Friday, September 6, 2013

Why I don't eat gluten free snacks and junk food, even though I'm gluten free in weight maintenance

(Link)There was a GREAT article about gluten-free products over at Mark's Daily Apple (MDA)this week:

Two parts of the article that jumped out at me 

1. From Mark's Daily Apple:
"Of course, there is an important difference that distinguishes gluten-free from other faddish, market-driven diets: you don’t actually need gluten-free products to go gluten-free."

Karen's notes:  This is so true for me. To maintain a long term, large (70+ pounds) weight loss,  I eat protein, veggies, some berries or in season fruits and fats like avocados, coconut oil,  olive oil, and some avocado oil.   If I do have a snack, I'll have some 85% chocolate (most days after dinner) or some Nori- Sea Snax- salted seaweed sheets (popcorn substitute at the movies). 

If I ate gluten-free junk food, I' would be cutting out nutrient dense real food. And, grocery bills would be higher.  I did use a short term tool to transition with some gluten free process products from my weight loss days to transition from the Take Shape for Life program to a Paleo template. I found it helpful to wean myself off over a 6-8 week time frame early in weight maintenance. Once I did the Whole30 in Jan 2013, I eliminated almost all of my "snack" foods.

typical Costco and Trader Joes mix

 From Mark's Daily Apple:

2.  Checking with your medical professional and getting testing that may or may not work :
From MDA
 "As if giving up bread, pasta, and cake for more animals and plants is a dangerous undertaking that requires professional assistance. As if removing gluten and feeling loads better only to feel terrible upon a chance reintroduction is an unreliable way to determine if you should go gluten-free."

Karen's notes:  
Once I realized that gluten intolerance (along with processed sugar) was one key root cause of my emotional eating, acne, migraines, bloating, abdominal pain, gas and a contributor to my 70+ pounds of obesity.... I did not really need to confirm it with my doctor or get any lab tests. And, I work as a laboratory professional. My life's profession is lab testing. I am a self proclaimed lab geek. I've had no lab testing done for ceilac  markers.   I do not need a lab test, nor would my doctor order one.  I'm sick when I eat gluten, I'm well when I do not.

I did not realize how absolutely bad I was feeling with weight, pain, and the emotional toll until I was gluten free for 8-10 weeks. The brain fog lifted and the path was super clear. Pain is a huge motivator as are my normal sized clothes, my low inflammatory hs-CRP bio markers and lower blood pressure.

You can see the difference in the photos below. In the photo on the left I was eating Van's whole grain toaster waffles, cool whip, pasta, pizza, Lean Pockets, and Weight Watcher's frozen meals and gaining weight.  On the right side photos, I'm eating from a Paleo template, walking 10,000 steps+ per day, sleeping well, and  maintaining a 70 pound weigh loss and feeling 27 rather than 47. 

Here's what worked for me:
1. Getting off gluten for 8-10 weeks
2.  Transitioning to a Paleo/ primal template using some gluten free processed foods a SHORT amount of time
3.Grocery shopping for protein, veggies, berries, in season fruits, natural oils and spices
4. Connecting the dots, eliminating brain fog, problem solving and eliminating foods that made me feel sick and gave me pain.

Here's what did not work for me in the past:
1. Falling for the heart healthy gluten containing food claims. Van's toaster waffles did not keep me heart healthy or feeling well.
2. Not changing up my diet and eating whole, real foods. Just the basics.
3. Grocery shopping the 5 frozen Weight Watcher's meals for $10. I thought I was saving money and going to get to weight maintenance heaven. I never made that trip.
4. Never evaluating the effectiveness of my actions, foods, plans. Being in pain, being bloated, and never making the food connection.


  1. :-) PRECISELY. i could have written exactly what you did.... does one need to consult a doctor before quitting tobacco or alcohol?

  2. Exactly, Tess. I remember telling my doctor that I was going to use a Primal/Paleo style of diet to maintain my 70+ pound weight loss. She had never heard of it. She's an ace when it comes to disease diagnosis,but I had to be the expert on me.

    I'm so glad I did not consult any healthy whole wheat dieticians. It would have kept me stuck longer.

  3. Although I was allowed "sugar free" and "low carb" snacks as part of the Dr. Poon plan, I avoided them as much as possible. I can't do snacks. Unless it's raw veggies or a piece of fruit. It's too much of a trigger for me and it's no secret that I can still obsess over food quite vigorously. To the point of utter distraction. I just have to not go there anymore. And I don't think it's any coincidence that I feel the best I ever have in my life...without gluten. I think many of us are sensitive/intolerant to gluten without even knowing it.

    1. Yeah, I hear you on the triggers. For whatever reason, the Medifast (gluten free) did not trigger me. That being said, until I did the Whole30 I had semi-triggers over the Lara Bars and think thin bars. Then the nut situation.

      Leigh I'm glad you and the others are blogging about giving up gluten for weight maintenance. I think it's one of the most underused tools or options out there for both weight maintenance and health.

  4. Hi Karen! I know so many pudgy people who have gone gluten-free--as in buying gluten-free refined food. I won't even start a conversation about it because they are determined to explain their rationale--which keeps them fat. I don't buy any box of food at the store that is double or triple priced with the label "xxx-free" on it. A mantra of mine: doughy foods make a person look doughy.

    WW meals were awful for me too. They take about 350 calories and turn it into a craving trigger. WW meals are not healthy at all.

    I still eat chocolate. I'm never giving it up--and I don't have to. :D

    1. Marion, doughy foods kept me doughy for so long.. good point. I would try to supplement WW enchiladas with a salad and fruit. I never really felt full, there was so much salt, and then it would be on to the low fat ice cream. Oy!!!

      I jump with joy after every elimination month and chocolate is always a keeper. The 85% chocolate has such little sugar in it. I a small portion every day. So glad!

  5. 12 days chocolate free and counting! booyah!

    Yep, the one or two times I tried gluten free (prior to going Primal), it was disgusting. I'd rather be fat than have to subsist on that crap. And now I know most of it is, literally, crap. Grain free was more of a mental hurdle to jump, than a physical one. When people ask, I try to gently explain that to them. But I know it's like leading a horse to water. I can only hope that sooner, rather than later, they decide to try sipping from the grain-free pool of nectar. :)

    1. Gwen, the more yummy primal/paleo things I bring to work, the more I lend out my paleo books and cookbooks. The flavors get them every time! :)

  6. I no longer eat soy, dairy nor grains (with the exception of oats a couple times a week). I eat whole foods. As you said, very simple.

    I too had a host of secondary conditions caused by those foods: migraines, acne, fat, joint issues, asthma, GI, hot flashes, insomnia, mood swings, bloat, etc.

    It is very nice to live life slim and feeling well and being pleasant. Very nice.

    1. Vickie- it's so good! I used to buy Costco Sized bottles of ibuprofen. Now I buy a bottle of 24 and they expire before I use maybe 1/4 of the bottle. Life without the ailments, aches, pains, etc- it's pure awesomeness.

  7. Great to see your before and after photo's, and I'm with you when you say, " I eat protein, veggies, some berries or in season fruits and fats like avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, and some avocado oil.If I do have a snack, I'll have some 85% chocolate (most days after dinner)". Your sentence makes sense and as more and more people are discovering works for them too.

    All the best Jan

    1. So glad that the message is getting out there, Jan.

  8. I get so annoyed with the "gluten free" foods and people thinking they are healthy. If you are a celiac then sure, eat them but if like me, you have insulin resistance issues and weight problems then don't eat gluten free!! They come under the category of junk foods for me.

    1. Lynda, so true. The gluten free junk foods have a high cross-reactivity. That and my carb level would absolutely be into the gain zone, and quick.

  9. What you say makes so much sense, Karen! Question for you - if I could get only one book, should it be Mark's "Primal Blueprint"? Or the "Primal Blueprint 21-Day Transformation" one?

    Thanks for your help...


    1. I've only read the Primal Blueprint. Might want to read the reviews on Amazon and pick OR my personal favorite, buy a coffee and sit in Barnes and Nobel and read books... :) Good luck Donna.

  10. Gluten-free junk is really astonishing. Some well-meaning friends picked up a package of gluten-free chocolate chip cookies so that I could have dessert at a recent dinner at their house. I checked out the nutrition facts... 110 calories per cookie, no fiber, tons of sugar, 1g protein. What a mess! I appreciated the thought, but what's wrong with having an apple for dessert, perhaps with a square of dark chocolate on the side?