One Wheat Free Week in Devon

IMG_4748This is what my column should have been called instead of the shite working title that’s right there in print in the paper, next to that big picture of my face so there’s no mistaking that that slurry came from the annals of my brain. I’m blaming the lack of wheat for it. For all of it. For EVERYTHING.

*wildly gestures and flounces from the room*

Ok, I overreacted. Being wheat free has actually been a little bit brilliant. I know, I know, I’ve changed. I’m just a bowl of quinoa away from wearing kaftans to the supermarket, maybe dishing out a little reiki in the queue.

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The decision to ditch the wheat started with me but the husband mercilessly rejected the idea a long time ago and I just couldn’t spend any of my precious remaining days on earth cooking different meals for everyone so the wheat stayed. Some randomer later suggested that C might want to cut down his gluten intake to reduce heartburn and suddenly it was the best idea since a seeded, gluten free bloomer. I’m not bitter, I guess I won in the end.

Migraines have darkened my doorway for most of the last 20 years.  I’ve always professed that they’re stress based and that I have no food triggers but over the last couple of years they’ve worsened in intensity and frequency and, y’know, life’s just too fecking short to be in pain so often. Apparently I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed though, it took a doctor suggesting I might want to try beta blockers to control them before I even remotely considered trying to change my diet.  But I’m here now, ready to commit. Is this what growing up feels like? It might be.

So we did it: ditched the gluten. And we’ve survived a whole week-it might even be a bit longer now, we’ve so seamlessly adapted that it feels this has always been the way. We’ve both been prancing about in front of the mirror a lot ‘look how un-bloated I am/how un-dimply my arse is/how clear my avocado addicted face is.’

But I’m not here to brag about my peachy bottom (that might be the most British I’ve ever sounded) but to entice you into this weird little wheat free wonderland. Imagine, if you will, me looking menacing and beckoning you with weird looking spindly fingers. Like Rasputin or something.

I realise that’s not an enticing image so here are some perfunctory tips for getting through the first few weeks, after that it just sort of becomes part of your life.

  • You’ll want to empty your cupboards of everything. Don’t. There’s lots in there you can still use. Just ditch the wheat filled pasta and glorious ‘real’ jaffa cakes. You’ll miss those.
  • You’ll start eating a lot of salad. Then you’ll want to spend all of your money on books by clean eating gurus so that you can eat anything but salad. You might even read all the inspo whilst eating a crappy cobbled together salad that you accidentally threw some out of date croutons on because you forgot. I did this. Save your pennies for the extortionate wheat free bread – there’s enough inspiration on this thing called the web. It’s magical and free, start there. Perhaps with Deliciously Ella, Gluten is my Bitch, Helmsley and Helmsley – yeah, I bought ALL THE BOOKS too. It was unnecessary but it made me feel studious and legit – if you’re going to go for one I’d suggest Helmsley first. This week Rosie posted some delicious looking grain based recipes too, see? Internet. IMG_4740
  • Prepare to discuss your bowel movements with anyone who’ll listen. It happens.
  • Most of what you normally eat can be de-glutenified with a few small tweaks – the free from aisle of your local supermarket is like a magical mystery larder (don’t eat the biscuits though, they’re of the devil, make your own sweet treats).
  • Rice flour makes a much better, glossier gravy than its wheaty brother. Found this out by accident.
  • I got really carried away and made elaborate veggie filled extravaganzas which were so far removed from our usual meals that it was a bit of a leap too far for us and caused the husband to pull weird faces. His voice said ‘mmmm delicious’ but his face said ‘get this evil foodstuff out of my face.’ Actually, if we’re being honest, his mouth said ‘it tastes like cardboard’but I maintain that the brazilnut and avo pesto was DELICIOUS. This cautionary tale of domestic woe highlights that the real key to the whole thing, to making sure you really stick with it, is to take small steps in the right direction. Make a few sustainable changes here and there and you’re much more likely to keep going with it until you see a real change.
  • Oh and don’t beat yourself up if you fall off the wheaty wagon, you won’t combust.

It’s the biggest lifestyle change we’ve made in a while and so far it’s proving to be worth the marginal hassle of having to plan meals more efficiently. It turns out it’s much easier to eat gluten-freely now than it ever has been.

I still irrationally detest people who say they’re wheat free. No reason.  But I haven’t had a whiff of a migraine in about a fortnight so that bit of self-loathing can stay. Stay tuned for ramblings on such wonders as cauliflower rice (it’s just grated cauli, yes?) and courgetti which sounds weird but enticing. I made those three ingredient pancakes at the weekend too. Used the wrong pan so they look like scrambled eggs but it’s a start.

Any amazing wheat free recipes I should try? Are you thinking about doing it but can’t be arsed to leap yet? Do these questions make you feel like you’re under interrogation from a spindly fingered but not at all bloated weirdo?

Answers to all questions gratefully received.

Procrastination
Easy Peasy Chocolate Cake
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