Thursday, February 11, 2010

Weighty matters

This is a post about weight and diet in the context of gluten free living. Those of you who are the conventional sorts of celiacs, i.e., those who have trouble gaining weight, may decide to skip this. But approximately 40% of celiacs struggle to lose weight....and this post is for you.

Of course, many of you may not have celiac disease, but may simply feel better gluten free. Some of you may be interested in the gluten free diet because you have Lyme disease or MS or fibromyalgia or some other chronic illness and you've heard that the gluten free diet can be helpful for these conditions.

In any case, whatever your reason for visiting my blog, welcome!

This post is really motivated by my own's me talking to me. It helps me to just put things down in black and white, step by logical step, so that I have no way to wiggle out of the final conclusions!!

I desperately need to make changes in my current diet; I'm trying to "psyche myself" up to do it.

I've been dealing with weight issues for all of my adult life.....I've always been at least a little bit overweight. But since being put on prednisone for autoimmune hepatitis, Lyrica and Cymbalta for fibromyalgia, and a host of other meds too numerous to list, I've really packed on the pounds.

I've tried many diets over the years, but the only one that really seemed to work for me was a very low carb, high protein diet....the Atkins diet. I always felt good on that diet too; so much better than on any other diet. Several years ago I actually used the Atkins diet to lose 80 pounds!

Then I got sick....and gained back all of the weight I had lost over the next few years. Anyone who's ever been really, seriously chronically ill will realize how easily this could happen; when you feel bad, it's difficult to cook, difficult to shop, etc. You're in pain, so you tend to eat fast food, comfort foods (which are usually high in carbs), easy-to-prepare foods that you don't have to spend a lot of time on.

Due to my unfortunate metabolism, I don't have to eat a lot to gain weight, I just have to eat the wrong things: breads, pastas, potatoes, etc.

In late 2008, when I was first diagnosed with celiac disease, I finally realized why a low carb diet had always made me feel so much better physically....when you're on the Induction phase of the Atkins diet, you're basically gluten free! This makes sense!

So initially I was hoping that just going gluten free would make the pounds magically melt away....but this turns out NOT to be the case, at least for me. And there's a good reason for that: I began my gluten free diet by merely replacing the wheat flour products like bread, pasta, etc., with similar rice flour or corn flour products. Unfortunately, most of the gluten free flours out there are even higher in carbs and lower in protein than wheat flour!

Needless to say I gained weight instead of losing. :(

When I realized that the gluten free flour I was using had a higher glycemic index than wheat flour, I started looking around for alternatives and discovered coconut flour and almond flour.

Elana Amsterdam's blogsite and cookbook are great resources for cooking and baking with almond flour, entirely gluten free. Elana has also begun to post a few recipes with coconut flour and even combos of almond and coconut flour. Bruce Fife is the official coconut flour guru; his cookbook is also invaluable.

So I started cooking with almond flour and coconut flour, which are WAY lower in carbs than other gluten free flours. Did I lose weight?

No. But I did stop gaining!! Which is an important step in the right direction.

Upon reflection, I believe that my remaining dietary issues involve a couple of factors: (1) I have not cut sugars out of my diet, (2) I decided to allow myself to occasionally eat corn products and potatoes.....a bad decision!

This is partially a psychological issue for me; I think I've been feeling sorry for myself because I'm sick (sick and tired of being sick and tired), so I've been comforting myself with foods that I know are bad for me, weight-wise.

Now I just have to knock it off! In my case, I have to stop eating pretty much everything besides meat, fish, poultry, eggs, fresh veggies, with occasional SMALL amounts of tree nuts and fruits. Maybe I can eat dairy too....I don't know yet.

But this just takes me back to comments I read so often on forums at of the "veteran" members of the community have posted that they ended up following some version of the Paleo Diet or the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, because nothing else worked. Elana herself admits that she cannot indulge freely in the delectable baked goods she posts about on her blogsite. She says that she has to limit her intake of those things and concentrate on protein, veggies and fruit.

Why has it been so difficult for me to get down to brass tacks and make the leap to this sort of diet? I've certainly been able to do it before!

I think part of my problem is that prednisone seems to make me seriously crave carbohydrates....and then there's the chronic illness issue, feeling yucky makes it difficult to cook, etc., etc.

So what's the solution? I have to have access to easy protein and veggies to make this work. This is really not an insurmountable problem; I can throw meat in the Crockpot or ask my hubby to run out and buy a roasted chicken from the supermarket. I can whip up scrambled eggs or toss a salad in just a few minutes. I just need to stick to it and make it work for me.

Making large quantities and then freezing them should help as well; large roasts or several chicken breasts made in the Crockpot will make a number of meals, and this will help me with the exhaustion factor.

It has been hard to cook lately. I'm so tired all the time. After my shower this morning I felt as though I had run a marathon...I was literally trembling with exhaustion. This (overly long) post took me many hours to compose, because I can't type long before I have to stop and rest. Plus I can't remember words's really bad sometimes! Thank goodness for the online thesaurus!! LOL!

OK, it's time to make some dietary changes, whether I feel like it or not. I'll post more soon to let you know how it's going!

P.S. It has occurred to me that a low carb diet may actually increase my energy levels! I used to have more energy when I followed the low carb regimen before! We shall see....

1 comment:

Zellie said...

Wow! Here I was searching for information on this "rare" autoimmune something I now have, the latest one, and I found your blog. We're kind of in the same boat, just different diseases. Sorry to hear about all of your problems. What do ya do? If you figure it out, do share.
I'm probably starting steroids soon for collagenous sprue and microscopic colitis. Not looking forward to the side effects and possible weight gain.
I look forward to reading your blog. Hope you feel better.