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The gluten-free diaries: week two

alexaThe gluten-free adventures of blogger Alexa Tucker continue in Paris when she found out traveling wheatless was tougher than expected

So, this week’s post might be better named ‘The mostly gluten-free diaries but a weakness-filled weekend: week two.’

I was doing so well all week. The only cheating I did was buying gluten-free cookies to stave off initial cravings (in the interest of weight loss, packaged gluten-free products are no better than their regular counterparts, so I pledged to avoid them.) I was proud of my willpower when my roommates ate pizza for dinner and I stuck with my grilled chicken and tomato basil soup. Overall, I was feeling empowered, strong, and good about my decision to cut the wheat.

Me at the top of the Eiffel Tower
Me at the top of the Eiffel Tower–please disregard the windswept bangs.

But this weekend, I went to Paris, and what had been a plan to cheat with one pain au chocolat (they’re my absolute favorite, and I decided I couldn’t go without one in France) turned into several ‘Oh, I’m on holiday, and it looks so good’ moments. I ate two pain au chocolats, a crepe, quiche, profiteroles, and I even gave into a couple bites of baguette. Sure, I skipped the croque monsieur, but I made up for it with my other transgressions. Oh, and I had a beer while watching the Canada vs. Sweden Olympic Gold Medal Game.

It didn’t seem like much wheat at the time, because I knew every meal would have included at least two grain products had I not decided to go back to GF before the trip, but typing all that out makes me feel extremely guilty. And normally, I’d push that icky feeling back by eating more bread. See how this is a vicious cycle?

I will admit—the profiteroles and one of the pain au chocolats were worth it. Since I don’t have coeliac (a disease in which people are allergic to a protein found in gluten which can cause stomach bloating, gastrointestinal issues, skin and mood problems – your doctor can test for it with a blood test), there may always be a monthly splurge or two that will be worth it for me. But I should have avoided the crust on the quiche, passed on the crepe, said non to the bread, and opted for a gluten-free cider over beer. I feel like I’m verbally slapping myself on the wrist. I’m treading a fine line between beating myself up and keeping myself accountable.

This classic French cafe had some amazing quiche--but it would have been just as good if I'd avoided the crust at the bottom.
This classic French cafe had some amazing quiche–but it would have been just as good if I’d avoided the crust at the bottom.

I didn’t notice too much of a change from cheating with wheat, but that’s likely because it takes a while for gluten to get out of your system and to reap the benefits of going gluten-free. Last time around, it took about a week for the full effects to kick in. I did way better with not cheating last time, but two weeks in I had a beer not thinking about the wheat in it, and I was up all night with awful acid reflux. Having wheat again gave me symptoms I hadn’t had before. I didn’t have any gastrointestinal side effects this time, likely because my body hasn’t quite lowered its tolerance yet. I’m sure cheating will be much less temping when it does—I just have to give my body the chance to ‘un-practice’ digesting gluten.

I was, however, significantly more tired after eating the off-limit foods than I had been all week, and I went to bed with a very sore lower back on Sunday night. It’s hard to tell whether that was the result of my cheating or a busy weekend, but I did know that I didn’t feel as energized as I had during the week.

Bottom line: traveling is hard on any kind of diet, especially when you’re avoiding gluten. And I’ve got a ton of travel planned over the next few months. A few things I’ll do differently (or continue to do):

My new go-to snack
My new go-to snack

1. Pack GF snacks. I was smart to bring almonds and Nakd bars, my new favorite snack (there are only four ingredients!), with me. Having those in my bag made passing up on waffle stands and sandwich shops much easier.

2. Search out a gluten-free bakery. One of my favorite things to do when traveling is sit in a café and people watch. This is very challenging when there are yummy pastries wafting around you. Even though gluten-free desserts aren’t necessarily healthy, having a treat in a wheat-free zone would have made it a lot easier to pass up on the non-gluten free version later in the trip. I did find that Ladurée macaroons, which are quite famous little French desserts, are gluten-free. Score. I credit the delish three bites of heaven I had to being able to pass up Café de Flore profiteroles the first night (but the next night—not so much.)

3. Look at the menu before walking into a restaurant. This is definitely a lesson learned. Especially in France, so many menu items have gluten in them. I think it would be helpful for me to make sure there are a few GF items I’ll actually enjoy, rather than ordering something unsatisfying to me because it’s one of the only options.

A lovely Laduree macaroon--and it was GF.
A lovely Laduree macaroon–and it was GF.

As far as being at home, gluten free is actually pretty easy. The trick: don’t keep anything with gluten around, obviously. If it’s not in my cupboard, I can’t eat it. At the supermarket, I’ll go the long way to avoid the bakery section at the back calling my name, and I’ll shop around the produce and meat sections first so I don’t fill up my cart with the things on the “avoid” list.

The book Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back To Health by William Davis which I wrote about last week has given me some really great meal ideas: omelets with veggies, spinach salads, wraps made with flax wraps, tortilla soup (with no tortillas, ironically,) wheat free pizza made with cauliflower crust, stir-fries with shirataki noodles, hot cereal, balsamic roasted vegetables…the list goes on. Just looking at the meal and recipe suggestions in Wheat Belly is encouraging because it seems like there’s so much I can eat. I’ll be testing some of the recipes over the next few weeks–check back for the details. (There’s even a Davis-approved recipe for GF-carrot cake. Swoon.)


The Gluten-Free Diaries – Week One

Do you have any gluten-free travel tips? Let me know in the comments.

Alexa blogs at

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