Why those “corn syrup is just the same as sugar” commercials need to stop

Nothing makes me angrier than those awful commercials about how corn syrup isn’t bad for you. “OF COURSE CORN SYRUP IS BAD FOR YOU!” I want to scream (and sometimes do) at the T.V. Corn syrup is inexpensive to produce–which is why it’s such a popular ingredient–and is six times sweeter than the same amount of cane sugar.

There is no conclusive evidence that corn syrup is worse for your body than regular cane sugar, but cane sugar isn’t good for you either. Duh. That’s like saying dying by drowning is the same as dying by smoke inhalation. Both options are awful and you end up dead in both scenarios! Really, Corn Refiner’s Association, just shut up. I don’t want to hear anymore about how wholesome and OK corn syrup is. It isn’t and you need to stop lying.

The average American consumes over 40 pounds of corn syrup a year. I mean, gross. We all know that a diet heavy in corn syrup or sugar will pack on the pounds, cut your enegry levels down to nill, and put you at risk for diabetes. But a new study has proven that consuming large amounts of high fructose corn syrup actually damages your brain too. It will prevent you from learning new things as easily and causes reductions in synaptic activity in the brain.

Luckily, researchers did discover that consuming omega-3’s helped combat some of those symptoms. So if you must indulge in sugary (or corn syrupy) treats, make sure you amp up your intake of salmon, walnuts, and flax to protect your brain!


A Day in the Life, Phase 1

Good gravy. Three of our four GFG team members have been clobbered by the out-of-control pollen in middle Tennessee this last couple weeks. I feel bad that we’ve all be suffering, but I take some comfort in knowing that I’m not the only one. Some solidarity goes a long way. I think we’re all looking forward to a new week and to feeling normal and healthy again. In an effort to make that happen, Molly has gone to Phase 1 for the time being, and I think it might be smart for me as well. So let’s talk about how to survive Phase 1 (click here for a refresher on the rules for Phase 1).

Phase 1 kicked my butt at first. Then I whined and had dreams about bread and potatoes. And then it kicked my butt again and more and harder. I was starving all the time during those first two to three weeks. My body (more likely my brain) didn’t know how to feel full without grains and dairy. My body was going through quite a detox and what I now realize was a healing crisis. I already felt so crummy because of the allergy and autoimmune issues. Add detoxing, and it felt like climbing a small mountain every day just to do the shopping and prep work. I believe that the addictive properties of certain foods also contribute to a feeling of withdrawal. I was definitely experiencing some French fry and coffee DTs on any given day during those first weeks.

In order to survive, I decided to stick to a small number of repeated meals. I didn’t want to get bored, but I also didn’t feel well enough to get creative and grandiose with my meal plans. Sticking closely to the restricted diet was the most important thing to me. I needed the allergic reaction to stop, for the inflammation to go down, for my thyroid to start working, and I desperately wanted to feel better. It was difficult though! All my go-to foods of the past were off limits—potatoes, rice, pasta, beans, cheese, yogurt, coffee, Coke, ahem, Chick-fil-A. Food prep does take longer with this lifestyle; be prepared for that. One of the easiest ways for me to stay on target was to repeat my breakfasts and lunches. It’s not the end of the world to eat the same breakfast and lunch every other day! If and when I do Phase 1 again, I’ll have new ammo in my arsenal. I already know which foods to rely on, and I will add juicing and smoothies now that I have both a juicer and a Vitamix. Just adding juicing and smoothies would greatly shorten the withdrawal time, I believe. I also have some recipes with coconut and almond flour now (as well as using almond flour to bread chicken). Many more options!

Below is a very basic breakdown of the foods/meals I relied on for the first eight weeks. Anything in italics will eventually have a recipe posted. Please be patient. I don’t have recipes for some of these things and will need to retrace my steps and update this post occasionally with recipes. Most of these are no-brainers (everyone knows how to make a good veggie scramble, right?), but if you have questions, just let me know in the comments. I’m happy to share cooking tips, recipes, etc. 🙂

Always have food with you. That is the MOST IMPORTANT thing to remember during Phase 1 (and always, really). Very little pre-made food in grocery stores or restaurants is acceptable, so you need to be prepared at all times.

On hand for snacking:

  • raw almonds and other approved nuts and seeds
  • hard-boiled eggs
  • fruit and vegetables
  • almond butter
  • Kind Bars (but only in case of emergency, as these have cane sugar, dried fruit, and puffed rice)


  • green tea with a little stevia or agave (I switched to half-caf coffee after a few weeks and now prefer that with a bit of unsweetened almond or soy milk and no sweetener)
  • sliced apple with almond butter
  • banana and berries topped with slivered almonds
  • hard-boiled egg and tomato cucumber salad
  • veggie scramble
  • turkey wrap (veggies, goat cheese, and homemade vinaigrette wrapped in slices of Boar’s Head turkey)
  • fresh-pressed juice or smoothie (add approved protein powder as desired)


  • salad with loads of veggies; chicken, steak, or tuna; goat cheese; and homemade vinaigrette
  • homemade soups (no grains, potatoes, or pasta)—the options here are too many to count!


  • veggie scramble with goat cheese and salsa (sometimes with turkey sausage too)
  • steak or chicken and veggies
  • stir-fry with cauliflower “rice” (no soy sauce, no rice)
  • paleo pancakes with butter, almond butter, and fruit
  • oven-roasted veggies with over-easy eggs and crumbled goat cheese on top
  • salad


  • herbal tea with stevia or a little agave (don’t go bonkers with the agave though)
  • fruit and nuts or eggs

I know this probably doesn’t look very exciting, but keep in mind that every lunch/dinner dish includes veggies, and the options there are pretty much limitless. Do lots of peppers in your veggie scramble one night; the next, roast broccoli and asparagus with poached eggs on top. Do a chopped salad one day with olives, artichokes, tomatoes, and turkey; the next, do spinach, raspberries, goat cheese, and almonds. Flavor options are endless, really. There’s no reason to be bored by this plan. Remember, you are cooking everything in coconut oil or butter only and using olive oil only for making vinaigrettes.

Recipes to come . . . Happy eating!

* All pics are from Phase 1 meals. They look pretty tasty, huh?

Phase 1: Detoxing for Dummies

I didn’t know what to expect when I first started seeing Dr. WooWoo. After that initial allergic reaction, I’d been on a prednisone and Benadryl bender and generally felt jumpy, sick, and miserable. Any kind of solution that didn’t involve a drug was exactly what I was looking for. Someone who had seen Dr. WooWoo a couple years prior had shared some of the diet changes, so I knew some restrictions were coming my way. This was all a little bit scary to a girl who had been on a junk-food-a-palooza for the five months prior.

Let me tell you: those first weeks were hard. Some nights after work, I would wander around Whole Foods, sniffing loaves of bread, whispering sweet nothings to the boxes of pasta, cradling wedges of brie, looking longingly at everything in the deli cases and food bars, all of which I couldn’t eat. The doctor wasn’t kidding about how saturated all our foods are with these three key food groups I had to cut out for the first eight weeks. I learned pretty quickly that the absolute only way to hold to this eating regimen was to cook for myself–and to set aside adequate time for all the prep, which was a little daunting at first.

You’re probably thinking, Hey, Jen. It’s so rad that you’re telling me about this terrible eating plan that is so hard and made you miserable. Sign me up!

I’m really selling it, huh? No cheeseburger-colored glasses here! I just want to put it out from the get-go that that this isn’t a piece of cake. (See? Already I’m preparing you. There is NO CAKE in Phase 1.)

But there is a huge and compelling reason to give this lifestyle change a try: you will feel awesome after a couple weeks. This gluten-free thing for me is about more than finding cheats or replacements for all my former favorite foods. I’m trying to change everything about the way I care for my body, and I can tell you that it has made a huge difference in my well-being. Some days are harder than others and I’ve had to re-learn and re-think many things, but the payoff has been undeniable. Take what you will from this, and feel free to ask me questions! I do love blabbing about this stuff . . .

Some notes:

  • The goal of Phase 1 is multifaceted: a gentle detox from all the garbage that has built up in your system (refined, processed foods; empty white products; SUGAR; bad fats), an overall reduction of inflammation in the body, alkalizing your system, and kind of a reset button on your cravings (especially sugar).
  • This isn’t a “diet.” You are not depriving yourself. It’s not some kind of fad or quick-weight-loss gimmick. It’s not low-carb, sugar-free, cabbage soup, or any other get-healthy/thin-quick plan. There is no counting of points, no carbs vs. protein, no “fruit is bad.” It’s a new way of life based on whole foods, the way they’re found in nature.
  • Some of the elements might seem counterintuitive to you. I understand that. Americans have been programmed to consume low-fat, high-grain, high-dairy. I challenge you to research anything on this list that doesn’t fit your current mentality. I think you’ll be surprised, like I was, about how truly backward many of our mind-sets are.
  • Try to shop organic if you can. Refer the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen so you can make some distinctions. Be prepared to shell out a little more dough at the grocery store. I don’t know what to tell you: real food is more expensive. But I think you’ll find relatively quickly that you are spending less eating out and that you are in a pattern that is doable. There are ways to make lower-cost items go further (eggs for example), and once you get to Phase 2, costs should go down further. Prepare to shop more often as well since you’ll be consuming so many perishable items. Here’s a good reminder: if it came from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, skip it!
  • Remind yourself that this isn’t forever. Phase 1 is only eight weeks. You can do it! And remember that you are giving your most valuable resource–your body–a chance to heal by truly feeding it, maybe for the first time, with real and life-giving foods. If anything, look at this as a vacation for your body–a chance to revel in easily digestible and healing foods.
  • Try new things! The Internet is a wealth of ideas and information. Look for recipes. Try new produce. Open your mind. It’s kinda fun, people.
  • Complete legalism will only make a person stumble. Give yourself a couple cheat meals every week. It makes a huge difference to allow yourself this in the early stages. Down the road? Those cheats will likely become less intriguing.
  • I’m only going to share a rough outline of what the naturopath and many sources online laid out for me. If you want more specific or thorough details, I suggest you find a Dr. WooWoo of your very own or take charge of your health and start doing some research. I’ll answer as many questions as I can, but I’m not an expert by any means. I will lay out what NOT to eat, a few key things to add, and a basic list of foods you can have on Phase 1.

Here are the three big things you will AVOID during Phase 1:

  • DAIRY (anything from cow’s milk)
  • GRAIN (all grains; that means NO bread, pasta, no rice, and pretty much all packaged foods)
  • SUGAR (anything refined–this does not refer to fruit)

Here’s a big “no duh”: NO artificial anything. This stuff is poison. No fake coffee creamers, no diet soda, no artificial sweeteners, no “low-fat,” no “fiber added.” For now, you also won’t be having “gluten-free” products–no mixes or pre-made stuff. You will naturally be eating gluten-free by cutting out all the grains. Don’t add any empty GF stuff in Phase 1. And no fast-food, chips, candy, soda, or any of that other junk.

Here is what you will be eating:

  • GOOD FATSstart cooking with coconut oil! I’m serious. Your body needs fat. It’s just doesn’t need garbage fat. America has this all backwards. Coconut oil is incredibly healthy (see Lisa’s torrid love letter to coconut oil), full of medium chain fatty acids and healing properties. The only fats you should use for cooking are quality coconut oil and butter. Use olive oil only for dressings (lower smoke point = carcinogens. You feel me?).
  • MEAT: (NO pork or roast beef; if you buy deli meat, buy quality preservative-free and nitrite-free ).
  • EGGS: you might be eating a lot of these.
  • GOAT’S MILK PRODUCTS: chevre saved my life. I’m not kidding.
  • NUT/SEED MILKS: almond milk, coconut milk, hemp milk.
  • NUTS/SEEDS: (NO macadamia nuts, peanuts (butter), pecans, pine nuts, pistachios).
  • VEGETABLES: (NO potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, jicama, waterchestnuts).
  • BEANS/LEGUMES: (NONE on Phase 1!).
  • FRUIT: a few restrictions here based on glycemic level; otherwise the sky’s the limit! (NO dried fruit, canned fruit, apricot, cantaloupe, dates, figs, grapes, guava, kiwi, mango, oranges, papaya, peach, pear, pineapple, plum, quince).
  • CONDIMENTS/DRESSINGS: (NO pre-made); make your own vinaigrette (I’ll share recipes later!).
  • SWEETENERS: agave, honey, and stevia for now, and even these should be limited.
  • BEVERAGES: water, green or herbal tea, fresh-pressed juices.

I know it probably looks like I’ve just given you a long list of NO. Believe me, the list of YES is so much longer! Just go the produce department and wander. Do you honestly consume everything that is there for the taking? I think you’ll be surprised by how much delicious whole food you’ve been missing out on.

In the coming weeks, I’ll share some of my meal plans from those first eight weeks. (This isn’t as fun as cookies and Yumm sauce, but I think it’s important! You’ll get to these things in time.) Believe it or not, I’ve been out of Phase 1 for over two months, and I still haven’t added back dairy, sugar, or most grains (I do enjoy occasional brown rice and quinoa). I feel so much better and am so satisfied that I haven’t felt the need or urge to add these things back in. I’m truly shocked that this lifestyle change has stuck . . . but it has. I feel so much better that the bread/brie/pasta makeout-fest I dreamed of all those months ago mostly leaves me cold. Amazing, no?

Now I’m off to enjoy a veggie scramble with goat cheese and a quiet evening of cuddles with my fat cat. See you here again soon!


Comfort Food: Molly’s Meatloaf

When I was first diagnosed as gluten-free, the foods I missed the most inevitably fell under the designation of “comfort food,” so over the past nine years I’ve created my own recipes to fill the void left by my favorites. Now, not all of these are super-healthy, but they aren’t all that bad either. I’ll share one of these a week! First up is my “meatloaf;” This doesn’t make a nice loaf-pan style meatloaf and it contains very few ingredients that you might be used to seeing in traditional meatloaf, but it hits the spot and it one of my husband’s favorites. Enjoy!


  • 1lb ground beef (grass-fed is best!)
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 sweet onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch of celery, roughly chopped
  • 1/2-1 9oz bag of baby spinach, torn into smaller pieces
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 C. gluten free oats (for a dryer loaf, you can sub in almond meal for the oats)
  • 1/3 C. slivered almonds (or any other nut you love!)
  • 1/3 C. Ketchup (I use all-natural versions with no corn and no wheat)
  • 1/4 C. gf, low sodium worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 C. goat cheese or parmesan cheese (optional)
  • a squirt of lemon juice
  • a squirt of your favorite hot sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • garlic to taste
  • a teaspoon of Oregano (optional)
  • a teaspoon of Oregano (optional)
  • a teaspoon of Rosemary (optional)
  • 1/3 C. Italian flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

1.) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
2.) coat a 9″x13″ baking dish with olive oil
3.) mix all ingredients together in a large bowl using a large spoon, a stand mixer, or your (squeaky clean, of course!) hands

4.) Spread mixture into pan and bake for about 30 minutes

5.) A build-up of juices may accumulate on the top of your loaf if you aren’t using the leanest possible meat. I skim this off the top and dispose of it, but you can leave it for a “juicier” loaf.

6.) Serve piping hot!

This recipe feeds about 6 people and the leftovers make excellent meatloaf sandwiches using gluten-free bread!

Keep an eye out for my mac & cheese next week!