I started a 3 week gluten free and vegan diet at the end of June mainly because I wanted a bit of a detox. My discipline had been lacking over the last few months and I found myself introducing a bit more junk into my day, sometimes without realising I was doing it! I felt that by setting myself a structured diet plan I would have focus on the foods I wanted to eat and I’d have a good reason to say no to the ones I didn’t want to eat! I also was interested to see how I would feel reintroducing wheat and gluten after the 3 weeks because I have often thought I may be intolerant to it!
It’s been really interesting and although I have had a few days not following it strictly (either by lack of planning or by lack of willpower) I have felt a lot of health benefits! I instantly lost a bit of weight, I did not feel uncomfortable after meals at all during the 2 weeks I did strictly follow the diet whereas before I would sometimes experience bloating or an uncomfortable heavy feeling after eating. I have also felt more energetic and I have felt happier consistently which sounds like a strange side effect to a change in diet but I feel like my head has been clearer and I really think it may be down to eating whole foods.
When you say “Vegan AND Gluten Free” to people they tend to think you are crazy, and don’t get me wrong it has been restricted especially when your not preparing your own food at home, but I have not gone hungry and I have eaten a wide variety of foods! Being forced to eat natural, whole foods means you are naturally eating low GI like beans and lentils which keep you fuller for longer.
One time I accidentally went off track was at a gig when a friend came back with a round of beers as the bar had no cider, I decided to drink it anyway and interestingly my stomach was very painful almost instantly after finishing it. I felt sluggish and uncomfortable with sharp pains in my gut, this made me even more determined that I may be intolerant to wheat and gluten! I have cut beer out completely (which is probably an all round good decision) and moved onto Cider as my pint of choice if we are at a pub. I’m not quite ready to cut alcohol out completely!!
Another time was purely me being self indulgent! I bought Scott a lemon tart as a treat whilst I was out with friends however he didn’t eat it. The next day we shared it even though it was very much neither vegan or gluten free! It was delicious but again it didn’t make me feel good afterwards! I think for me this is enough evidence that I should have a proper allergy test to investigate my relationship with wheat and gluten further.
On a more positive note, I have been sharing photos of the meals I have been eating over the past few weeks on my facebook and twitter. The feedback has mainly been “that looks yummy!” which just proves that this diet is full of delicious options.
Some of my favourites have included:
Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day and I really thought I would have missed my usual eggs after a few weeks however I haven’t! In fact it’s kind of gone in the opposite direction, the thought of rich scrambled eggs makes me feel a little sick. I’m not saying I will never eat an egg ever again but for now I am really happy having lighter vegan foods.
I always try and pack a lunch for work, not only does it save money but it stops me eating rubbish packaged foods when visiting a shop whilst hungry! I love showing off my creative salads and I always feel great after some food! A whole day at a desk is made easier with the knowledge you have some beautiful homemade food to look forward to! Packed lunches for me consist of things like Mexican Chopped Salad, Roasted Vegetables and Quinoa or Gluten Free Pitta breads filled with Roasted Aubergine, Sundried Tomatoes, Avocado and Watercress.
And finally I have also had some really nice Dinners over the last few weeks with plenty of varieties of ingredients and lots of different colours on my plate. Evening meals included Jambalaya with Salsa and Green veg, Moroccan Tagine and Green veg and Gluten Free Pasta bake with…….Green veg! I always have something green on my plate in the evening, it makes me feel like I am ending the day on a good note.
I found that following this diet naturally lended itself to three proper meals with only one or two snacks. I had such a huge variety of foods at each meal and was aware of keeping everything balanced to make sure I get enough protein etc so I didn’t feel the need for much more food. Snacks I have eaten were mainly nuts and seeds, apples, cherry tomatoes, plain popcorn, the occasional gluten free pitta with some peanut butter and plenty of crudités and salsa.
Because I did find myself falling back into old habits slightly after 2 weeks I gave myself a weekend off completely and then got back on track today. After one day where I ate bread, pasta, cheese, wine and chocolate (I know, I know, I didn’t just fall off the wagon I got run over by the wagon twice!) I felt so depressed and fat and just awful! It reminded me that these changes I am making, and the journey I have been on pretty much since starting this blog, are a lifestyle I am building which will last forever. You have to be realistic and accept that there will be days where you do just eat rubbish but I also want to feel and look amazing most of the time!
Another observation I found (I’m nearly done I promise!) is that eating well these past few weeks has encouraged me to start exercising properly again. When you feel great on the inside you want it to be reflected on the outside! Also by exercising regularly it makes those junk days less of a problem because you can work it off!
So yes, vegan and gluten free….it’s something I have enjoyed very much and I will take the ethos forward with me in my diet. I don’t feel the need to label myself as vegan and gluten free quite yet but I definitely have realised that wheat, gluten and animal products are really not necessary for an enjoyable and balanced diet!