Living Gluten Free
If you suffer from chronic arthritis (especially R.A.), you may want to consider living gluten free for a few weeks, just to see how you feel. If you have other chronic conditions, like fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, candida, or autoimmune conditions, you definitely want to consider living gluten free. Gluten is one of the proteins found in wheat (it's also found in other foods like barley) and for the sake of simplicity, I'm going to focus this discussion on eliminating wheat gluten.

I've taken the plunge several times, and as of this writing, I've committed to a 6 month hiatus from wheat. I've learned a lot and want to share it with you, so if you're just starting on this journey you'll know how to get started. If you've been living gluten free for a while, I hope it helps you as well, and if you have other resources for me, I'd love it if you'd contact me and let me know.

So why would you want to go gluten free anyway? Isn't that just for people with celiac disease?

Well, no. Although celiac is an extreme case of wheat intolerance, many people without celiac have bad symptoms and don't even know it. But because the symptoms aren't related to the gut, they go undiagnosed and suffer for years.

Some of the signs of wheat intolerance include:

  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Gastro-intestinal distress (diarrhea, constipation)
  • Fat in the stool
  • Muscle twitching or cramping
  • Migraines
  • Fatigue
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Skin eruptions or eczema
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Weight loss OR inability to lose weight

For me, I have muscle and joint pain (hit by a bus is how I described it during my last attack after a night of pizza), muscle twitching, and GI rumbling and bloating. The pain is the worst... I mean I'm a chiropractor for goodness sake. It's like someone is in my face going "neener neener neener" when my body hurts. 😉

The muscle and joint pain feels like it does when I have the flu, without the flu-like symptoms. Deep, all over, aches in every joint, but primarily the spine and hips. My muscles become sore to the touch. My legs will twitch uncontrollably while I'm trying to get to sleep, and my husband says I move all night, switching positions and twitching. My tummy grumbles and rumbles, and my belly gets bloated. I also get puffy circles around my eyes and my skin looks blotchy (sounds attractive doesn't it?).

Now, just because these are my symptoms doesn't mean they'll be yours. I've got a fairly detailed explanation of food intolerances here along with a simplified version of how the immune system works, so you may want to read that later. You could have anything ranging from eczema to headaches to obesity. Every body is different, and every reaction to gluten is different.

Taking the Plunge

Once you decide to try living gluten free, how do you go about getting started?

The first thing I did is I figured out what my primary sources of wheat were. Bread, pasta, and baked goods topped my list. There are hidden sources of gluten, but I started by just eliminating wheat. For many people, this change alone is enough.

I called a friend who is knowledgeable about celiac and asked for recommendations. I found bread made from rice flour (Trader Joe's carries one that's pretty good), pasta made with brown or white rice (Tinkyada is the brand I recommend - my kids and husband eat it and don't really notice a big difference), and gluten free cookies, bars, snacks, etc. There are also some good gluten free baking mixes, pancake mixes and the like.

When you are just starting out, use these pre-made products. They'll save you some time and headaches, because baking without wheat takes a little getting used to. Gluten is the protein that makes bread rise and gives cookies their lift. When you remove it, you have to substitute for it. The most common subs are xantham gum or guar gum. I haven't plunged that far yet. I have an all purpose flour mix that has the xantham already in it, and I'm playing with that. As I get more used to it, I'll come back and update.

Here are some gluten free products to try.

If you're gluten free and have great recipes, I'd love to have you share them! Help others like me who are learning by posting your favorite gluten free recipes!

What's Your Favorite Gluten Free Recipe? Share it Here!

Do you have a great recipe that's gluten free but doesn't seem like it? Share it and help others make the transition!

Other Gluten Free Recipes

Click below to see recipes from other visitors to this page...

So What Can I Eat When I'm Living Gluten Free?

After I figured out what my primary wheat sources were, I then had to figure out what I was going to eat. Once I had my wheat free substitutions in the house, meal planning got much easier.

Here's what a typical day looks like for me:

NanoGreens10 mixed with water and 2 ounces of pomegranate juice or acai berry juice or blueberry juice. One slice gluten/wheat free bread (toasted) with a little peanut butter and jam.

LunchSalad with canned tuna or chicken (rinsed), cannelini beans, walnuts, and olive oil/balsamic vinagrette.


Or for lunch I'll have leftovers from dinner the night before.

DinnerProtein (chicken, beef, pork or fish) either grilled, sauteed, or roasted.Vegetable of the day, steamed or roasted.

Salad (either homemade Caesar or mixed greens with avocado, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, and homemade vinagrette).

If we have pasta that night I'll either substitute my Tinkyada spaghetti or I'll make spaghetti squash for me, and my family has regular pasta. I have made an entirely wheat free lasagna before (yes, Tinkyada has lasagna noodles) and it was really good. We had a friend over for dinner that night and he didn't even notice!

If you decide to try living gluten free, make a plan, get your substitutions in the house, and then get started. I don't recommend doing it without a little advanced planning. You need to figure out your eating habits, and then find substitutes.

My Cookie Experiment

Last night I made gluten free chocolate chip cookies!

I used the all-purpose gluten free flour mix (with the xantham gum already in it) and substituted just like I would for regular flour.

The cookies turned out fine, but thin and crispy (I prefer puffy cookies). I've learned that when you cook low fat, a trick to baking is to freeze the dough for a few minutes after you've put the cookies on the pan but before you bake them. I'll try that next time and see if helps them keep from spreading so much.

But other than that, the cookies were a HIT! They taste like a regular wheat cookie.

Living gluten free can be done, but you need a plan. I think you'll find that after just a couple weeks of living gluten free, you feel better than you have in years.

Return from Living Gluten Free to HOME

To find out about a simple blood test (the ALCAT test) that will tell you if you have a wheat intolerance, click here


CommentsHave your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.