***This post contains affiliate links. If you click one and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you!*** Once upon a time, I went on yet another low carb diet. It was The Four Hour Body by Tim Ferriss. I won’t bore you with the details of that diet (it didn’t work for me, or I would totally WOW you with my amazing “After Body… still waiting on the “After Body”), but it basically allowed for no white carbs except for on cheat day. I did lose some weight initially, but it was sooooo difficult to stick to (even with a cheat day) that I couldn’t keep it up. But that’s not the good part of the story. What I did realize while on this low carb diet was that all of my aches and pains and sleepiness WENT AWAY while I was not eating carbs. Today I want to share my Gluten Free story and all of favorite gluten free products.
Why I Choose To Eat Gluten Free
For years before I had kids and started to gain weight, I suffered from what I would call moderate achiness. First it was in my upper back/shoulder area, a never fully healed injury from my days as a gymnast. I went to physical therapy, acupuncture and general massage therapy. They all helped, but not for long. The aches always came back. Until one day, and I can’t pinpoint exactly when, the achy upper back went away, after YEARS of aches.
Happy ending, right? Nope. The achiness showed back up in my FACE this time. My jaw, actually. TMJ I was told, from grinding my teeth at night. My jaw pain was creating a whole face headache that was almost unbeareable. I was prescribed self massage (from the inside of your mouth, totally gross but helpful), novocaine injections and even Ativan as a muscle relaxer. Again, these all helped, but not forever.
And then, just like the back pain, the jaw pain went away and had rerouted itself into my ankles. My achilles tendons, to be exact. Somehow I got the delusional idea that I should take up running. Wrong. After a few short runs, I found myself barely able to walk in the morning. The pain basically dissipated as the day went on, so I learned to live with it and quit my running career.
This was about the time that I started the new low carb diet. As I mentioned, I did lose some weight, so I thought that my achy ankles were feeling better because I was thinner and therefore not putting so much pressure on my poor little feet. As the diet petered out, I started to add back some white carbs like rice and potatoes, but I noticed that if I ate things like BREAD or COOKIES or PANCAKES, I would start to get the achy, tired symptoms I had before reducing the carbs.
Now, I don’t have celiac disease, but my brother was diagnosed with it a few years back. I’ve not been to a doctor to determine if there’s any scientific or medical reason that not eating gluten would take away aches and sleepiness, but when my brother was diagnosed, I did do some on-line research about celiac and gluten intolerance and found that gluten can cause inflammation. This made total sense to me. If I had a lingering injury or ache, the gluten was making the inflammation worse. Take away the gluten and the inflammation and pain got better. Easy solution to ending aches, right?? Not so fast.
Do you know how many things have gluten in them? Pasta. Pizza. Bread. Pretty Much ALL of the Good Desserts. The list of places gluten can be hidden is way longer than that, but those four are kind of American staples. Never did a day go by that I didn’t eat at least one of those things. I’m Irish for crying out loud, how am I supposed to not eat bread?? And, oh yeah, I have two young kids, how am I supposed to avoid Pizza and Pasta? The latter is my daughter’s favorite food and the former is my son’s. I couldn’t avoid those foods and I would eat them and feel terrible. Within hours, whatever area of my body that happened to be cranky that day would start screaming at me for eating the bad, bad gluten. So, I would take a few days off, feel better and then slip again and the achy cycle would start back up.
So, I started to look for alternatives and found tons of recipes for cakes and cookies that required things like almond flour and sorghum. Not cheap and not easy to find, either one. What I needed were things that I could pull off of the shelf and put in my mouth. Well, ok, I could cook or bake them if necessary, but I was not up for finding exotic ingredients. Thankfully, the gluten free movement has really gained momentum and you can now find TONS of good products at pretty much any grocery store. I’ve tried LOTS of different options and I’m going to share all of my favorites with you.
My Favorite Gluten Free Products
Betty Crocker Gluten Free Cake Mix – This stuff is magical. Totally delicious, dense cupcakes that I absolutely love. I do have this unfortunate mind set that since they are gluten free, I can eat 6 of them a day. I know it’s wrong, but I can’t stop myself…
Barilla Gluten Free Pasta – I’m not joking when I say that I have been feeding this to my family for several weeks and they have no idea I switched out the normal, not gluten free pasta they used to eat. It’s delicious and the texture is just like every other pasta I’ve ever had. I just made this Baked Ziti with it and it was a hit. Even extended family members ate it and loved it. It’s a winner.
Tate’s Gluten Free Double Chocolate Chip Cookies – Cookies are my downfall. If you put cookies in front of me, I will eat them. I will eat them all. When I do eat something that is not gluten free it is usually a cookie and it is only because I don’t have any of these cookies from Tate’s available to me. These crispy cookies are amazing. You will totally not feel deprived if you eat these while your family is eating good old Chips Ahoy. Promise.
Udi’s Gluten Free Thin & Crispy Pizza Crusts – First, I have to say, a lot of pizza chains are offering gluten free pizzas and most of them are really good. But, if you feel like making your own pizza at home, these Gluten Free Thin & Crispy Crusts from Udi’s are perfect. I made a delicious Veggie Pizza, but the options are as great as your imagination.
Quaker Gluten Free Rice Cakes – Salt Free – Quaker makes Gluten Free rice cakes in a bunch of delicious flavors, but these salt free, plain rice cakes are my secret weapon. Sometimes I get a craving for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. When I get that craving, I can’t really do much but eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. But now, instead of bread, I slather peanut butter and jelly on a rice cake and it is fantastic. Craving kicked and no gluten consumed. And if you think that a plain unsalted rice cake sounds horrible, don’t knock it til you try it. If you love a PB&J, you will like this. 99% guaranteed. I introduced these to a friend and she thanks me for bringing them into her life every time she eats one. True story.
So, that’s how I’ve been managing my Gluten Free diet. I definitely fall off the wagon and have some real honest to goodness bread sometimes, but I regret it every time. I still get the aches when I cheat and it takes a couple of days of no gluten to get rid of them. Now, I want to know… What are your favorite Gluten Free Products?? Let me know if the comments.