I’ve always been lucky enough to be able to eat pretty much what I like without having to worry too much about putting on weight. I’ve never been a fitness fanatic, but I’ve always done something like dancing, gardening, walking etc to keep me active. When I was diagnosed with coeliac disease last year, the dietitian told me it was normal for people with CD to put on some weight once they started on a gluten-free diet. The reason for this is that once the gut starts to heal, it begins to process food properly thereby absorbing more of the nutrients (and calories) rather than it passing straight through. Well, I took this with a pinch of salt and pretty much carried on as usual, although obviously replacing normal foods with gluten-free foods where necessary.
The first change I noticed was that my “chest” grew (I’m not kidding) by two cup sizes! “So”, I thought, “this is not so bad after all!” However events conspired against me, and 10 months later – I’ve never weighed so much in my whole life. These “events” consist of 1) not being able to think about ANYTHING but food since being told I could no longer eat a large proportion of it, 2) being made redundant after 20+ years (very stressful), and 3) breaking my ankle, effectively putting paid to any exercise whatsoever for the last two and a half months. Also there is the fact that most “free from” foods are quite awful, so I began to bake more and cook more from scratch. And the cakes and biscuits and meals I was cooking were delicious and very moorish. And of course on top of that is one thing they don’t tell you and that is that your appetite comes back! I didn’t even realise I’d lost mine until I found I was finishing every meal with relish, whereas previously I used to leave half on a regular basis
So it’s come to this, I can’t fit into most of my clothes, I feel miserable when I look in the mirror, so I’m going to have to go on a DIET! Well, I’ve tried diets before, but never very seriously or successfully. I always remember many, many years ago when I first started working, I was tiny, I couldn’t even eat a whole bag of crisps at once. For some reason I don’t recall, I decided to go on a diet. I remember feeling starved and giving in and eating a WHOLE bag of crisps, in one go, for the very first time. That put me off dieting for a long time.
I’m not one for fad diets and I do try to eat quite sensibly, although I am a bit too partial to cake and biscuits with my tea! However, recently I came across a fairly new diet idea (it was in the Reader’s Digest as it happens) and it’s called the Alternate Day or Famine and Feast diet. The theory is that you diet only every other day and that makes it easier to bear, because you know that the next day you can eat normally. It’s meant to echo the caveman days when we might not eat for several days, then catch or find some food and feast for a few days. You can find more details here if you are interested (Feast or Famine). There is plenty of discussion about it on the Internet, some in favour, some not, you need to make up your own mind. In slightly more detail, you need to limit yourself to just 500 calories or less every other day for two weeks to kick-start the “skinny gene”, then after that you can be a little more relaxed. I’m currently on my third “down” day and it is HARD. The first two down days, I thought I was eating very lightly, but when I totted up the calories, it came to about 7oo the first day and nearly 800 on the next. Today I’m already up to 500 and I’ve only had breakfast and lunch! Hmm, it’s harder than I thought but I’m going to stick with it, because I need to do something and I think I might be able to get the hang of it if I persist. I’ll let you know how I get on.
Counting calories is actually quite hard but whilst trying to find a list of calories, I found a lovely little website called FoodFocus.co.uk. It has a huge database of UK foods (which makes a nice change) and you can add them to your diary to keep a track of what you’re eating. There are even some gluten-free foods listed, but any that aren’t can easily be added manually using the information from the packet. It also allows you to track your intake of fat, protein etc as well as weight, exercise which is really handy.
So there you have it, not the worst side-effect of coeliac disease but certainly an insidious and somewhat irritating one. I guess this means yes, coeliacs can eat cake – but just not too often 🙂
Note: I am in no way affiliated to any of the links mentioned in this article, they are simply links to websites and articles I found interesting. FoodFocus.co.uk is in no way connected to the diets mentioned above.