38/365 – Gluten and dairy free diet update

So 20 days after posting about rethinking what I eat, I thought I would give you an update about how I’ve been finding it.

Last month I decided to go dairy and gluten free, along with continuing to cut down on sugar, saturated fat and alcohol, to see if adopting this diet recommended by a nutritionist would help reduce my myasthenia symptoms.

How have I got on? Well, it’s been a mixed 20 days.

To be completely honest, I’ve tended to give myself a break from the gluten and dairy free diet on weekends. This is mainly as I have eaten out every weekend and finding something on the menu that fits the GF/DF existence, and sounds tasty, has been difficult.

For instance, on Friday I went to eat in London’s best burger bar, Tommi’s, as an end of first week in my new role treat. The gluten free option was a burger wrapped in lettuce – funnily enough I opted to break my gluten ban and have a bun. And I’m 100% glad I did.

Today I met up with my friend Kate who also has a gluten free diet. We went to Romeo’s cafe in Islington – a gluten free cafe and bakery. It was liberating for us both to be able to order anything from the menu – they have everything from chicken pie to gooey chocolate cake. I went for the pancakes below while Kate opted for the avocado on toast. Both were delicious.

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What can I actually eat?
My initial reaction, when looking at labels of my favourite food, was why does everything I love contain dairy or gluten ? Thankfully, I’ve found replacements for things I ate a lot of before – quinoa for cous cous, almond milk for milk, soya yoghurt for natural yoghurt, gluten free noodles and pasta and even gluten and dairy free pesto.

The main things I’ve missed are real milk in my coffee, real yoghurt and coriander dressing and cheese. I’ve been actively avoiding the cheese section in shops.

One of the other recommendations is cutting down on animal protein so I’ve replaced meat where I can with seeds, beans, eggs and fish. I’ve opted for chicken, turkey and occasionally prosciutto when I do have any.

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The slog of being prepared
If you don’t have time for shopping in specialist shops and to prepare meals, going gluten and dairy free and not starving is going to be hard.

While I’ve stuck to eating as healthy as much possible with the odd treat here and there, when I’ve inevitably not had time to prepare food, it’s been really difficult to find healthy options that meet the dietary requirements. The canteen in my new workplace does delicious soup, which is labeled for allergens, so on a couple of occasions I’ve defaulted to that. But there is also an unhealthy snack selection of DF/GF treats – on one day when I hadn’t brought in sufficient food I succumbed to the temptations of a coconut ring (and loved every bite).

Mostly though I’ve been reliable at making lunches and dinners that fit the diet.

Shopping
I’ve found most of my local supermarkets are terrible at stocking GF/DF options, with the exception of the larger local Tescos. (Pictured below)

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This has meant I’ve had the added hassle of traipsing into the centre of London to visit Whole Foods Market. Although I love having a browse in the different aisles and discovering new delights, now that I’m back at work it is more difficult to fit in. Luckily, yesterday while I was out for a walk, I discovered an organic shop much closer to home which worked out cheaper than the Central London store.

Better skin
My skin looks a lot healthier than it did before my new diet. While that’s definitely to do with not being stressed at work and having a better skin care regime since Christmas, I think it’s also been helped by cutting down on the crap and getting more nutrients. In particular, cutting down on sugar has helped. Not only that, I feel my teeth are in a better state than they were when I would easily binge on a sharing bag of minstrels/buttons/revels…insert chocolate here. I have continued to allow myself a couple of squares of dark chocolate whenever I feel a craving and I bought a couple of a dairy free alternatives this week to try.

Weight loss
A positive side effect of the diet is losing a couple of extra kilos I had put on over Christmas. While losing weight isn’t an objective, it’s a positive feeling to be a bit more toned. Obviously this has been helped by the exercise regime and I feel much better training after eating healthily. Today I’m pictured on my first outdoor run of 2015 – I did 8km and felt like I could do another round.

How much longer?
I’ve actually not found the diet too hard, probably because I’m not being fanatical about it. I think I will try another month to see how I feel. If I continue to see an improvement in my symptoms – my eyes are better at the moment – I’ll think about making a full switch permanently. I can’t see a reason not to when I’m feeling happier and healthier for it.

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