Becoming Gluten/Soy/Dairy Free

rain's picture

For the past three years I have been getting progressively more tired, my eczema more frustrating and inconvenient and, well, ugly, and my mood more generally irritable.  

I was attributing all three rather debilitating problems to stress and exhaustion from film school and being over-worked.  Forcing myself to sleep 7-8 hours a night for three months straight helped a little, but then I started a demanding job with Stand Up To Cancer (return at the end of May for more information on that), and I couldn't stick to my sleep regimen to save my life. Very quickly, within two weeks of starting the job, I regressed to where I was before I started my strict sleep plan.  I thought biking to work (7.5 miles each way) would help, but while it is a wonderful way to start and end my days, it didn't solve the problem.  And the decline in my health was becoming noticeable not just to me, but to everyone around me as well.

I finally dug deep into my pockets and scheduled an appointment with a doctor who came highly recommended, and learned a life-altering fact: Gluten, which includes wheat, barley and malt, is poison for me.  

Every time I eat a cookie, grab a bagel, nibble on a pretzel, drink a fiber-enhanced beverage, I'm making myself sicker and sicker. And the icing on my now poisonous cake?  Because I've been so evil to my body for... my entire life! I have developed allergies to other basics as well - dairy, soy, almonds, eggs (and chicken inconclusive).

This is actually great news: I'm otherwise completely healthy!  I'm fit as can be (hey, I frequently bike 7.5 miles each way to and from work, what do you expect?).  For someone who spends her days surrounded by talk of cancer, this is a happy diagnosis for deeply troubling symptoms.  I have complete control over this.

And so, last week I became gluten, wheat, soy, dairy, egg, chicken, almond free.   Open your cabinet and read the ingredients on the items you have in there.  Chances are you won't find a single thing I can eat!  That's what happened to me when I got home the night I received this news.  Try looking at a menu anywhere - even a vegan or health-food restaurant.  You'll have to settle for the nice bowl of white rice.  

Yes, this diet is extremely difficult. But - I had no idea how sick I was until I removed these things from my diet.  I feel *amazing* - my energy levels have soared.  I'm happy.  I don't feel nearly as stressed in spite of the fact that I've hit crunch time at work.  I don't fall asleep until I get into bed.  I wake up with my alarm clock.  My skin is normal again.

This reminds me of how I felt when I first got glasses.  I had absolutely no idea how bad my vision was until the moment I stepped outside with new glasses (at the age of 14) and realized that trees had individual leaves.  I had no idea how sick I was until just a few days ago, when I discovered what it feels like to be entirely healthy.

And the real irony?  I'm now eating meals that are not only far more healthful, but tastier!   Having to pay attention to what I eat means being creative and figuring out what I truly enjoy. Even better: I have a wonderful supportive partner, Jon, who has really taken upon himself the task of learning as much as he can about my new food restrictions and how to eat normally in spite of them.  This weekend, he made me chocolate chip cookies.  Soy/dairy/gluten free chocolate chip cookies.  And they were excellent.  He's actually made the process of transitioning to an entirely new lifestyle (because that's what being soy/dairy/gluten free requires) fun.

The internet is amazing, and there are a lot of resources out there for this kind of restrictive diet.  Usually, however, the people who write in are able to eat one of the three culprits above.  So, consider this my first of many posts that will offer insight into living entirely free of all three.  I'll write about tasty safe products, adventures, the trials, and whatever else comes to mind.  If you have advice, or your own stories to share, please comment! More later... now I have to continue standing up to cancer (my current job).  We have a deadline to make.


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Can you recommend any cookbooks? I have a friend who is allergic to dairy, gluten and soy, and I would love to buy her a good cookbook for Christmas.


cookbook recommendations

Hi Meredith: obviously this comment comes a little late, as Christmas has passed. That said, a couple of fun books would be "The Uncheese Cookbook" and "Vice Dream." 

Neither are actually about gluten free cooking so much as dairy free cheese and ice cream ;)  Bette Hagman has a whole series of great books on Gluten Free cooking, and Jon's and my favorites are "Gluten Free Gormet Bakes Bread" and "Gluten Free Gormet Makes Dessert." 

In all honesty, however, we don't tend to use the cookbooks much now anymore. We look for fun inspiration from Food Network and great online recipe sites, which tend to NOT be allergy friendly, and then adapt what we find to a gluten-soy-dairy-egg-free Rain friendly version.

The books mentioned above all helped us get to this point.

Dea - Jon adapted the toll

Dea - Jon adapted the toll house recipe! He used Bob's Red Mill GF Flour, about a 1/4 tsp of Xanthan gum, and replaced the butter with spectrum (palm oil shortening) and the eggs with Egg Replacer from Ener-G. They aren't perfect. Since then we've done a lot of work on the recipe and have come up with something close to a great cookie... once we have it right we'll share :) Liz Lovely is a bakery that distributes fantastic vegan and gluten free cookies (they are from Vermont) if you are looking for a quick fix. I think you can order their stuff online. We get them from a natural foods store near us.

Hi Vanessa, unfortunately I

Hi Vanessa, unfortunately I have bad reactions to most cosmetics and so don't wear makeup or hair product at all. Tom's of Maine is a good toothpaste (but read the ingredients for the flavor you select). Trader Joe's actually has a fennel toothpaste that's a little less expensive and might be okay (it's been a long time since I checked). For shampoo, I've settled on the Giovanni Tea Tree shampoo (the other variants have bad ingredients), for lotion I use sesame oil or coconut oil, which I also use on my lips. For soap, I use Dr. Bronners or an olive oil soap I found at whole foods. If you like beauty products, I am sorry that I don't have a better answer for you. I just make sure I take claritin and use cortisone cream on my face any time I absolutely have to wear makeup, and don't do it often. If you have found anything, I'd love to know what you found! It can be painful to experiment.

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Hi Im also allergic to Soy,

Hi Im also allergic to Soy, Dairy & Wheat. Im having trouble finding dental and beauty products that are free of these things that are effective & worth spending the money on.
Any suggestions of product lines I should look into or websites I can check out. I don't know anyone else with this problem :(

Hello! I was looking for


I was looking for gluten-soy-dairy free websites and I am pleased to find others in my boat. I recently went gluten/soy/dairy free too, but for wholly different reasons. It's hard at first - especially going to restaurants - but it's well worth the time, effort, and frustration.

I admit to being really curious about how your partner came up with gfsfcf chocolate chip cookies. I have yet to figure out how to do much beyond fruit/veggie smoothies, rice and/or bean dishes, protein bars, and meat preparation. I don't mind the simplicity, but I'm sure that my friends wouldn't mind sharing some good, gfsfcf-friendly cookies that I can eat too!

All the best!

Hey. I'm here because of the

Hey. I'm here because of the terribly sad news, but then just noticed this. I got diagnosed with Celiac at USC. When you feel like it, drop me a line. I hope you are well hon, hugs.

btw, his site is:

btw, his site is:

Hi, I found your site by


I found your site by "googling" Stand Up To Cancer.

My son just booked a spot in a PSA (we are new to this, it was his second audition), and I am just trying to learn more about it.

My son, (named Andrew, age 7) is also a cancer survivor, so I am really interested in this effort (I havent heard of it before.)

Anyoo...if you know more about this campaign, would love to hear more about it.

Besides my blogspot, Andrew has his own website, that we used to keep people updated as he underwent 3.5 years of treatment for cancer.


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