May is Gluten-Free Awareness Month: http://glutenfreegirl.blogspot.com/2010/05/gluten-free-cookbooks.html
I try really hard not to bitch about how much work my diet is and the added costs of it. But since it's Gluten Free Awareness month, I thought it was worth posting about.
I'm not technically gluten free in that I don't have a full-blown food allergy nor am I celiac. However, due to the health issues I have I eat a ludicrously low carb diet (less than 20g net carbs/day and a minimum of 15g of fiber), no yeast, and I rarely eat anything containing wheat/rye/etc. I also cannot have soy products and am allergic to seafood/shellfish/anything that grows in the ocean, sea, river, lake, etc whether farmed or natural. Didn't used to be allergic to seafood, etc, but the mercury poisoning in college "fixed" that, apparently for life.
So the things I can eat are severely limited, especially starches. No regular rice, pasta, potatoes, breads, beer, sugar/honey/HFCS, etc. Minimal amounts of alcohol, beans, many vegetables and fruits, and some types of dairy. Lots of meats, cheeses, salads/low carb veggies, and eggs are my primary food choices. It gets old, going out to eat is difficult (and chefs hate me), and my grocery bill is nearly double because the starches need to be replaced with something. I have to buy a lot more organic foods as they don't usually contain added carbs as fillers, which is part of that cost, but a lot of it is the expense of buying more meat, veg, etc and no carbs - carbs are cheap. And I have to make most everything myself as nearly all prepared foods add sugar or HFCS to them, which makes them a no-go too.
I am lucky to be able to have a small amount of carbs, so I'll occasionally splurge on a plate of refried beans with cheese or a drink or some watermelon. I'm also lucky I gave up sweets, coffee and soda for the most part when I was in grad school, so I don't miss that often. But I have entirely too many days when I'm physically unable to cook (I learned the hard way that cooking when you cannot feel your hands leads to burns and cuts you didn't notice), so that makes all this a lot fucking harder to deal with too.
But I'm also lucky, in that I don't have to worry about being poisoned by cross contamination as someone with celiac does. I can eat dreamfields pasta (5g net carbs/serving) or a 1/2 a piece of matzoh as a treat once in a while (16g net carbs) as long as I really watch how often I do that and make sure I don't go overboard. And I have reasonable access to fresh foods that are on my diet (which a lot of people in America's "inner cities" do not have, not to mention what's available in a less prosperous country even in pricy stores).
I'm just glad I don't hate to cook, and I'm not a bad cook either. I can make satisfying meals without the carbs most of the time. And I'm still working on a bread recipe that I like with almond and coconut flours - it's edible and tastes ok, but still really heavy, and comes out more like a flat-bread than anything.
But spending a couple of hours on cooking and food prep every other day or so gets old. Not being able to stop for a burger after a night out or order in when I'm feeling lazy or too shitty to cook sucks. Not being allowed ritz or toast and flat gingerale when I'm puking my guts out again because my body hates me today is even worse. Having to think about whether I've hit my limit for carbs today or I can have a few strawberries for dessert is a pain in the ass. And, fiber supplements are a must - benefiber powder is my first choice, but it needs a fair amount of liquid to dissolve it; and there's fiber choice tablets (yuck!!) as the thus far least offensive for the amount of fiber for those meals when I need a chewable.
I almost wish I liked artificial sweeteners sometimes, but they all taste like ass. So even things like diet soda, most foods made for diabetics, most foods for celiacs (they remove the wheat/etc, but still contain lots of carbs and yeast), fruit juice (same problem - too many carbs), light yogurt, etc are all no-goes.
That said, I know it's probably too late for this weekend, which is as noted in the article linked above Gluten Free Challenge weekend
. I'd love to hear how all of you deal with these limitations, even if it's just for a weekend.
Try it; you'll be surprised how much work staying below 20g of carbs really is, especially if you also need to make sure you meet your minimum calorie needs and consume enough fiber. And a reminder: no yeast, no soy, no fish/kelp/etc. Let me know how you do and what it really costs you above your normal expenses (20% more? 30% more?). I suspect you'll be amazed. On the bright side of things, it did bring my weight down to the thinnest I've been since oh, about 13 though, and now I struggle to stay at the bottom of the acceptable BMI for my height, but that's OK. I am, however, waiting for the day when I can walk into any store and find safe prepared meals to heat up for those days I don't feel well, although I suspect it'll be years - even the Atkins and South Beach meals which are low carb are usually not safe for me to eat.