Five years ago I helped lead a nutrition challenge and decided to do a Whole30. It had been introduced to me by the owner of a gym I was working at and I was beginning to start dabbling a bit in a better nutrition plan for myself. My college years of taco bell and Costco chicken bakes had caught up and I was ready to get back to a healthier version of myself especially since I was working out consistently. If you aren’t familiar with Whole30, it is 30 days of no preservatives, no dairy, no gluten, no alcohol, no sugars (unless naturally occurring in the foods), and no beans or legumes. I was one of the few who made it the entire 30 days, and on day 31 I was going to re-introduce some of the foods that I had a feeling would not set well with my system. I quickly realized that I did not feel good at all when I ate dairy and gluten. Soy didn’t set well either, but not nearly as bad as dairy and gluten. My diet now had moved into a lifestyle because I didn’t feel it was worth it to feel terrible over foods I could substitute out.
To be completely transparent, carbs are my favorite thing ever. I used to eat home made bread or rolls at restaurants like it was going out of style. But, cheese has never really been my thing. I didn’t really crave it, and unless it was on a taco, pizza or a recipe, I wasn’t reaching for it. So, giving up dairy products, especially because I didn’t really like milk either, was no problem for me. But the bread…. Oh the bread was going to be tough to let go forever. Which led me to start researching and experimenting.
Now, I want to be clear about one part here. I have never been diagnosed by a physician as being lactose intolerant, celiac, or gluten intolerant. You could say I self diagnosed myself to being sensitive to dairy and gluten, but I do not have a “doctor’s note”. What I can tell you is this: I have a strong belief that most dairy and gluten are highly processed, so when we take those things out, we tend to feel a lot better. It might not be because we are sensitive to dairy or gluten, but more that we are feeding our bodies all these preservatives that we aren’t meant to consume, therefore making us feel tired, bloated, giving us headaches, altering our hormones, etc.
About 70% of American’s are lactose intolerant, and some may not even be aware they are. Symptoms of lactose intolerance are stomach pain and bloating, diarrhea, increased gas, constipation, headaches, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, and eczema. Besides lactose intolerance, a potential problem with cow’s dairy is a protein called A1 casein which can form the inflammatory opiate casomorphin or BCM7. If you consistently consume cow dairy products this can potentially cause an inflammatory response to the system leading to chronic inflammation. Speak to your healthcare professional to get tested for lactose intolerance.
Those who could potentially benefit from a gluten free diet are those who suffer from gluten sensitive IBS, nonceliac gluten sensitivity, mental health conditions, atopy, fibromyalgia, endometriosis, obesity, and athletic performance. There have been correlations with migraines and gluten, and those who have removed gluten from their diet have then had migraines resolved or significantly reduced. If you think you may have a gluten intolerance, speak with your healthcare professional. If you feel you are sensitive to gluten, but might think that it has more to do with the additives in what you are eating, try reading the ingredients in the foods you are buying and make sure it has a few as possible, and there are none of the following: benzoates, sorbates, propionates, nitrites, sulfites, BHA, BHT, EDTA, polyphosphates, artificial colorings, artificial flavorings. A go to rule for me is if I don’t know what it is or can’t pronounce it, I won’t buy it.
Now let’s get to the fun part. What foods are super yummy and gluten free or dairy free? I have heard a lot of people describe gluten free products as tasting like cardboard or super dry. It is also an accurate statement that sometimes these products can be higher in calories, so I advise you to be aware of how much and how often you are eating these things. Everything in moderation is okay.
Let’s start with gluten free products first. It would be impossible for me to name ALL the gluten free products that are out there, so I am going to name a few of my personal favorites that are found at some popular markets.
Dairy Free products:
Dressings & marinades:
Lara Briden, author of The Period Repair Manual
Brittany Peterson, ATC
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