I received the news on 16th November, 2010 that I am supposedly wheat intolerant. I don’t have to stay off all gluten as I can have spelt, oat, rye and buckwheat which is a fine silver lining I suppose. Hence I shall give a wheat free diet a go for 4 weeks and see if I feel any difference.
‘Diagnosis’ was at 5pm so my diet started immediately. A packet of crisp (walker’s prawn cocktail) seemed ok and I had that. I have to give the Ferrero Rocher a miss which I don’t mind that much although someone will have to finish the rest of it some time. Dinner at Sheeky means missing the customary bread basket (do I get some money back from the cover charge?). I ordered Fillet of Pollack with braised squid, coco beans & salsa verde hoping there isn’t anything in it. I didn’t ask as I wasn’t quite sure how to approach it. Maybe I’ll state it clearly next time I go out to eat.
Breakfast was the usual smoothie with banana, kiwi, melon, frozen berries, yoghurt, soya milk (which I must check whether there is any gluten in it) and orange juice. Lunch at SCR where the choices were roast beef with roast potatoes and gravy (avoid if from gravy mix and flour coated roast potatoes), Thai chicken curry (avoid as there is flour in the sauce), vegetarian option of pie (avoid) and cannelloni, both needed avoiding. The only choice was salmon with chips and courgette. I suspected they may have coated the chips with something as it was one of those paprika-y potato wedges but I didn’t really care by that time so that’s what I had. Dinner was a slice of expensive wheat free bread (£2.80 for a Genius Fresh White Bread 600g) and it now lives in my freezer for any toasty treat required. I bought the Doves Farm Gluten Free Organic Penne Pasta 500g for £2 which means everything gluten free seemed to be about 3 times more expensive than the normal product. I made pasta with Swedish meatballs, peas and homemade tomato sauce which was just as satisfying as the wheat pasta which was fine. There is also an advantage as the pasta only took half the time to cook compared to wheat based ones. Strange that the wheat-free pasta is more cardboard like when it is undercooked but you still get the al dente bite if done properly. I had drinks of bubbly and wine when out while giving beer a miss. I checked the gluten free Estrella Daura costs £6.95 for four 330ml bottles which is really quite expensive. I may just pretend that Stella and Carlsberg have no wheat in them as they are made from barley. The argument goes fields used to grow barley are usually rotated yearly to grow wheat as well so there is no guarantee wheat is not in the product. Although test have shown most beer has a range of 5-50ppm of gluten and the limit of gluten-free is around 20ppm so it can be seen that it is not as bad as some made out to be.
Same breakfast of smoothie. I printed out a small instruction explaining the wheat allergy in a few different languages which may help explaining what my requirements are (allergy card). I took it with me to a thai restaurant and was sad to hear that I cannot even have rice noodles as they have some wheat in them. I was oddly recommended to have the stir fried vegetable with a light soy sauce without the soy sauce as that was the only thing on the menu I can have so I ended having lightly salted stirred fried vegetables with rice. Luckily, with the help of some condiments such as fish sauce, chilly vinegar and chilly soon made the dish more interesting. But this is pretty poor since I can only have one thing on the whole menu. There is a potential that vinegar may contain wheat but I am just not going to worry about that for now. About soy sauce, a test has been done to see what the gluten level is (http://www.soya.be/reports/gluten-free-soy-sauce.pdf) and it was found that only a small amount (5ppm) was found in two brands of soy sauce and according to the report, new European legislation to be implemented in 2012, gluten-free foodstuffs should contain less than 20ppm gluten. This means soy sauce can be regarded as gluten free because of the usually small amount being used.
Just came back from a meeting where they serve pizza as snack. They were being really considerate with the different toppings but unfortunately, a wheat free pizza is beyond reasonableness, surely. Ordered Indian food tonight of rice, chicken jal frezi and okra which was promised no flour in them, so at least one thing remains unchanged.
Breakfast as usual and I had to look for food in the common room where they sell mostly sandwiches. I was looking through the salads where they don’t even have a label for the Caesar salad so I shall give that a miss. The sticky bbq chicken salad has flour in the marinade, hence sticky. Sushi without soy sauce is a bit disgusting especially the mass produced ones. So I chose the ‘naughty but nice tuna salad’ which actually has nothing naughty about it. The only potential wheat presence is the dressing which is described as balsamic dressing but has a suspicious milkiness to it but I settled for it anyway. Dinner was two Japanese rice ball with seaweed that I bought from a stall in waterloo station. Stations are full of snacks but they are either sandwiches, pasty or burgers. I think the seaweed inside the rice ball may have been soaked in soy sauce and attempts to find out from the cashier only resulted in ‘5p, soy sauce…’ in reply so I shall not bother trying to find out. A little bit of left over mince rounded off my dinner on the yacht as it was served with pasta and either way, the rice balls were pretty filling.
Breakfast on the yacht consisted of tea, cornflakes and scramble eggs. There were numerous wheaty treat such as toasts, brownie and shortbread. Lunch was a variety of sandwich fillers such as ham, cheese, tomatoes, cream cheese and crisps. Garlic bread was also on offer which I substituted with my own stash of gluten free flapjack from Sainsbury. Pre dinner drink of (cough, cough) Guiness which I am pretending it only contains barley, hops, yeast and water as advertised. Dinner was a lovely chicken with peppers in mustard sauce and rice and finished off with a banana custard. It was a close call with the rice as it was suppose to be cous cous but luckily, cous cous was too posh for Sommerfield in Gosport.
It was corn flakes, banana and tea for breakfast and Mars bar and crisps for mid morning snack. Similar sandwich fillers as yesterday for lunch plus scrambled eggs and beans on top which was nice in the cold. Late afternoon snack of hot rice pudding from a tin in the afternoon was an absolute treat. Pre dinner snack of the flapjacks, banana and orange juice and dinner of wheat free pasta with Bolognese sauce. I am constantly aware that according to the wheat intolerance that came out of the test, potatoes, green peppers and tomatoes are all suppose to be bad for me. So this whole exercise may be completely pointless since I’m only cutting out wheat but not the three other things. I had quite a few tomatoes and green peppers dishes in the past week and my feeling of bloatedness after the pasta dishes may well be cause by the tomato based sauce rather than wheat.
Smoothie for breakfast and in my rush for a meeting, accidentally had sushi with a fried tempura in it. So first little lapse sine the experiment started. And again, sushi without soy sauce is not that interesting at all. Dinner at a French restaurant in Islington and told I could have everything without the sauce so I ended up with a rather thin onion soup without the croutons and cheese and steak without its pepper sauce with chips and vegetables. It is beginning to get quite annoying as I am still getting bloated, probably from the potatoes whilst having to dodge so many things. Let’s see how it goes in the next few days but at least I’m not due to eat out soon.
Same breakfast as always. Browsing the Senior Common Room (SCR) yielded nothing as all choices have flour in them. It is pretty poor if your seafood paella has wheat in it but that is what you get with mass produced food. I went to JCR to pick up a baked potato with tuna and sweetcorn, cheese and salad which is rather more substantial than I imagined. I was still deciding what to have for dinner as I was heading to the football game and that’s all pies and burgers. Eventually decided on going to Vietnamese who was happy to discuss my need and ended up with some stir fried chicken and vegetable with rice. They reassured me their rice noodle did not contain any flour and they were busy enough not to go down and check the packaging for the ingredients list, so I thought I shall give that a miss.
Maybe a truly “free from” day with no wheat, potato, tomato and pepper. There was smoothie for breakfast; tofu and vegetables without soy sauce and rice for lunch at Stick and Bowl who was very accommodating with my request for no wheat (quite a bit of MSG instead though, I’m afraid) . Dinner of my own pan fried thyme and garlic chicken served with puy lentil in a red wine stock/ragu. It did make me feel better with this diet but that is quite easily achievable since I am not eating out.
Smoothie for breakfast and then Imperial’s own Tuna Niçoise with lots of butter bean for bulk whilst turning a blind eye to the mayonnaise looking dressing. Dinner of Indian again and that should be quite safe. Wheat free life is getting easier!
Smoothie for breakfast and a Pret chicken salad which has a bit of mayonnaise and salad dressing which should be fine… hopefully. Eating out tonight so it may be problematic. Went to have dinner at Hawksmoor in Covent Garden with excellent service and decent food. Ordered the cockles in broth and a steak which was great. No problem there.
Porridge for breakfast and the lentils from two nights ago for lunch with some add tofu. Dinner party at home with razor clam to begin, then deviled crab on toast (wheat free for me). Main course of a lovely Tunisian lamb with aubergine served with rice followed by cheese and bake chocolate fondant using wheat free flour which didn’t work that well. But this illustrate eating at home is easy in avoiding wheat.
Missed breakfast and had lunch of the lamb and rice from previous evening. Dinner was a home made vegetable soup from a few weeks ago. May have some cheese later on, but ended up didn’t.
Breakfast of smoothie and lunch of more of my own soup and cheese. Dinner was at an Italian place Da Mario on Gloucester Road with the Yacht club Christmas dinner and they have wheat free pasta. So I had a nice Buffalo Mozzarella salad and baked aubergine, then main course of gluten free pasta with courgette and tomato which was fine. Haven’t noticed any significant difference in terms of how I feel but at least keeping gluten free is getting a lot easier.
Breakfast of smoothie, again. But this was made with pear instead of melon so that’s a bit of a difference. Lunch of chicken, carrots and rice in the SCR although there is a bit of sauce that is stuck to the chicken, there is no other alternatives as they have even run out of baked potatoes. It is still annoying their 5 options of main courses all have wheat in it and cannot stock baked potatoes adequately. It was the pub evening for the backgammon society hence the standard menu of burgers, pies and fish & chips. I managed to pick the Caesar salad with chicken and forgot to ask not to include the croutons. I accidentally ate one but managed to pick out the rest. There are still a lot of traps that wheat lurks. I was looking at Doritos in the afternoon and and even though they are corn chips, they have wheat in the flavouring for the cheese and chilli flavours. The only flavour I can have is the cool original. Just to show.
Smoothie with pear again. Lunch of sushi and had to pick my way through some flaked batter they put into the buckwheat noodle soup. Otherwise, sushi and a bit of kimchi made a fine lunch. Dinner of another Japanese meal and this time with rice in soup and seaweed and some stew pork. There are a lot of limitations with Japanese food as things such as tempura, udon, ramen and pork cutlet are out of the question. Even deep fried tofu is out so it is just sushi and bits of rice dishes.
I am beginning to feel I have quite a bit more energy. Even the lack of sleep over the weekend didn’t lead to, say, nodding off at the desk at work and I am much more proactive. Maybe it is related to the exercises I am doing but I am feeling pretty good in general. Maybe this is working.
Back to the mundane information starting with breakfast of pear smoothie. Lunch at a dodgy Chinese place that seems cheap but the portion are so small that you need to have two. And the amount of MSG in the food is quite frightening as well. I had some fried rice noodles and some vegetables. Dinner was another Caesar Salad without the croutons this time as I was just looking for something to eat whilst at a pub.
Another breakfast of pear smoothie due to my inability to yet visit the supermarket. Lunch of two halves with a Pret tuna salad which is a very small amount of food though the dressing was nice. The second lunch was a Japanese sushi box with salmon and avocado maki rolls and edamame beans which was the only thing left in the JCR which is not wheat based. I can’t even have Mexican Chilli flavour McCoys crisp noticing the wheat as I was browsing. Dinner was an ambitious dish of duck breast, fried duck egg, leg confit potato cake and kale at the Royal Court cafe which was fine. I was reassured there is not wheat in it and the waitress was very accommodating since she does not eat wheat either.
Breakfast of banana then lunch of leek risotto at home. Dinner of French onion soup at Mon Plaisir without the bread and tartare steak with chips and peas.
Straight to lunch with Japanese Shabu-Shabu at Whole Foods who replaced the udon with rice for the set meal. Dinner of rye sour-dough with Scottish cure herring for dinner accompanied by some steam kale.
Smoothie for breakfast, then French buckwheat pancake with spinach and cheese for lunch. Dinner at Terroir of cured meat; beetroot, goat chesse and lentil (I had to remove a bit of fried toast under the cheese) and herring (again) with a warm potato salad.
Smoothie for breakfast. Sushi for lunch and dinner with grilled sardines and horse mackerel (scad) sashimi for starter at home and main course of the Tuniasian lamb with rice and kale finished off with cheese and port.
Smoothie for breakfast, baked potato with coleslaw and tuna for lunch and dinner of the Tunisian lamb and rice for dinner then cheese. Feeling less of the effect I experienced last week and beginning to get pretty pointless and I have lost 5 pounds in the process which is not great. Must try to eat more.
Smoothie for breakfast. Stick and bowl fried rice noodle for lunch and then chicken jalfrezi with rice and okra for dinner.
Smoothie for breakfast, greek salad for lunch. Dinner at home of scallops with chorizo, then a main of fried lamb chops with lentils and spinach as main.
Breakfast of rice noodle soup and then Vietnamese noodle soup with chicken for lunch at Pho. Dinner of scallops with chorizo again and then main of roast lamb with roast red onion and butternut squash. Finished off with some cheese and a hot chocolate.
Breakfast of rice noodle soup again and then spanish tapas at Lola Rojo in Battersea with bravas potatoes, squid, chicken kabab, fried mushroom and rice with chicken and chorizo, all gluten free because of their marking on their menu. Dinner of lentil and roast butternut squash and some grapes.
Final day of breakfast of smoothie and baked potatoes with tuna and salad for lunch. Dinner of mozzarella salad and wheat free pasta.
The end of 4 weeks
It has been easier than I imagined to be wheat free but it does involve a little bit of effort. There hasn’t been much dramatic difference but there was a spike of energy in the middle of week 3 but that could be coincidental. The main question is where to go from here: carry on or revert back?