An Advice Series for Women of All Ages
I am so excited to bring you another installment of Dear Mrs. R. I truly value all of my readers and your support has been amazing. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
In an effort to protect my readers privacy, I will refer to only a First Name and Last Initial when posting to Dear Mrs. R. So, please do not worry about your confidentiality as it will be protected. That’s my promise to you! Also, I will not publish any question without the express permission of my readers. This post may contain affiliate links to products I use myself and personally recommend.
This week I have chosen a question from Barbara G. Barbara G. asks:
Dear Mrs. R, I want to start by saying I’m a big fan of your blog. I love all the topics you discuss here as I relate to a majority of them. I have been having problems with my digestion since entering menopause. I thought it was one of the many symptoms us women experience. But, lately I have been having a lot of stomach pain and cramping. Also, my bowel movements have been waaaaayyyy off the chart. I’ll spare you the gory details but I’m sure you can imagine. The pain was starting to become unbearable so I went to my Dr. After he ran many tests and having many arguments with him he finally came to the conclusion that I have celiac disease and I needed to stay away from gluten. Great right? On top of all of this stupid menopause stuff now I can’t even eat my favorite food, bread, without spending hours doubled over on the couch. I’m not much in the kitchen but I know if I want to live a better life I need to start eating a better diet. I have read some things on the internet but I wanted to see what you could suggest that I do about keeping my favorite food in my diet. Please I don’t want to give up my bread … I will be grateful for any suggestions you have.
Barbara’s question came after I asked my subscribers’ what topics they would like discussed in my next subscriber freebie. Gluten sensitivity was one of the top suggestions they sent in. I also know that I have quite a few readers who have expressed in the comments that they suffer from gluten sensitivity as well.
Dear Barbara G.
I’m very sorry that you have been suffering for so long. However, I am elated you finally broke down and saw your doctor! Celiac Disease is nothing to mess with. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestion and Kidney Diseases if gone untreated Celiac Disease can leave you with many long term complications, such as:
- malnutrition, a condition in which you don’t get enough vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients you need to be healthy
- accelerated osteoporosis or bone softening, known as osteomalacia
- nervous system problems
- problems related to reproduction
They also list the rare complications but I don’t want to discuss those because I know you will do your best to care for yourself.
Barbara, one thing to keep in mind is that by eating gluten free you are eliminating a source of B Vitamins which are very important to good health. Supplement and replace nutrients accordingly when eliminating a food from your diet. In my post, How To Improve Your Midlife Diet So You’ll Age Gracefully I include a comprehensive list of foods that are rich in Vitamin B Complex and Vitamin B12. It would be wise to include as many of these foods in your diet as possible as well as a Vitamin B Complex Supplement. Vitamin B is a water soluble vitamin meaning your body will rid itself of what it doesn’t need. So, you don’t have to worry about getting more than your body can handle.
I also suggest a good probiotic supplement to begin healing your gut flora. I don’t know if you have ever been exposed to lacto-fermented vegetables but, in my opinion, I feel this is the most nutritious way to get your probiotics in as well as the increased nutrients they contain. Here are some lacto-fermented recipes for you to check out.
Gluten hides in a lot of things and even the smallest amount can affect people with true celiac disease. It is a serious condition that is probably much undiagnosed due to the expense and time it takes to get a proper diagnosis. By some estimates there may be up to 5 percent of the population who have celiac disease and even more may be sensitive to gluten and benefit from a gluten free diet, many of which may not even know it.
Now to address your bread dilemma:
When embarking on gluten free baking it’s important to accept that the foods you love most may not taste the same in gluten-free form. However, you may find that you like them even more than before so don’t lose all hope. In addition, you need to understand that there is no identical substitute for foods, the textures and flavors will be different. They won’t taste bad, just different.
When trying to convert an old family favorite to gluten free it’s important to understand what the ingredient does to the recipe in terms of texture and flavor. Even the raw texture will be different. Batters might be thinner than what you’re accustomed to, or just look completely different. It’s important to not adjust the recipe expecting it to be the same as the gluten versions.
The other important thing to remember is that if you aren’t using a commercial gluten free baking mix you will likely need to mix in more than one type of flour to get the results you want in the recipe. It’s also important to take a lesson from baking schools. In baking school, bakers learn to bake by weight and ratios based on the desires of the final results rather than by cups and spoons full.
If you learn the ratios of the different types of baked goods you’ll be able to substitute easier when you know how everything works. Michael Ruhlman has a great ratio chart on his blog. It is not for gluten free baking but it can help to learn these ratios so that you can take any recipe and make it gluten free. Learning to bake by weight and ratios will help you create better recipes over all. When a recipe calls for 1 cup of flour, try using 140 grams of a gluten free substitute instead. Better yet, mix two different gluten free choices together for a better result.
Most of the things you cook at home are really truly simple. Pancakes, muffins, quick breads, are as easy as switching out the regular flour for a gluten free variety. For yeast breads like pizza dough you will need to add another binder and thickener to ensure that it works better such as chia or flax seeds. It’s also important to learn the different qualities of various flours. For instance coconut flour holds liquids very well; you might need to add extra liquid to avoid a dry result.
The most important thing is to just try different combinations to see if it works. Other than that, you can carry on as normal when turning your baked goods gluten free. Make your own flour mix and try it out. Try mixing different combinations of rice flour, oat flour, sorghum flour, millet flour, and potato starch. Store in a cool dry place and use in all your recipes. Using a mixture of different flours will give you a better result.
I have created The Gluten-Free Baking Pantry to help you understand which ingredients are necessary to re-create your old favorites. The process is pretty simple and I hope you find this resource helpful. I am also in the process of writing a new Gluten-Free EBook which will have recipes for brownies, white bread and muffins to name a few!
Barbara, I hope you’re head isn’t spinning with all the information. But, I try to be as thorough as I can when answering my reader’s questions. You will be receiving a copy of my new Gluten-Free EBook as soon as it’s fresh off the press! I know you’re going to do great! I’m always here if you have questions! xo
P.S. Thank you very much for sending the love … it always makes me feel warm and fuzzy! <3
While Barbara already has her copy of The Gluten-Free Baking Pantry, I wanted to make sure you received one too! If you are interested in receiving a free copy just click the photo below. I truly value my readers, this is my way of giving back the love!
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See you in the comments,