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March 27th… IT’S OUR WHEAT-FREE ANNIVERSARY! Thank you Dr. Davis!

March 27th… IT’S OUR WHEAT-FREE ANNIVERSARY! Thank you Dr. Davis!

March 27th… IT’S OUR WHEAT-FREE ANNIVERSARY!
Thank you Dr. Davis!

One year ago today, I posted THIS to Dr Davis’ Wheat Belly Blog to talk about the decision my family had made to go wheat-free. It has been an amazing year. I think my husband is more excited about our anniversary of being wheat-free than he ever has been about our wedding anniversary! Kinda sad, but true 😉  But who can blame him with all of the amazing changes that have taken place (and LASTED) over the past 365 days?! I can say though, to his credit, that he thanks me each and every day for changing his life forever.

And in turn, I thank Dr. Davis. So here we go again… THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

You have changed my life, my husband’s life, my son’s life, my parent’s lives, lives of people that we know here in the real world and the people I have been lucky enough to call my friends online. You have helped me to start a chapter of my life that has real meaning by being able to reach all the people who read my blog about delicious recipes and living this lifestyle more easily in a world that is still new to the idea that wheat is a common and powerful toxin.

For those who just look at the WB way of living as just a diet to lose weight, you are missing the point! Go ahead and do it to drop those extra 30+ lbs, because it’s a great plan for that, but it’s about MUCH more than a number on the scale. If you read the book and use the cookbook, and if you visit the Wheat Belly blog or the Wheat Belly page on Facebook, you will see that my story is NOT an exception. It is common to find people who have experienced the major improvements in health that we have, along with other benefits that I have not listed. In fact, the more time that passes, and the more testimonials I read,  the more I am convinced that there is very little in the way of health issues that is NOT related to chronic consumption of wheat, excess carbohydrates and sugars, along with food additives, GMOs and our live stock being hopped up on meds. Our food supply has been tampered with in ways too numerous to mention, and it DOES matter.

Now that we have a year under our belt, it’s time to look back and talk a bit about the major changes we have experienced in our health.

Here are some health highlights in OUR year of being free of wheat:

  • My husband and I have lost a combined 70lbs in the past year! (Him 38, Me 32)
    That’s more than 2 BIG bags of dog food! It makes hugging much nicer, by the way!
    Most weight was dropped in the first 4 months, and we have kept it off. He has reached his goal weight and feels better in his own skin and with his body than he EVER has in his lifetime. He is confident, excited, feels younger and has much more energy. He promotes this way of eating to everyone he knows, and they can see the proof by just looking at him!
    Being a mid-40’s female, I am still working towards my goal weight, but do so knowing that I have the tools to maintain where I am now, and from here on out I can tweak with exercise and fine-tune  the plan to fit what works for me. I’ve gone from a size 18 to a 12-14, and I’m feeling really good! I have noticed that most men on this plan ZOOM right down to where they need to be without too many bumps along the way, but some women do seem to encounter more plateaus. There are the complicated issues such as hormones, thyroid, and other metabolic challenges to work through, especially over 40, but this is still the BEST place to start in my opinion. All this while eating real, whole foods, and NOT being hungry.
    How much money would the people of this nation save on diet programs and pharmaceuticals if we just eliminated wheat?? How many lives would be saved because of decreased risk of heart disease and diabetes??
  • My chronic joint pain decreased by probably 90% in the FIRST WEEK.
    knee-pain-female
    I began having a lot of body pain in my late 30’s that grew increasingly annoying over the next 5+ years. I couldn’t understand why my elbows, knees, shoulders and hips hurt so much. Why getting up out of a chair at 40 yrs old took so much care, and why getting out of bed was always accompanied by pain as my feet hit the floor… not to mention the journey down the stairs with every step being measured and painful. People would say things like “Welcome to middle age!” or “That’s just part of getting older, sorry.” As it turns out, the strong inflammatory properties of wheat were the cause, period. As soon as I eliminated gluten, the pain was gone in a WEEK. This was well before losing any weight or going to an overall low-carb diet. So to those who say that the decreased pain was due to less weight stressing my body, WRONG. Now, the lighter Me certainly puts less strain on my joints, but the pain was due to INFLAMMATION, which in my opinion is the WORST effect of wheat consumption, and it takes many forms. How many patients would doctors lose if we no longer had to go in because of joint pain?? How many fewer prescription pain killers and anti-inflammatory medications would be needed?? How many people would not feel OLD for their age??
  • I was able to say goodbye to the SEVERE and CHRONIC (mysterious) HEADACHES that plagued me from the time I was probably 14 or 15.
    headache-triggers-woman-400x400
    If you are someone who suffers from headaches like this, where 3 or 4 times a week you get a headache so bad that you can barely think, and that each of those sometimes last for DAYS, you know what I’m talking about! I could hardly believe it when the headaches stopped. It wasn’t apparent immediately, a little time went by, a week or so, before I realized that my head didn’t hurt. I used to LIVE on Motrin and off-brand ibuprofen. I’m talking buying the industrial-sized bottles at Wal-Mart because I had a handful several times a day. It didn’t fix anything, but it took the edge off. Doctors had been no help over the years, even with brain scans to rule out tumor and the array of heavy drugs they had prescribed (that I wouldn’t take more than once because I felt disconnected from the world when I took them.) It had become my normal state to hurt and just deal with pain. Not anymore. I still get a headache now and then, probably sinus related, but NOTHING like they were before. More like a regular person now 🙂  I also attribute this to inflammation due to wheat. How much different would the world be for those who suffer from chronic headaches if they found that wheat was the problem?? How much pain and suffering is totally unnecessary?? How many take heavy drugs to combat a dietary toxin??
  • My husband’s acid reflux is GONE.
    He used to deal with painful reflux after most meals. As soon as we went wheat-free, this disappeared! In the beginning of our journey, he was willing to give up wheat in food, but didn’t want to commit to giving up his occasional beer. Then he noticed a couple weeks in, that the acid reflux would return as soon as he had a brew, but that it never happened with our food alone. Hmmm. Well, he decided that he’d had enough beer in his lifetime, and that he knew just what it tasted like; he didn’t need anymore! That was the end of his reflux, period. In the past he had blamed the reflux on rich foods, on red wine; on cheese… you name it. But it turned out it was one ingredient, WHEAT. Again, inflammation. Think of all the people who take meds for acid reflux on a daily basis and how many end up having medical procedures resulting from the long-term damage caused by it; how much pain and money would be saved?? How much money would the pharmaceutical companies lose out on if we no longer had to purchase their meds to combat the food we are eating??
  • Food cravings are gone; we’ve learned what actual hunger feels like.
    IMG-20130115-03488
    We now eat because we are fueling our bodies, not because of some phantom urge telling us we are hungry, when we clearly aren’t. This is a freedom that we are so thankful for, because we truly never knew the difference! Wheat is a powerful appetite stimulant, something that Dr. Davis talks about frequently. This is one example of how wheat consumption affects the brain. Dr. Davis says that wheat causes people on average to consume an additional 440 calories per day, every day! The kicker here is that once you go wheat-free, you realize how many products contain wheat that have nothing to do with breads, pastas, and cereals. It’s a cheap filler and it causes us to want to eat MORE carbohydrates. So glad to be liberated from this compulsion!  How many people would never have been overweight in the first place if it wasn’t for this notorious effect of wheat?? How many have spent their entire lives trying in vain to combat this appetite stimulant with low-fat or reduced calorie diets, only to be hungry all the time, and then give up??
  • Dramatic improvement in my IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) over time.
    This is one that has taken time; it wasn’t one of the immediate improvements. Long term ingestion of wheat causes all sorts of havoc within the digestive system, especially the small intestine that becomes irritated, inflamed, and permeable (leaky-gut.) It takes time for many of us to heal from the assault of wheat and grain products. Now that I have reached the year mark, I would say it is probably 70% better than it was. This is also something that I had been suffering with from the time I was a teenager. In this case, wheat and grains are not the only culprits for me, bad oils (hydrogenated and vegetable oils) also do a number on me, as does too much heavy cream. The gut needs a balance of good bacteria to be healthy, and between the consumption of wheat, handfuls of ibuprofen and too many antibiotics, mine needed serious healing. Taking a good pro-biotic can help, along with staying completely away from trigger foods. How many people have gone to the doctor time after time with these symptoms, only to be given a sad nod and a prescription for meds to take for the duration of their entire lives?? How much gluten intolerance is masquerading as IBS??
  • Speaking of antibiotics… my family of 3 has not had a prescription for antibiotics once in the past year or so.
    antibiotics460That may not seem like a big deal to some, but in my house, my son and I were prone to strep throat 2-3 times a year, a couple upper respiratory infections for all 3 of us, and I had UTIs probably 3 times per year as well. That’s a lot of penicillin and cephalaxin! To go from that, to ZERO is something that I wholly attribute to being wheat-free and not eating sugar. It is my belief that wheat puts such a powerful assault on our bodies that our immune systems are working full-time just to deal with the toxins that are coming from the foods we are eating, and that there is very little left to fight off infections and sickness. Take away the wheat and our immune systems function the way they were meant to. Add to that the acid state created within our bodies from eating too many carbs and sugars, and you have a breeding ground for the bad stuff. We still got sick a couple times, but a little home remedy of ACV (organic apple cider vinegar) and baking soda in water 3X a day was enough to knock it out.  How much of our overuse of antibiotics is due to wheat?? How much antibiotic resistance has been created because we are using them to battle on behalf of our compromised immune systems due to toxic food consumption??
  • My son’s bleeding eczema on his hands did not happen this winter, for the first time EVER.
    Like clockwork, every winter my son’s already some-what dry hands would get scaly, crack and bleed. I used medicated salves from the doctor that didn’t help; I made home remedies of shea butter, coconut oil and vitamin E that did help with constant use. But it wasn’t until we eliminated wheat that this problem just went away. This may sound like a small issue, but when it’s you or your child that suffers not only the pain, but the embarrassment of a skin condition like this, you know it’s a real concern. In our case wheat was the allergen causing this condition; how many others have eczema or long-term rashes that might be treated by omitting wheat?? How much money could be saved by not having to purchase all the expensive prescription salves that mostly end up being ineffective??
  • My son’s ADHD has much improved, as have his grades this school year.
    adhd
    It’s not the easiest thing to talk about when you have a child with real ADHD. It’s not an easy decision to make to medicate them. It’s not easy; in fact it can be downright heartbreaking. I wish I never would have had to medicate my son, but the truth is that it has made all the difference in the world to help us manage this condition that seems to be hitting an inordinately high number of children and adults in today’s society. The meds did help, but it was never enough, and every year there have been calls from teachers who thought he was a bright and wonderful child, but they struggled to teach him or struggled to get his distracted behavior in line in the classroom. When we decided to go off wheat, my son (then 13) made the decision to do it with us. I didn’t force him, I just educated him about the reasons I wanted to try it, and he jumped right on board. This past school year has been the first EVER that I haven’t had frantic calls, emails or requests for special meetings with teachers. EVER. What an unexpected blessing! Yes, he still has ADHD, and yes he is still on medication, but he has a much more balanced mental state and is able to think more clearly. He is less distracted and more able to focus.  He has an enhanced awareness about his condition and chooses to be proactive about it. He still has his challenges with certain classes, but he is excelling in others! He is educated about why we are wheat-free and he challenges the friends who would make fun of him, instead of giving into peer pressure to eat teen favorite wheat-containing foods like pizza. He does it for himself! If you asked him, he would tell you that it helps him manage his ADHD and that it also helps to get rid of the joint pain he had been experiencing in the past couple years (which we had attributed to growing pains.) I am so proud of my son for being capable of critical thinking and questioning the mantra of “healthy whole grains” that is taught in Science and Health classes. Proud of him for standing up to peer pressure, and instead telling others that wheat is no longer the plant it once was, and that it is now damaging to our bodies, so his family chooses not to eat it. To stand up when others tell him that he can’t “survive without wheat”!  I don’t know what causes ADHD in our society, but I have a gut feeling that our chronic consumption of cereal grains, sugars and carbohydrates along with overzealous vaccination protocols has a lot to do with it. Regardless of what causes it, I strongly suggest a whole food diet free from grains to combat the effects. If I had known, we would have been eating this way forever! How many children and adults with ADHD could be helped by elimination of wheat and adhering to a whole food diet??


I am one full year into an entirely new way of eating, and a new, better phase of health. I continue to read, discuss and research about personal health responsibility, nutrition and ways to make this way of eating pleasurable as well as good for my body. I imagine that over time, there will be more benefits, some I may never see because they take place below the surface. I urge anyone who is considering this lifestyle to do the reading, ask the questions and make a real honest effort, because it IS WORTH IT. It has its challenges, but most anything worth doing, usually does.

We are pioneers of personal responsibility for our health in an age where profits and greed and convenience are taking precedence over what is right. No one can do this for you. Others can share their stories and their recipes, but only you can make the time to prepare healthy meals and find sources of healthy foods. Once you commit to this way of eating, it gets easier. Having peer support, whether in person or online makes this easier. It’s available to those who desire change. Can you lose weight on this diet? More than likely, yes! But please don’t overlook the vast array of other benefits to be found by eliminating this monster toxin from your diet.

Cheers to a lifetime free from Wheat!!!

 

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One Year Wheat-Free! A List of 45 Things I Have Learned Along the Way!

One Year Wheat-Free! A List of 45 Things I Have Learned Along the Way!

That’s right! It’s been one full year that my entire family has been eating wheat-free! Thanks to a friend who introduced me to the concept, and thank you to Dr. Davis, author of “Wheat Belly”, my life has changed for the better! A little later on today I will post an article I am writing about some of the biggest health benefits my family has experienced, but for now I want to post a list of 45 things I have learned during the past 365 days.

Before I do that, I’d like to thank YOU, my readers, who have helped to make this year an amazing one for me. Writing and blogging was completely new to me when I posted my first blurb last March, and it’s been a journey of sharing and learning that I could not have anticipated. So whether you are subscribed to my blog, post comments and banter with me about food, have shared your personal story, or just read quietly and scan the recipes, I am thankful you have been a part of it!

As of this morning:

  • I have 305 people following my blog!
  • I’ve had 74,807 page visits!
  • This is my 96th post!
  • I’ve had visitors from 124 countries!

So to continue with the numbers… here is a list of:
45 Things I Have Learned This Year

  1. It’s not always easy to go against the grain (pun intended :)) but it IS worth it.
  2. My family is awesome, and I am very grateful that we all do this together!
  3. Wheat is a toxic, manipulated substance, and NOT a food fit for human consumption.
  4. Large corporations do NOT have your best interests in mind, so be proactive and educate yourself.
  5. Wheat Belly, Primal, and Paleo ways of eating have more in common than not.
  6. When in doubt, eat food without labels.
  7. Stay away from the Gluten-free aisle at the grocery store; it’s a Carbohydrate Hell Hole.
  8. Just because the USDA or the FDA approves something, does NOT mean it’s healthy.
  9. Men seem to lose weight more quickly on this diet (any diet?) than women.
  10. Brussels sprouts are an awesome food, and I am very sorry I hated them my whole life.
  11. The scale is a tool, not a God. Remember to use a tape measure too.
  12. It takes time for your body image to catch up with reality when you’ve lost weight.
  13. Almond flour is awesome, but for those trying to lose weight, moderation is the key.
  14. The friends I’ve made online who also eat grain-free are an invaluable source of support and information, and I am very thankful to know them!
  15. Conventional wisdom regarding nutrition is deeply flawed; many dieticians are brainwashed and many doctors care nothing at all about nutrition.
  16. I enjoy writing and blogging and think it’s one of the best things I have ever done!
  17. Weight loss doesn’t usually occur in straight line, and plateaus can be valuable for learning how to maintain.
  18. One size does not fit all; we need to tweak and experiment and be open-minded.
  19. Dark chocolate is one of the best things in the whole world. (OK I already knew that one ;))
  20. There will be people who are hungry for the message, so share freely.
  21. There will be people who need the message most who are not open to it. Move on.
  22. Learning the language of the body is an art, and it takes time to fully interpret what it has to say.
  23. Don’t be surprised if wheat isn’t the only thing that you need to eliminate to feel your best.
  24. Headaches and joint pain are NOT caused by a deficiency of Motrin.
  25. Chronic inflammation is the cause of MOST chronic complaints, and it’s mainly caused by diet.
  26. You will have good days and bad days, congratulate yourself and forgive yourself.
  27. What works for a friend may or may not work for you. We all arrive at today with different health backgrounds and genetics.
  28. There is wheat in places you would never think to look; avoiding all packages is best.
  29. There is no natural sweetener that tastes like sugar to me, but some do a decent job.
  30. My Ninja blender kicks butt and I use it nearly every day.
  31. Zucchini “noodles” are awesome.
  32. Sometimes losing weight makes wrinkles appear… smile so that they blend in!
  33. We go through more eggs now than I ever thought possible.
  34. Cholesterol is no more responsible for heart disease than a Band-Aid is responsible for the burn it covers.
  35. Coconut oil is one of the most versatile substances! For sautéing, for baking, for skin, for hair… it rocks.
  36. Avocadoes and cauliflower are able to be virtually neutral and can be used in ways I never thought of before.
  37. Having an ice cream maker is a GREAT thing.
  38. Thrift stores and consignment shops are a valuable source for clothing when you are dropping sizes and don’t want to spend a fortune.
  39. Giving up wheat didn’t cure my resistance to exercise (gasp!) I guess this year I will work on that!
  40. Enjoying dining out is possible, just be careful and ask a lot of questions. Most servers have no clue.
  41. It’s best to focus on all the great things you CAN eat, rather than what you can’t.
  42. Most recipes can be tweaked to be wheat-free and low-carb if you are creative enough.
  43. Parmesan cheese and almond flour as a “breading” is yummier than Panko ever was.
  44. Even dogs do better on a grain-free diet.
  45. There are some people who will think you are completely insane. That’s more than OK! 😀

I know I missed a bunch… so what would YOU add to this list?

 

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Which nutritional myths have you mistaken for fact?

 

This is something I haven’t done before, so please forgive me for relying on someone else’ writing and effort, but since this article does a great job of mentioning some of the most rampant myths in conventional wisdom regarding nutrition, that I have to POST IT HERE.

Kris Gunnars debunks the nutritional lies that say:

  • Eggs are unhealthy
  • Saturated fat is bad for you
  • Everybody should be eating grains
  • Eating a lot of protein is bad for your bones and kidneys
  • Low fat foods are good for you
  • You should eat many small meals throughout the day
  • Carbs should be your biggest source of calories
  • High omega-6 seed and vegetable oils are good for you
  • Low carbs diets are dangerous
  • Sugar is unhealthy because it contains “empty” calories
  • High fat foods will make you fat

Each of these items can be greatly expanded upon, of course, but this is a good starting point to share with those who are still afraid of eggs, fats, cholesterol and believe that they are eating healthy by making up most of their diet with processed, carb-heavy foods.

Following a diet based on eating whole foods and healthy fats (such as “Wheat Belly” by Dr. William Davis or the “Primal Blueprint” by Mark Sisson) are good places to begin reading to put these learnings into practice!

 

 

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Painfree and Painting Again!

Dear Readers and Supporters:

I just wanted to write an apology post to all of my wonderful followers (and to those whose blogs I follow and enjoy), to say that I’m sorry for being so quiet recently! I appreciate all of those who read and comment, and sincerely hope that you do continue to find value here in these pages, as I look forward to seeing what you have been up to in your kitchens and lives as well.

There are times when work and family just get too hectic for my mind to find the space to write here, even though it’s always in my thoughts (and in piles of ingredient notes in my kitchen from experiments!) I was working against an October deadline for some graphic work that pretty much consumed my energy on the computer, along with preparing for some remodeling projects around the home that now look like they will have to wait until Spring has Sprung… oh well! Can’t do it all at once  😉

Hand-painted distressed armoire

Hand-painted distressed armoire

That’s all wrapped up for now, and I have some other art projects on the horizon that promise to be interesting as well, as I venture back into painting murals and furniture again! I am sure that many of you are unaware that I was a decorative painter for more than 15 years, as I took a break the past few years mainly due to severe joint pain that seemed to get worse by the day. I actually went back to school and received a degree in Graphics/Digital Media Design because it interested me, and I felt that I needed to choose a new career that wasn’t so physical because climbing ladders and scaffold to paint walls and ceilings was completely overwhelming given the level of chronic pain I was experiencing!

Now, you may be guessing where I am going next… eliminating the wheat and grains over the past 6 months or so has changed my outlook and my ABILITY to work in a physical way! It was just a week into the Wheat Belly way of living that my joint pain was decreased by probably 80+%! No longer taking handfuls of Motrin every day or clenching my teeth and pushing through the painful haze, I feel like I did more than 15 years ago when I first started putting my designs on walls and furniture! It’s still amazing to me. Now, the pain isn’t chronic at all, and only shows itself when I actually physically stress my body. If I feel like accepting a commission to paint for a client, I now have that choice!

The inflammation from wheat was totally ruining the quality of my day-to-day life in the form of joint pain in my knees, hips, and sometimes my shoulders and elbows, in addition to having severe headaches 3-4 days a week, every week! Now that I am back up to par (without meds, thank you) it seems like there is so much catching up to do, and avenues to explore! But don’t fret, this blog remains one of the important things in my life that I am passionate about 🙂 Spreading the word about the grain-free lifestyle and helping others be able to pull it off in their own kitchens is very rewarding to me.

Hopefully you will indulge me if I post a picture here or there and let you know what I’m doing on a creative front in addition to posting recipes! A well-rounded life is much more achievable when our bodies are running clean and healthy!

 

 

I’d be interested to know what YOU are enjoying in life again (or newly enjoying) because you found renewed health by going wheat-free…. Feel free to post it in comments!

Yours in Health!
~ Gretchen

 
4 Comments

Posted by on November 2, 2012 in Article, Thankfulness

 

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How to SHOP When Going Grain-Free and Sugar-Free

Fresh Produce at a Farm Market 

Going only gluten free will definitely have some health benefits, but if you want to lose weight and feel even healthier, I strongly suggest going grain-free and sugar free, not just gluten-free. (We follow The “Wheat Belly” plan by Dr. William Davis, though this is also essentially a primal diet which Mark Sisson promotes)

The reason for suggesting grain-free and sugar-free, is that the GF (gluten-free) processed foods are made of alternative grains and they are every bit as high carb and bad for you as wheat products. We avoid GF packaged foods like the plague! They are the reason that going GF gets a bad rap in the press, and why some claim that going GF causes you to miss out on key nutrients. If you replace processed wheat foods with processed wheat-free foods, the improvement to your diet is minimal. However, if you fill that gap in the diet with more healthy food (which is naturally gluten-free), the payoff is incredible. You will not lose out on nutrients from bread (which are ADDED in the first place), if you eat in a smart way. How anyone can doubt that ditching processed foods (with all of their sugars, chemicals, colorants and toxins) is a GREAT idea for anyone, is completely beyond me!

Friends often ask what we eat, and what to shop for, to get started. Remember, the best way to eat right, is to keep ONLY compliant foods in your fridge and pantry. That way, even if you are tempted to indulge, it will be with good foods. Shopping at Farmer’s Markets and Meat Markets is part of my weekly routine.

We (husband and I) eat very few beans/legumes because they are high in carbohydrates, and often cause intestinal distress. Rice is a rarity that I save for sushi maybe once a month, but it is also high in carbs and we don’t purchase it for the pantry. We have stopped eating corn (partly because it’s a high-carb grain, but also because corn now contains its own pesticide within its DNA structure!) We don’t eat sugar either. The whole point of eating this way is to avoid BSS, which are blood sugar spikes that release insulin. Insulin is the fat storage hormone. The idea is very similar to Atkins or South Beach Diets, but grains are never added back into the lifestyle. You want to get to the point where your body begins burning fats as fuel, instead of carbohydrates. Therefore, it’s important to get enough fat in your diet, and eat plenty of food, just not high-carb foods.  The goal is to keep NET carbs (carbohydrate grams minus fiber grams) between 20-50g a day during the weight loss stage.

Within the first few days you will probably notice immediate relief from bloating and may lose a few pounds of water weight right off the bat. (My brother lost 17 lbs the first WEEK! Unheard of, but it happened.) Some people experience withdrawals from wheat, because it is actually addictive. I didn’t go through that, but my husband did for about 2 weeks. Even if you do experience a tough week, stick with it, it’s worth it!

THIS IS WHAT I BUY:

~All kinds of meat, chicken, beef, pork (bacon is fine), fish, seafood. Grass-fed, free-range, organic and wild-caught are the best choices if you can afford them, but not necessary.
 
~Eggs… we eat them almost daily and try to buy free-range, organic

~Real cultured cheeses, Swiss, cheddar, blue, Parmesan, etc (just meaning real cheese, not Velveeta or processed types)

~Full fat dairy, such as sour cream, cottage cheese, yogurt, mayo, heavy whipping cream. We eat these in moderation. Avoid skim and low fat milk as well, as it’s loaded with sugar and carbs.

~Above ground (non-starchy) veggies, LOTS. We eat plenty of green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, cukes, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, pea pods, etc… So everything except potatoes, corn (grain!), carrots, etc

~Greens like lettuces, cabbages, kale etc, fall in love with salads!

~Avocados, important source of fat and omega 3

~Nuts and nut butters, especially almonds and walnuts, but others are good too. Just not too many peanuts.

~Dark chocolate 70-85% is fine in moderation; I have a couple squares most days and use it in recipes.

~Healthy fats and oils. We rely most on coconut oil and butter. Refined coconut oil is less expensive and doesn’t taste like coconut; Virgin unrefined coconut oil costs more and tastes coconutty (I love it.) Olive oil is good, walnut oil too. Avoid canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil and other vegetable oils, hydrogenation is VERY bad.

~Flax seed, ground. It’s good for adding omega 3’s. I use it sometimes in crackers or smoothies. It’s kind of nutty, and I think it’s an acquired taste.

~Almond flour and perhaps coconut flour if you want to bake something. I have several recipes on the blog. Avoid rice flour, sorghum, tapioca, potato… all very high carb and starchy.

~For sweeteners, I mainly use Truvia, but also some Stevia and Erythritol (which I order online, it’s a sugar alcohol) as they don’t cause BSS. Honestly, I don’t crave sweets as much as I used to, so it’s mainly Truvia in my coffee or a smoothie, but also a little in desserts sometimes.

~Fruit in moderation. All types of berries are the best choices. We eat strawberries, blueberries, raspberries. Avoid the high-sugar tropical fruits like banana, mango, pineapple, papaya, or just have very rarely.

Tuscan Shrimp and VeggiesSo, that’s a basic run-down, but I am sure I have forgotten something. A typical meal for us is some type of meat with one or two veggies on the side, prepared in different ways, often with butter and cheese of some kind. We love creative salads. If you want sandwiches, we often use lettuce to wrap meat and cheese in with fixings. Stir-fries are great choices! (Try my Tuscan Shrimp.). Grilling meat and veggies is good, as is baking. You can pan fry fish, chicken breast and pork chops using coconut oil (only), and coating the meat in eggs/mayo and pressing into a mix of grated Parmesan and almond flour with seasonings. (Or try the baked Parmesan Perch as a basis for other meats.) Super easy, very low carb.
The hardest thing is just not over-thinking it, and getting used to eating REAL food, and knowing which things will spike blood sugar. Focus on what you can eat, instead of thinking about what you can’t. Let me know if you have any questions 🙂 or join many like me over on the Wheat Belly Facebook page! Seriously, it’s amazing that a best-selling author and cardiologist like Dr. William Davis has such an active FB page where he actually comments on posts from his followers. THAT is commitment!

My husband and I have been following this plan for 5 months this week… and I have lost 27 lbs; Mitch has lost 31. Most of that happened in the first 2.5-3 months. I know I would lose more if I was perfect with it, but I still enjoy  wine/cocktails which will stall weight loss 😉 Just remember that while weight loss is GREAT, the health benefits from following this plan are almost too numerous to mention!!!

I hope that this helps for those that want to get started and need to SHOP!!

 

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Jumping Plateaus and Updating the Blog

It has been a rather busy week, and I am a bit behind on posting here, although it’s certainly been on my mind! In fact, yesterday, I gave the About Me/Contact page a serious update as it was definitely overdue. When I first started blogging, I wasn’t sure quite where it would go, or how the grain free lifestyle would suit us, never mind would I enjoy doing it enough to continue! Well, the good news is that you aren’t rid of me yet, it seems I am still finding things to say and cook 😉

This past weekend was wonderful, spent up north in Michigan with friends, enjoying campfires and lazy tubing down the Au Sable River. We had a great time, shared lots of laughs and good food. But… I also gained 5lbs! I know it was too many fruity drinks and being off my game for food choices, indulging in a few too many carbs (though no gluten or grain.) The good news though, is that it’s just 3 days later, I got serious about my plan again, and the weight is gone already… YAY me!! This is especially exciting because I have been on a weight-loss stall. I think I need to talk about that with you.

What about those pesky PLATEAUS??

The thing that I always stress to people when talking about this style of eating, is that weight loss is a side effect of cutting the carbs, but that getting rid of the wheat and grain toxins is what has had the most profound effect on my health. While that is absolutely true, and I feel like a new person especially without the severe chronic headaches and joint pain, I am like any other girl (or boy!), and would love to reach a more ideal weight!

So while I don’t eat grains now, and very little sugar, I realize that I also need to tweak my food in order to keep losing. The first 3 months I dropped 25lbs, rather easily. The past month or so, however, I have only been maintaining. Easily maintaining, but a plateau none the less.

I have at least 25lbs left to lose (halfway there, maybe!) So…  I have been examining my diet more closely and looking for causes for the weight loss stall, and possible solutions. The following list is what I have come up with:

  • I am eating more fruit than I should (it’s so good in season!)… so I am going to severely cut my fruit intake for the next week to see if that will help. I can add some of this back for weight maintenance or after my fat-burning is jump-started again.
  • I have been indulging in too much wine and hard cider drinks. Not constantly, but I have a feeling that even a glass or 2 of those carbs a couple times a week is undoing potential progress… so no booze this coming week! Not so easy when there are fun summer gatherings with friends, cookouts and hot days, but I think it’s probably key. So instead…
  • I am going to drink more water, as I have read about how much dehydration can slow weight loss as well as inhibit other important bodily functions. I will also drink more lemon water for vitamin C and aiding in digestion and detox.
  • I *try* to eat enough fat, but I think that I am still not getting as much as I need to have in order to really be in ketosis. I am upping the coconut oil, bacon and butter to see if intentionally eating more will have an effect. I have a feeling it will. It is so contrary to the low-fat mentality we have been brain-washed with, but to burn fat as fuel, the body needs fat!
  • I am working on getting better sleep.I have a tendency to wake after just half a nights’ sleep, and then toss or lay there the rest of the night. I know that proper sleep is important in weight loss, so this is something that has to be addressed. I broke down and took something to help me sleep twice this week, and it really helped me feel better. Last night, instead, I decided it was time to add the

    After a walk with my son today at the woodland park. What a beautiful day!

    Magnesium Malate to my supplement regimen, as it is supposed to help with rest as well as a number of other issues. I found that I slept well last night with the Magnesium, so will continue and see if it improves my rest overall.

  • I am also going to monitor my dairy intake because I know that it has an insulin-stimulating effect in some people (insulin is the fat storage hormone.) Going to try going a little lighter on the cheeses while adding veggies and other fats.
  • I am active, and yet I know I don’t exercise enough. I’m not talking about anything strenuous, but getting out to walk or ride my bike more often will help… if not the weight loss, I know it will help my attitude and stress levels! Today, my son went with me to a local woodland park along the river, and we walked for a good 45 minutes on trails where we could enjoy nature. It was great and we both agreed we need to go a few times a week.

OK, so after making my list, I have a game plan!

  1. Nix the fruit (for now)
  2. Nix the booze 😉
  3. Drink more water and lemon water.
  4. Increase fats for ketosis.
  5. Take Magnesium for improved sleep.
  6. Decrease dairy.
  7. Get moving, walk.

That all sounds rather do-able! I think that once I break the stall and get back fully to burning fats again, I should be able to lighten up on the fruit and wine restrictions. I’ve got to have something to hope for anyway!

 

It’s your turn to share:

What have you done to successfully break a plateau when losing weight? I have heard lots of abstract suggestions (such as switch it up, shock the system, etc), but I am interested in which ones specifically have worked for you now or in the past? If you are on a plateau now, and want to get back to losing weight, what are some of the things you will try? I am hoping to see some interesting ideas from you all!

 

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FIBER: Movement, Beyond the Grain

It’s interesting how following a low carbohydrate, gluten free diet brings up questions from people who are cautious, and who still cannot believe that people can live a healthy life without wheat and grains. The food industry has been so repetitive in the “pushing” of grains that people in general, don’t even think to question the wisdom of whether or not those recommendations are accurate and healthful.

One of the hot topics seems to be fiber; skeptics ask HOW we get enough fiber. Seriously? The food industry has actually convinced people that we need grains and bread in order to have enough fiber in our diets, and the USDA says that we need a large amount of fiber in order for our systems to run smoothly.  They recommend that women have 25 grams of fiber in their diet, and that men have 38 grams based on a 2,000-2,500 calorie diet. In contrast, the British recommendation is 12 to 24 grams a day (which seems more reasonable, especially for those who aren’t eating such a large amount of food!) It seems nearly impossible to get “enough”  fiber (by USDA standards), even from fiber-rich foods, without taking in far too much food for a typical person, especially if you are no longer suffering from food cravings due to wheat!

(Here is what Dr. Davis, author of “Wheat Belly” has to say about getting enough fiber, as well as some questions and answers in the replies for specific issues.)

So how do we low-carbers get our fiber? First off, vegetables and fruits are full of fiber! Fiber is plant tissue, some of it dissolves in water and expands into a gel-like substance (soluble) and some of it does not dissolve and instead scours our insides, pushing food through digestion (insoluble).  Both types are important, and we need some of each to keep our systems running smoothly. Luckily, if we are getting enough fruits and veggies, we should have no problem getting enough fiber. Even without 9-grain or 12-grain bread. It’s true. Really.

There are plenty of sources for natural fiber in a healthy diet. Also, without processed foods, there is very little “paste” as I like to call it, to move through our system. Everything we eat is serving a purpose, not just sludging through and raising blood sugar along the way.

Probiotics (healthy bacteria) also play a crucial role in gut health, which can help balance both constipation and loose stools. The intestinal flora is as important as fiber in the diet. When we make major dietary changes, it can take some time for things to settle into balance again, and probiotics can help with that transition.

Non-Grain Sources of Dietary Fiber

To those who think that whole grain bread is crucial to your fiber intake, one slice has an average of 2g of dietary fiber. While 2g is OK, there are many other nutrient-rich foods that contain that amount or more, without the grain!

Avocados top the chart with 10g of fiber per cup!

Eat More Veggies!

If you are concerned about getting enough fiber, one thing you can do is to be sure to eat plenty of vegetables and some fruit (especially raw.) Salad is a great way to mix them up and create different flavors for different cravings!

My formula for a great salad is:

  • 2 types of greens (spinach, romaine, turnip greens, Swiss chard, bok choy, napa, kale)
  • A little of some type of fruit (granny smith apple, sliced berries, plums, be creative!)
  • More veggies (tomato, cucumber, sweet onion, celery, radishes, avocado, beets, olives, peppers, fresh peas, mushrooms, bean sprouts, asparagus, Brussels sprouts)
  • Nuts (chopped almonds, pine nuts, walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, whatever you like)
  • Cheese (blue cheese, cheddar, Swiss, feta, Parmesan)
  • Protein (hard boiled eggs, grilled chicken breast, canned chicken, seared tuna, canned tuna, steak, shrimp)
  • Gluten free salad dressing, oil and vinegar, or simple fresh-squeezed lemon (our fave dressing is homemade blue cheese, but use whatever you enjoy!)
  • For more added fiber, sprinkle with ground flax seed or add chia seeds

Having variety in your salads will make them so much more interesting and you may even look forward to creating them and eating your beautiful bowl of ingredients, instead of dreading another plain garden salad (NOT that there is anything wrong with garden salads, love those too!)

An example using my formula would be a “Michigan Salad”:

  • Romaine and spinach
  • Thinly sliced granny smith apple and a few pitted cherries
  • Thinly sliced red onion
  • Pine nuts or walnuts
  • Blue cheese crumbles
  • Grilled chicken
  • Raspberry balsamic vinegar and olive oil for dressing
  • Ground flax seeds

 

Or maybe an Asian inspired Tuna Salad:

  • Napa and bok choy
  • Orange sections
  • Avocado, green onions, bamboo shoots, fresh peas
  • Sliced almonds
  • Swiss cheese (or omit cheese as there are good fats and protein in the tuna)
  • Seared tuna steak, sliced
  • Ginger sesame dressing
  • Ground flax seeds

Get creative and enjoy the process of eating for improved health!

 

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When a Diet isn’t a Diet (Or how my husband and I have lost 44 lbs in 12 weeks)

What if I told you that by omitting ONE food, our overall health and weight are steadily improving? Would you think that going without one ingredient is something you could do if the health benefits were not only weight loss, but also improved overall health?

Do you struggle with any of the following? (Likely more than one…)

You might be thinking to yourself, “Well, of course I do! Who doesn’t?” Kind of like a disreputable psychic who makes general statements which are likely to apply to a wide range of people and situations, the list raises skepticism.  However, it is precisely BECAUSE these symptoms are so widespread that people should be more concerned about having them, not less. A widespread collection of symptoms might just point to a widespread contaminant or cause. Does that make sense?

There are countless over-the-counter drugs that one can buy to try to get a handle on these awful feelings. If you were to go to your doctor and complain about these symptoms, the likely result would be a prescription for a pharmaceutical to ease the symptom only. Maybe they would request a test or 3 first and then still write a prescription.

However, how many physicians really dig into the causes of these things, especially occurring together? How many ask what you are eating? How many ask whether you have tried to lose weight and whether any methods were successful? My bet is VERY FEW. Why? Because even the medical profession has accepted that these symptoms are normal or average in our society, and are signs of perhaps aging or the general stress of living, even though they occur in children and teens as well as adults! (Not to mention, who would purchase all the over-the-counter meds and prescription drugs if people were to fix these problems with DIET alone?)

Finding the “Key” to good health

As citizens of planet Earth, we are faced with countless health choices and challenges in our everyday living. Some rely solely on pharmaceutical solutions to manage their symptoms; some use a combination of meds and natural approaches. Many of us have been delving for years into the natural keys to our own personal health, trying to discover what makes us feel the best and what makes us hurt, deciding which foods are “golden” and which are damaging our body systems, which combination of foods and activities will help us to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight and fitness level. It matters to some of us, a whole lot. It seems like it can be so much work to keep up with the conflicting information and possible schools of thought, that it can be frustrating trying to make real and lasting changes for ourselves and our families.

It doesn’t help that the waters are muddied by corporate voices that speak with profit as a primary goal, rather than distributing critical health information. I have no intention of sounding extremist or alarmist when I discuss the state of human health, but I do think that many people, even those who believe they are eating “right” or “healthy” are instead eating themselves into clinics, hospitals and even graves. The worst part of it is that while some people have a casual disregard for health matters, there are many who have the very best intentions, and are unfortunately operating on misinformation, rather than apathy or ignorance.

If you are like me, you have been hoping that at some point the light would shine down, illuminating some “truth” that you missed, and things would click into place.  That there would be some key that makes so much sense that you can’t believe you didn’t figure it out sooner.

Well, I am happy to say, we have figured it out! (For us, anyway.) I’d like to think that it’s the same key that might work for you. I’m just thankful that I heard the message enough times from other people passing through my life that I actually tuned in, and investigated! People on gluten free diets were talking about the major positive health impact that one change has made…

We gave up WHEAT, and our health and weight is steadily improving!


I believe that most people have had, at the very least, an inkling that processed carbohydrates are “bad”, or that there are better choices out there than foods with “empty calories.”  Reaching for a cookie, cupcake, candy bar, or slice of pizza usually is met with delicious anticipation as well as a pang of guilt for many people.  We brush it aside and think, well, it’s just one… or we remember that we did have a salad for lunch, which was a healthy choice. Or maybe we think that it’s a whole grain bran muffin, or that it’s a whole wheat pizza crust… that has some merit, right? We are getting our daily allowance of grains (the government tells us we NEED whole grains!) along with our veggies, fruits, proteins…

Except that many common grains in the wheat family contain gluten, which wreaks havoc on our bodies! It is true that some people are more sensitive to it than others, there are a wide range of effects from gluten sensitivity to celiac disease, however, if you are suffering any of the symptoms on that list, there’s a chance that wheat could be impacting your health and your life. (Click HERE for an extensive list of diseases associated with wheat consumption) Also, carbohydrates, whether they are wheat-based or not, spike blood sugar and can cause visceral fat, insulin resistance and diabetes.

I can only speak from my own perspective and on behalf of my own research and my family’s experience when I relate our stories in my articles and on my blog. As I say that, I am always hoping that the information strikes a chord with someone who is also looking for a health solution, and that they will give wheat-free and gluten-free living a try. (Buy Wheat Belly” by Dr. Davis, and the information will blow you away. And, if you are like me, it will spur you on to start reading even more, and question even more, and start following a path that seems to be more enlightening every day. Also, visit GreenMedInfo.com for a wealth of real research articles that will open your eyes!)

Back to the title, and why I say that this diet, isn’t a diet.

From what I have seen and read, I believe that our bodies have different norms in weight and shape, depending on how we eat. Our bodies adjust to a balance, and that balance can only be maintained by continuing to eat a certain way. If you change back to old eating habits, you will change back to your old weight and health status. It really is that simple. If you continue down a new food path (or “diet”), and stay there, your body will adjust to a new normal for that lifestyle, and that is where you will likely remain. To me, the term “diet” has the connotation of a temporary change to meet a weight loss or health goal. Maybe the word “program” would be better? No, programs tend to have a beginning and end as well. Hmmmm, I think “LIFESTYLE”, as it refers to a more holistic and long term approach or state of being. (Here is what Dr. Davis has to say about the diet not being a diet.)

At any rate, I am very interested to see where my own weight will stabilize, eating a gluten free diet, and very little sugar or processed carbohydrates. The things that we have deleted from our diet, we have no intention of ever eating again, because we know how bad they are for our health, not just our weight. That makes all the difference in the world!

There is a mental difference between mildly suspecting that a substance is harmful, and having evidence that it is. Between the research I have done, and the personal (anecdotal) experience, I am certain that wheat and sugar are extremely damaging to our bodily systems.

Since we are a real family, living in a real world with friends, family, co-workers and the like, and we will share meals with these people in our lives at times, it is natural that conversation about the way we choose to eat will be a recurring topic. The reactions from people vary from curiosity or support, to scorn, disbelief, or sort of shaking heads in pity that we are living our lives without the almighty grain, and even anger in some cases! At first it was a little disheartening, but now it evokes a sense of empathy in us, because we were where they are… and not so long ago. We know that it can sound alien to hear people talking about ridding their diets of wheat (specifically the gluten protein, gliadin) and people wonder if there is anything to our way of eating, or if it is merely another “fad” diet.

Well, for starters, we have never been fad dieters. We have always attempted to eat healthy as a primary goal, and have looked into information about real wellness and good foods to eat. Even though we have struggled with some excess weight over the years, and would be more than happy to lose it, our eating routines have mainly been formed with increased overall health in mind, not merely losing pounds.

At one point in the past we did engage in a low fat diet, where we ate lots of veggies, fruits, lean meats, and low fat snacks (carbs included), but avoided oils and fats like the plague. During that time, we did lose weight, but there was always this imminent sense that we couldn’t wait to reach our target weight, our goal, so that we could be done with this torturous process! We were often HUNGRY! (set up to FAIL)

Now, any of you who have dieted, probably understand that conflict. Even though we were trying to convince ourselves that the way we were eating was healthy, our bodies were in real need of the healthy fats that we were going without. Also, the carbohydrates that we were eating, we may have been burning off (I exercised a LOT), but they left us feeling hungry and unsatisfied… which leads to the yearning for the diet to end! The problem with waiting for a diet to end is that once it ends, eventually you will end up gaining weight back.

That is precisely what is different about eating this way. We went through a period of getting off wheat, and processed foods (a couple weeks of cravings and detox), however once we were clean, our outlook felt “clean” as well! We don’t have those awful cravings; we get full and satisfied from our meals; we enjoy choosing healthful foods, because we know that they are fueling and nourishing our systems with the components they need. The fats in our diet are good for our organs and mind, feel satisfying, and are pretty much self-regulating when combined with all the healthy veggies we eat, as well as a wide variety of meats, nuts, some fruit, hard cheeses and some (low lactose) dairy. We have cut processed sugar out of our diet by at least 90%. Our teenage son will “cheat” with sugar, but he never cheats with wheat on purpose (that teen is a good label-reader!) I do use agave nectar now and then, even though it is a sugar (and not on the Wheat Belly program), because it absorbs more slowly into the blood stream, avoiding the spikes in blood sugar. This is an exception though and why I can’t say we’re 100% without sugars.

People ask if we are tempted to cheat… umm no. If we were feeling hungry and unsatisfied, we might be tempted, but since we feel good and have an awareness now of when we are full (no false signals from our brain, caused by the exorphins in wheat) we have no compulsive desire to eat wheat-containing foods. We know very well how wheat makes us feel!  (Chronic: migraines, joint and muscle pain, IBS digestive issues, and acid reflux are the most noticeable for us on a daily basis.)

My husband and I have lost 22 pounds EACH since the end of March (12 weeks) and the weight change just slowly continues to happen. When you start getting into those numbers, people start to notice, and the people who shook their heads before, are now beginning to get curious about what is happening, and why it’s working.  It’s like certain people are hoping to uncover some conspiracy or flaw in the thinking that allows them to dismiss our process because it makes them uncomfortable to believe wheat is unhealthy. No one wants to believe that their trusted dietary staple is bad for them. No one wants to think they are addicted.

The next paragraph is important.

Some point out that the lack of breads is leaving a calorie hole in our diet, so THAT is why we lose weight. (As if that statement is all-encompassing.) Well, there may be (or may not be) fewer calories, but if it was only due to decreased calories, wouldn’t the expected result be increased hunger?
Hmmmm. Think about that for a minute. That is what happened when we dropped fats on a low fat diet (and the calories that went with fats.) We did consume fewer calories, but we were always hungry and looking for ways to cope with that hunger. It was sabotaged before we ever reached our goal, because no one can be happy and healthy if they are always battling hunger.

This is totally different. We eat less because our bodies are satisfied, and our brains aren’t playing tricks on us and telling us that we need more, and SOON. We simply don’t need as much food as those who are still eating wheat (like we used to.) The healthy fats and lack of gliadin-induced hunger pangs make for a much easier way to live healthy and lose weight.

If we need a snack, we eat one… but to be honest, that doesn’t happen nearly as often as it once did, and the snacks we choose sit well with us, and a small amount is very satisfying. A couple bites of cheese, a few nuts and a piece of fruit, nut butter on a celery stalk, a smoothie, or maybe parmesan crackers, a piece of raspberry streusel or something else made with almond flour or coconut flour… Those are enough to give the body some fuel, and to help us stay on track. Our systems feel like they are running cleaner, and we enjoy our food even more than we did before.

Here is my hope

For those of you who not only want to lose weight, but want to feel better overall, and take a shot at addressing some chronic health problems that you may have been facing for most of your life, I urge you to give this LIFESTYLE a try. DELETE the WHEAT.

If you are curious, engage in a little web surfing. Visit the Wheat Belly Blog by Dr. Davis and friend Wheat Belly on Facebook. Explore GreenMedInfo.com… There are countless research articles which address gluten and wheat, and there are also countless success stories on blogs from people who are enjoying improved health. If you need tips and recipes, there are plenty of those too! People who are eating this way are vocal and excited, and want to share. This article is full of links to relevant information, but know that they are just the tip of the iceberg, and that there is much more information available to those who choose to look.

 

What do we eat? According to Dr. Davis, the basis of the Wheat Belly diet:

Eat real, natural foods such as eggs, raw nuts, plenty of vegetables, and fish, fowl, and meats. Use healthy oils like olive, walnut, and coconut liberally. Eat occasional fruit and plenty of avocado, olives, and use herbs and spices freely. Eat raw or least cooked whenever possible and certainly do not frequent fast food, processed snacks, or junk foods.

This is a very simplified summary, taken from the FAQs on his blog (The diet also allows real cultured cheeses.) You can find more information about specifics on the Wheat Belly blog and in his book.

What’s in it for me? Why do people like me take the time to tell others about this? Why am I writing articles and posting recipes to get people to think more deeply and to make the switch to gluten free eating easier? Because when you make a personal health discovery, it is hard to stay quiet about it! Because I wish that I had known this, decades ago! Because I know you love your families as much as I love mine, and want to make healthy choices, especially ones that will have a real impact!

~Good luck to you in your health quest, and Cheers!

 

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