Notes from the Fox Den

by Josie Fox

Hello and welcome to the Fox Den!

I’m sure many of you have heard the terms gluten free and dairy free, especially in recent years. I have to admit, that although I had heard the terms, I never dreamed it would be anything I would have to personally worry about. Well, I was wrong....oh, so wrong.

I was very recently advised that I would need to go on a gluten free and dairy free diet for health reasons. At first I was like, okay, I can do this. I cut out bread and have to do away with my beloved cheese. Again, I was wrong...oh, so wrong. I began researching recipes and fell into the deep dark rabbit hole that is the Internet, and I quickly became overwhelmed because gluten is everywhere! Did you know that everyday items like toothpaste, shampoo and even some medicines have gluten in them? I didn’t until Friday. And this gluten free diet became a brand new beast I was not emotionally or mentally prepared for.

This was followed by a small stint where I just laid on the floor, staring at the ceiling fan and contemplating how horrible my life would now be.

I went a couple of days not eating much of anything, simply because I didn’t know what to eat. But, hey, I wanted to lose weight anyway, so maybe this new diet will be the trick.

I keep saying diet, but I feel like it should really be lifestyle change. Because so much will now change, from the beauty products I buy to the spices and baking goods I stock my pantry with. Because another thing I found out is that spices that contain anti-clumpling agents can also contain gluten.

For a brief moment I thought about starting my own spice and herb garden....then I remembered that I have a black thumb and I would probably kill the plants. Back to the drawing board....

Luckily I have some amazing friends that have traveled down the gluten and dairy free road before me and they have been able to offer some tips, tricks and even some brands to try.

So I found some recipes, armed myself with my newfound knowledge, and off to the store I went to read labels and stock up on some food.

Again, I felt like I hit a brick wall. I ended up only buying a few things as I once again realized that gluten and dairy are in all of my favorite things.

I have discovered that eating out can be a chore, but if I plan ahead and check out menus online I can find someplace that will have something suitable.

I did have a momentary lapse of brain activity the other day and ordered mashed potatoes, cause you know, potatoes don’t have gluten. What I forgot is that mashed potatoes are made with milk and butter. Milk and butter are dairy. Dairy products are no longer my friend and I was paying dearly for my mistake later that day.

Through trial and error, and support and guidance from a few friends, I have found some things that fall within the parameters of my diet that I actually enjoy. For example, my absolute favorite flavor of coffee creamer is gluten free and dairy free. Following a recommendation from my friend Marty, I am in love with the gluten free, dairy free, coconut milk ice-cream, as well as some pretty tasty powdered donuts.

I also found a blog listing over 30 GF/DF restaurants in London, so now I already have an idea where to eat when we go on our vacation in September. So there does seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel.

For anyone that has gone down this journey before, if you have any favorite recipes or brands, I would love to know about them. For anyone that is starting a GF/DF diet, I feel your pain and confusion, but I know we will get through this.