12 to 2: Gluten and Dairy Free

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As I started writing this post I went through very detailed about the ins and outs of this whole thing and then I thought “who on earth is going to want to sit through 2 pages of this story?” This is the edited down version (you’re welcome!)

The Great Struggle:

I was skinny in high school, gained 50 pounds after graduating, lost 30 pounds, kept it off for a few years. That is until I took a 6 week backpacking trip through Europe. I had Fish & Chips in Ireland, Baguettes in France, pasta galore in Italy, gelato everywhere and anything that we were told was a specialty of the restaurant . It was delicious to try all of these foods from other countries, the way they were meant to be. When I finally returned home I stepped on the scaling weighing in at 145. I had packed on 18 pounds in 6 weeks! 18 pounds!

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This is the HARDEST picture I will/have ever posted, but I am doing so because I truly believe this can/will help someone. Those shorts in the left hand picture are a size 13, and thankfully now fall right off my butt. My bra band size went from a 36 down to a 30.

The Decision:

While shopping for a dress to wear (because I had NOTHING that fit me anymore) at a friend’s wedding this past Spring I realized I needed to do something. I was in one of those dressing rooms that has what feels like 14 different mirrors all pointing out your flaws to you and I knew something had to be done. We had to try this ‘diet’ that The Man’s brother and his wife were doing. The rules were simple: No wheat, No dairy, No processed sugar. It seemed simple enough. We had dinner with them the first few nights and then kept going on our own. It was difficult to find processed foods that had no wheat, no dairy and no sugar. Which I suppose is the point of the diet to begin with. After a weeks I decided that a little processed sugar IN foods was just fine. This made it more manageable to keep on track with.

It was about 2 weeks after we had started that I wanted to quite it. I wanted to be done with it. I hadn’t noticed a change in my body and not only had I not lost any weight, I had GAINED weight instead. While on a mini vacation we headed down to the local bar and ordered up some delightful cheeseburgers and a basket of fries. About 5 minutes after that wonderful meal I started to feel sick. By the time we had walked the short distance back to the place we were staying everything had came back up. I let my stomach settle and I was good to go.

It didn’t take me very long to realize that it was the gluten that had made me sick that day. I knew that this was not something I could give up on again.

The side effects:

I had been sick for at least the past 8 years and couldn’t ever figure out the reason. I had tried to eat healthy, I exercised, I ate the whole grain that I was “supposed to” eat. I was doing everything the “right” way and yet I was sick. I had TERRIBLE migraines that were either coming on, in full force, or starting to subside. I would get sick at the drop of the hat and feel terrible for the rest of the day, this would happen at least every other day. I was tired ALL of the time. It never mattered how much sleep I got, or how much coffee I drank, I was beat and ready for a nap.

Then I started my gluten free, dairy free life and the migraines stopped. The migraines stopped and haven’t been back. The horrible stomach aches stopped. I am no longer tired off the time, quite the opposite actually I am not even tired when I feel like I should be. And the weight is coming off. It has been 3 months and I am back done to a size 2. I started this as a size 12!

The only potential negative side effect is that I can’t go back to eating gluten. Some people that stop eating gluten and then go back to it get sick. Their stomachs can no longer handle the harsh nature of the gluten, as is the case with me. When I accidentally do have gluten my body lets me know very soon afterward. Personally I actually really like that side effect. I wouldn’t want to go back to the “normal” way of eating even if it was an easy option. I am so much healthier and happier with this new lifestyle than I was before.


In the past 3 months I have basically not worked out once. I did have physical therapy for 6 weeks and completed the geriatric exercises they had me do there. We are talking ankle and hip exercises. Trust me the weight loss had zero to do with this. With that said, I am going to start exercising soon so that I can tone up and get rid of the jiggle I still have.

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The dress on the left is a size 12 and the dress on the right is a size 4.


The only cheats I allow myself are candy! That’s right candy! As far as gluten free goes I eat butterfingers, junior mints, skittles, and sour patch kids. Yum! Anything with chocolate is going to have milk in it so you have to decide if that is okay with you or not. Also, they have to be the normal size candy bars or boxes. The reason for this is because for example with the Halloween candy, it is made in a different factory and could have cross contamination. The regular bars should all be made at the main factory so they should be good. With all of that said I have only started eating candy in that last few weeks.

There is also this brownie mix at Trader Joes that is gluten free and awesome! In case you are in the mood for some different.

Typical food day:

At 7: I have half a pound of fruit and a small bowl of chex (dry, no milk) and it works pretty well for keeping my mouth busy. It is less about still being hungry after the fruit and more about knowing that I like to munch… or graze if you will.

At 9: I repeat the 7 o’clock ‘meal’

At 1030-11: For me lunch is the most difficult. I started out eating prepackaged salads at Safeway. They look small, but they really aren’t. Plus I used to add extra meat/protein to each salad just to beef it up a bit more. Some of the salads have cheese or croutons. Luckily because everything is divided you can easily just not mix those in.

At 12, 1 and 2: (yes I like to eat OFTEN) I have a spoonful of peanut butter, raisins, veggies w/hummus and/or gluten free crackers.

 At 5 or so is dinner which follows the rules as well. My favorite is either lettuce wrapped turkey burgers with avocado or pork-chops with applesauce, rice, and corn.

*If you are lazy like I am Safeway sells precut fruit in their produce section, I just buy 2 a day and about a box of chex per week. I like the honey nut flavor, but I also like to mix it up with the regular corn flavor, and the chocolate.

Eating out:

Eating out is a complicated thing until you get used to everything. Which I am still doing so I am NOT an expert in the field. However, Red Robin is definitely the safest and tastiest option. I had heard many many times that there buns are gold and still I was skeptical. You can get ANY of their burgers put onto the gluten free bun. The first day I tried the bun calmed my fears and the hamburger was amazing! Paired with their signature steak fries I was in a full on food coma when we left. Red Robin’s fries are fried in a separate fryer which means no contamination for the people that are really sensitive to gluten.. Not all places do this so make sure that you check before ordering.

Tips & Ticks

1)      The first couple of times you go to the grocery store WILL suck. You will have to read every label and you will put back almost everything you pick up, and that is okay! I promise you you will get used to it. I tackled one aisle at a time in the grocery store, and now i know where the go to gluten free items are.

2)      When your body finally gets all of the gluten out of it, you will not be nearly as hunger anymore. Some days I have to watch the clock to remember to eat. It also means that when you do sit down to eat you won’t over eat like you used to. I used to be able to sit and eat almost an entire loaf of French bread to myself with a bowl of potato soup. Now that would never happen.

3)      For recipes that want you to add butter you can just use coconut oil instead.

4)      Most teriyaki  and soy sauce has gluten in it, there are some that do not so also ask the restaurant first or just bring your own.

5)      Taco time has a pretty darn good gluten free menu selection. I personal like the fit hit bowl.

6)      To break up the crazy I mix things up a lot. The udes brand of gluten free bread is the best. Trader Joes has fruit spread that has no added sugar or sugar substitutes (which are also not allowed) that are really good. I like to have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the mornings sometime. If you are new to gluten free, I would suggest toasting the bread for a while. This is just to get used to the bread before you introduce yourself to the texture. Not toasted it has an interesting texture, not bad at all, just not like “normal” wheat bread is all.

7)      There are delightful gluten free cookies at Safeway for the occasional treat… and they are occasional because the bag is $8 for 18 I believe… it makes it easier to only eat one at a time and put the rest away. The cookies do have a little dairy in them but I figure a little bit of dairy in something sometimes is going to be okay.


The picture on the right was from this morning. Isn’t my new sweater adorable?

Let me know if you have any questions, or comments, or any tips for other people on a gluten free dairy free lifestyle!


Disclaimer: I am NOT a health professional and aside from reading a few books and having a few chats with people, I know nothing about anything so don’t sue me if you take my advice and you have some weird side effect and end up developing a third arm or a second head or your organs just start pouring out from your sweat glands, and you consequently develop a case of the ohcraps and you then have to have all of your bones removed and metal replacements put in instead. Seem dramatic? So would suing me for an opinion piece, about MY real world experience. If you want to go gluten free and dairy free talk to your health care professional.


6 responses to “12 to 2: Gluten and Dairy Free

  1. I was just showing my husband your before and after pic the other day. We decided to go gluten & dairy free and today is day 1. I’m glad you posted this! It will be great motivation to keep going!


    • Oh that makes me so happy to hear! You really truly will feel so much better. It took me about a month before I could really see change happening, so don’t get discouraged. If you are feeling weak let me know and I will talk you off the ledge! :)


  2. Good stuff, Mel! You go, girl. I would be interested to see a ‘sample’ weekly menu you use with options for different snacks/meals. BTW…don’t you miss cheese? Love ya!


    • I can write up a meal plan in the next couple days. More than anything I miss PIZZA! I so badly want a slice. Hehehe. Aside from that I can find substitutes for everything.


  3. Despite being a Nutrition student and having eaten this way myself for three years, it STILL amazes me how seemingly “normal” food can have such a negative impact on our bodies. Gluten and dairy are enemies in my books! Look forward to reading more about your gluten-free and dairy-free adventures :)


    • Thank you for sharing! I totally agree with you. We all grew up thinking that a “proper” balanced diet was the key, with wheat and grains at the bottom of the pyramid. It is still crazy to me that my health has changed so drastically in such a sort time. I hope more people will try it and be able to get healthy too.


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