Allergy tests have extremely high rates of false positives and false negatives, enough so that they are for all practical purposes a waste of money. There is too much that we don’t know about allergic responses and food sensitivities. A doctor I know sent vials of blood from the same person to different labs, getting different results. Don’t let test results sabotage your search for a good diet. The gold standard of allergy testing is exclusion and rechallenge, although if you feel much better after omitting them, you might never go back.
First, plan before you start. To do an elimination diet, you should first document everything about your body and mind that doesn’t seem to be working optimally, rated in some manner. So write down “headache every two days, around a severity of 8 on a scale of 1-10” or “fuzzy mind every day until noon,” “skin rash covering 4 square inches on the inner arm,” “depression at a severity of 6 six times a week.” Conditions related to allergies include constipation, diarrhea, Crohn’s, leaky gut, autoimmune diseases, headaches, eczema, psoriasis, water retention, weight gain, obesity, arthritis, aching limbs, anxiety, candida, shortness of breath, digestive disturbances, reflux, and a host of other conditions that you might not associate with food. Put the list away. When you stop your trial, you are going to write down the same information without looking and compare your ratings. We are genetically programmed not to remember how bad things are (else the human race might not reproduce). So write it down after 6 weeks and compare the lists so you can tell if the change has made a difference.
If you are addicted to carbohydrates, as many of us are, the first 16 days or so may be utterly difficult. Prepare yourself by taking 800 mg magnesium citrate, chromium, 5000 iu of Vitamin D3, a Vitamin B complex and get more sleep and exercise even before you start. (Atkins recognized this difficulty by not requiring limits on fat and protein during his induction period.) You may also want to take nattokinase or serrapeptase to help clean out your digestive tract.
If you can take non-glutinous grains like quinoa, millet, teff and gluten-free oats, then you probably will not experience the difficulty, but most people with gluten allergies do better with no grains and it might be better to forego them during your trial. If you have insulin resistance, you are better off going through the change and lowering your carbohydrates. But the feeling lifts like a cloud and you will feel much better afterward, with clearer thinking and a sense of ease.
Schedule a week or two to of transition, to clean out your refrigerator, to put aside good substitutes for dairy and wheat and to build yourself up with supplements in preparation. Purchase fresh fruits, a variety of vegetables and some gluten free, dairy free staples. During this time you should take some of the dairy and gluten substitutes to cushion the change, while bidding goodbye to your favorite foods. Experiment with green smoothies for breakfast. Try out different milk substitutes: coconut milk, soy milk, hemp milk, almond milk or other nut milks. Purchase or gather an attractive lunchbox and containers to carry your foods.
Also use the time to gather recipes to substitute for favorite foods. If they substitute for ready to eat foods, then perhaps you can make them and freeze in single sized servings. At the end of the period, gather up any remaining foods with dairy or gluten and give them to a food pantry, a neighbor or throw them out.
If you live with family members who do not follow your diet, find ways to keep the food away from you and your food: My husband can keep his pasta in the kitchen, his milk on the refrigerator door opposite the door for my nut milks, but his cookies have to go in his office out of my sight. And we only stock dairy-free, gluten-free dark chocolate and gluten free, dairy free pancake mix. Do note that if you have significant allergies you should keep those foods away from your children, who may be experiencing internal damage.
I suggest getting a good vegetarian or vegan cookbook so you can look at vegetables in a more creative manner. A book on green smoothies will give you ideas on how to start the day with vitality. And then get something like an Atkins or South Beach diet cookbook so you can think of alternatives to starches. I also recommend a good celiac cookbook like one of the Specific Carbohydrates books. See my suggestions below in the Amazon box, along with suggested tools, supplements and ingredients.
If you eat frequently away from home, do some special preparation. For instance I keep sheets of nori in a flat pack that can be rolled up around meat or spreads to make a gluten-free wrap. You don’t need to use it for sushi, it works fine around roast beef with horseradish and tomato or humus. I stashed individual serving sized boxes of soy or nutmilk at the office each week for my coffee. If you go out with friends for coffee, know outlets like Starbucks that have soy milk available. If you don’t like milk substitutes in coffee, perhaps they would be less jarring in chai tea. Bring teabags with you, and you will also save money. Keep some Bring Emergen-C to substitute for sodas since sugar can trigger binges with starchy gluten-filled foods.
Find places where you can order decent salads with proteins in them, but make certain that the salad dressings are not premade with starches- most places will bring you oil and vinegar or balsamic vinegar if you ask. I have a tiny bottle I keep olive oil and balsamic vinegar in if I am traveling. If you eat out, avoid Italian restaurants. Corn tortillas in Mexican restaurants often contain wheat flour, even if you can skip the cheese- ask for beans, rice and fish with salsa verde. Dosas in south Indian restaurants may or may not contain flour- ask. In Korean restaurants, order bin dae duk a pancakce made with mung beans and rice instead of flour. Sauces in Chinese restaurants may be thickened with cornstarch or flour- check. In vegan restaurants, make sure that seitan, yeast extract and other sources of gluten are not used. Japanese food is usually safe. Google for lists of hidden gluten flavorings. For fast food don’t get pizza: you can get a salad at McDonalds (grilled chicken, not breaded and fried), with balsamic dressing and throw away the croutons. If you have to have the hamburger, throw away the bun.
Why can’t I eat Gluten or Dairy?
Many Asians, most Native Americans and many Africans cannot digest cow’s or goat’s milk because they genetically lack the enzymes to process them. In addition, pasteurization cross-links the milk proteins and makes them harder to digest while killing off good bacteria along with the bad. Without the good probiotic bacteria, milk is difficult for most people to digest. When people do not have good gut integrity, lined with the living flora of probiotic bacteria, they can get sensitized to the proteins in milk. ( These proteins are also found in goat’s milk, and although they are lower they are high enough to disturb sensitized people.)
You don’t need frank celiac disease to be bothered by gluten: given enough of the highly-refined flour we have today, made with hybridized high-gluten wheat, many people have some degree of damage to intestinal villi that allows sensitization which may not show up on celiac tests. But a significant percent of the population has genetic predisposition and there are indications that a virus may trigger its activation. Gluten or celiac diseases result from a harmful intestinal reaction to proteins in the gluten in wheat and other grains like barley, spelt, kamut, triticale, rye, and occasionally oats. However there are a number of non-gut manifestations of gluten sensitivity that often go misdiagnosed. The gluten in wheat flour is a protein complex that functions to bind the bread as it is made. Gluten must not be ingested by persons with the disease because serious damage to the digestive system and infiltration of allergens into the blood stream may result. The proteins in gluten hang around like glue on the villi of the gut so even an occasional indiscretion can have long term consequences. The damage inhibits the absorption of vitamins and nutrients, and predisposes its victims to osteoporosis, neurological illnesses, and even lymphoma. Some other grains, such as rice, millet, tapioca, buckwheat and quinoa do not pose this danger, but many people do better without grains altogether. A very high proportion of people with lupus, RA, other autoimmune disease, and all with Crohn’s disease or celiac cannot take gluten at all. Gluten sensitivity may not show up on a blood test until damage is profound, although there are more sensitive stool tests. Unlike some food sensitivities, gluten sensitivity seems to require lifelong avoidance
Going gluten and dairy free requires reorienting your cooking and eating and spending some time figuring out what to do. It usually is not enough to just find some gluten free versions of breads and pastas. You should explore real vegetables and fruits in all their diversity and cuisines that do not depend upon flour as a staple. Japanese food, southern Chinese food and much Indian food can be useful places to start. Although I am not a fan of going without meat, vegan cooking will have recipes that can reorient your palate.
There are quick fixes for bread dependency. For instance, instead of bread you might wrap your sandwich fillings in nori sheets and roll them up. Or you might just trade in sandwiches for salads (without croutons) or soups without starch. Fish or meat should not be breaded or should use rice cracker crumbs. Instead of pastries you might go to dark chocolate truffles, but avoid those with malt sweeteners and butter if you have dairy sensitivity. Parties and festivals can be particularly difficult so I suggest telling the hostess and bringing a gluten free cake or plate of cookies or fruit dessert. Shabatai Gourmet has a wide variety of gluten free cakes and cookies that are in supermarkets or online. I have some recipes for holiday treats at the end of this article.
It may be easier to start with the South Beach or Atkins diet, with lots of vegetables and no wheat or dairy sources. Then, if you are not insulin resistant, add in fruit, and root vegetables. You can eventually try gluten-free grains. The advantage is that people understand that you can’t have carbs on Atkins (where most gluten is found) and you will not be so focused on the substitutions which are based on grains.
While some are allergic to even tiny amounts of gluten, others are not as reactive and you alone know whether you need to be vigilant about a separate toaster for gluten free bread, not licking an envelope or consuming only food manufactured in a totally gluten-free facility. BodyEcology.com sells probiotic-fermented beverages where gluten has been reduced below a tenth of levels necessary for “gluten free” and the beverage was tested before and afterwards due to the action of the good bacteria. I think that people who take probiotics and eat probiotic foods are less likely to be sensitized because the bacteria break down irritating proteins.
However hidden sources of gluten include ingredients like plant protein, hydrolyzed anything including vegetable protein, vegetable gum, soy sauce, modified starch, malt or malitol, stabilizer, flavoring or cereal. Unless these state clearly they are gluten free, avoid them. In fact it is best to consume foods without additives, fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and fish, food that would be recognized by your great grandmother.
For religious celebrants, I have listed sources for matzoh, challah, ashura, Tibetan losar khabsay, Diwali treats and hosts. It isn’t realistic to expect people to forgo foods associated with religious rituals or holidays, (even if they may be sweet enough to be restricted to special occasions) so here are some substitutes:
I find that Shirataki noodles substitute well for noodles in Asian dishes,and goulash but they are no good for Italian food. Spaghetti squash can take the place of noodles for as a vegetable, but is no good as a starch. Tinkyada makes the best gluten-free pastas I have tasted, but be advised all rice-based pastas are intolerant of too much cooking. This takes about 15 minutes to cook. Widely available or at www.glutenfree.com or www.koshervitamins.com
Gluten Free Hosts for Communion
For many Protestants, using a gluten free slice of bread or pita bread is sufficient- you just need to ask and stock your church freezer with the supplies and have the deacons set them out (the piece will defrost by the time Communion comes around). Heaven Mills makes a gluten free, leaven free burger roll that can substitute for pita bread. A group of Catholic nuns formulated gluten-free hosts, or as close to gluten free as can be theologically permitted and will serve all but the most gluten sensitive. Sisters Jane Heschmeyer and Lynn Marie D’Souza, of the Benedictine convent in Clyde, Missouri have developed a Communion wafer that has been approved as valid material for the Eucharist by the Holy See with a level of gluten content of 0.01% it is safe enough for consumption by almost all celiac suffers. The low gluten hosts can be purchased from:
Congregation of Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration
Altar Breads Department
31970 State Highway P
Clyde, Missouri 64432
Seriously allergic Christians should also consider a separate host container or plate and a second chalice of wine which will not be contaminated by dipping gluten hosts into the wine by others, or should commune first.
Dairy-Free, Gluten Free Diwali Sweets
Diwali sweets are frequently made with milk or are thickened with flour. Ghee, the traditional cooking fat may or may not be a problem for the dairy sensitive, depending upon how clarified it is and the sensitivity of the person. I would not use it daily in any event and coconut oil is often a good substitute. Gulabi are out. You can however find ladoo made with garbanzo flour (besan), or carrot or beet halvah.
|180ml ghee (clarified butter) or coconut oil|
|185g chickpea flour (besan)|
|35g desiccated coconut (optional)|
|3 tablespoons ground almonds|
|100g brown sugar|
|1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom|
Heat the ghee or coconut oil in a wok over low heat. Stir in the chickpea flour and cook over low heat until the chickpea flour is toasted and the mixture smells fragrant, about 10 minutes. The mixture should be pasty, not powdery. Remove the mixture from the heat and cool slightly until it is warm, not hot. Grind the coconut, in a blender until fine. Add the ground almonds, sugar, ground coconut and ground cardamom to the wok and mix thoroughly. While the mixture is warm, shape it into round balls that are about the size of walnuts. Store the ladoos in an airtight container and let them sit for 2 to 3 hours to cool completely. They can be eaten immediately, but taste better after several hours.
Carrot or Beet Halvah
|450g grated carrots or beets|
|475ml soy or nut milk|
|200g brown sugar|
|1 tablespoon ghee or coconut oil|
|60 g cashew halves|
|75 g sultana raisins|
|1 pinch ground cardamom|
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine carrots and soy or nutmilk. Bring to the boil, and cook until most of the milk substitute evaporates, about 10 minutes. Stir in sugar, and simmer until mixture becomes dry. Stir constantly to ensure that it doesn’t burn. Remove from heat and place in a rectangular glass container. Melt ghee or coconut oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Stir in cashews and sultanas, and saute until cashews are golden brown. Spread over carrot mixture and smooth. Sprinkle top with ground cardamom for fragrance. Cool in refrigerator before serving.
Gluten-Free Shmurah Matzoh
Description: Handmade gluten free shmurah matzoh. Made with oat flour. Please call in your order well in advance.
Heaven Mills Bakery (cert. Tartikov Kashrus Agency)
1242 53 Street,
Brooklyn, NY 11219
Heaven Mills also carries gluten free hamentashen, cinnamon kokov cake, and a full range of gluten-free bakery goods including challah.
Commercial Oat Challah (Tartikov Kashrus) available from: http://www.heavenmillsbakery.com/prod_detail.php?pid=19
From: www.Glutenfreeinthegreens.com which has wonderful recipes
There’s no obvious substitute for tearing apart and sharing bread with your friends and family, and that not-so-gentle reminder arrives each Friday at sundown when you hover for Shabbat prayers around a cutting board bearing a braided challah. The first time I had to sing the hamotzi over a rice cracker while everyone else ripped apart the bread, I cried….I regularly halve this recipe successfully…to fill half of the Kaiser bakewear braided loaf pan.
½ cup tapioca flour
½ cup sorghum flour
½ cup brown rice flour
½ cup white rice flour
1 tbsp. yeast
1 tbsp. xanthum gum
2 tbsp. dried milk powder or almond meal
2 tbsp. potato flakes
1 cup warm water
¼ cup oil
¼ cup honey
sesame or poppy seeds
Turn the oven to 200. Spray the pan (I use a Kaiser Bakeware Laforme Braided Loaf Pan) with cooking spray and sprinkle with your seeds of choice.
Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Dissolve the potato flakes in the water. Add the water/potato mixture, oil, honey, and eggs to the dry ingredients. Mix on medium for 2 minutes, until the batter looks like pudding. Transfer to the baking pan. Put the pan in the oven and turn the oven off. Let the dough rise until it reaches the top of the pan, about 30-35 min.
Turn the oven to 350 and bake for 50 min. Enjoy warm or at room temperature. Freeze leftovers, if you don’t finish the loaf within 2-3 days.
Ashura, Noah’s Pudding
Traditionally served on the 10th of Muharram (10th of Tishri) and shared with your neighbors for good relations. Use quinoa or rice instead of the traditional wheat.
|1 cup dry brown rice|
|1 cup garbanzo beans|
|1 cup white beans|
|1 cup almonds|
|1 cup raisins|
|3/4 cup blanched peanuts|
|12 dried apricots|
|Brown sugar to taste|
|Cinnamon and walnuts|
Soak 1 cup each brown rice,white beans, garbanzo beans and almonds overnight. Boil 1 hour in 5 cups water. Soak 1 cup raisins in the boil water until soft. Add 3/4 blanched peanuts and boil some more. Add 12 dried apricots cut into small pieces. Add sugar to taste. Boil 10-15 minutes more. Top with walnuts and cinnamon. Or pomegranate seeds.
Gluten Free Losar Khabsay (Bulug)
This is a kind of Tibetan funnel cake made for Losar, Tibetan new years:
2 cups Bob’s gluten-free pancake mix
1 1/3 cup milk or coconut milk
5 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp icing (powdered or brown superfine) sugar
1 1/2 cups coconut oil or ghee
Piping tube as for cake decoration
Skillet for deep frying
1) Heat oil in cast iron skillet or deep fry pan to 350*F
2) Mix all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, then add milk slowly till it becomes the consistency of zabaglione (thick batter)
3) Fill the mixture in a piping bag and pipe the mixture into the hot oil to make a circular lacey pancake. Flip over when solid, frying until
it turns into golden color .
4) Take out bulug and dust with icing sugar