January 8, 2012

Making Diet and Life Changes for Better Health

When I first began thinking of a title for this post, I laughed and thought to myself, maybe it would be better to title it "My Grain-free Trials!"  The past year has been a year of overcoming many obstacles.

But, getting right to the point, the traditional gluten-free diet that my family and I had been eating had not given us the health that we were seeking.  I knew there had to be a better way to regain our digestive health.

The first step in making life changes is realizing something needs to change.

There were many things I wanted to change. I had chronic sinus congestion that was very stubborn which I know in most cases is usually yeast related.  I began to feel really tired and run down, as if I had an infection daily.  At this point, my body was not responding to the herbs and tinctures that usually brought me around. Many days my face felt swollen and puffy.  My son and I were both experiencing  nutritional deficiencies. These symptoms were troubling because we were already eating gluten-free and taking supplements. It was evidence that our guts had not completely healed. I decided that we needed to make changes to what we were doing. 

If we continued to do the same thing it would be silly to expect different results.

It was time to take our diet to another level and make the changes to be grain-free. Even though I wasn't sure how I could make more diet changes, especially for my children, I decided to do this for my own diet and then gradually introduce these to my children.  

A visual image from an article, "How to make life changes — becoming the person you want to be" written by Marcy Holmes, Women's Health NP  shares Prochaska's six stages of change that I kept in my mind as I moved forward to make the changes needed to restore our health.

If you are in the midst of change, you may see yourself somewhere along this path,  too.


The contemplation stage took the longest period of time for me to move through.  I have learned that this is a natural element of my personality. as a Highly Sensitive Person, to ponder and study before I take action.  According to Dr. Elaine Aron, "HSPs only appear inhibited because they are so aware of all the possibilities in a situation. They pause before acting, reflecting on their past experiences."  I did a lot of thinking....
I began remembering when I first changed my diet ten years ago to deal with gut issues, ie. candida, leaky gut, auto-immune ITP, that I removed gluten, dairy and grains, except rice. I didn't have the energy or understanding of cooking without gluten and grains at that point, therefore I ate mostly meats, beans, and vegetables and followed the candida yeast diet.  I got better, but then I around eight months later  I reintroduce gluten and I became really sick.  (Learn more here about the dangers of this mistake for a gluten intolerant person.)

Well, now looking back I was on the right track, but I got off that track when I learned how to cook gluten-free. Yes, let me say that again....when I learned how to cook gluten-free. Well, why would this have gotten me off track?

My theory is that when I began eating gluten-free, I was still consuming many grains that caused a reaction in my body. Over the past year and a half when I first began my "Grain-free Trial" I removed millet, corn, sorghum from my diet. All of a sudden  I became extremely fatigued for many weeks. I even had an episode where I fainted which resulted in a head injury.  My body was speaking loudly to me that those grains were not good for me.   

Thankfully,  Dr. Peter Osborne, a leading Board Certified doctor of clinical nutrition, as well as a doctor of chiropractic,  wrote an article sharing research that revealed corn contained gluten. I saw his article in December 2010, during the holiday rush, and I skimmed the article and ran out the door to visit family for Christmas. On our way home we picked up our new golden retriever puppy. Life was moving fast, but this nagging thought kept occurring that if corn has gluten, then I was consuming poison every time I ate my favorite snack, organic blue corn chips.  I knew I had to find out more.

I kept thinking about the study that corn contained gluten and by this time I had learned from lectures by Dr. Osborne that all grains contain gluten, and more importantly that research was not adequate to assume these grains are safe for consumption by a person diagnosed with celiac disease.

I was challenged to think about making diet changes.  I wondered how I would find replacements for some of the convenience gluten free foods that we had begun to rely on when my energy was too low to cook.  I didn't have the energy to restructure my cooking at this point, but I knew it was what needed to be done to turn our health around. 

Preparation for life changes

I continued following Dr. Peter Osborne's video lectures and I began to learn and gain understanding from his clinical experiences and solid research. More videos were being released that taught me and inspired me to make the changes for my family. The information and observations in his clinic were overwhelmingly positive that patients who were not getting well on the traditional gluten-free diet were still consuming other grains...millet, sorghum and corn. When they began eating the "true gluten free diet" of no grains they became healthy again.

I was particularly interested in the list of grains that illustrated the content of prolamines contained in the traditional "gluten free grains" that are thought safe for the gluten-free diet. .

 Grain - Prolamine - %
Wheat - Gliadin - 69%
Rye - Secalinin - 30-50%
Oats - Avenin - 16%
Barley - Hordein - 46-52%
Millet - Panicin - 40%
Corn - Zien - 55%
Rice - Orzenin - 5%
Sorghum - Kafirin - 52%

If you notice that sorghum and millet are actually higher than rye and oats you will probably be shocked as I was to learn this.

For a complete list of gluten containing ingredients, Dr. Osborne  has written an excellent list you may study on his website here.  Plus, be sure to watch his video tutorial  for a more thorough study why you may need to avoid these other grains. By now you probably concluded that The Gluten-Free Society is my favorite website to learn and gain knowledge to support a healing gluten-free diet.   

After all my contemplation and preparation It was time to get started with action.  I decided my first step would be to begin my grain-free trial for myself and gradually wean my children off grains. This has been my project for the past year and a half.  I have been creating recipes to transition us to grain-free along with our other food intolerance. The difficulty I encountered was that most grain-free recipes cater to those who are able to eat almonds and egg  which are a problem for me, but not my boys.  I have chosen to create grain-free recipes with coconut flour and pecan meal that you may have seen already on my blog.

I feel it is most important  that my kids are happy with our diet and gradually I have been able to work out my recipes and keep them happy, at least for the most part. Of course, change for any of us will have its good and bad days.  We just need to keep on course and find the encouragement we need through support of friends and others with similar objectives.

I am still searching for replacements or recipes of some favorite foods. It is a process of change at least in the right direction this time.


The last of the Six Steps to Change is one that interestingly fell into place as if it was orchestrated by the divine.  Marcy Holmes shared in her article:
"Choose helpers who are consistent and strong, but don’t push you, nag you, or enable you as you work through the stages. The most important qualities for helpers are empathy and warmth."
Several of my close gluten free friends were making these same diet changes with the results of feeling better than ever. I am thankful for my friends who inspire and uplift me.  This network is probably the most beautiful gift that has come to me from blogging.

Recollection of changes

 You may wonder if I saw any changes in my body with the grain-free diet and the answer is  Yes, most definitely,  but  I am sorting out everything especially with the head injury complicating my observations. I will have to save all this for another post, another day.  I have seen wonderful changes and I know that I don't want to wait around for more studies. I have my own study with my own body. It knows way more than I can comprehend. 


  1. I wish you much luck with this. These diets are so hard to follow in the first place and now, you have to change it. I feel so bad for your kids... being so young and having to endure this.

    I happened to find a medical doctor who believes in and treats candida. I am going to him for my mouth problems which seem to come and go. He told me to follow the alkaline diet and not worry to much about the candida. Except... to stay away from sugar. So that is what I am doing.

  2. My Journey With Candida-with the statistic that only 8% on a gluten-diet actually heal their gut staring in my face it wasn't too hard for me to make this decision. The diet originally intended to heal celiac disease was the SCD which is grain-free and somewhere down the line that diet changed to the more starch filled gluten-free diet that we see today. Processed starches that make it more difficult to get a handle on the bad bacteria and yeast. I see growth that I didn't see before in my boys and it is my hope that they will know the difference.

    I am happy that you have found a MD to believe you! Hold onto him!

  3. Debbie,
    Wonderful info. Let's keep the conversations going all year. We are in the exact same place, you and I. I have added you to our links page so I can easily pop over and see what you are up to. We are on the fringe of the gluten-free blogosphere, that is for sure. I wrote a similar article about our journey just a few days ago and why I decided to go low carb (which is essentially the same as you).

  4. Caryn,
    It is an honor to be added to your link page! Thanks so much. I would love to keep in touch. It is encouraging to find another mom stepping out of the "gluten-free" diet to the "true gluten-free" or grain free diet with your family. I look forward to the new year!

  5. I didn't want to go grain free either. I knew I was going to have to for a few months and I really didn't want to. But it has been remarkably easy to find and make grain-free recipes and replacements. The biggest challenges are that the majority of grain-free recipes use nuts, most of which I have to avoid as well.

  6. This time last year I found out that in addition to gluten and dairy I had to cut a whole host of other issues. I'd been gluten-free and dairy-free off and on for a decade but after 6 months of neither and still not feeling good I got re-tested for allergies... So... bye bye to quinoa, amaranth, coffee, eggs, corn, oats, goat milk, mushrooms, sesame, sunflower, walnuts, oysters, crab and all parts of the egg. I'd already cut coffee, so that wasn't as awful as expected, but it took months to emotionally adjust to what my psyche looked at as HUGE deprivations. A year later I feel fantastic! I've dropped 20 pounds without trying, and my quality of life is much improved, with almost no depression issues. I'm still trying to move towards cooking EVERYTHING so that the random eczema from cross-contamination goes away, but as a grad student it's hard!!! Still, no grains is the way to go!

  7. Hi pdw - Thank you for sharing your story. It will encourage others to know that they can do it too. I agree with you about the nuts. Thank you for stopping by to comment. I hope you continue to heal and feel well.

  8. Oh, wow, Jess your food list looks like mine!

    It is great to hear your success with the grain-free diet. I am glad you are making the changes and moving forward to see even greater success this year. Thank you for writing. It encourages everyone to hear. Keep up the good work!

  9. This is a great post about a very important topic.

    You know how well it has benefited us to be grain-free, too. It can be challenging, but it's also doable. I think that people have gotten so addicted to grains and gluten in their diets, that they become complacent. And when you take them out, you realize how many other food choices there are that nourish the body!

    Also, did you know that the first treatment for Celiac Disease was a GRAIN-free diet? not just gluten?

    It talks about it in a book that I have on celiac disease. It goes into detail about how our diets used to be until farmers started yielding grains and our diet changed drastically.. and now, wheat is in just about everything. The average person, who isn't avoiding gluten, eats wheat or other gluten grains in just about every meal and snack! That can't be good, for anybody.

  10. Heather, thank you for adding your thoughts to this post. It is important, as you mentioned,The SCD Diet was the original diet created to heal celiac disease. Somehow in this post I forgot to write about this and remembered as soon as I posted. Only 8% heal on the gluten-free diet which is a far too low number. Thank you for commenting. All of us together sharing our experiences will help others avoid this costly mistake.

  11. I absolutely believe that maintaining a strict diet you can really look after your health and these are some very good recipes and tips here yo help us do the same.

  12. Thank you to tell us so much useful information. So nice sharing. I’m glad to read it.


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