After I had cleaned up what I was eating, basically by reducing the amount I ate out and increasing the amount of chemical free produce I bought from the market, I knew I had to look at the amount of gluten in my diet. I was feeling ok, as in better than I had been pre Hashi’s diagnosis, but I wanted to feel better than that!
Gosh do I love pasta and bread….on the rare occasions I would cook white pasta I would easily eat the equivalent of two or three servings (wholemeal pasta didn’t have the same effect – funny that!). If I bought a delicious sourdough from our local bakery – which I would do most weekends – I could eat half the loaf in a day, no problem. It was a serious addiction! And I haven’t even told you about the pre clean-up days gluten goodies (baddies?) I used to enjoy so much – there were croissants, bacon and egg rolls, “gourmet” burgers….doesn’t the list just go on and on…
Whilst I did most of our food shopping at our local market, I still went to the supermarket for wholemeal pasta and rye bread (for me) and breakfast cereals (for the boyfriend!). So I was still eating a lot of gluten. Once I started researching the effects of gluten on the thyroid, I realised it was going to have to go.
This is a very brief and simplistic synopsis of how the body responds to gluten: there is a protein in gluten called gliadin. It has a very similar molecular make up to that of the thyroid. When gliadin passes through the walls of the intestine into the bloodstream it gets tagged by the immune system for removal and attacked by antibodies. Due to it’s similarity to gliadin, the thyroid gets attacked too! The attack leads to the thyroid becoming inflamed which further diminishes the functioning of the thyroid. Hashimotos means the body is already attacking the poor thyroid, this case of mistaken identity just adds insult to injury! Upon learning this I felt very sorry for my thyroid and thought I should try to help.
So very gradually, over the course of about a year, I experimented with reducing my gluten intake…eating it just occasionally, cutting it out totally, bringing it back again…until I realised that I really needed to just get rid of it. I think I had known this all along, it just took me over a year to get used to it!
What seems to work for me is, if I want to get rid of something “bad” in my diet, I just crowd it out, so there’s no room for it anymore. So when I decided to try reducing my gluten intake, I increased the amount of veggies, brown rice and quinoa that I was eating so I didn’t feel like I was depriving myself. If I wanted spaghetti bolognaise, I’d make a yummy meat sauce (which is always at least 50% veg anyway) and instead of pasta I’ll have zucchini noodles, green beans or strips of carrot. I don’t focus on the fact I’m not having pasta, I just enjoy what I have on my plate.
Bread was tricky….I love bread (did I mention that?!) so to begin with I bought bread made from rice flour from the market. It was expensive but it hit the spot, particularly when toasted :). Now (as of the last 4-5 months) I’ve decided to just go without bread as it was too expensive to justify and if I want something to spread something on I use rice crackers. Eventually I will try making my own gluten free bread, but until then – crackers it is!
Cakes and biscuits weren’t so much of an issue, luckily they’ve never held a big place in my heart (despite the title of this post – what can I say? It fitted with the pic!). But when I do feel the desire to bake something I either look to Teresa Cutter – The Healthy Chef (she has amazing gluten free recipes!) or I look up recipes using almond flour or other gluten free flours.
I wasn’t really tempted by the gluten free products you find in all supermarkets, like the pasta, biscuits, bread, etc. I just didn’t find the need for them once the crowding out had done it’s job. On the odd occasion I felt tempted, I’d read the ingredients and realise that when companies take out the gluten they add in a whole load of other crap I’d never even heard of! I certainly didn’t want to eat it. And have you seen how expensive they are? It’s never been so easy to say “no thanks”!
Good luck with your journey and thanks for reading! xx