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September 30, 2015

Cutting Out Gluten or Dairy? 5 Must-Knows Before You Start

Admittedly, I kind of hate when anything is off-limits. Feelings of deprivation lead to eventual overindulgence, which is why building satisfaction into your eating—using things like preemptive cheats, non-negotiables and increasing the #SatisfactionFactor of your meals—is so important.

In fact, I believe the only time that cutting certain foods completely out of your diet is in the case of a food sensitivity. Otherwise, don’t put foods on a “do not eat” list, it only makes you crave and fixate on them even more. Implementing an #AbundanceMindset around food is the start of dissipating food’s hold over us.

So, in regards to food allergies, one of the questions I get all the time is, “I’m allergic to gluten and/or dairy—so there are a lot of things I’d like to have, but can’t. And as a result, I feel deprived!”

I totally get that. And deprivation is the beginning of the deprive-then-binge cycle so ideally we don’t ever want to feel restricted. So how can we not feel restricted when we are, ahem, restricted?

This is tricky, and there are a ton of both mindset insights and tactical nutrition tools that can help. But moderation (aka satisfaction) is possible when cutting out things like gluten and dairy.

Neghar doesn’t eat cheese because of a sensitivity, which makes it harder for her when we dine out because I love a good cheese plate. Jillian doesn’t do gluten, so she will always be looking for alternatives in our father-in-law’s very Italian kitchen. These are obstacles, but they are not impossible to navigate.

To address this more, I brought in my good friend and JillFit Ambassador, Sabrina Sarabella, a clinical nutrition consultant and someone who personally dealt with thyroid issues, brain fog and GI upset for years (and spent thousands going from doctor to doctor to get answers!), not knowing that she was experiencing gluten sensitivity, to explain her top insights for dealing with food elimination.

Sabrina is someone I trust for her clinical experience, education and years in the industry. Love her top 5 must-knows for cutting foods out of your diet and still maintaining your sanity. Check her out here!


It’s not fair, I can’t eat that!

I had just sat down with a bunch of girlfriends for one of our Friday night group dinners. It’s a time when we all get to catch up on our husbands, boyfriends and kids and have few laughs. Tonight’s restaurant choice was a BYO (bring your own wine) Italian place that is new in town.

When one of the girls suggested Italian for tonight, I cringed; thinking about my new diet and how I would survive eating there. I had just found out that I was gluten sensitive and I was starting a food elimination diet and cut out all wheat and gluten out of diet amongst other foods.(This was many years ago way before the official gluten-free craze began and no one really knew what it was.).

I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to find something  that I could eat and that my friends would think I was weird that I wasn’t eating what they were eating, did they even know what gluten was and how it could affect you?

As we sat down and opened the bottles of wine, the waiter brought the bread basket to the table and as the girls around me all dove in for the warm roll and smothered butter on top; I just took a big gulp of wine and tried to ignore the bread staring at me!

Then it was time to order, and as in typical girl fashion one of my friends shouted out, “Want to get some mini plates to share?! Sabrina you order for us.” Ahh! How was I going to get around this one, I know they wanted pasta and pizza but what would I eat? How would I get around them knowing I wasn’t going to eat what they were eating? Would they think I was weird??

And then the thoughts continued in my head, “Come on I was being silly, these girls are my friends they would totally be accepting of my new diet, right? Should I tell them or just pretend to eat and go home after dinner and eat in my kitchen what I know I can eat?”

After I ordered what the group wanted for the table, I added in “…. and a grilled chicken salad with a side of veggies and sweet potatoes” under my breath.

When the food started coming to the table; all the girls started digging in and I just continued with conversation with my friends and then the I heard, “Sabrina, here; try some of this penne vodka, it’s amazing and then you have to taste the pizza here, the best in town!” To which I replied, “Nah, just going to have some salad and chicken here.”

“Sabrina, I know you eat healthy but come on, just try some of this pasta, best ever!”

So finally I did it! I told them what was going on, “I have been having some health issues and pasta, pizza, and bread all have gluten and make my stomach hurt and have been causing some thyroid issues for me.” They girls responded, “OMG really? I didn’t know? Wait, tell us more about this gluten stuff, can it be affecting me? I have been having unusual acne breakouts. What can you eat instead? Should we order something different for you?”

Ahh! A sigh of relief came over me. I felt a million times better and less anxious! “Yes, I can eat a ton of stuff still and yes, you are probably eating something that is causing inflammation in your body which is causing your acne.”

And as always, my friends were super supportive of my decisions to go on a food elimination diet and still go out with them to enjoy the night. The girls asked a million questions that I was happy to explain all about what was going on in my body and theirs in regards to what they were eating.

My story is one pretty common amongst clients I work with, they are always a little apprehensive starting a food elimination diet. Will people around them think they are being weird or just following the latest trend and making up the fact that they are gluten intolerant?  Will I be able to go out and enjoy dinner with friends? What about all of the foods I can’t eat? How will I survive?

I understand all of these concerns that my clients have because I have been there too.  That is why I have come up with some coping techniques to help you!

1) Find an alternative food.


With food allergies and food intolerance being so prevalent these days, many food companies have been working on different food alternatives. There are so many restaurants and stores that sell gluten-free products. You can also get creative with foods.  Buy a spiralizer and use that to make zoodles (zucchini noodles) or get a spaghetti squash and use it in your spaghetti and meatball recipe. Play around with recipes and replace the ingredients you are avoiding with ingredients that are similar. Replace your ice cream with dairy-free alternatives like almond milk or coconut milk if you have a dairy intolerance. The list goes on and on, you just need to be a little more creative!

2) Know your “why.”


Giving up a food and keeping it off limits can be a challenge, especially if it’s a food you love. However, I would rather eat spaghetti squash instead of real pasta if I know that eating gluten will cause me to spend the next 3 hours or more in the bathroom and feel bloated, have stomach pain and look puffy. Knowing why I am doing something, because I know how it makes me feel when I eat something that I am intolerant to is a strong reason to avoid that food. Also, when I understand that eating a certain food is causing inflammation in my body, I have a strong reason to avoid it since I know why.

3) Build a support team.


When you have a strong support system around you, they will want to help and support you. Start to gather a team of people that you can look to for help, support and guidance. Find groups online that share recipes of foods you can eat in your elimination diet. Search for nearby restaurants and food stores that serve foods you will enjoy on your plan. Work with nutritionists that will be able to guide and educate you on how to navigate your “new normal” around eating. Reach out to people that have been through what you are going through and ask about their best practices. Spend time with family and friends that understand and don’t judge and negatively comment about your eating habits.

4) Focus on the foods you *can* eat.


Even on food elimination diet, when you start to strip away so many foods that you once loved, there are still so many that you can have! This is about getting over the victim mindset of what you are being “denied” and instead seek out delicious alternatives and focus on what you can have. Guacamole, sweet potato fries, paleo “cookies” and the list goes on. Even when you are removing certain foods there are an abundance of other foods you can eat and enjoy, you just need to look at your choices a little differently.

5) Have a plan and back-up plan.


Having a plan will help to keep you focused on your goals. If you start to feel cravings or you know you will be going to a place where foods you can eat won’t be readily available, it is important to figure out a plan ahead of time.  If you are going to a party, bring a food you can eat with you to share with others. When a craving hits, figure out what will feel indulgent to you, like guacamole or bacon for example, and make sure you have easy access to that food. Or learn to treat yourself with non-food-related foods like a massage or a new pair of jeans. When you have a plan ahead of time and anticipate obstacles and mentally map out how you can overcome them, you’ll not feel as deprived and you’ll feel in your power.

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