Merciful God, You are great in compassion and Your tenderness for us is without measure. We ask You to give us today our daily bread, and also provide for the needs of all of Your hungry children around the world. Through Christ Your Son and Our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


My second oldest son Joshua was recently tested for celiac disease. We are very fortunate that he does not have it -- the doctor called yesterday. But the funny thing is, even though he doesn't have it, the doctor still suggested we cut back on wheat. "We really eat way too much," he said, meaning we as a society.

During the days while we were waiting for the test results I started thinking about what would be involved in cutting wheat out of my son's diet and I was really startled at how drastically our meals would change around here. Because of Noah's tree nut and peanut allergies I am accustomed to reading labels and being careful, and as scary as potential accidental ingestion is I always feel that peanuts and tree nuts are a pretty easy allergy -- just avoid peanuts and tree nuts. But wheat? Wow! That is a life altering adjustment, like avoiding milk and eggs and soy. I would have to really limit the foods I could buy and prepare.

I am relieved that he does not have celiac disease, but I am also going to attempt to cut back on wheat. My personal philosophy on food has always been "everything in moderation." A few years ago I started reading about soy, and not being one that thinks soy is healthy I started reading labels more carefully. I realized I would have to cut soy out of our diets in order to eat in moderation -- it's in everything! But I never thought of wheat as being a bad thing, in fact, I thought of it as a good thing, not realizing that we were not at all eating it in moderation.

So I ask you -- if you eat gluten free or cook for someone who eats gluten free, how do you do it? Or even if you just cut back for health reasons -- do you substitute other grains, or just cut foods that include wheat? I know that I don't want to just straight up substitute one grain for another because that would defeat the purpose of cutting the wheat in order to eat it in moderation (because then we would be eating another grain in abundance). But I don't think I can convince my kids to give up as much of their favorite foods as we probably should. Just curious...what are your thoughts?



Jennifer Gregory Miller said...

We're wheat, dairy, and egg free because of allergies. Avoiding wheat is much easier than gluten free, because I can use oats and barley and some other grains that contain some gluten.

We switched to rice pasta, which isn't that great (not good for leftovers). Some sticky things are using flour for dreding, roux, thickeners, or coating. I usually use sweet rice flour or cornstarch or a combination. The cornstarch is added later to stews and gravies instead of at the beginning.

For my son who is allergic, he just doesn't eat breads much. No sandwiches, no pizza, etc. We don't do much baking for him, either.

To me, the taste of gluten free baking is just awful. I have never found a good substitute.

Katy said...

I tried Gluten free for a while (thought it would help with some numbness issues) but in the end, I wasn't happy with the substitutes, so I just cut back on wheat.

I am glad that you try to avoid soy! I'm very sensitive to soy, but it can be hard to avoid because it seems like it's in everything!

scmom (Barbara) said...

Jennifer, I guess when I say wheat I mean gluten, and I did know that other grains have gluten but since I realized how much wheat we eat I have become hyper-focused on it.

So, what you're saying about avoiding wheat is that you just cut it out and don't substitute due to poor substitutes? I kind of thought that might be the case.

Yes, soy is in everything! Thanks for letting me know how your trial with gluten free went. I have a feeling that substituting other foods for wheat is going to be the way to go.

Life's Littlest Blessings said...

I think wheat would be difficult too. My hubby is allergic to peanuts, peas and eggs so those are pretty easy for the most part to avoid.

Sara said...

Wheat is hard to give up, mainly because most of the things we LOVE are made of it. And I think we love most of those things because of the sugar content as well as the fact that people generally crave things they are allergic/sensitive to.

People speak of "whole grains" as being unprocessed, and an improvement, but I disagree. It is wheat ground down to dust, not as stripped as white flour, but still heavily processed. If you were to eat wheat "whole", that would mean cooking the wheat berries somehow, and I just don't think we would eat nearly as much as we do after it's ground! That's how I figure out moderation---how much would we eat unprocessed.

For dredging, I use parmesan cheese (no dairy problems here!).

For thickening, I use guar gum, which is a bit tricky, and I can't even remember where I bought it so long ago.

For pasta, since I prefer to avoid grains, I put sauce over cauliflower or green beans. Sometimes we use spaghetti squash, which I love, but the rest of the fam doesn't.

Sorry for the superlong reply, but I'm interested in this conversation!

Anonymous said...

I have a sensitivity to wheat too but don't have to be gluten free. Gluten free stuff is a poor substitute for someone who is used to eating the real thing and so expensive for something that doesn't taste that good. I was blessed to have discovered spelt flour a few years back. I LOVE to bake and LOVE to eat bread. Spelt has been a life saver for me. It is expensive about $10-$13 for a 5lb bag but with some rationing of it- and only me eating the goods baked with it and the rest of the family eating regular wheat it works for us. Vita spelt is my favortie brand becuase they make a white spelt flour that bakes just like regular flour. They also make pasta that tastes (to me anyway) just like the regular stuff. I can get the pasta at a much lower price on with free shipping than I can at the store. Our Walmart also carries some rice pastas which aren't too bad either. The only thing about things baked with spelt is they tend to be drier. I compensate by adding extra oil to what I am baking and freezing all items that day then pulling out only what I will eat at the time. Good luck!