Diet and Overall Health

In my extended circle of friends, acquaintances, vendors, and colleagues, there has been a steady drip of bad news, particularly in the past week. Three people in that overall group have been diagnosed with illnesses directly attributable to their diets. One is making active, if a bit misguided (which I’ll get to in a moment), changes in his diet. One will be facing tough decisions over the next few weeks.

And the third isn’t ready to do a darn thing about it. That’s another story for another day.

While I focus on issues facing gluten-free individuals, I also focus a lot on your overall health. If you were like me, you spent years in a state of “not well”. Sometimes your illness was obvious and overt. Sometimes it was subtle and cumulative. Throughout it all, you felt like crap, but didn’t know why.

Then came a diagnosis or an a-ha moment. You eliminated gluten and those weird, nagging symptoms went away. It wasn’t until a month after I’d completely eliminated gluten that I realized just how sick I’d been. Or how wonderful a healthy, happy body and mind can be.

Since then, I’ve made a lot of changes to my diet, all for the better. I’ve eliminated most processed foods. I’ve pushed meat to the side of the plate in favor of fruits and vegetables (which I’m finding my body really loves! who knew?). I’ve also made a concerted effort to increase probiotics in my diet, particularly since I noted how my body reacted after my gallbladder surgery’s antibiotics (which were prophylactic, not due to a surgery-related problem).

The first person I mentioned in this piece (and the third, for what it’s worth) has been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, and is making a lot of changes to his diet. In describing those changes, I noted something similar to what I’d heard from a family member: a clear misunderstanding on what works and doesn’t work from a dietary perspective.

In both cases, I blame a lack of good patient education from medical professionals. Reducing blood sugar require much more than eliminating bread. It requires a comprehensive program that includes diet, exercise, and overall lifestyle changes.

(Just as going gluten free does! As with diabetes, I wish medical professionals spent more time explaining what it means to be gluten free — rather than letting so many of us muddle through on our own!)

As I encounter people who have health issues related to their diet and lifestyle, I realize how important focusing on overall health, including our gluten-free diets, is to me, and hopefully you. This means focusing on healthy, smart gluten-free foods and ingredients. And it means fighting the stereotypes that the media continues to perpetuate about about living gluten free.

So, I’m curious: as mentioned one person in my acquaintance is fighting against the steps necessary to address his Type 2 diabetes diagnosis. How do you talk to your family about eating healthy to become healthy?

Tip of the Week

If you’re not ready to embrace the “meat on the side” movement, you can still make a small step toward increasing plant-based meals by following the Meatless Monday movement. Since we started practicing MM on a weekly basis, I’ve been inspired by recipes that expand my cooking repertoire!

Gluten-Free Meal of the Week

Speaking of meals that expand my cooking repertoire, I’ve been sneaking more tofu into my husband’s diet. I am sure he appreciates this! Okay, seriously, he’s never been a huge fan of tofu, and has surprised me by declaring some of the tofu-based meals we’ve had over the past months as “really good”.

Victory!

I’m also developing a new-found affection for my slow cooker. A few weeks ago, I wrote about slow cooker red beans and rice. This week, I’m making a stew that is a mix of channa masala and butter chicken…only it’s, well, featuring tofu instead of chicken. By starting the chickpeas in the slow cooker in the morning, I’m saving soaking time (yay!) and allowing flavors to develop into a delicious dish. On the side, I’m serving a braised cabbage with Indian-inspired flavors, plus a dose of vinegar.

Note: for the recipe linked below, you can use canned chickpeas for a faster preparation. Since I’m out of the house all day anyway, cooking the entire dish on low for ten hours, which allows me to avoid soaking my beans, works just fine!

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