I am taking a break from my month long “Let’s Go Gluten Free Series” in order to bring this blog back to “ground zero.” Ground Zero on this blog has always been a search for the root cause of Hashimoto’s. Anyone who has been following me for the last 9-10 years has come away with the understanding that I have always felt we would find the root cause….one day! Well, that day is on its way faster than ever!
Hashimotos Thyroiditis: Let’s Go Gluten Free Series #6 – Eating Out (Restaurants and Social Gatherings)
This post was probably the hardest for me to write in this series, not because there are no gluten-free restaurants out there but because I have had the most trouble going truly gluten-free in this area! It is also probably the longest of the posts. Remember, there is no such thing as being gluten-free 99% of the time! You have to be gluten-free 100% of the time. One itsy bitsy exposure, can set off an autoimmune response that could take up to 6 months to heal! I’ll give you the good news later in the post but for now, let me explain why this post is so heavy on my heart. I want to drive this point “home” so you don’t have to suffer like I did before I figured all this out. Make sure you read til the end because I am covering all kinds of situations and the good news is towards the end of the post. For me, this post was intense to write and may be intense to read but please do take the time to read the whole thing. It might save you from months (or longer) of troubleshooting your continuing symptoms.
One thing about a person who is on the GAPS Diet like I am, is almost all potential toxins are removed and that includes soaps, make-up, shampoos, etc. leaving me less likely to have a ton of info on this topic to share. But I have researched and come up with some good resources to get you started. And the more I worked on this post, the more I realized how many products I really do still use! First, let’s see if we can determine whether it’s important to go gluten-free with our cosmetics and self-care products.
Okay, this subject can be very confusing. I hope this post will help you make some sense of all the diets out there. First of all, you are not looking for a “diet” that will somehow score a quick weight loss but leave you with all the same internal problems (I hope). You are looking to get healthier and as a by-product, your body will shed the weight like it did me. You will hear all kinds of advice out there (and even here) based on others’ experiences and on “expert” blogs, but what is going to matter in the long run is what type of diet works for you and your body. Here’s where I again recommend Pharmacist Izabella Wentz’ book Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: Lifestyle Interventions for Finding and Treating the Root Cause or her eBook here. In this book, you will be able to piece together whether you should start with one diet or another for your particular situation. One thing almost all experts agree on is that gluten should be out. So we will focus on gluten in this post as we have this month so far.
It’s been so long since I’ve started the gluten-free diet, I sometimes forget how confusing it was at the beginning. But I think I can help you by narrowing foods down from the root – just like we are trying to do with our Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. At the very root of the food, does it have gluten? (And remember that we are concentrating on gluten at this point, not overall diet.) This works pretty well for grains like wheat, rye, and barley, but it gets a bit confusing when we look into processed foods. This is where reading labels comes in to play. Here’s my rule of thumb: If it doesn’t say specifically Gluten Free on the label, don’t buy it, especially when first starting out. The worst thing you can do is “trust” that the manufacturer is going to plainly list gluten or wheat on the label ingredients if it’s there.
This might be the most important place to start. You could be eating all gluten free food and still be getting “glutaminated” (this word was made up by my friend Diana so I am giving her credit for it). Keeping a sense of humor is crucial to getting through this transition. There are many areas to look into when going truly gluten free! Okay, let’s start! Look at your kitchen. Do you have any dedicated gluten free pots, pans, or utensils? The mission for this week is to analyze, not change, everything in the kitchen as you prepare your snacks/meals (don’t critique the food yet) and make a note as to the tools you use on a daily basis. Do this throughout the week and make a list of them. Those are the pots, pans and utensils you will need to a) either buy new, or b) really clean up so they have less chance of cross-contamination. Here is a good post from About.com on which cooking gear needs to be replaced (as well as excellent links to other details you will need to know) to ensure you are cooking in a gluten free environment. I had to give up my prized iron skillet because they are known to be very porous and are almost impossible to clean up to be free of gluten cross-contamination. I almost attempted re-surfacing it, but it meant using a sandblasting method to bring it down to a smooth surface and then re-seasoning. With all those particles flying around and the trouble and mess, I just figured that project was not for me! And I truly recommend you don’t skip the important step we are focusing on today. It could really sabotage all your hard work in cooking with gluten free ingredients. But before we get into the nitty-gritty of this project, let me confess a little secret to you that might make you feel better…I have at least 5 boxes of my old gluten-laden kitchen tools in my garage! Yes, it’s okay to take some time to say “good-bye.” I did this because I was sure that one day they would be back into my life. And in some cases, that could happen but right now I don’t want to risk low level gluten exposure, so perhaps soon, I will have a nice, big, garage sale and get some new gluten free kitchen items! But for now they serve as a “security blanket” of sorts.
I promised that September (2013) would be the month this blog will focus on the true gluten-free diet transition. (If you are reading this at any other time, I am numbering these post so you can always go through them at your own pace.) However, there are some very important points that need to be made before we start, mainly because there are a variety of people and situations represented in the readers of this blog and those on our Facebook Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Support Group. So, I want to give what I hope is a fair representation of as many of us out there as possible as we move forward. I am approaching this endeavor from a strict gluten-free standard. After you are strictly gluten-free for a while, it will be up to you to find out how sensitive your body is to gluten in the event of cross-contamination or accidental exposure in any way. It is impossible to know what symptoms gluten is causing until it is thoroughly out of the diet and 3 months is the recommended strict abstinence before testing in any way (however this is strongly NOT recommended!). I did not realize it was to blame for many of my symptoms until I was truly gluten-free!