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What’s the big deal with Gluten, anyways?!

What's the big deal with gluten?


Gluten free diets are all the rage these days. Cafe’s serve gluten free biscuits, restaurants now offer gluten free menus and even pizza joints are getting on board with gluten free crusts! It seems this 4.5 billion dollar industry is only strengthening by the day. So what is the deal with this scary gluten stuff, and why does it seem that every other person is trying to avoid it?

For many people, giving up gluten it is a dietary decision, motivated by curiosity and a desire to live a healthier life.  It is no secret that gluten consumption has been linked to weight gain, allergies, digestive stress and is often avoided when following a low carb diet.

But for others, like myself, the avoidance of gluten is connected to serious issues. We don’t have the option of “going gluten free” for lunch, but not supper. Absolute elimination of this protein is a mere necessity for controlling and reversing specific diseases and illnesses.

January 2013 is when I discovered that I have a severe gluten intolerance. After Christmas I came down with a virus, which in turn triggered my urticaria. Bugger! I had made tremendous progress in the fall following the GAPS diet, and truly felt healing on a deep level. Why then did a little encounter with pink eye through my hives into full swing? It was obvious that the issues related to my urticaria are immune related, so the search for the cause of my urticaria outbreaks continued. My ND, Dr. A Beaubrun at Integra Naturopathics diagnosed me with a gluten mediated immune dysfunction – more simply put, a severe intolerance to gluten that when consumed, reaks havock on my immune system, along with damage to other systems in my body. I am a bit ashamed to admit, but I consumed a butt-load of gluten over Christmas!  I did not have the will power to resist this time. I felt fine enough to consume it and monitored my energy levels, so I figured I could cheat for a few weeks. What was the harm??? Oops.

If you believe gluten intolerance may be related to your health issue, here is what might be happening to you.


Eating-out on a grain-free diet

A primary challenge that I hear about and experience while living a grain-free and sugar free diet is the difficulty with eating out at restaurants.   In today’s age, eating out is a delightful luxury and a large socialization activity. For myself, I love going to restaurants with my girlfriends to socialize and catch up , with my Mom for mother-daughter lunches, or with my boyfriend for date nights. Going grain-free shouldn’t mean you have to give it up completely, it merely becomes a challenge that requires a little bit more effort.

Here are a few key tips to be able to eat out at restaurants and still maintain a grain free diet.

  1. Choose the meat (or fish) and vegetable entree.
    Most restaurants will have a meat and vegetable entree such as grilled chicken and steamed vegetables. If they don’t – you can always see if they can make you one. A common dish is also salmon and steamed veggies. It is a safe bet that these meals will not have any grains. You may be compromising on price here, as usually these entrees are around $4-5 more per plate than the average meal, but its worth knowing you are taking care of your health.
  2. Don’t be afraid to substitute the sides.
    I will often substitue my sides for a more grain-free option. For example, if the dish is chicken with rice; I will ask for vegetables, a salad or soup instead of the rice. Even if the meal was originally “chicken with vegetables and rice”, I will ask to eliminate the rice and double the vegetables. Just be sure to ask for an array of vegetables, as one time I did this and I ended up with half a plate of steamed broccoli only!
  3. Avoid the “middle of the menu”…just like we avoid the “middle of the grocery store”.
    The middle of the menu is often where your burgers, sandwhiches, pastas and pizzas are. If at all possible, avoid this section, unless there are entrees in the middle of the menu.
  4. Create appetizers into a meal
    Many appetizer sections will have an array of soups, salads and other grain-free appies such as sweet potato fries. You can always double up and eat a few of them as a meal. At one restaurant I eat at frequently, I often will get their sweet potato fries and chicken and veggie skewer. The two of them together make a great meal!
  5. Choose salad: but check your ingredients!
    Salads are often a great option, as most of them will be grain and gluten free. However, make sure to read the ingredients carefully and omit the items that may contain grains such as croutons, crispy japanese noodles or  taco pieces. Read the ingredients of the salad dressings as well and when in doubt, ask if sugar is used in the dressing. If so, you can always ask them to make you a standard balsamic vinaigrette dressing instead. If at all possible, choose restaurants that offer a do-it-yourself salad bar. This is a great way to control what is going into your meal!
  6. Keep an eye open for that gluten-free symbol.
    In restaurants, if you see the gluten-free symbol, often it will be a grain-free item. Just check the ingredients list carefully to check. (more…)

Choosing Chocolate – Making the Healthier Choice

When choosing to eat less sugar or eliminate it completely, a common fear is having to give up those “temptation-foods” or “comfort-foods”. For me, my comfort food has always been chocolate. I’ve never been much of a chip-muncher or salt-craver, it’s always been the sweet taste of chocolate that calms my nerves. So having to give it up completely was never an option. Instead, I have learned to adapt my taste buds to a new kind of chocolate, a healthier version that my body won’t react negatively to. Below is an article I stumbled upon that gives some insight to choosing healthier chocolate.

by: Debra Lynn Dadd

Let’s face it. We’re all going to eat chocolate. But you don’t have to feel guilty! Chocolate is actually good for you…it’s all the things added to it that are the problem. Here’s how you can choose delicious healthy chocolates.

Health Benefits

The gift of chocolate to a beloved as a token of love is more than just tradition. Naturally-occurring compounds in chocolate produce that mild euphoria of being in love and contribute to enjoyable interpersonal relations by elevating mood and enhancing sensory perception.

Beyond good feelings, chocolate benefits the body in many ways. In moderation, chocolate can contribute to heart health, help you live longer, suppress a chronic cough, and add needed magnesium to your diet. Chocolate even contains a high level of chromium, which can help control blood sugar.



Microwaves: Be afraid

Here is a great article I found called

“Microwave Ovens and the Healthfulness of Microwaved Food”

by: Debra Lynn Dadd

Microwave ovens do have benefits. They are certainly convenient. They are more energy-efficient than other cooking methods. But are they safe? And do they produce food that contributes to the health of our bodies?

While there is not enough evidence to require warning labels on microwave ovens, or to remove them from the market, there is concern both about the safety of our exposure to microwaves and the healthfulness of microwaved food.


Even microwave ovens that are functioning perfectly emit microwaves. Safety standards set by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allow microwave emissions of up to one milliwatt per square centimeter (1mW/cm2) when the oven is purchased, and up to 5mW/cm2 after the oven has been in use. Studies on industrial exposure recommend that daily exposure should not exceed one milliwatt for more than one minute. Average home use of microwave ovens far exceed this.

Workers who are exposed to microwaves on the job experience headaches, fatigue, irritability, sleep disturbances and other symptoms.



Fabulous Food for Fabulous Women


ALMONDS: rich in heart-healthy vitamin E and fiber.

APPLES: A good source of pectin, a soluble fiber that provides bulk and digests slowly, helping you feel full.

BLUEBERRIES: contains the most antioxidants of any fruit

BROCCOLI: great source of cancer fighting phytonutrient

CARROTS: loaded with beta-carotene, low in calories, and rich in fiber.

FISH: excellent source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids

KIWI FRUIT: most nutrients per calorie of any other fruit !!!

CANTALOUPE: It satisfies a sweet tooth but is low in calories

ORANGE JUICE: One of the best drinks there is. Vitamins C, B, potassium, antioxidants, and the list goes on and on! And of course, drink Florida orange juice. (Because that is where I live).

This juice is delicious and refreshing. It has more antioxidant power than any other drink. Yes, more than red wine, green tea, blueberry juice, cranberry juice, orange juice and Noni juice. Antioxidants are extremely important because they guard your body against free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that can cause premature aging, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, even cancer.

RAISINS: high in iron and fiber

RED GRAPES: packed with resveratrol, a cancer blocker

SALMON: highest concentration of heart protective omega-3 fatty acids

YOGURT: full of calcium and “friendly bacteria”


See Original Article Post from e-health articles. I have eliminated a few items that are not grain or paleo friendly.


Discount on Snacks

Hey Readers!

If anyone is interested in the PaleoPax Snacks Delivery Program, I have been given a $2 coupon offered to all of you. The code is “offgrain”. You will receive $2 off your monthly subscription. PaleoPax offers a delivery service of paleo snacks to your door every month. Each month you will receive five paleo food products from producers across the country. This service looks like a great idea for those just getting into paleo, those with limited time to make their own stacks or for anyone looking for a bit of variety in their diet. It looks like it could be a neat way of trying out different products too. Let me know how it goes!


The GAPS debate

I am happy to welcome guest blogger, Arnel Beaubrun from Integra Naturopathics.

With a lot of confusion surrounding the GAPS diet, Dr. Arnel responds to a few common concerns.

Going Grain Free is not LOW Carb, it’s CHOICE Carb!

In response to the debate surrounding GAPS being a low carb diet – from my clinical experience since my GAPS certification in the fall, I feel its really important to clarify that GAPS is NOT a low carb diet. It involves the incorporation of good fats, protein and vegetable carbohydrates - which are introduced as early as stage 1. Vegetables are carbohydrates!

In my opinion, once someone is past the introductory phase of GAPS, a full GAPS meal would look like this: 1/3 protein, 2/3 vegetables – prepared with ample good fat. The intention of the diet is NOT to be low carb whatsoever – it a temporary, healing dietary regime – which requires the avoidance of grains for a period of time. Grains are not bad, and when prepared properly (soaked or sprouted), are well tolerated by people with a healthy gut – in the same way we prepare legumes, nuts and seeds to reduce their inherent anti-nutrients.

It’s a short term, therapeutic nutritional guide. Working with a GAPS practitioner is very important. A qualified practitioner should be able to modify and individualize the GAPS diet to suit your unique metabolic and hormonal situation, aiding you through the stages and transitioning you into life after GAPS.

Dr. Arnel Beaubrun, ND



Why I went grain free – my story.

Hi All!

Until I can really figure out the whole podcast thing and get that section of the website going (and realistically get the guts to post the sound of my voice all over the internet!), I figured I would blog about my story, and why I decided to give up Grains and Sugar.

To start off, I will give a bit of an introduction to myself. My name is Kerri, I am 25 years old and I live in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, where I believe I heard on the radio the other day that the average temperature here is somewhere around -4 degrees celcius (that’s below freezing). By profession I’m a graphic designer and work in the print industry making business cards, menus, brochures and the odd website (not this one though, that’s a project in the making for another day, for now wordpress it is!). (more…)


Label Reading: Items I Avoid


When I chose to go grain-free and sugar free, one thing I immediately noticed in my grocery shopping routine was my new found obsession with label reading. Mostly, because until you really get to know a product or brand you just never know what is actually in it. I also find it extremely comical that my Mom seems to think that because something is labeled “organic” means its okay for her to eat (even though we are trying to get her off of sugar and grains as well). She seems to forget the importance of checking for sugar and wheat. So I have put together a few tips when label reading your products. (Granted, home making everything is always best, but let’s be realistic…it’s not always possible, and not all of us make our own sausage).

I’ll be going into further detail about these items in later posts, but for now here is a list I have compiled of ingredients I try to avoid when purchasing food.

  • Sugar 
    Often labeled as sugar, glucose or fructose.
  • Wheat products
  • Corn Syrup and Dextrose
    Used in commercially prepared foods as a thickener and sweetener. Made from the starch of maize.
    Linked to weight gain, liver damage, diabetes and more.
  • Nitrates/Nitrite
    A preservative and flavor enhancer, and when a nitrate is converted into a nitrite, it can be dangerous.
    Dangers include: cancer, respiratory distress, skin irritation, irritation to stomach lining and more.
  • MSG
    The sodium salt of glutamic acid, a non-essential amino acid. It is a preservative and flavour enhancer.
    Many people experience side effects such as headaches, heart palpitations, weakness and more.
    Personally, I can experience headaches or migraines from MSG.
  • BHA, BHT
    Preservatives added to food to preserve fat, used to keep fats from going rancid. BHT is used to preserve food colour and flavour.
    Large exposure can be toxic and harmful to one’s health. Can be harmful to liver, kidney and thyroid.
  • Sodium
    I try and avoid food that has added salts. I prefer to manage how much or little salt I add to my food. Sodum is often added as a preservative and flavor enhancer.
  • Soy
    Often added to food as a source of protein, or a replacement for meat in vegetarian foods.
    High levels of phytic acid in soy reduce assimilation of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc. There is also a connection between soy and hypothyroidism.

Many of these ingredients exist in your packaged goods (which is really why it is recommended not to purchase anything prepackaged or canned etc.), but these ingredients also are found in meats we purchase. They are particularly found in processed lunch meats, ham and sausage. So be sure to check the ingredients of your meat, because in processed meats there will often be corn syrup, nitrates and excess sodium. When it comes to salt, I like to personally control the salt in my diet. I do use salt when cooking, but again – I like to be the one to choose how much or little.

If we can learn to control what we put in our food, and ultimately our bodies we can learn to control our health, and overall use food and nutrition to heal our bodies.

Some articles about label reading:



Healthy Fast Food Restaurants – Are They Really?

It’s Tuesday night. Which means one thing: Biggest Loser. I’ll admit it, i’m an addict. I’m not even sure what it is about BL that gets me hooked – the trainers, the yelling, the drama (oooh the drama!), or maybe its just because its reality t.v. – but its a sure thing it’ll be on in my house on tuesday night. Now anyone who has seen the show knows all too well about the subway marketing endorsements. It seems every other episode Subway has a stint to “remind you” that it is the “healthy option” for eating out. Today, they were featuring a flatbread sandwhich, which is suppose to be good for you because it is lower cal than the breads, and you can pack it full of veggies and customize it yourself.

Here’s my problem – Can someone please explain to me how the flatbread is at all healthy? First of all, it’s white bread – just in a different format than the sandwich bread. Which means one thing to me…it’s basically sugar! Second – are we honesty suppose to believe that we are getting an adequate amount of vegetables in these things? A couple tomatoes, a handful of lettuce…a few slices of cucumber, like really….And don’t forget the meat that’s been left out for who knows how long, and the sugary sauces to top them all off. Now, i’m not completely against Subway or any other sandwich/soup/salad fast food joint. They definitely do give a healthier alternative to your mcdouble meal if you absolutely need something, and they do offer salads and soups which are healthier – but I still just can’t grasp how they can really be advertised as being so healthy. Maybe my concept of healthy isn’t just counting calories and opting for low-fat , But to be displayed on these health shows as “incredibly healthy” often boggles my brains.

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