It was actually my Dad that suggested going gluten and dairy free. Something I’d never really considered before (I have a rather intimate relationship with bagels…). Could well be a fad, but there are some people that believe cutting out gluten might help MS symptoms.
How hard could it be?
So I binned the cheese on toast, and started my gluten & dairy free life.
I’ve always been an avid reader of nutritional labels on food, but it was surprising to see how many foods actually contained gluten! Even the BBQ seasoned chicken that I consumed packets of and my favourite Heinz Beans (Curry), contained some sort of wheat produce. After hours spent reading the backs of food containers, I finally figured out a gluten free diet I could enjoy and that worked with my fitness goals.
Fortunately for me, gluten free has become a big deal. There are literally hundreds of foods that are now totally void of gluten. A world of breads, pastas, and cereals at my fingertips, all waiting to be sampled.
I admit that sometimes there’s nothing like the real thing.
But I have managed to whip up some tasty pasta bakes, bacon sandwiches, and breakfast pancakes with the substitutes.
So the gluten free part was fairly easy. No major life changes, I just couldn’t have Weetabix anymore.
Dairy was a little more tricky.
I was on a high protein diet at the time, and dairy was an avenue to a pick and mix of inexpensive, high protein treats. Low fat yogurts, cheeses, and creams, all had to be stripped from my diet. This left a crater of missing protein that had to be filled somehow.
The first hurdle was getting rid of the whey protein (you can read about my adventures with that here)
Ok, so how am I going to get my protein in without snacking on anything filled with lactose?
My initial thought was just to add more meat into my diet. It got to the point where I was eating chicken for breakfast… a bit unusual, but I never missed my protein target. I had a chicken tray bake every morning for about a month.
My shopping expenses almost doubled.
I couldn’t carry on like this.
Chicken was far too expensive to be eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day, and I’m much more of a cereals kinda guy.
Luckily, over those few weeks, I had settled on a non-dairy protein powder, discovered a world of soya products, and reduced my daily protein intake target significantly. Much to my joy, I was finally able to ditch the poultry breakfasts, and return to porridge (one of my favourites).
So have I stuck to this 100% since I started?
Of course not (I’m only human!). I’ve yo-yo’d back and forward a few times. It’s been a good experiment though. Looking back, I can see a link between my overall health and removing gluten and dairy. I tend to start feeling better a few weeks after I stop eating them. Not sure how scientific this is, but I’ll roll with it.
I’m still going to have the occasional wheat or dairy products though. Sometimes demolishing a pizza is just worth feeling ill for a bit. Christmas, my birthday, New Years. I plan on enjoying these.
But for most of the year, I will now be sticking to my diet. If it helps me feel better, it’s worth the sacrifice.
Any fellow MSers, what’s your view? Have you dumped either gluten or dairy, or is it a load of nonsense?
Let me know in the comments.