Monday, April 29, 2013

Q&A Monday: Gluten Free and Rotation Diet FAQ

Two weeks ago, I wrote an updated Rotation Diet Roadmap. It was long overdue. Since my initial rotation diet post two years ago, my inbox continued to brim with questions from patients new to the world of special diets, allergies, autoimmunity and food rotation. It was time to revisit the rotation diet, to answer frequently asked questions and include the new insight and research that has emerged over the past few years.

Yet, there is one frequently posed statement that I have yet to address. It appears in my inbox at least once per week:

"I can't."

I hear the word "can't" a lot. Whether it's a frustrated Mom whose hasn't figured out how to feed her allergy-ridden family yet, a busy business woman struggling to maintain her diet while on the run, or a patient fighting chronic illness who hasn't found a way to cook without exacerbating symptoms and fatigue...the statement is usually the same. "I can't do what the doctor is suggesting. I can't maintain a diet like this." Believe me, I empathize.

My response usually surprises emailers at first. I tell them, "Of course you can't."

You can't maintain a diet map that wasn't quite meant for you. But, that doesn't mean that you should give up on trying to formulate one that is. It also doesn't mean you should give up on the diet principles that your doctor has recommended you implement. Most times, it's not the diet that isn't working for your lifestyle or your body, it's the way you've tried to fit yourself into it. Diets are merely guidelines for how to eat healthfully. They don't acknowledge that we're all unique in our lifestyle choices, preferences, sensitivities and physical needs. Instead of trying to painstakingly change yourself and your life to fit into those guidelines, adapt them to fit you. So, change the word "can't" to "haven't". You haven't mastered the art of a gluten free diet, paleo diet, body ecology diet or rotation diet. But, that doesn't mean that you won't. I believe that you will, once you discover some tactics and master some alterations that allow one of these diets to suit you.

Your diet will eventually become second nature, a part of you and a part of your life that not only helps you feel better, but just feels right. Your diet will no longer feel like a daily battle, but will begin to feel like the very thing that provides you with the fuel to help you get through the day. Here are some answers to some frequently asked questions that might help get you started on that path.

Last Week's Gluten Free & Rotation Diet FAQ

My daughter's intestinal issues almost entirely clear up when we use the proper food combining principles in her gluten free rotation diet. But what do I pack in her lunchbox? I'm stuck without gluten free sandwiches! 

Sandwiches likely became a school lunch staple because they're quick and easy to put together on hectic school mornings. This is why venturing away from the trusty sandwich can be time consuming and a little overwhelming. So, I typically suggest utilizing leftovers from your previous night's dinner to send along for lunch.

Leftovers don't sound rotation diet friendly, but they can be. Instead of designating each day in your rotation as midnight to midnight, try noon to noon instead. That way, what you eat for dinner can safely be eaten again for lunch the following day. For example, "Day One" would be noon on Sunday to noon on Monday. "Day Two" would be noon on Monday to noon on Tuesday. Thus, if your body accepts eating the same food twice in one "day", Sunday night's dinner can also be Monday's lunch. Monday's dinner can be Tuesday's lunch. Whether you make a little extra quinoa or millet that you can send along in your child's lunchbox, or you utilize some leftover meat and veggies for a wrap, dinner's "extras" can make figuring out lunch a whole lot easier. If your child isn't into repeating meals or their allergies are too severe for same-day repitition, nut and seed butters are also a great staple for sending along as dips or spreads in a healthy gluten free lunchbox.

Day One: Sweet potato tots are a great kid-friendly side dish for dinner, but also make great leftovers for a gluten free lunchbox. You can stick to your food combining principles by pairing them with an egg free "mayonnaise" dip.

Day Two: Egg and grain free Chicken Strips are often a staple in households that are gluten free and abiding by food combining and Body Ecology Diet tactics. They're a great main course for both kids and adults, and make a great school lunch paired with a dip like "no tomato" ketchup.

Day Three: Almond butter is often a lunchbox staple. You can utilize it as a spread on grain-free crackers, or as a dip for celery or granny smith apples. It's portable and if you use a brand like Massa Organics, it doesn't get dry or cakey. Recreate a nostalgic favorite by spreading it on Paleo Graham Crackers.

Day Four: Grain-based gluten free sandwich bread may not be a proper food combination with nut or seed butter, but grain-free baked goods are! Utilize almond flour or coconut flour in gluten and egg free baked goods like muffins, biscuits or bread.

I'm trying to stick to a grain free diet and rotate as much as I can, but it's hard because I work and I'm never home. I need quick and portable ideas for lunch!

In the latest Rotation Diet Roadmap article, there are a few great recipes that are easy to throw together and travel well, such as the Avocado and Artichoke Heart Dip with Veggies, the Cabbage Wrapped Sandwich, and the Collard Wrap with Sweet Pea Hummus. Another travel-friendly option is salad, but you don't have to stick to lettuce. To add some variety and accommodate a rotation diet, try shredding kale, cabbage, beets, fennel or jicama to spruce things up. For travel friendly meals and snacks, you also may want to consider nut and seed butters that come in travel pouches; Artisana and Justin's Nut Butters are a few of the many companies that are now making their spreads portable.

Day One: Utilize vegetables as your "sandwich bread". Use zucchini as a "bun" for a burger, cucumber slices as "bread" for tea sandwiches, or greens and cabbage for wraps.

Day Two: Salads are easy to toss in tupperware and typically travel well, but salad dressing can get tough when you have extensive food allergies and a need for ingredient rotation. In addition to standard salad dressing ingredients like olive oil, flax oil, grapeseed oil and lemon, try getting creative and testing out a Coconut Ginger Dressing on a salad with Asian influences. 

Paleo Japanese Salad (for poultry allergies, use beef)

Day Three: A number of nut and seed butter companies are now making portable pouches and travel cups for those on the go. Chop up some celery or a granny smith apple to dip in your pouch, or squeeze the contents on your favorite grain-free cracker.

Justin's Nut Butter Pouches with Celery, Granny Smith Apples or Paleo Crackers

Day Four: Yogurt and granola is a fast and easy meal that travels well and can be eaten as breakfast, snack or lunch. Most yogurts found in the grocery store are loaded with sugar and food allergens, but for a food allergy-friendly and "clean" yogurt try Tula's Cocoyo.

Stumped with how to map out your "special diet"? Write in, and perhaps we'll be able to work it out.


  1. You make foods I've never heard of or thought about combining or even eating sound delicious. Thanks for looking out for all of us with special diet needs.

  2. Nice blog! It was very insightful and helpful for a health diet. It also helps many people if they have a food allergy . Thank you again for your post!