-If you are sensitive to onion and garlic (like me!), you can replace them with veggies like shredded zucchini, or for more flavor you could add apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar (only if tolerated).
Replacement: Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen's Buckwheat Pizza Crust
(Quinoa Crust if you are allergic to buckwheat)
Replacement: You could use Affairs of Living's Socca as a crust
-Toppings for pizza are hard when you are dairy free and tomato (nightshade) free. It isn't impossible though; it just takes a little creativity! Tomato-Free Pasta Sauce, Dairy Free Almond Feta, or Avocado Alfredo are just a few of the many options. Your pizza may end up resembling Sketch Free Vegan's Green Pea Alfredo Socca Pizza.
Renee: Whipped Cream
Replacement: Gluten Free Cat's Coconut Whipped Cream
-Scroll down to the bottom of the post to find the delicious whipped cream recipe. You get a bonus Pumpkin Dessert Recipe along with it (dessert recipe contains nuts and eggs, but coconut whipped cream does not).
Multiple Emailers: Milkshake and French Fries
Replacement: Healthy Blender Recipe's Raw Vegan Avocado Smoothie
Replacement: Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen's Strawberry Almond Smoothie
-For those who are allergic to strawberries (like me!), raspberries work great.
Replacement: Elana's Pantry's Squash French Fries
Replacement: The Functional Foodie's Rutabaga Fries
Lisa: Macaroni and Cheese
Replacement: Oh She Glow's Gluten Free, Vegan Butternut Squash Mac 'n Cheeze
Scroll to the bottom of the page for a nut free, dairy free, soy free "cheezy" recipe.
-Or, try Whole New Mom's yeast-free "Almond Feta".
Shandy's request: Portuguese Bread
Replacement: Gluten Free, Paleo Irish Soda Bread
We're mixing ethnicities here, but hey, that's okay.
I would bake this recipe sans the raisins. And remember, if you are allergic to eggs, you can replace each egg with "Flax Eggs" or 2 Tbsp Chia Seeds per egg.
-For a more moist texture, sweeter flavor and a yellow color that's reminiscent of the inside of some sweet portuguese breads, try Affairs of Living's Golden Coconut Snack Cake.
Happy not-so-sinful eating.