My Accidental Gluten Free Diet

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My Accidental Gluten Free Diet

My Accidental Gluten Free Diet - Korean Gluten Free Meal

My Accidental Gluten Free Diet happened when I decided to go back to my roots and eat nothing but Korean Cuisine from here on out!  Note that I wrote gluten free not glutton free!!  Haha!!  I also have a few free apps and resources to share with you that I am currently using and loving for fitness, nutrition and good health!

I never intended to go gluten free

I’ve always wanted to be physically fit with a flat belly but I was a chubby child who grew up into an overweight adult.  I never took the time to learn about nutrition, exercise or my health until recently and now I am sharing how it all came about.

I never intended to go gluten free with my diet and I truly used to believe diet and exercise were four letter words.  I would literally cringe when my doctor would say to restrict my diet and start exercising.  He’s been saying it for 2 years now and I see him every 6 months to monitor my hypertension so you know that he’s told me the last FOUR times I’ve seen him!

The biggest mistake I ever made

The biggest mistake I ever made was going on Weight Watchers one year ago.  The best thing to happen to me was going on Weight Watchers one year ago.  No, it’s not a typo!!  Haha!!

WHAT???  How can it be the best and worst thing you did, Emily???  I am so glad you asked because I can’t wait to tell you!

It was the worst idea because of my mindset that I was restricting myself on calories and having to giving up eating and cooking which are two of my biggest passions in life.  I have always loved to cook and took an interest in it from a very young age and I nearly died and went to heaven when Food Network was born in the late 90s and I could learn from Emeril, Giada, Alton and Paula Deen – all day, every day!

Food Porn & The Food Network

It was 24/7 streaming of recipes, cooking and food porn!!  I was like a guy who found free porn – I didn’t want to miss an episode and each time I watched it, I was excited, focused and I couldn’t stop watching!!  I wanted nothing more than to do what they were doing in the video – COOK AND EAT!!

Last year I watched a ton of YouTube videos to get inspiration from people who had met their ideal weight loss goals using Weight Watchers since I was on the infamous Points Plus Plan.  I found that they all shared one thing in common – they were restricting their diets and it got harder and harder because the more you lose, the more you have to scale back and the less points you get to eat daily.

They would share recipes for foods that had little to no flavor (unappealing egg white omelets and dry Boca burgers) and felt hungry but they said they fought it off knowing that they were losing the weight and getting healthy.  In my mind, all I kept thinking was “F*** that, I want to eat and enjoy my food!”  Vanilla meals are like vanilla sex – it’s predictable, unappealing and although necessary for survival, it’s completely underwhelming!

My Accidental Gluten Free Diet - SPAM is gluten free!

I wanted to still enjoy my SPAM, eggs and rice and it turns out it’s ALL gluten free and if I keep my portions under control then I can still enjoy it!

An eye opening learning experience – portion control

The best part of going on Weight Watchers was that I did learn the importance of portion control.  I never learned about it prior to going on the program and I thought a normal sized serving of anything was the entire package or contents it came in.  I learned that a 3 oz portion of meat is the same size of a deck of cards in the palm of your hand and many other portion size equivalents.  I learned that I could eat more if I exercised more and stayed active as well as fully hydrated.

I learned so very much from Weight Watchers considering I never took any interest at all in nutrition and fitness but now I am singing a completely different tune and tailoring my diet and exercise plan to meet my goals while embracing my passion for food.  While I still won’t be following the WW plan this time around, I am grateful for all that I learned while using it.

My Fitness Pal is FREE

I avidly watch YouTube when I need to learn something new or when I need motivation to stay on track.  I am a visual learner and I like seeing all of the before and after pics of the people because you can see their confidence and positivity change, grow and increase on their journey to their goals.

I learned about My Fitness Pal while watching one of these videos for inspiration and I immediately downloaded it from my app store.  It’s much like the Weight Watchers Points Plus app except it’s 100% free – you can always upgrade for additional features.  In my opinion, it’s much better than the Weight Watchers app because it’s so much easier to use and the foods list is extensive.

My Fitness Pal will calculate how many calories you should eat per day to reach your total weight loss goals as well as calculate your exercise, track your daily water intake, and you can scan the labels of the foods you eat (my coffee creamer or bottle of mayo) to get the calorie and nutrition counts and so much more.  I love that I can easily save or copy a meal and do a quick add.  It’s also far easier to navigate than the Weight Watchers app and I don’t have to pay $29.99 a month to use it!

It’s also far less restrictive because you see the actual calories instead of points.  I am currently allocating myself 1550 calories per day and I get to increase that amount with each level of activity or exercise that I do.  I simply put in my current weight (206.8), my goal weight (140), my weight loss goal of 2 lbs per week (there are several options to the intensity) and my activity level (active) in my profile settings and the app calculates that I will lose 10 lbs total by October 1 if I stick to my plan.

The Weight Watchers app never told me the final goal points value when I hit my goal weight so I never knew how much or how little I would actually have to eat to reach that goal.  It might be obscure on purpose so that you won’t give up and quit their program after seeing that you would only eat 800 calories a day when you reach your goal weight!

So many other things in the Weight Watchers program and app were hidden or obscure so I mostly felt frustrated by it.  Their app also lacked Korean Cuisine entirely and My Fitness Pal has an entire arsenal of Korean Cuisine in the food list so no more time spent customizing my foods so I can quickly and easily track them!

Map My Walk is FREE too!!

Map My Walk is a companion app to the My Fitness Pal and it will track your distance covered using your GPS on your phone.  Just make sure to take your phone with you when you walk!  I used it with Weight Watchers but I wasn’t all that successful in sticking with exercise back then because I wasn’t doing the things I enjoy.

I can’t say that I enjoy walking the 2 miles a day as much as I enjoy the time I spend with my kids while we walk.  I also enjoy seeing how much my toddler loves riding in his covered wagon.  Seriously….how can I deny the little guy the one thing he looks forward to daily?  He’s so happy and content to sit and ride along and he always gets upset when the ride is over.

The great thing about Map My Walk is that I don’t have to figure out the distance myself although I wish I had used it yesterday because my Hunny Bunny decided to take us on a detour route to get a change of scenery and I have no idea how much distance we actually covered.  That’s why using this app is so fantastic!  It does all of the work for me so no more guess work or guess-timating!

There is a nature trail close to us at Stillhouse Hollow Dam that we love to walk in the spring and fall and I will be able to tell how much distance we actually cover the next time we’re out there!  I love these free apps because they really do make my life easier!

MediSafe is awesome and FREE!!

MediSafe is another free app that am using to track my daily medication intake.  There are moments when I have a complete brain fart and I cannot remember if I took my daily dose of meds and now I don’t have to worry about forgetting or taking it more than once.

You set your app for the time, dosage and frequency (mine is once daily) and it will alarm for the time you set it at and then ask you to confirm that you took your meds.  No more guesswork for me!  It sounds crazy but I am a mother of three and trying to remember everything is difficult at times so using an app like this makes my life so much easier!

There is also a feature to share your reminders with family members so if you have an elderly parent that needs reminding then check out the app!

What is a gluten free diet?

According to the Mayo Clinic –  A gluten-free diet is a diet that excludes the protein gluten. Gluten is found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye, and a cross between wheat and rye called triticale.  Click on the link above to see the entire list of foods that contain gluten and which foods to avoid.

Gluten free diets are used to treat patients diagnosed with Celiac Disease and according to the research the gluten free diet can promote healing and manage symptoms.

I never knew what gluten free really meant prior to learning about nutrition recently.  Ironically I became curious and interested when I was seeking  homemade meat stock recipes online.

I stumbled upon a beef bone broth recipe and video and watched a few YouTube videos on it and realized that my mom was right when she told me that our bone soup that we ate all the time was a super food!  It wasn’t that I didn’t believe her, but she tends to embellish on a few things so it’s hard to tell when she’s giving fact or opinion and in this case, it was all fact.

She also told me that it was good to eat the cartilage and gelatinous parts of the bones and oxtail soup is one of my absolute most favorite soups of all time!  It has plenty of the chewy bits and good for you parts on it so now I can indulge and know it’s healthy and good for my body!  Don’t worry…recipe coming soon!

All I wanted was homemade Ramyun

My family LOVES ramen noodles and I could never keep enough Maruchan brand Ramen or Yakisoba on hand but the sodium levels were through the roof!  Take the time to read the nutrition info on the side of the package!  I once read that the ramen noodles are coated in some kind of wax that is hard on digestion and bad for your health in general.  It’s debatable and questionable enough for me to seek making my own version at home just to be safe!

Click here to read the full article from the National Center for Biotechnology Information on instant noodle intake and dietary habits.

My doctor recently diagnosed me with metabolic syndrome so finding healthier ways to eat my favorite foods has become a recent interest of mine!

According to the National Institutes of Health:

“Metabolic syndrome is the name for a group of risk factors that raises your risk for heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes and stroke. The term “metabolic” refers to the biochemical processes involved in the body’s normal functioning. Risk factors are traits, conditions, or habits that increase your chance of developing a disease.”

I already have mild hypertension and I am at an increased risk of developing diabetes because of the amount of belly fat I carry so I am well on my way to cardiovascular problems if I continue to make unhealthy and harmful choices concerning my nutrition and physical fitness (or lack thereof).

Ramyum (Raw-myen) not Ramen (Raw-men)

The Japanese have mastered the art of ramyun (asians never pronounce it ra-men) and I LOVE soup so I decided to try making my own version at home that is healthy to serve to my family.  The key to great ramyun is the broth so it seemed natural to assume that bone broth would be the best bet!  From what I’ve learned so far – the broth is everything and you enjoy ramyun best when you slurp it just like the asians do.

My Accidental Gluten Free Diet - Kimchi Guksu with toppings

Kimchi Guksu is a cold noodle dish without broth but tasty and refreshing!

The pilgrimage to great ramyun

My quest for a delicious and filling homemade ramyun started off as curiosity and exploded into an entire interest in diet and nutrition and exercise and fitness.  I am going to make my life giving bone broths today and if all goes well, recipes will soon follow!  It’s completely ironic how I am now embracing my passion for food instead of fighting it and I am excited to learn that I can both eat and enjoy my food while losing weight and enjoying my life!

Never give up, just keep seeking!

The best advice I could possibly give you is to never, ever give up if you weren’t successful in the past and keep seeking your solutions!  I gave up when I thought I had to completely give up my passion for cooking and eating so I could lose weight and keep it off.  I will partly blame the Weight Watchers program for this because it felt sooooohhhhh restrictive!

Now I realize that I can cook to my heart’s content because my diet is mostly fresh fruits and vegetables and it’s almost entirely gluten free.  By the way, gluten free diets are not necessarily low fat or low calorie diets so be careful when making your daily food choices.  You can easily check your foods on My Fitness Pal’s massive and extensive food list and Google has a wealth of calorie and nutrition information on pretty much every food on the planet!  I love techonology and the world wide web!

I would also encourage you to keep finding what you enjoy and love doing with exercise and fitness.  I detested, abhorred and hated exercise prior to finding and seeking things to do that I enjoy.  The thought of sweating with my skin condition (HS) was also an excuse that I used a crutch but I won’t allow myself to remain crippled mentally and physically anymore because of my limitations.

I simply decided to modify when necessary and accept no excuses to move my body!  Besides, have you seen those hot ass amputees?  If they can look like that while missing a limb or two or three then I really have no excuses at all when I have all four of mine, right???

Click here to see the chiseled veteran amputees and get some serious eye candy!!  (Not suitable for younger audiences so view with caution!  These guys are literally almost naked!) 

Back to cooking my gluten free Korean food!  No more distractions!  

Cooking my Korean foods takes a lot of prep time and I am standing on my feet and moving around the kitchen for a good hour or two when making homemade kimchis and banchan dishes but it’s entirely worth it to put out the effort.  I burn calories while cooking and I get to feed my need to taste delicious foods with my samplings and food prep.  Those samplings do add up but when it’s fresh vegetables like spinach, soy bean sprouts and kimchi then the calories don’t add up to very much, but I still track them in My Fitness Pal app.  I also track my cooking in the kitchen activity to buy myself calories to spend later in the day!

Examples of what I cook

My Accidental Gluten Free Diet - Korean Doshirak 100% Gluten Free

Korean Lunchbox called Doshirak (notice how it’s mostly fresh veg and fruit)

Michelle Obama had good intentions

I have taken a serious interest in packing healthy and nutritious foods for my kids for their lunches after I noticed that they would complain about their lunches last year.  I would typically pack sandwiches on whole wheat bread, chips or crackers and a fresh fruit and fresh veggie and they would complain about the lack of variety and the hardly ate a bite.

I had to toss out more food than I care to admit and deal with cranky, hungry kids everyday after school.  Their behavior in the classroom wasn’t on par either and that’s mainly due to their sugar intake and lack of nutrition on my part.  I decided things had to change this school year.

Our oldest child is a hyper active kid, always as been since the womb, but we are dead set against putting him on any medications.  Limiting his sugar intake is incredibly important to his moods and we find his moodiness has decreased since we stopped eating processed foods.

Michelle Obama had good intentions when she overhauled the school nutrition programs but my kids are proof that isn’t entirely successful because they said the food tastes just like cardboard and is completely unappealing.  My kids aren’t hungry enough to eat the less-than-prison-grade school lunches and they grew tired of eating the same old song and dance lunches I packed.

Gluten free Doshirak saved the day!  

They get excited about their lunches now that I am packing Doshirak!  They inquire everyday as to what new culinary delight will grace their little lunch containers and they love the idea of showing off by eating with chopsticks and getting so much attention from their peers while eating healthy and nutritious meals.  They don’t get tired of what they eat because I literally offer a huge variety and we eat whatever is in season or available at the local asian market.  This week it could be beef and tofu and next week fish and sushi rolls.

My Accidental Gluten Free Diet - Korean Mak Kimchi

Kimchi is Korea’s Super Food packed full of probiotics, vitamins and completely gluten free!

Homemade kimchi was a necessity for our family

We ate loads of Korean food this summer because I started cooking more Korean Cuisine at home rather than buying it pre-made at my local asian grocery store.  We decided to cut out dining out entirely when Hunny Bunny and I committed to hitting certain financial goals (get out of debt faster) and decided fast foods and convenience were the first to go in our budget.

I had to cut out expensive “convenience foods” to stay on track with my weekly grocery budget.  Buying a small jar of kimchi (pictured above) cost $9.99 and the cost of purchasing the ingredients was far more cost effective.  My first batch of homemade kimchi was a total disaster and had to be thrown out which led to doing more online research and digging around about the science of how it’s made, which led to the discovery of probiotics and the health benefits and then a whole string of reasons to learn more and more about it!  So now I make it at home to save money, eat better and I know exactly what I am putting in it because I am the one making it!

Fast foods and convenience foods are expensive in more ways than one!  

Dining out is so unhealthy and expensive in more ways than just financially!  I would have to literally exercise ALL.DAY.LONG to burn off the calories from a value meal from McDonald’s!  Not to mention the level of sodium, carbs, glutens and preservatives in the food.  Ever see that post floating around on social media about how someone left chicken nuggets and fries out for months and the food never decomposed?

I pack my kids the Korean Lunchbox called Doshirak (pictured above) and they eat everything and come home happier and healthier.  I don’t pack quite as many vegetable dishes for them as in the picture but you can see that it’s a good variety and their portions are much smaller.

The food in the picture was actually a picnic lunch for me, Hunny Bunny and our toddler one afternoon.  I also noticed that my kids are sleeping better, have better attitudes and they drink more water and snack on fresh fruits and vegetables instead of asking for junk food.  We don’t have any junk food in our home anymore, but they used to ask for it when they came home from school last year.

Accidental Gluten Free Diet!  

So now you know the whole story behind how I ended up on my accidental gluten free diet!  I was seeking solutions to my problems and the only thing that changed from last year was my approach, my mindset and my attitude.  I decided to embrace my passion for food this time around and that worked out to my advantage!

We decided to start a small garden andit turns out that gardening is great for burning calories and counts towards my fitness goals.  I wanted to start gardening because I read that you could regrow so many things from your kitchen scraps and gardening can be good for relieving stress!

Click here to read the article – 25 Foods You Can Re-Grow Yourself from Kitchen Scraps by Vanessa Beaty at diyncrafts.com  – that sparked my interest in this new hobby!

I began by saving my green onion tops and sticking them in soil to see what would happen.  I had tried the alternate method of starting the roots in water but it never worked for me because they would rot away before sprouting roots.  I also had an entire ziploc bag full of garlic cloves that I forgot about in my fridge that sprouted greens so I decided to place those in my indoor pots to see what they would do and they sprouted roots too!

It’s a chain reaction and I can’t stop!!  

So my desire to grow the items that I used the most to save money and keep things organic ended up feeding my passion for cooking and eating and I get my daily exercise requirements because you must be active to maintain a garden with planting, weeding, watering, fertilizing, etc.  It’s literally a chain reaction because one thing leads to another and another and so on!

Hunny Bunny and I planted our green onions, garlic and lettuce yesterday.  We had a spot in the front of our house that was just dead space and we had tried at one point and time to put a water fountain there but it still lacked life and curb appeal.

I decided to go “old school Korean” and plant my food in any scrap of unused soil in my yard.  My aunt used to do that, she would start a plant by getting the roots going and then stick it in the ground somewhere and the plants would thrive and grow like crazy!  I also noticed the same trend when I lived in Korea for a summer back in 2002.  It was the best experience of my life and I look forward to taking my kids for visit in the near future!

Pickled Korean Perilla Leaf (Ggaennip)

Pickled Korean Perilla Leaves (Ggaennip)

My desire to eat helped me overcome my fear of commitment!

The desire to grow foods that I use daily also led to a desire to grow perilla leaves and I have been contemplating a full-on vegetable garden in the backyard but I was always too afraid to commit to it for fear that I would lose interest and my husband would have the burden of maintaining it himself.

I bought some less than half decent and far too over-priced perilla leaves at my local asian food market recently and I decided that if I planted nothing else next year then I would be planting the perilla leaves next spring so I can enjoy them all season long and for free!!  I was surprised to see how many people said it was easy to grow and maintain and it’s also ornamental so why not?

Final thoughts

I could literally go on and on and continue in my enthusiasm and excitement and I will in future posts but for now I will close with this final thought for today.  I share my story, my experiences and my journey with you in hopes that I can inspire you to keep trying, to keep searching, seeking and finding what will work for you concerning your overall health.

There are plenty of free resources available to help us succeed and there is so much information available to us if we just take the time to find it.  I recommend using Google and YouTube for information but as always, follow the advice of trained experts who have research to back up their information and talk with your family doctor before starting a new diet or exercise program.

Are you interested in following my Korean Gluten Free Diet?  I am currently working on posting recipes for the food pictured above but it’s taking some time to get the measurements precise.  Koreans don’t measure with utensils, it’s always eyeballed and according to taste so measuring and writing down my own recipes takes time!  All good things take time though, right?

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