Here's what happened when I switched over to a gluten-free diet for 15 days!
I decided to switch over to a gluten-free diet for 15 days and noticed four changes in my body.
About two months ago my friend told me about her new found obsession- gluten-free food. I'll be honest, I had seen many celebrities follow this fad on the telly, and even read about it online, but never came across somebody who actually followed it in real life.
So when I finally asked my fellow Punjabi parantha-loving friend what she had sacrificed to be on a gluten-free diet, she said "My Paranthas. But honestly, not much. In fact, I think am on a much healthier diet now!"
As a ghee-guzzling parantha binging Punjabi myself, I know this gluten-free fad could be slightly tough. (For the uninitiated, gluten is a protein found in grains such as barley, wheat and even rye. Some people have to go on a gluten-free diet due to celiac disease.)
But am not the one to back out of challenges, and in all fairness am not that much of a foodie as well so I took it up for 15 days.
What I didn't eat for 15 days!
So here I was, saying 'No' to all things gluten. This meant eliminating the following from my daily diet:
- Wheat and barley atta (I rarely ate barley so it wasn't much of a sacrifice)
- Semolina/ Sooji/Rava (I really had to stop myself because upma is my go-to for breakfast on most days)
- Breads -white and brown, unless labeled to be gluten-free (this was tough because I had to order this online)
- French fries (another very tough decision)
- Cookies and cakes, and pizzas and pasta (buying gluten-free pasta was also an online activity)
- Indian farsan and namkeen (another favourite for evening coffee sessions)
- Oats (because sometimes they mix wheat with oats)
Now, if I could not eat most of the things I normally ate, what was it I could?
What I ate for 15 days!
I did my research, consulted a nutritionist and here's what I ate during the 15 day gluten-free period.
- Corn, soy, bajra (millet), buckwheat (kuttu ka atta and jawar (I got this atta prepared from a local chakki and removed wheat from it)
- Rice and quinoa (getting used to eating quinoa was not tough because it tastes like a mixture between oats and brown rice and was rich)
- Beans, seeds and nuts (all are naturally gluten-free)
- Green vegetables and fruits (again, naturally gluten-free)
- Eggs, poultry and fish (also naturally gluten-free)
- Dairy (am not a dairy product binger but I like dishes prepared with ghee, so I retained that in my diet)
To be honest, I didn't face a lot of issues with switching over to a gluten-free diet. Most Indians are already used to eating somewhat of a gluten-free diet and we also prefer freshly cooked food over those with preservatives.
For my daily diet, since I was already used to eating mixed atta (with various grains) and I simply eliminated wheat from it. In fact, this actually made the atta taste better.
On some days I ate eggs and on others I would replace upma for breakfast with quinoa. This takes a little time to cook but I added pine nuts and sometimes even had avocado on the side and trust me, it tastes as exotic as it sounds. But it will take sometime to adjust to the taste, especially if you're used to eating something excessively spicy. (Psss! My husband gave up after his first gluten-free meal.)
I love my green vegetables and fruits, so I was happy with those as my daily snacks along with almonds. As for dinner, I prepared mixed grain chapattis and continued making green vegetables and daals in ghee.
What happened to me after 15 days!
After 15 days of following this diet, here's my observation:
- Digestion was good: For the first two days I was slightly constipated. But by the third day, I also increased my water and fibre intake and by the fourth day I was back to myself. And of course, my digestion was as good as it was before by the end of the 15th day.
- Had extra vitamins: Sustaining a gluten-free will be difficult and you may suffer from constipation and sometimes even diarrhea simply because gluten-free diet may not fill your body with adequate vitamins such as iron, folate, calcium, fibre, riboflavin and even thaimin. However, a conscious choice of adding nuts and clean diary and poultry more or less did not make me feel as if my body lacked anything.
- No bloating: For the first few days I also felt bloated because I was binging on rice and quinoa like there was no tomorrow. So my takeaway is that you should eat one of these on either days. If you have quinoa on one day, don't fill your tummy with rice the very same day.
- Hair and skin was better: I could see a visible difference in my hair and skin. The pores on my face reduced drastically, acne scars started to fade away and my hair felt smoother.
Overall, I felt that going on a gluten-free diet worked wonders for me. I was more aware of what I was eating, I made a conscious choice to eat healthy and increased my water intake and as a daal lover, I couldn't have been happier with this challenge.
My suggestion to all those interested in trying it is just this: start with the basics and do not be too hard on yourself. Food is a choice and should not be treated as a punishment.
Will I try a gluten-free diet again? Yes, of course!