Me… Gluten Free?

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Gluten Free has become quite the fad. Why would someone choose to stop eating gluten? Read this article to learn why I did. Plus My Top 10 Gluten Free Packaged Foods and SO much more! ‎

By: Sarah Koontz

By: Sarah Koontz | Gluten Free has become quite the fad. Why would someone choose to stop eating gluten? Read this article to learn why I did. groundedandsurrounded.comGluten Free has become quite the fad.  I honestly don’t get the appeal.  Wheat has been a staple in the American diet, for like, FOREVER!  Why would someone choose to stop eating it?  It just doesn’t make sense.

I tried it once back in 2006.  I lasted about 3 days, and just could not go on.  Not only is rice bread absolutely disgusting, but my very favorite foods (spaghetti, pizza, tomato soup, burritos, and my mom’s chicken noodle soup) ALL have gluten in them.

How is a person supposed to survive without ALL of their favorite foods?  It just is not humane!!!!

Fast forward to 2011.  My little girls were 1 and 3 and I was in a funk.  I have battled with fibromyalgia since I was a teenager, so I struggle with pain and fatigue on a regular basis.  But this was different.

I began having daily headaches.  And when I say daily headaches, I mean headaches….all day….every day!  My life was quickly becoming intolerable, and I was desperate.

So when my doctor recommended that I go on an elimination diet, I was willing to give it a try.  It was a 30 day diet and I eliminated 11 of the most common allergy causing foods.  This included gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, corn, pork, beef, chicken, beans/lentils, coffee, citrus fruits, nuts, and nightshade vegetables.

Phew…..just thinking back on that time stresses me out.  It was extremely difficult for me to follow this diet but I had really good support. They gave me a large list of foods I could eat comprised primarily of rice, meat (i.e. turkey, fish, lamb), most fruit, and most types of vegetables.

By: Sarah Koontz | Gluten Free has become quite the fad. Why would someone choose to stop eating gluten? Read this article to learn why I did. groundedandsurrounded.comAbout 3 weeks in, I lost my resolve and gobbled down a delicious brownie (ok, maybe 2) that had dairy, wheat, and soy in it.  Shame on me!!!! 

Well, I suffered the consequences, almost immediately.  I will spare you the details, but it made me very sick.  I was shocked.  I had never had any noticeable reaction to food in the past, and I was astounded by how quick and how severe my reaction was.

Because the brownie had three ingredients from the “no-no” list, I wasn’t sure which I had reacted to although I had my suspicions it was gluten because of the nature of my symptoms.  For about 2 months after the brownie, I did my best to avoid all three, but slowly realized that dairy and soy weren’t major problems for me.

Being 100% gluten free is a very difficult thing to achieve, and there is a huge learning curve, so I accidentally consumed gluten 3-4 times. With a few more mistakes which confirmed our suspicions, I realized that I definitely had a gluten allergy.

Unfortunately we did not have the foresight to test me for celiac disease before I went off gluten, and because I didn’t have a death wish (you must consume gluten daily for at least 4 weeks before you can take the celiac tests) we may never know what exactly is wrong with me.  All we know for sure is I cannot tolerate the stuff.

Although going off gluten didn’t magically cure my headaches, I am grateful I did it anyway.  The honest truth is, I choose not to consume gluten more because of how terrible I feel when I eat it than how good I feel when I don’t. 

The first year was definitely the hardest.  But in time, I learned what my safe foods are and I started focusing my energy on all of the delicious things I can eat rather than the few that I cannot.  There is absolutely no way I would be on a gluten free diet if I didn’t have to be.

It isn’t a fun diet to be on, and unless your body has difficulty digesting gluten, there really isn’t any health benefit from it.  But if you have suspicions that gluten may be an issue for you, I encourage you to read this article  and consider going on an elimination diet.

It took me about a year to begin experimenting with gluten free baking.  All of the different flours intimidated me, and every gluten free recipe I found online confused me.  The very first step for me was to find an affordable flour blend that I liked.  Through much trial and error I finally settled on making my own, and I have had a blast baking gluten free treats ever since!

I have used this Simply Homemade Gluten Free Flour Blend with great success in muffins, quick breads, and cookies.  The very first recipe I modified to be gluten free was my mom’s Banana Bread Recipe.  I would encourage you to start there if you are new to gluten free baking.  It turns out great every time and I promise it tastes amazing!

Sarah’s Top 10 Gluten Free Packaged Foods

If you are newly gluten free and are looking for some awesome products to stash in your gluten free pantry, I have compiled a list of my favorites for you.  These all link up to, but you can also find many of them in your local grocery and health food stores! My favorites are always changing, but each and every one of these products taste amazing and they have been my go-to for quite some time now.

1. GoPicnic Ready-To-Eat Meals

2. Kind Bars Variety Pack

3. Crunchmaster Multi-Grain Crackers

4. Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Rolled Oats

5. Mrs. Leeper’s Organic Corn Pasta

6. Gluten Free Mama’s Pizza Crust Mix

7. Larabar 18 Flavor Variety Pack

8. Bisquick and Betty Crocker Gluten Free Multi Pack

9. Gluten Free Mama’s Pie Crust Mix

10. Food Should Taste Good Variety Pack



Are you gluten free?  What is your favorite gluten free product (other than all of the wonderful “naturally” gluten free whole foods)?

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  1. I’m not only gluten free, but grain free too…it all stared 2 years ago when I was overweight, sick, my cycles were a mess and I was miserable. I thought I’d try low carb. I lost a lot of, weight and regained some of my health and vitality! I then convinced myself that I could eat carbs again if I stayed away from sugar…so I went back on all the grains. I got joint pain, indigestion and started having anxiety attacks…I removed rice no more indigestion…then corn…no more joint pain…so I removed gluten last…and Lo and behold the anxiety settled. I’ve now been entirely strictly grain free for 6months. The weight is slowly starting to drop again and my health and vitality has also returned.

    It’s funny because my kids are all gluten free ( eldest reacts severely and has a half sibling with coeliac ), middle reacts mildly and the youngest has eczema when he eats gluten…so I’m wondering why it never dawned on me it may be an issue for me…I think I was concerned about jumping on the gf band wagon…

    As for foods, we make all our own due to the grain free thing ( my eldest also reacts to corn ) and the kids also dont process dairy well. So we avoid most pre packaged foods. I’m just grateful for bloggers like you who come up with so many good recipes for those of us who need them 🙂

    • Linda, thank you so much for your comment and kind words. You are exactly the reason why we keep on keepin’ on here at Grounded and Surrounded 🙂 It can’t be easy to have so many food allergies/intolerances to cook for each day. Big hugs from us to you for providing specialized healthy foods for your family! We are so hopeful you will regain your full health soon 🙂

  2. Did you ever discover the cause of your headaches? I, too, deal with headaches every day. Anxious to hear if you found the cause.

    • Moira,

      I sent you an e-mail with the rest of the story, I hope to put it together into a blog post soon. We did find the source of my headaches and it wasn’t what we were expecting! We actually had a carbon monoxide leak in our home. Scary!

  3. Sarah, I don’t have any problem with gluten myself, but I’ve developed a lot of recipes for friends who do. Funny thing, whenever I serve the GF recipes to a group, the non-GF like them, too!

    • My mother always announces to the crowd “this is gluten free”. I don’t do that anymore. I find people are a bit scared of new things, so I just cook great food and share it with all of my friends. They love it, and sometimes they are clueless it is gluten free. Sammi makes gluten free food for me all the time, bless her heart….best friend ever!

  4. Oh there is hope after all! It’s so nice to hear that it is possible…even for the gluten lovers out there, to go gluten free. I tried an elimination diet a while back for severe eczema on my hands and the specialists keep suggesting I try gluten free, but I never get past my morning bowl of oats! I might have to bite the bullet and just do it!

    • Krissy – Here’s the thing. If you are miserable, you will try anything. If you are managing just fine, then it probably won’t stick. It is a HARD thing to do…at first! But then it gets easier, and before you know it, you really don’t feel abnormal or like you are missing anything. I think it is the whole acceptance thing that is tough. Once you accept the fact that gluten hurts you, it is no longer something you want in your life. The only way you will ever know if it hurts you is to give it a solid 30 day try. If there is anything I can do to help, please e-mail me through our contact page or message me through facebook! -Sarah

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