Many people find it difficult to change their eating habits, especially when there is a need to follow some of the exclusion diets to improve their health. The good news is that typical exclusion diet would last for one to three months. If there is no improvement in a certain condition after three month, it can be established that one is not allergic or intolerant to excluded food. If there is an improvement, many would choose to continue a lifestyle without those foods. Some prefer to come back to previous eating habits. In this case, the key is to introduce foods they used to be intolerant to gradually and see how the body reacts. If a few food groups were excluded, they must be introduced back one by one, so that if there is a sudden reaction to it, you would know what it is exactly you react to. Sometimes, body adapts and don’t react to what used to be an allergen.
The most common food groups that cause intolerance and allergy are dairy, wheat and gluten. In fact majority of people would experience some kind of discomfort from these foods at some point in their life. This is especially the case for those prone to eczema and psoriasis, and many people with these conditions find their skin improve if they stay away from the above food groups. The exclusion diet is not dangerous. However, it is important to know what nutrients one might miss from the excluded foods and what one needs to eat to compensate for that. Below is the quick guide to nutrient requirements and substitutions in cooking while following dairy, wheat and gluten free diet, as well as some recommended cooking websites.
The common notion is that dairy products are a good source of calcium, but there is growing evidence that suggests this is not the case. I am not going to dwell on this now and just list the good and perhaps much healthier alternative calcium sources:
- Broccoli. Not only it is high in calcium, it is also a good source of iron, fibre, vitamins B, C and K and cancer-fighting compounds. 1 cup (8oz) provides almost 100mg of calcium.
- Other green leafy vegetables such as kale, mustard greens, collards, bok choi, turnip greens, etc.
- Sunflower seeds, almonds, Brazil nuts, tahini paste or sesame seeds. High in calcium and omega oils, nuts and seeds are good for those with eczema. They are also a decent source of protein.
- Poppy seeds. These can be soaked briefly and added to salads.
- Tinned salmon and sardines with soft bones
Dairy products contain vitamin B12, so vegetarians who cut out dairy might want to take B12 supplement.
Substituting dairy in cooking is easy, thanks to a wide variety of alternative milk products such as soy, rice, almond, hemp, coconut and quinoa. One should be careful when choosing soy milk, because it is not recommended to consume a lot of genetically modified (GM) soy products. Almond, hemp and coconut are healthiest choices. I am aware that many people might live in the areas where it is difficult to find such alternatives. In this case, internet is good way of ordering goods of course or using water or juice is another alternative. There are soy yogurts and creams available, but do check for sugar content as many of these products are loaded with sugar. I won’t recommend soy cheese as there tend to be a lot of additives that are not healthy. Ground cashew nuts mixed with water makes excellent cream!
Beware, that Casein found in dairy is a very common allergen too. Surprisingly, it is found in many non-dairy products as a binding agent. So do read the label.
What to expect while cutting dairy. Cravings! Huge cravings. Some people say it is worse than giving up sugar. This is because casein is mildly addictive. In a way, you can call it a drug, but like with any drug – once the cravings are gone – you won’t even want it anymore. Some people report improved sense of taste and smell after giving up dairy. This is because dairy products stimulate mucus production and milk works as expectorant. This is why warm milk is the old cough remedy. So once you give up dairy, your nasal passageways might clear up. Individuals with hay fever might seriously consider avoiding dairy products for summer months.
Excluding wheat and gluten.
Wheat sensitivity is a common cause of bloating and digestive disorders, hives and eczema, while gluten has been linked to leaky gut syndrome, eczema, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, colitis and various digestive disorders. There is one important thing to clarify here: most of the grains do contain gluten, but not all of them contain wheat. Also, there are certain types of ancient wheat that are more tolerated than modern wheat: spelt and kamut for example. The most common benefit of whole (unprocessed) grains are fibre and certain vitamins such as B group and E. So one thing to eat more of while on wheat and gluten free diet is brown rice as it is a very good source of all of the above. Below is the list of all gluten and wheat free products that are healthy and can be eaten instead of pasta dishes. There are also various breads and biscuits available, made of these products:
Always read the label though, as it is common to mix let’s say brown rice flour with wheat flour. As you can see, there’s no chortage of substitutes when is comes to gluten and wheat free diet. Many people find it easy to switch to it. The most common fear is the lack of bread, but there are plenty of gluten and wheat free breads available in store now and backing these breads are very easy too, since there’s no need for yeast.
Here is the list of website with plenty of recipes:
Allrecipes UK – just search for dairy, wheat or gluten free.
Wheat free recipes
Gluten free recipes
My cooking website
OMG I’m allergic to everything!