this week's conversation: The Brain's Role In Creating Healthy Habits

Gluten-Free… Fad or Lifestyle Change?

I am so thrilled to have you with me on the podcast because we are going to dive right in and talk about gluten! I have two members from my team with me in this episode, Melissa and Shelby, who are going to share with you their gluten stories.

Many people don’t realize that when they eat gluten, they are not just eating wheat. The wheat fields in the U.S. are sprayed with Roundup to help dry out the wheat field to produce a bigger crop. The issue lies with the chemicals on the wheat that we end up ingesting. These chemicals act as toxins and can manifest itself in many ways throughout our digestive system. All three of us share with you our story of how gluten has impacted our lives. 

THE BIGGEST STEP IN ANY JOURNEY IS JUST GETTING STARTED 

Are you ready to feel better physically, mentally and emotionally? Not sure where to start? No worries!! We give you valuable tips, recipes and a shopping list to jumpstart your gluten-free lifestyle. 

MEET MY TEAM!

Melissa (middle) and Shelby (right) are two members of Team Ziel who share my drive and passion for helping individuals improve their quality of life!

Shelby is our 'Behind the Scenes Guru' who does all the editing, designing and filming for our videos, tutorials and social media posts. Melissa is the 'Organizer of all Chaos' and helps me run the business on a day-to-day basis. Even though you don't see them all the time, their roles are vital because it allows me to continue my research and the ability to develop new content to share with all of you!

And yes, these two keep me on my toes!! They remind me that it is okay to take what I do very seriously, but shouldn't take myself so seriously! Stay tuned, because you will see these two pop up from time to time!

SHOPPING LIST SUBSTITUTES

Below are some easy gluten-free options to help you take the first step in building a gluten-free lifestyle. 

BONUS TIPS

  • Dressings – I always recommend making your own whenever possible. If you are in a pinch, select gluten-free options made with avocado oil.
  • Eat your Veggies! – Eating a lot of fresh, organic veggies is so good for you and your digestive system.
  • Starches – Substitute potatoes for sweet potatoes. They are super healthy for you and really tasty! Throw some slices in the oven to make chips.
  • Sauces – I always recommend making your own with avocado oil or coconut oil instead of mayo or olive oil. By making your own, you can ensure they are gluten-free and full of good nutritious food.

ERICA'S FAVORITE GLUTEN-FREE RECIPES

Olive Greek Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of tomatoes
  • 5-6 Persian cucumbers
  • 2 cups of an olive mixture with juice mix
  • ¼ of a red onion thinly sliced
  • Sprinkle of garlic salt
  • Black pepper to taste

Ingredients for Dressing:

  • 2-3 Tbsp. extra virgin oil olive
  • 2-3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Optional Items:

  • To make dairy-free – leave out the feta
  • When in a pinch, you can use the olives, feta and olive oil already mixed together from the olive bar at your local grocery store instead of the dressing, feta and olives sold separately

Preparation:

  1. Mix ingredients together
  2. Makes 4-6 servings

Serve and Enjoy!

Quinoa Salad

Ingredients:

  • ½ yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, cut into quarter pieces
  • ¼-½ cup quinoa
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 4-5 stocks of cilantro, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. of mint
  • 1 shallot finely minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 lime, juiced

Preparation

  1. Boil water
  2. Once boiling, add quinoa and let it sit for 10-15 minutes or until the water is gone
  3. Combine all ingredients and mix well

Erica's Bonus Tip: Roll out the fruit prior to cutting to maximize juicing 

Serve and Enjoy!

MELISSA'S FAVORITE GLUTEN-FREE RECIPES 

Tarragon and Grape Sprouts

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. tarragon
  • 2 Tbsp. rosemary
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup purple grapes, halved
  • 4 cups of sprouts, halved
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Preparation:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Combine the above ingredients into a big bowl and toss together until the olive oil and spices are distributed evenly
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste
  4. Bake for 15 minutes
  5. Remove and toss
  6. Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes or until sprouts are done
Serve and Enjoy!

Breakfast Scrambler

Ingredients:
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 5 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup spinach, thawed
  • 2 Tbsp. garlic
  • 1/2 cup turkey bacon 
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. Harissa Salsa (or your favorite salsa)
  • 2 Tbsp. Sriracha Mayo (optional)
  • Shaved parmesan (optional)
Preparation:
  1. In a large skillet, sauté the butter, sweet onion, red pepper, garlic and turkey bacon together until the onion and pepper become soft
  2. Add in the spinach and sauté for another 2 minutes
  3. Add in the eggs, salt and pepper and cook until eggs are done
  4. Plate and add salsa and/or mayo to the side of the plate
  5. Top with shaved parmesan (optional)
Serve and Enjoy!

SHELBY'S FAVORITE GLUTEN-FREE RECIPES

Turkey Sandwich

  • Canyon Gluten-Free Bread - 7 Grain
  • Turkey
  • Smashes Avocados
  • Bacon - For Good Fat!! (make sure there are no nitrates)
  • Any additional toppings - a turkey sandwich has the potential to be anything it wants to be
  • I love pairing my sandwich with a nice soup to dip it in or pairing it with some sweet potato chips!

Gluten-Free Snacks

Unlike my two gals above, I am a quick and easy eater, which is why I love snacks. So instead of giving you a recipe that I seldom use, I decided to give you a list of gluten-free snacks that are my everyday go-to's. 

  • Good Thins Veggie Blend Crackers: Love pairing these with hummus!!
  • Pacific Chicken Flavored Bone Broth: If you have followed Erica for a while, this probably isn't the first time you have heard about bone broth (she got me hooked!!). When I feel a little hunger coming on, I warm up a mug full of bone broth and add a little pepper to taste and those cravings are gone!
  • G.H. Cretors Just Cheese Popcorn: This popcorn is my guilty pleasure as I could eat bags of it!! The 'Just Cheese' is my favorite flavor, but there are so many other options to choose from, just make sure you watch that sugar!
  • Popchips Barbeque Potato Chip: This gives you the feeling of eating a chip, without the gluten!! I recommend buying the single serving packs so you don't overeat.
  • Macadamia Nuts: Such an easy snack that is so good for you as well! I make sure mine are organic from the health section at my local grocery store.

EPISODE QUOTES

TRANSCRIPT

Erica: I am thrilled you are here as we are going to dive into the topic of gluten. Our primary goal is to bring awareness to the subject and how gluten may be affecting your body in ways you didn’t even realize. For this episode, I have some of my team with me, Melissa and Shelby. You may see them pop up from time to time, but they are always behind the scenes doing amazing things. Melissa is our organizer of all chaos and Shelby is our behind the scenes magician. 

All three of us have been impacted by gluten in different ways. I myself, have been completely gluten-free for 6 years. I understand those of you that feel like you couldn’t ever cut gluten out of your diet, but I challenge you to keep listening and keep an open mind because the stories we share might resonate with you or help you understand gluten a bit more.  

What is gluten exactly? Gluten is the protein that is found in wheat. The reason gluten can have such adverse effects on us, especially in the U.S., is because of the glyphosate, also known as Roundup. This is sprayed on the wheat fields in the United States to help dry out the wheat to produce a bigger crop. The issue with gluten lies within the chemicals that are sprayed onto the wheat that we end up ingesting. These chemicals act as toxins in the body and can manifest itself in many ways. 

As far as my story goes, I remember back in high school I was always feeling bloated. It was really embarrassing because you don’t want to feel bloated and gassy all the time especially when you are around your friends. I struggled with this up until I had my second child where I decided to cut out gluten altogether. I couldn’t believe how much better I felt. I had so much more energy and I didn’t have the bloating or the stomach pains I had been feeling for most of my life. I started researching gluten more and more and found that when we eat gluten, it really affects our gut to the point where it begins tearing down our intestinal wall. This leads to IBS and all sorts of other health issues. Because of my journey, it has really inspired me to dive deeper into health and wellness to help other people out there feel better! Even if you haven’t experienced the issues I have, keep listening because I think you will be surprised at the other ways gluten can affect you.

Melissa:  I have suffered from migraines since I was about 15 years old. I would get anywhere from 10-15 migraines a month. Anyone who has ever had a migraine knows how much they can impact your daily life physically, mentally and emotionally. In the past few years, I started getting Botox injections in the back of my head, which did help. But once I started cutting gluten out of my diet completely, the number of migraines and the intensity of the migraines I was experiencing decreased significantly. I have now been gluten-free for a year and a half and only get a migraine or two around my cycle, which are totally manageable. The other thing I really noticed was this addiction gluten created for me. What I mean by that is, if I ate regular pasta or pizza, no matter how full I was, I was always craving more, especially sweets. I couldn’t get enough, it was insane! Once I got the gluten out of my system and really stayed on a strict gluten-free diet, the cravings completely subsided. It was amazing. The quality of my life has drastically improved just by cutting out gluten.

Erica: Research shows that it can take one to three months to completely get rid of gluten from your system. You may notice improvements in your digestive tract and bloat right away, but remember that you need to give your body an ample amount of time to detox. I have another client of mine who suffers from migraines and she has also seen a dramatic decrease in her migraines by eliminating gluten and other toxins from her diet. Okay, Shelby, what do you have to share?

Shelby: Gluten came into my life a few years ago when my mom was diagnosed with Celiac disease. As soon as my mom was diagnosed, I started to watch my diet because celiac can be hereditary and her diet changed as well. I noticed that anytime I ate something with gluten or drank a beer that my stomach would yell at me. I think the biggest obstacle for me was not knowing where to start and simply thinking, “well I don’t want to completely give up bread." Once I started paying attention to all the gluten-free options available, I realized that I didn’t have to give up certain foods because there are so many gluten-free options out there!    

Erica: Absolutely, and I want to talk about my son for a minute because I think his story may resonate with a lot of parents. My son suffered from a lot of sinus issues when he was younger which led to a lot of ER visits, breathing treatments, a variety of medications, etc. If you have ever had a child that has struggled to breathe, you know how scary that can be as a parent. We completely cut dairy out of his diet, which is what most people think causes the sinus issues, but there was virtually no improvement. I decided to try to take him off gluten. Within two weeks I noticed huge improvements with not just his sinus stuff, but also his behavior and I was so amazed. The other thing we really noticed was his eczema decreasing and eventually completely going away. Cutting out gluten has literally been life changing for my son and it can be for you too!

So, how do we start to become gluten-free? What I recommend is making your house a gluten-free zone. This just makes it easier for everyone. I also recommend taking baby steps. You don’t have to cut out bread, pasta or tortillas – simply start buying the gluten-free options. If you don’t know where to start, please look at the shopping list! We give you our favorite gluten-free options to help you get started. The biggest step in any new journey is just getting started. Once you get started, you can experiment more and make some of your favorite recipes gluten-free. It is a lot easier than you might think, but you need an open mind and a positive attitude. Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are right. 

A lot of times I hear people talk about how challenging it can be to find gluten-free options when going out to eat or traveling.  I completely understand these frustrations, so here are a few recommendations:

  1. Ask the restaurant if they have a gluten-free menu. Many times, they do, and you must ask for it.
  2. Skip the breadbasket or bring your own bread. If you are worried that you won't be able to say no to the breadbasket, kindly ask the server not to bring it out. We also bring our own bread to restaurants too.  This is especially helpful if you have children. 
  3. When in doubt, stick to salad and protein. By avoiding the gluten and the fillers in sauces, you will feel so much better afterward. Trust me!!
  4. If you have children, I recommend ordering from the adult menu because many times the kid’s menus are full of processed food with lots of gluten. Kids can share a meal or you can order them a protein with veggies and if there are leftovers, you can have them tomorrow for lunch.
  5. If you travel a lot, pre-pack snacks, lunches and dinners. This is not only a healthier option but also a more cost-effective one as well!

To help you begin your gluten-free journey, we have included a shopping list of recommended foods as well as our favorite recipes within this blog post. The biggest thing is to have fun with it! 


Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase by using the link.  Please understand that I recommend these products because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decided to buy.

The material contained within is provided for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and consult your physician before beginning a new regiment or purchasing any product(s).

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