a sugar recap (and why I’m NOT going gluten-free)

March 2nd, 2013

Let’s start with sugar.

This was in many ways much harder to give up than dairy – simply put, I missed my sugar!

That said, it wasn’t nearly as hard  as I thought it would be (I know, it was only a month. And, okay, this happened). And though I didn’t notice any changes health-wise, it felt good to eliminate a virtually “empty” food from my diet. I’m a big believer in moderation when it comes to eating and so rather than remain completely sugar-free I’m going to try and make more mindful choices going forward. Like reaching less for the gummy bears and more for the homemade treats that I’ve put my time, heart and quality ingredients into.

Umm, except for these:

peeps

Which, of course, are EVERYWHERE right now. Yes, peeps are my kryptonite. That is all.

Okay. On to gluten….

It started with my brownie post, and my suggestion of using oat flour to make the recipe gluten-free. I received this note from my friend Nancy:

“Many celiacs can’t handle oats because they are always grown/processed with the same equipment used for wheat. The risk of cross contamination is high. Usually celiacs are told to introduce oats very slowly into their diet to make sure they don’t have symptoms. If you use oat flour for a gluten-free recipe, it’s important to make sure to specify using gluten-free oats, processed in a dedicated facility.”

Nancy is one of my oldest and dearest friends. She is a trained chef and has been dealing with her son’s celiac for many years, long before it was as “on the radar” as it is today. I remember her mail-ordering special ingredients, and taking cooking and baking classes so that she could replicate all of her son’s favorite foods. She truly was ahead of the curve and has been an inspiration to me as a cook as well as a mom.

I immediately amended the post, and was grateful to her for pointing this discrepancy out.

But it got me thinking about my upcoming “gluten-free” month. I do not have celiac, or even a gluten allergy. I started this trial as a personal exploration – a means of seeing if I could note a difference in my well-being by eliminating certain foods from my diet. But now it was becoming more complicated. I had purchased all sorts of ingredients to make a gluten-free flour blend, to use in baking. I spent time asking Nancy countless questions, as well as doing my own research. And I was fully prepared to “go gluten-free” for the month of March.

But I was suddenly not feeling right about it. Actually, I was starting to feel a little irresponsible. This is not a gluten-free blog. My recipes, in fact, are the total opposite of that. And while it’s been fun and interesting to try new methods of cooking and baking – and while I’ve certainly seen the benefits of eliminating dairy and sugar from my diet – I have the luxury of going back to my old ways, should I choose.

So what to do? I’ve committed to these three months on my life list for heaven’s sake – how can I back down now?

But,  as in my High Line photo series, I reminded myself of Maggie’s words: “Be rigid only if you want to snap”.

So I spent yesterday regrouping. I chatted with Nancy some more, and she suggested I go “wheat-free” for the month instead.

And I said, “What’s the difference between wheat-free and gluten-free”? (This is how clueless I am…). She explained that true gluten-free diets exclude barley, rye malt  and even oats – not just wheat.  That going wheat-free would be similar to what I had done with dairy and sugar.

Lightbulb moment.

This felt much better. I take your presence here very seriously – I always want to share not only informative and engaging content, but content you can trust and count on. And in no way can I offer you that expertise when it comes to gluten-free.

For that I would direct you to one of the very best blogs out there, CAFE by Jackie Ourman. Jackie’s blog is devoted to creating and eating  food that relies less on faux versions of traditional ingredients and more on freshness, quality and inventive techniques (you can read more about her story here). Jackie has been an endless source of information for me and I encourage you to spend some time with her too (her recipes are fabulous).

As for me? I will be “wheat-free” – for the most part – this month. And I’ll be doing it – for the most part – off-line. I’m still curious to see if by eliminating wheat I’ll notice a difference. I just won’t be talking about it as much here.

Whew! That was a lot – are you still there? I’ve loved reading about all of your trials with eliminating trigger foods – this was a hot topic, for sure! I had no idea how much sugar, dairy and wheat affected so many of you. And so interesting to see how you all approach limits – whether it’s cold turkey, occasionally, or “Monday- Friday”.

Thanks for hanging in there with me – I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming (sea salt caramels, anyone?).

Have a great weekend – I’m off to Savannah for a college visit with my boy.

And yes, I will be having chicken and waffles.

People, please.

6 Responses to “a sugar recap (and why I’m NOT going gluten-free)”

  • Sheri,

    Thank you so much for NOT going gluten-free and for recognizing the complexity of the issue. It is a necessary challenge for those of us with celiac or who are managing it for our children to navigate and adhere to the diet. Most of us wouldn’t choose to do so if we didn’t have to. Good luck with your process and remember my recommendation to stay on gluten if you really think it is an issue until you get tested. It needs to be in your system in order for celiac to be detected.

    I really appreciate your kinds words about my blog as well. You know I love Donuts, Dresses and Dirt and your beautiful way of sharing your very well-tended life! xoxo

    Jackie

    • sherisilver says:

      Thanks Jackie – hopefully I’ll be a little more “well-tended” myself going forward! Appreciate all of your help and truly love what you’re doing….xo

  • Leslie Schulte says:

    Thanks for all the exploring & reporting. While I did not weigh in (no pun intended) earlier, on your Sugar-free” month, as you know I have spent a number of years on the sugar-free wagon. The reality of “rigidity= snap” became MY aha moment a few months ago. As a result I’ve adopted a moderation on a selective scale, approach to sugar.
    Somehow all this reminds me of the George Clooney character in “Burn After Reading. He suffered from “lactose reflux.” Oy!! Now where’s my coffee!!

  • Peeps are my kryptonite too!! (With gummi bears running a close second.) But having said that, I DO feel better when I limit my sugar, and I have discovered some fantastic recipes through your months of dairy free/sugar free! So thanks, and I fully applaud your thinking re: gluten free & wheat free. Am attempting wheat free myself this month.

    • sherisilver says:

      Ha! Glad to find a partner in crime! 🙂 Thanks so much for writing; how’s YOUR wheat-free month going? Are you using substitutes for things like pasta and bread, or just avoid them altogether?

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