As most of you know, I have been attempting to help my Hashimotos Thyroiditis by following the GAPS Diet protocol. I’ve been on the GAPS Diet for over a year now and the hardest stretch for me was a few months ago when I had to stay away from my gluten free kitchen and spend days on end at the hospital during my Mom’s serious battle with pneumonia which she unfortunately lost at the end of February this year. For about 3 months, I was unable to do my “regular routine” of broth, supplements, and other habits I had been implementing over the months prior. I thought this post would consist of how I successfully stuck to the diet even while being away from my kitchen while having to eat most days at the hospital. On top of the logistical problems, there was the great amount of stress not knowing if she was going to live day by day. I had a very close relationship with my Mother so this was a devastating time for me.
One thing that motivated me the most was how I knew beyond a doubt that I would not be able to function without eating right during this time. I felt I needed to do this for myself as well as for my Mom. If I would have gotten gluten even ONCE, I would have been severely sick for close to a week and may not have been able to make it to the hospital to be by my Mom’s side. So my motivation was to be healthy for her and be there as much as possible. A year ago, I was so sick before starting the GAPS Diet, I would have never been able to pull this schedule off, let alone be “healthy” during this time!
One thing I didn’t think about hard enough was how time consuming the food preparation would be when adding the very important aspect of purchasing the food at the grocery stores and health food stores while maintaining a schedule that included having to be available for emergency situations at the drop of a hat. This required me to think ahead even more so I could grab “fast food” on my way out the door that was somehow GAPS friendly. This has a lot to do with the season you are in, and in this case, I am thankful that it was citrus season for Southern California! I used a lot of fried eggs as filler meals as necessary before leaving the house or after coming home later in the evening when I didn’t want to cook anything complicated. Of course this wouldn’t work for someone with an egg allergy but I’m glad I was able to use them.
Here’s how I handled my diet during this time of stress and uncertainty:
1. Salad Dressing in bulk made with organic lemon, organic extra virgin olive oil, gluten free dry mustard, Italian seasoning, Real Salt and pepper with a small amount of honey. Yum! I made a large batch to last through a few days at a time, making salads a grab-and-go lunch box meal.
2. Washed and processed (chopped) lettuce for salads:
3. Cooked and chopped meat (chicken and beef). I don’t have a picture of this one individually but you can see this in the picture above. However, when traveling to hotels, etc., I set myself up similar to this (this salad below looks like I am eating massive amounts of tomatoes but in fact, I made a huge salad that was portioned out for each meal, taking the washed tomatoes off the top as I put a smaller salad in my “to go” container). In an autoimmune protocol diet, nightshades would be omitted. I’m glad I wasn’t on that type of protocol during this intense period of time:
4. Baked GAPS friendly “filler” foods. This included special treats from lemon bars and chocolate brownies, date/nut bars, to the more normal addition which was muffins to round off my salad meal or be a snack when I was hungry and couldn’t get home for a meal. I tried to make these on the rare day I was not at the hospital and froze what I could which gave me a grab and go filler food for the road:
5. Stocked up on plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables that could be used for any time I was hungry while out or as additions to any meal when home. On GAPS, it’s up to the individual if they should eat fruit along with protein or by itself, or even at all! I found that I was okay with it by itself, probably because I have healed so much over the months already on the diet but I used to eat fruit only with a handful of nuts or other protein:
Finally, all this would mean nothing IF there wasn’t a plan to avoid gluten cross-contamination in a kitchen that is swimming with gluten laden surfaces and utensils. For this, I brought a large tote to bring my own utensils, pots and pans, and cutting boards. I used almost all paper goods for eating so I would have less clean up needs but when I did have to wash my dishes, I purchased a simple kitchen wash basin and my own gluten free dish detergent and dried my dishes on a dish towel brought from home. It sounds crazy maybe, but this bit of assurance kept me from having an accidental exposure and lowered my risk greatly for any gluten mishaps in the kitchen. (Note: the tub in the sink is the gluten free tub while the one on the side is the regular washing tub everyone else in the home would use. When I was done, I would immediately vacate the gluten free items and put them in my room until I cooked again so no one would accidentally grab them or use them for foods containing gluten.)
On top of all this, I brought my own spices, salt and pepper, honey, vanilla, etc. so there was no chance of cross-contamination. Spices are notorious for being contaminated with gluten, whether from the manufacturer or by the user, dipping a measuring spoon into a bottle after using flour, etc.. Yes, this means I pretty much brought everything but the kitchen sink! But I was as safe as I could be and was able to be there for my Mom in her last days. I was able to function daily (believe me, this is no small miracle after how I was just a year before!) and was able to carry out the needs of the situation almost as well as anyone would under the circumstances. Other great recipe ideas were found in the book Practical Paleo, my new favorite book for healing recipes.
I hope this has helped you a little with how you might decide to travel, even without the strict demands of the GAPS Diet. If I haven’t stressed this enough, I still feel it is absolutely necessary to always consider cross-contamination as one of your worst enemies when trying to be truly gluten free. It just isn’t gluten free if you are getting gluten even unknowingly.
So, travel safely this summer and I hope these tips have been helpful. You may not need to take your whole kitchen with you like I did, but maybe these ideas will help you along the way. If you are on the GAPS Diet or a similar grain free diet, and you have ideas that would help others, please feel free to leave a comment below so we can all benefit from your knowledge!Disclaimer: All posts are describing my personal journey through health issues and are in no way meant to guide anyone towards any method in particular. I am not a medical practitioner or have a dietary or medical license, and this blog is not intended to be taken as authoritative advice. Please see your doctor, or health professional before making any drastic diet changes! Also, occasionally I find others to partner with whom I have had tremendous help from and therefore, there may be paid advertisements and links to support them and help me financially run this website.