Friday, January 29, 2016

How I tried gluten free diet

The plan 
I didn't plan this experiment for long, not did I prepare for it. I just woke up one morning and decided not to eat gluten for at least 4 days and see what happens. 
I want to find out if I might react to gluten in some negative way. I do have other allergies and some unexplained symptoms so I thought I could try this and see if I feel better. If I don't feel better at the end of this experiment I'll return to my old menu.

normal day menu:

breakfast: whole grain porridge with frozen jam. /muesli
lunch: pasta/ soup/ potatoes&meat
dinner: black bread sandwich 
snacks: bananas, my favourite cookies, chocolate, anything edible.

day 1:
breakfast :eggs
lunch: rice with vegetables, meat and tomato sauce
dinner: the same, curd
snack: bananas

I have no idea what to eat. And I feel constantly hungry. All the food lables at store say they include some kind of gluten-ingredient.

day 2
breakfast: rice porridge, strawberry jam.
snack: bananas.
lunch: chicken, potatoes, pickles, sour cream
dinner: bananas and curd
snack: chocolate, cheese, peanut butter, bananas.

I'm so hungry! Where am I supposed to get calories from?
Usually I get at least 1/3 of energy from snacks - black bread, my favourite cookies, my favourite waffles.
I found myself eating peanut butter with a big soon. And I've definitely lost weight. And it's only day 2.

 I have no idea what to eat. All easy and fast calories come from something made of grains. And I usually don't like putting much time into cooking.

So I eat bananas. They come pre-packaged and are easy and fast.

 Thank bananas for bananas.

In desperate need of calories and blood sugar I've started to drink calories. Usually I drink black coffee, tea and water. Today I've figured out that I can put sugar and honey into tea and coffee and drink juice. I've also started eating sour cream with everything. Usually I eat sour cream once a year.

day 3
breakfast: rice porridge, strawberry jam, sweet curd, boiled egg
snack: chocolate and bananas
lunch: warm beetroot and chickpeas salad, sour cream, curd
snack: pears, bananas, peanut butter.
dinner: curd, banana, pear, protein pudding

This experiment has made me much more unhealthy eater. Since most of the slow digesting calories come from grains I feel hungry 1 hour after eating. And I drink sugar and eat peanut butter with spoon.

day 4
breakfast: rice porridge with sweet curd and strawberry jam.
snack: chocolate and banana
lunch: warm beetroot and chickpeas salad, sour cream, curd
snack: pear
dinner: sült, bananas

I'm starting to figure out where to get calories from. Mostly sour cream, bananas, peanut butter and chocolate. 
This can't be healthy. 

I still feel constant hunger. And these last few days have been really passive. No exercise, some walking. If I'd done some exercise, I'd look like a Victoria's Secret model already :) Or be even more hungry. Or eat more peanut butter.

I started this experiment to find out if I might react to gluten in some negative way and planned to keep it up at least 4 days. At the moment I don't feel better. I might do it another day, but then I will quit and consider myself gluten tolerant person.

day 5, Saturday:
breakfast, rice porridge with jam & sweet curd, wholegrain muesli. Yes, muesli.

Saturday mornings are slow. I sleep longer, drink another cup of coffee while browsing web, daydream. Like Saturday mornings are supposed to be.

And while doing that I found that one of fitness trainers I follow in social media posted a review about one scientific article where professional athletes didn't experience anything different when they were eating gluten or not.
This study came to me exactly at the right time.
I got myself some muesli and decided to end the experiment.

On my fifth day without gluten I should feel somewhat different, right?
But I don't. My heart rate is the same, my allergy symptoms are the same, my skin looks the same, my digestion and sleep are the same, my mental abilities are usual and my energy level is rather worse than usual. If I'd be allergic to gluten, I'd seen some difference. I know how allergies work, I have many of them.
I must admit that I don't mind being a bit thinner than I was at the start of this week, but this is the only positive change.

Final thoughts
Like most people, I'm happy to lose a little weight, but I'm afraid I'll starve to death, if I keep it up. Plus I'd like to do some exercise, but I truly don't have any energy. And finding foods that don't have gluten in them is actually quite hard. 
I'd like to eat to live not to live to find something to eat.

I missed carbohydrates in general. I like easy. It's easy to make a black bread sandwich. It's easy to eat muesli. And it's much easier to eat pasta instead of rice. Rice takes two times longer time to boil (yup, I'm that lazy in the kitchen :). Everything they sell at the store - if you start reading lables it has some wheat, barley or rye in it.

I really missed baking. I like to make pies and pizzas and all kinds of baked things. 
It's a good chance to use frozen local fruits during wintertime. We have loads of frozen jams and fruits in freezer. But I usually eat them with porridge or on a pie or with bread. I don't like smoothies in winter. They make me feel cold. So not eating wheat makes it hard to eat frozen fruit for me. If anyone has ideas how to consume frozen jams and fruit without a smoothie or wheat please let me know :)

what was gained from this experiment?

  • I ate more fruit than usually. ..but it was mostly bananas, since fruit is out of season in farmer's market and I really don't like the taste of the fruit they sell at the store and I couldn't figure out how to eat frozen fruit without wheat.
  • The recipe for warm beet and chickpeas salad! It must be the only gluten-free food that fills my stomach for more than one hour and it's affordable and easy to make. Win!


  1. Hmmmm... I don't think this was really a fair trial. I don't do specifically gluten free, but I do paleo which is, in many ways, gluten free.

    But you replaced healthier grains with sugar... that's not going to make anyone feel better. There are many of us who HAVE seen health benefits from making a switch away from a diet high in processed grains and pastas. It's extremely beneficial for those with insulin resistance or diabetes. But I could never replace grains with sugar. I'd get VERY ill.

    If you ever try this again, I'd recommend actually planning for it and getting some healthier choices lined up in advance.
    (Elisabeth from UBC)

    1. Thanks for reply
      It's now been a week since the experiment and I constantly keep my eyes open for gluten free options available. And there aren't many. The place I live is kind of small, I try to eat in season, and I'm lazy in the kitchen. Convenience is a big factor for me. Especially since I probably don't have any gluten related problems, I'm not eager to sacrifice time and convenience.
      Plus, I eat a lot. I like to be active and I live in a cold climate. Black bread cheese sandwiches is give me around 20% of my daily energy and I haven't found equally as healthy substitute for that.
      Do you have any recommendations how to get around 2500 calories a day in 3 meals and 1-2 snacks without grains? I've browsed fitness forums and even those suggest eating peanut butter with spoon, chips and bagels to reach that intake.

  2. I chose to try a wheat free diet about 3 months ago and I underwent some of the same feelings that you did. But I stuck with it and eventually my body adjusted and the hunger subsided. It does get easier once you stick to it. For me I chose to do this because diabetes runs in both sides of my family and we are (were) heavy wheat eaters. It has been shown that eating wheat tends to spike insulin levels. I don't have diabetes but my blood sugar levels were high. After eliminating wheat, my blood sugar levels are now very normal. Maybe you should give it another try. It may just work the second time around.

    1. Thanks, I may give it another try sometime in summer when there is option to eat local fruit.
      I know 3 other persons who follow gluten free diet. One of them is rather healthy eater and she is extremely thin. Other two have normal build and seem to be in constant look for food like I was. They seem to be eating mainly fatty meat and potatoes and drink tea and coffee with sugar.
      around here getting enough energy is a big deal. I've lived in equatorial climate and I didn't eat half as much there than I do here in cold temperate climate.