{How This Blog Became Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free and Mostly Vegan} Week 3

by Valerie on August 2, 2009 · 3 comments

Update June 2010 on How This Blog Became Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free and Mostly Vegan – I had originally named this series the Detox Diet Diaries, but my experience with these changes in my diet, while incredibly positive, has made me decide I really do not like the concept of  a detox diet.   It is ironic in that the diet my naturopath put me on was incredibly helpful, and a year later, it has become clear I have non-Celiac gluten intolerance, as well as a strong dairy intolerance.  I continue to avoid all dairy and gluten, as well as other problematic foods such as corn, but have grown to really dislike the concept of “detox” – the term promotes the concept of a quick fix, which is just nonsensical.  I firmly believe that the vast improvements in my health are based on the long-term changes I made, and want my posts on the experience to convey this.        

Background: The Detox Diet Diaries recounts my story of doing a detox diet for health reasons and to isolate food allergies which may have been a contributing factor to some of my health problems. This diet involves real food. I am not on the Master Cleanse, or Gwyneth Paltrow’s latest cleanse, or Oprah’s cleanse, nor are my posts on my diet a way to support their actions. As I explained in my background post, I am doing this under the care of a naturopathic doctor}.
Looking back at my journal and notes, Week 3 was also kind of uneventful. I ate a lot of the same things I ate in the first two weeks, ate even more salads, and generally did not have any cravings unless I saw something that I couldn’ t have.

Two things of note happened during Week 3:

* I went to the dentist and realized the impact of this diet on more than just my energy level and various health problems.

* I was foiled in my attempt to try vegan cheese

The dentist visit was probably the most unexpected discovery that week. I have generally had good dental health {1 cavity in my first 30 years}, though my dentist in December found two small cavities. As I was getting them filled, I remember thinking that turning 30 apparently involved cavities too. I asked about my gum health and was told that remained unchanged and average, which means a little inflammation but overall good.

Imagine my surprise when during Week 3 of the diet {at this point we are well into June, so it’s time for the first of my two yearly dental visits} I return to the dentist to be told “your gums are in above-average shape, there is almost no inflammation at all.” I mention the detox diet and the dentist and the hygienist both say that can have an impact on gum health.

So that was pretty exciting.

Less exciting was the vegan cheese experiment. The same week that I went to the dentist, I decided that maybe I ought to give fake cheese a try – my quesadillas just don’t stick together without some sort of cheese-like glue.

Turns out that most fake cheese is vegetarian but not dairy-free/vegan. I am completely shocked by this. Most fake cheeses clearly say “lactose-free” but when you flip them over to read the ingredients, you see casein (which is a milk protein). I head home with a couple of the two basic vegan cheeses (which do not have any milk protein) only to discover a few days later that they have maltodextrin, which is a processed starch {usually derived from corn or wheat} that I should not be having on this detox diet. Frankly, after everything I read on maltrodextrin, I think no one should be eating it. It’s very much a fake food component. I missed that it was in the vegan cheese because by then I was so focused on making sure there were no hidden dairy ingredients.

So the vegan cheese goes back to whole foods. It’s replaced by an almond cheese which melts and gets the job done in terms of glueing my quesadillas together, and doesn’t contain any bad starches, but I find the whole fake-cheese episode just plain depressing. I knew vegan cheese was a processed product, but the fact it holds maltodextrin makes it that much more processed in my eyes than, say, something like Kashi cereal.

By the end of week 3 I was mainly excited that the end of week 4 would mean I could eat a little meat again.
Disclaimer: I am just a regular person posting about my experience doing a detox diet for health reasons and, ultimately, to isolate food allergies that may be the underlying cause of said health problems. I am not a medical professional or nutritionist. Please do not use information from these posts to do your own detox diet. Rather, seek advice from a doctor, naturopath or nutritionist to determine what the correct course of action for your health is.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kiki August 8, 2009 at 7:52 am

Well done for catching those ingredients on the label – those sneaky manufacturers, putting in casein and still calling it vegan!

What's the story with maltodextrin? I just gloss right over that when I read labels, probably because it's pronounceable. Is it truly and utterly awful for you?


2 City Girl August 8, 2009 at 11:48 am

I know! Most cheeses that had some casein were labeled vegetarian, but at least one was labeled vegan.

All the other vegan ones made a point of saying dairy-free/casein-free.

Maltodextrin – in my case, because I very likely have an allergy to corn, it's a huge no-no. On a larger level – it's a fake sugar. The reason I thought to go back to the label is that I had some of the vegan cheese that had maltodextrin and within hours was climbing the walls with wanting sugar {which had not really happened in 3 weeks on the detox diet} – it was sobering to realize the effect of it, especially since it is in many processed meats, cheeses, candies and many sports drinks/gels. It makes sense I reacted so quickly to it though as I had not had any sugar (and barely any agave) in three weeks.

Bottom line – not as bad as splenda, but definitely an exampleof how corn gets into everything these days. Even if I wasn't allergic to corn, it still bothers me how corn is getting put in so many things.


3 City Girl August 8, 2009 at 12:30 pm

Actually, it might be as bad as splenda – that I am not completely sure of.


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