You may recall it’s been exactly three weeks since I began my challenge of cutting out wheat, sugar, dairy and alcohol from my diet – all in the name of looking superfit for my photo shoot for the sports modelling competition. I would like to say that it was all in the name of the good of my health or was it?
Well I have to say that it’s been a very interesting three weeks. I wanted to do the challenge without having to go and buy special foods. Instead I wanted to do it by working with everyday foods we would eat. And I’m glad I did because I only had to go to the wheatfree and gluten-free aisle to realise that it would’ve burned a whole in my pocket! But first and foremost question – did I stick to it? Begrudgingly yes. Apart from the one incident when I fell off the bandwagon thanks to booze. (How did you guess?!). More on that later….
The milk was the easiest to cut out because I’ve been a fan of soya milk for over ten years. I actually don’t like dairy milk anymore but if I’m out and about and there isn’t any soya milk, I won’t rule out a splash of the stuff in my tea. I use natural yoghurt as a substitute for mayonnaise and stir it in with tuna or use it to make up a dressing for my salad. This was a clearly a wee bit problematic. Instead I had to practically eat dried tuna (mixed with chilli sauce) and salad without dressing. Why didn’t you use balsamic vinegar I hear you say? Because that my readers, was also off the limits too – the damn thing had wheat in it. I’m not the biggest fan of cheese but I do like the old childhood favourite cheese on toast. Well with bread off limits as well….that was the end of that.
Ok I have a sweet tooth and I used to be one of those people who couldn’t walk past Woolworths’ (I still miss it!) pic’n’mix without helping myself to a sweet. But when I first faced this challenge, I thought it would be easy as the only time I physically use a teaspoon of sugar is when making Indian tea (it’s the way in which its is made). So I cut it out and have to say that it wasn’t too bad as the soya milk and the cinnamon bark still gave it its sweetness. But then one evening I had a craving for sugar and I thought “aha chocolate.” Being clever I thought I will of course get Green & Black’s dark variety so as not to have dairy. I actually got myself ready and was halfway down the road to my local shop when I realised it had sugar in it! Miserably I walked back up the hill to my home and settled for raisins instead. Ok, it satisfied the craving and I got a walk up the hill but a couple of squares of the dark stuff is what I really wanted.
I lead a very hectic social life and am constantly surrounded by booze. Despite my Stella -swigging reputation, I have to say I can keep things in check and avoid alcohol during the week unless it’s a really important occasion and it’s rude to say no. I did extremely well and socialised at the weekends with my teetotal lime and soda water in hand until the weekend I went to Glasgow to meet family friends. I set off with the best intentions and vowed I would not let any alcohol pass my lips. And I succeeded for a few hours until we all realised it had been almost ten years since I had last visited them. This clearly, everyone told me, called for a ‘celebratory drink’. I did say ‘no’ but probably not firmly enough and I agreed that ‘one’ vodka and diet coke wasn’t going to hurt. The rest is all a blur………….But in my defence I did stay off the Stella (I was sober enough to remember it has wheat in it) and I got back on the bandwagon the very next day 🙂
I never knew how many things had wheat in it! I like pasta, bread and couscous but I thought ‘no problem I can avoid those for three weeks.’ But it wasn’t when I started to do my research on what wheat-free foods to avoid, I realised that I had to cut out practically everything and live like a cave woman! Here’s a (long) glimpse of the foods I had to avoid:
- Wheat, wheat berries, wheat bran, wheat germ,, or any form of the word wheat (other than buckwheat, which is an unrelated plant)
- Flour, including instant, bread, cake, enriched, graham, and all-purpose flours. Flours made from safe grains (e.g., corn flour, millet flour, rice flour) are OK.
- Cracker meal
- Tempura crumbs
As if that wasn’t enough I also had to avoid foods containing the following, unless the label indicated they were from a non-wheat source:
- Hydrolysed vegetable protein
- Modified food starch
- Vegetable starch or vegetable protein
- Gelatinised starch Natural flavorings
- Soy sauce (look for wheat-free tamari as an alternative)
Then it was some of the obvious ones:
Breads, pastries, cakes, cookies, crackers, doughnuts, pies, pretzels, and all other baked goods. The vast majority are made from wheat flour; look for alternatives by allergy-safe manufacturers
- Breakfast cereals, both hot and cold
- Pasta, including gnocchi, spaetzle, chow mein, lo mein, and filled pastas. Rice noodles, pure buckwheat soba noodles, and pastas from allergy-friendly manufacturers are good alternatives for home cooking
- Snack foods, especially if seasoned or highly processed
- Soups, gravies, and thickened sauces
- Breaded meats or vegetables, such as fried chicken or okra
- Dumplings, meatballs, lunch meats, meat loaves, and similar foods (often held together with breadcrumbs or flour)
- Salad dressings, Worcestershire sauce, and other condiments
So can you imagine the backlash during meal times that had mounted in the form of the increasing annoyance from my family and friends (and if I had a boyfriend he would’ve dumped me!) as well as restaurant owners? It’s true that many people who are following a wheat free diet feel better for doing so, although this may often be for psychological, rather than physiological reasons, yet it’s equally true that some people do have a serious allergy to wheat it contains. But I bet there’s only a handful of people who have to give up all four of the above. So my diet consisted of porridge, plain salads, potatoes, peanut butter, oatcakes, tons of fruit and vegetables, and bland poultry.
Although I had a painful time on the plan, I’m glad I did it. However, much to my annoyance, I actually put on a couple of pounds. I think that was due to overdoing the potatoes and peanut butter and oatcakes in the absence of pasta, bread and couscous. Having said that my stomach looks toned as I’ve upped the abs work to get the definition I’m after for my photo shoot. Luckily for me my photo shoot has been postponed until next week and I know I will be able to shift the couple of pounds easily now that I have resumed my normal eating pattern. Personally for me its been an interesting journey but I have to conclude that I did believe in and still do believe in everything in moderation. It’s a diet plan that was not going to work for me in the long-term and I no longer seek short-term solutions to shifting the odd pound here and there like I used to in my fat days. To be honest by restricting myself, I felt like I was on a diet and I really didnt’ like that feeling which I left behind a long time ago. So for me, it’s back to the old age healthy formula of eating well and exercising well. To health!
Now is that (granary) bread I can smell? 🙂