As I mentioned in my story, I’ve been gluten-free (GF) and dairy-free (DF) for over 4 years now. My osteoarthritis hasn’t totally gone away (and Dr. French said it never will). However, I’ve been able to manage the pain effectively simply by not eating certain foods and learning to cook with the foods that help reduce inflammation.
Chronic Inflammation is the Culprit
After deciding to stop taking the NSAIDs that the traditional doctor prescribed, I was forced to find another way to alleviate the ache in my joints. I started doing research on inflammation, its causes and how to reduce it.
Under “Allergies/Food Sensitivities” falls gluten and dairy. For me, they were the two main culprits. Gluten is found in wheat, rye and barley. The “dairy” is anything that comes from a cow.
My Challenge: I LOVE Bread, Cheese & the worst combo of both, Pizza!
Hey, I grew up in NY! I even found real NY-style pizza here in Phoenix! I had to find substitutes. When I first started, the gluten-free (GF) craze was just taking off. The GF products were out there, but they were expensive.
However, now, you can find GF products even at the dollar store! Daiya makes a frozen pizza that’s both GF & DF. If you like to dine out, Picazzo’s Healthy Italian Kitchen serves a GF and DF pizza made with Daiya cheese. Daiya also has DF & Vegan cheese slices and shreds that mimic – very well, I might add – chedder and mozzarella cheeses.
Even so, you have to be careful. Gluten-free doesn’t mean calorie-free or sugar-free. There are lots of GF breads and pastas out there, but they’re made with flour from rice, potatoes, tapioca, chick peas, corn, chia seeds and/or other GF grains. These are all carbs. Watch your portions and the number of times you eat carbs in the day. A Certified Nutritionist can customize a meal plan that works for you.
BTW, if you do want to indulge, there’s a GF bakery with locations in North Phoenix and South Scottsdale, Gluten-Free Creations. But remember, it may be gluten-free, but it’s not calorie-free!
Furthermore, you need to eliminate refined carbs like white flour (this is out if you’re going GF anyway) white potatoes and white rice. Eat brown or wild rice and purple potatoes – better flavor and nutrition, too!
So how do you live GF and DF to reduce inflammation?
Basically, I think of it as having an allergic reaction. If I eat cookies or ice cream, I feel pain in a few hours. A few weeks after I had decided to go GF, I was at a meeting at church. The wife of the worship leader brought a plate of cookies and brownies and I was the first person she passed it too. I said, “Thanks, but I’m gluten-free.”
The gal sitting next to me grabbed a brownie and before she took a bite asked me, “Does it bother you that I’m eating this?”
I said, “No, I’m just allergic to it. Like having a allergic reaction to peanuts or seafood. I eat it, I feel pain.”
It’s a new mindset.
What about Dairy?
I found that goat and sheep’s cheese doesn’t bother me. (I’m also lactose intolerant.) I use coconut milk in my herbal tea and Manchego Cheese as a substitute for Parmesan. (I’ll be sharing lots of healthy recipes and cooking tips here.)
I also discovered that strong coffee affects my inflammation.
I was in a meeting and had 2 large cups of strong, delicious, French Roast coffee and just sitting there, my right knee started aching – badly. I wasn’t even moving!
You need to discover what food sensitivities bother you. It took me a long time of painful trial and error. A certified nutritionist can help you. Don’t try and do this by yourself!
Here’s helpful infographic from thePandasproject.com showing what to eat and what not to eat to reduce inflammation.
Yes, it’s challenging. However, just like any challenge in life, working with the right coach, guiding you through your customized journey to better health, it will go way smoother than if you attempt to this all yourself.