I like to experiment and so last September I decided to see what all the fuss was about and embarked on a Gluten free diet. Unless you've been out of this planet, you know it means not eating wheat, rye, barley, kamut, spelt, and even oat (although that last one is debatable). I don't have Celiac disease and I have been a wheat lover all my life. You have to understand, I am french! I was raised on bread, pastries, croissants and all sorts of wheat filled goodies. So the prospect of eliminating my baguette when having my cheese or not having my Sunday treats was a little daunting.

I eat a wholesome balanced diet with whole grains and believe in the 80/20 rules which in my life means, eating healthy during the week and letting it all loose on the week-ends. I don't ever eat junk or prepackaged foods, but I like my sweets (homemade brownies anyone?). My husband thought it would be impossible and too difficult to have fun socially or to enjoy food, he was out from the get go.

So I started my solo journey. I immersed myself in the Gluten Free world. I read "Wheat Bellies" by Dr. William Davis, did a sensitivity test with my Naturopath, Dr. Kira which showed my body didn't like cashews, coffee (Darn!), grapefruit (Not a big loss) and wheat (as most people do). At least, I have chocolate, wine and cheese, that's all I need really. I looked for Gluten free recipes (form Karina's Kitchen) and learned what to look for when eating out in restaurants.

Here's what my Gluten free diet consisted mostly of:
- Quinoa w/Maple syrup, walnuts and almond milk
- Rice cakes with almond butter or sunflower butter
- Greek yogurt or goat yogurt with fresh fruits
- Stirfry with lots of veggies and fish or seafood (I don't like meat)
- Stews with veggies & sweet potato, vegetarian Chili, lentil curry soup, grilled fish with
brown rice and salads, and homemade Pad Thai.
- Hard boiled eggs with raw veggies and tapenade (olive spread)
- Rice crackers with cheese & olives & pecans
- Dark chocolate & a glass of wine (best way to start the week-end!)
- Almond or Soy Latte, Teas and lemon water
- Eating out: Sushi, Thai, West Coast, Italian (Risotto only), Greek (no pita)

There are tons of Gluten Free products out there. From breads, to cookies & ice cream, but I wanted to stay away from prepackaged foods as much as possible. So I only bought a few things: rice crackers and rice cakes, Glutenull muffins (because they are low in sugar) and brown rice noodles. I did bake a few things: check out this yummy Brownie recipe.

I work in natural health, preach a healthy lifestyle to my patients, regard prevention to diseases a must for everyone to strive for and I consider myself in good health.
But I have to say, there were some surprises along the way I did not expect:
- I lost 7 lbs in the past 6 months (Wow: bonus!).
- I didn't miss bread as I thought I would. Yes, really!
- I had less cravings for sugar within 1 month.
- I ate much less sugar when eating out: no Mochas (the chocolate syrup contains wheat by
products), no desserts, no pastries or banana bread at the coffee shop. So more healthy in the end.
- My pre-menstrual one cystic acne zit disappear completely.
- No more bloating, gas or loose stools.
- More energy physically and mentally.

At Christmas I did have some wheat a few days here and there and interestingly enough my cystic zit came back, as well as my loose stools and sugar cravings.
I resumed my gluten free diet in January and have been great ever since.

In Chinese Medicine, wheat and sugar create a lot of mucus and are generally (along with dairy) not recommended for people with any kind of cyst (ovarian, breast...), allergies, recurring sinusitis, asthma, foggy head, dizziness or digestive issues creating loose stools or bloating.
Also recently a lot of studies have been done on the benefit of a Gluten free diet for fertility issues, arthritis, depression and much more.

I honestly think it's easy to make a few changes and see the healthy benefits of eliminating Gluten out of one's diet. And the bonus? Less sugar as well.
Give it go and see for yourself.

Clara Cohen
Registered Acupuncturist in Port Moody & Coquitlam

Author's Bio: 

Clara Cohen graduated from Grenoble University with a Bachelor in Applied Nutrition. When she moved to Canada she became a Personal Trainer, and managed 2 fitness clubs in Vancouver and West Vancouver for 8 years. She has extensive training in exercise physiology, sports nutrition and weight issues. She has appeared on Breakfast Television twice, and has given countless workshops on natural health to many corporations, schools and community centres. She maintains her CPR and First Aid certification current.

She is a graduate of the International College of Traditional Chinese Medicine of Vancouver, where she completed a 5 year program to become a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine. She has been a B.C. registered Acupuncturist since 2003 with CTCMA, and focuses mainly in gynecology and mental health. She has been part of the Port Moody & Coquitlam Acupuncture community for many years.
She has treated successfully uterus cancer, ovarian cysts & fibroids, dysmenorrhea, fertility issues, anxiety, depression, insomnia and much more…

Clara Cohen is currently teaching at the Boucher Institure of Naturopathic Medicine in New Westminster, as well as at The International TCM College of Vancouver and enjoying every minute of it. She also keeps taking seminars and workshops on natural health to further improve her knowledge and to help her patients with their healing process.