This week marks the end of my three month abstinence of all things dairy and wheat not to mention peas, cannellini beans, kidney beans, yeast, almonds, cashews..... Am I feeling smug having got through a whole three months without some of my favourite foods? Excited that I may now be able to reintroduce them back into my diet?
Oh how I have missed freshly baked bread. Many times over the last few months, I've clinged longingly to warm loaves of freshly baked bread, whilst inhaling their intoxicating aroma, as I've brought them back from the bakery for my family to eat. I used to eat a fair bit of bread, just at lunchtimes, it was my go to quick fix, as the thought of daily rustling up a quick tasty and nutritious something or other off the cuff, wasn't ever going to happen. So this was probably the hardest thing for me to give up.
Faced with having to think of new quick alternatives, soup became my number one choice. Sunday night would be soup making night, freezing batches of it for the week ahead. I swapped my usual slice of toast to accompany it, with some oatcakes and soon forgot about the bread.
Dinner time was much easier as it tended not to include much gluten or dairy anyway. I made courgetti instead of pasta after trying various types of gluten free options, none of which for me compared to regular pasta. It's so quick and easy to make, really tasty and doesn't give you that heavy feeling after you've eaten it, and you can eat a really big portion knowing that it's good for you, whilst topping up your daily vegetable intake. Got to be a winner!
Luckily I've never been a massive dairy fan, probably my body telling me that it didn't tolerate it well. I had already switched to nut milks, so swapping to oat instead was an easy transition and despite not liking the taste of coconut, I've really taken to coconut yoghurt. Cheese I thought I'd miss and it was hard at Christmas with a fridge stocked full of the stuff, one of my husbands presents being a selection of cheeses. But because there were other lovely foods to eat instead it wasn't that hard to resist.
My breakfast has definitely improved for the better, not just nutritionally but in variety and taste. I often used to make my own muesli, alternating with a few shop bought versions or porridge, particularly in the winter. But the need to make it gluten free, meant I needed to cut out the toasted wheat flakes I always used to make it more inspiring, which led me to look for new alternatives. So I started making batches of oat or buckwheat based granola, adding walnuts and pecans instead of all the nuts I used to use, which I'm intolerant of. Cranberries, apricots or raisins, coconut shavings, pumpkin and chia seeds, whatever I felt like that week, gave it some sweetness and added nutrition. Mixed together with melted coconut oil, vanilla essence, maple syrup and cinnamon and a dollop of coconut yoghurt. Yum! The only downside was my husband preferring it to his shop bought muesli and eating it all himself.
I took the buckwheat one along to friends house that I was staying with for a girly weekend (always best to be prepared when you're eating away from home) and all of them remarked how lovely it looked it and wanted the recipe.
Green smoothies, chia puddings, porridge with fruit toppings, smoothie bowls, suddenly breakfast was far more enticing than it ever used to be. All it required was just a little bit of preparation and planning to set me up for one week ahead at a time.
Planning has really been the key to the whole three months. I won't lie, the first month was hard going at times. I do normally cook pretty much everything from scratch but there are times when something quick like a piece of toast or a bought snack, particularly when out and about is all you want.
Shop bought gluten free alternatives are often full of sugar or addivitives to make them taste better or are very expensive, so I didn't want to be buying them. But as time went on I got more savvy about planning what I was going to be eating for the week, making sure I had food in the house that I could eat as well as a few treats so I wouldn't crave anything. This might just be a couple of squares of dark quality chocolate, but that was enough.
Leftover dinners, became another alternative to soup for lunch, although I'm never to be found without a few falafels in the fridge. Topped with a dollop of hummus, my home grown sprouted seeds and a salad, I’m as satisfied as any sandwich could make me feel.
Three months on, my kids keep asking me if I'm going to keep going with my 'special diet'. It's really not feeling 'special' any more, it's more just a normal way of life and I'm content knowing that I've helped heal my gut and reduced inflammation in my body. Luckily I haven't ever suffered from any severe symptoms and I'm not a celiac, so if I really want one of the foods I'm not supposed to eat, then I'll have it without any guilt. The really great improvement is that my diet has improved for the better as it's made me more aware of what I'm eating and the family as a whole. So happily yes, I will continue.
So if you're wondering, have I succumbed to bread yet? Well actually today a few days after my official end date, I did just have to 'try' the end piece of the fresh loaf I'd cut for my daughter. I really thought I'd be desperate to eat it again, but it wasn't like that at all, more a 'well I can now.' It was actually rather disappointing, and didn't fulfill any great desire or pleasure. But if I fancy it again and I'm sure I will, then I'll eat it happily and hopefully next time it'll will fulfill all expectations.