Monday, January 3, 2011

Exploring G-free Living Continued.

Here I started talking about my delving into research on the g-free diet in, 'But is G-free for me?'. I've continued my research and taking small steps towards a trial run of g-free living. If you read my New Years post about my goals for 2011 you know that I plan to spend at least one month of 2011 being g-free as an experiment to see if the health benefits out weigh the cost (the time, the effort, and the annoyance).

Let me start off by expressing my worst fear about g-free living - being 'that girl'. You know the one I'm talking about. The girl who comes to your house for dinner but can't eat anything you've prepared. The friend that brings her own lunch because 'they don't serve anything I can eat here'. The girl that orders a salad minus 5 items, with g-free dressing on the side, and then asks if it was cross contaminated in prep. Yeah, that girl.

Lets be brutally honest here, everyone hates that girl. On top of that, it's worse when that girl does it willingly. It's not like I have Celiac disease or a gluten intolerance. That would be acceptable to be picky about. But really, I'm just looking to give my stomach a fighting chance of surviving 2011 and exploring the health benefits of removing gluten containing products.

As I've been doing my research and you KNOW I'm thorough here's the question I've been asking myself - how feasible is this? I'm a realist through and through. If I say I'm going to do something, I will find a way to do it. But I want to know just how realistic it is for me to actually be g-free. So I've researched how eating out on the g-free diet, recipes, prepackaged foods (let's be honest - I'm young, single, busy, and a traveler - prepackaged is a staple).

From what I can gather, it's actually quite doable. 3 years ago, not so much. But g-free as a lifestyle has become increasingly popular and more and more restaurants are coming on board. Many chains have g-free options now including: Carrabas, Outback, Ruby Tuesdays, Chilis, and BJ's brewhouse. You can even eat fast food when you have to (though I'm not a big advocate of fast food in general) - some options being: Burger King, McD's, Subway, Taco Bell, Chickfila, Chipotle, Subway, and Wendys.

Since I travel for work it's essential that eating out fits into my lifestyle. I often wish that wasn't the case because eating out is murder on my IBS at times but I love what I do and I'm not willing to give up traveling over food issues. My thoughts are that eating gluten free when I travel may be just the ticket to having IBS related trauma free travel experiences.

As the beginning stages of my conversion to g-free I've started eating Gluten free when I eat out. Last week I went to Chili's for lunch with my friend, Chelsea, and I looked up the menu in advance to see what I could have. The most exciting lunch option I saw was the grilled bbq chicken salad - minus the croutons and tortilla strips. They had several GF dressing options and I chose citrus balsamic vinaigrette on the side.

I didn't break the rule - I DID tell them I'm gluten free when I ordered so they'd understand why I needed my salad that way (and not toss the croutons on by accident and just pull them off) and be aware not to contaminate my salad with gluten in any way. I'm gauging the responses of restaurants on having a gluten free guest. As previously mentioned I was impressed with BJ's Brewhouse when they asked me how severe my allergies were so that they could accommodate (clean the kitchen before they prepared my food, etc).

Chili's was equally accommodating. I told my waitress that I'm g-free and told her the items I couldn't have on my salad. She was great about it! My salad came exactly as I'd asked for it and it tasted delish! Props to Chili's for accommodating the g-free life.

I had a less exciting experience when I tried to eat g-free at Bahama Breeze. I had friends in town so I hadn't picked the restaurant (but honestly, I love Bahama Breeze!). They don't have a g-free menu and the naturally g-free things they do have they note the don't guarantee to be uncontaminated. Lucky for me, I don't have a gluten intolerance or I really would have been in a pinch!

I finished the book on my flight from Tampa to Indy for Christmas. I feel inspired. I can do this. I don't know if it will be a permanent lifestyle change for me or just a worthwhile experiment. But I feel ready to take it on when I return home and can buy some g-free groceries.



Kelly Allen said...

my mom and brother have celiac's disease. i think it takes some adjustment to get used to it, but i think if you're willing to do then you should! it's totally doable and there are lots of good benefits to going glueten free. Go for it! But still have a piece of your favorite bread or cake or your bahama breeze every now and again - even my mom and brother do it sometimes (however, they end up paying for it!).

Anonymous said...

B- I'm a vegetarian so I deal with this sort of particular food neediness daily. But, it's definitely worth it and when you explain to people that you aren't just being difficult, but it's a dietary need, most people are much more understanding. Good luck, friend!

Meghan said...

This is so interesting to me, as I have been considering going g-free for health reasons. I had no idea so many places were accommodating. I can't wait to hear how it all pans out for you, too!