I barely have the energy to write, my body is in a rapid state of decline, I’m wasting away, must keep going… ahhhhh….. had you going. Actually, I feel great. I think I am starting to get the hang of this vege-terrorisation but its the gluten free that is the real hassle. Admittedly I have been going overboard in my quest for gluten free dominance due to my completion of the book “Wheat Belly” by William Davis. So from this moment on I have made a conscious decision to be more gluten aware than gluten phobic… Jesus I sound like a right bell end.
So what is all this fuss over gluten?
Gluten is a major protein found in wheat and related grain species, including barely and rye. Gluten can turn up in unexpected places likes certain brands of chocolate, deli meats, soy sauce, vitamins, some cosmetics, hair products and beer. Basically all the fun stuff. For some people, about 1% of the population gluten can be a matter of life and death. These people have a condition know as celiac disease. Unless you are part of this group its very unlikely that you need to live a completely gluten free lifestyle.
So then why even attempt to reduce your gluten intake?
Gluten causes the immune system to damage or destroy villi, the tiny, fingerlike structures that line the small intestine like a microscopic plush carpet. Healthy villi absorb nutrients through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream, so when they become damaged it can trigger symptoms such as stomach pains, heart burn, joint pains, headache, skin rashes, fatigue to name but a few.
As a society, we are in a state of “gluten overload”. Some of us may even suffer from a condition that was recognised only a few years ago as “gluten sensitivity”. Although many of the symptoms are similar to celiac sufferers, it is difficult to diagnose. If you turn out to be gluten sensitive, it probably won’t require giving up gluten entirely, just cutting back on products containing it.
So if I cut back then what should I eat?
A gluten free diet like any diet can be healthy or unhealthy. If you have a gluten intolerance or sensitivity, it makes little sense to avoid gluten or wheat products just to replace them with gluten free yet highly processed products. If your diet relies heavily on one food source then you are setting yourself up for problems. If your average day starts with toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and pasta for dinner, thats a lot of one food group in 12 or so hours. Replacements should be based around whole, real foods.
What about getting adequate carbohydrate intake?
Like me, if you lead an active lifestyle and are wishing to reduce your intake of grains, particularly wheat. There are other satisfying options beyond pasta and bread to boost your carb intake. Why not try sweet potatoes, yams, quinoa, wild rice, buckwheat to name but a few. Here is a nice recipe I made this week with quinoa.
Pesto Quinoa with Tomatoes and Corn
This recipe will make extra pesto and quinoa. Feel free to use all of it as long as the pesto to quinoa ratio isn’t overbearing.
2 cup quinoa, cooked
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup walnuts
4 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1 corn on the cob, cooked
1 cup cherry tomatoes
Cook the quinoa according to the packages instructions, set aside.In a food processor, add the basil leaves and olive oil. Next incorporate the Parmesan cheese, walnuts and garlic. Pulse a few times to combine and sprinkle in the salt and pepper. Scrape the bowl with a spatula.Combine 2 cups of your cooked quinoa with 1 cup of your freshly made pesto. Top with cherry tomatoes, cut in half and corn cut off the cob.What about energy levels?
Personally I have never felt sick from eating food containing gluten. However, I found my energy levels are a lot better. For the first week or so I did feel lethargic and not really up for training. But I did persevere and this week I have been waking up feeling great. My energy levels have been a lot better much to the annoyance of a certain John Valbonesi, as I slaughtered his 100 burpee time without barely even breaking a sweat. (Side note from John Slaughtered is a strong word 6 seconds of difference which will be rectified this week!!)
So what have I learned this week?
Well apart from learning that they have discovered a new human body part… now… don’t get too excited… its not gonna give us superpowers or anything useful, its just a ligament in the knee. I have learned to stick to one golden rule on my journey into vege-terrorisation and my war on gluten. Make sure you base your food intake on whole real food and eat a wide variety to maximise nutrition… the rest is just common sense.