Monday, February 2, 2009

Things to Eat When You Can't Eat Anything

How many people can say they are on a diet that allows guacamole, fried potatoes, and ice cream? Those are three foods that I love that I didn't have to give up when I went gluten-free. Today a friend of mine told me that she has been tested for food sensitivities and will have to go on a gluten-free, vegan, sugarcane-free diet. She was struggling to comprehend exactly what she would be eating. I can sympathize with her plight because I have tried all of those diets myself and found it difficult to manage - and I didn't even try them all at the same time. I assured her that if she started to feel better she would be more than happy to keep the diet up. When I realized I would be on the gluten-free diet permanently I found the most helpful thing to do was to think of all the different things that I love that I can still eat and that are naturally gluten-free. Here I am dedicating to my friend a list of 30 foods that are traditionally gluten-free and vegan, and contain no cane sugar:

baba ganoush
butternut squash soup
coconut sorbet
corn chips
fresh-squeezed orange juice
fried plantains
fruits of any kind
gallo pinto - a stir-fried beans and rice dish from Costa Rica
garbanzo beans (among others)
green tea
olive oil
peanut butter
potato chips
potato vodka
miso soup
rice noodles
saag paneer
salad rolls
sun-dried tomatoes
sauteed vegetables
tostadas and sopes
Photo by Traci French

You might be surprised by some of the things on this list. For instance, I have found at least two brands of coconut sorbet that don't contain cane sugar, and are almost completely allergen-free: Purely Decadent and Luna and Larry's both sweeten their sorbets with agave juice.

I'm still surprised by the combinations of allergies and sensitivities that I encounter in my gluten-free friends. Your list might be different than this one - perhaps you are allergic to soy or corn but not meat - but the concept is more important than the actual items. If you are just starting out on a new food-restricted diet, make a list of your own favorite food that you will still be able to indulge in to help you gain assurance that you can do it and feel better for it.


Rebecca said...

Once I decided to figure out what the cheapest diet imaginable was--without sacrificing nutrition. It turns out that the diet I concocted was gluten-free, sugar-free, and dairy-free! Now, some naysayers said that the diet I created sounded extremely boring, but that was not the point. I was simply interested to know, hypothetically, if you could eat really cheaply and healthfully on very little money.

One of the lessons I learned from this experiment was that it would be really hard to get enough calories on such a restrictive diet. It's difficult to get enough to eat when all you're eating is oatmeal, brown rice, and the cheapest vegetable and fruit you can find each day. So your inclusion of olive oil (and other plant oils) is very important! If your friend finds herself eating oatmeal and rice all day, she should be sure to add some oil. This will help her feel more satisfied and she will not have to eat bucketsful of whole grains just to survive.

(And while oatmeal did not make your list, I know that it's possible to buy gluten-free oats. Oats and fruit make a nice breakfast.)

Gina said...

Thanks for your insight Rebecca. Oatmeal is one thing I forgot. You also mentioned popcorn to me today when I saw you. Popcorn with salt and olive oil is delicious!

Stacey said...

This is so true, you have to look at all the wonderful things you can eat. This is a great list.

Liz said...

It's nice to be reminded of what we can eat. Great list! And the Purely Decadent Coconut Milk Ice Cream is amazing; I love that it's sweetened with agave!

Teresa said...

I could definitely live off of the foods you listed. Especially anything that contains avocado or olive oil.