So what DO we eat???
Be sure to check the drop down menu from this page, for examples of what we buy. We eat a variety of whole gluten free grains, healthy fats, eggs, herbs, fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, legumes, lentils, an assortment of meats, seafood and most importantly, as many high fiber vegetables as possible. We strive to source all of our food as clean, organic and as unaltered as possible. We use the information below as a guideline. However, as perfect as we want to be, we allow ourselves some grace. These are the three most important rules that I follow:
- Strictly remove all sources of gluten, dairy, soy and free glutamate added as an ingredient*
- Strive to sneak in as many high fiber veggies (variety is great) in as possible (depending on the status of ones gut, you may need to slowly increase fiber)
- Incorporate herbs when I can
Take a look at the recipes found with this page, the Facebook group and the Pinterest Page (REID adjustments are indicated in the comments section on the Pinterest post). I also post a good bit of our meals under the Nourished Blessings (@nourishedblessings) Instagram page “stories”.
Fruit and Veggies:
See examples of what we buy by clicking here. Fruit and especially vegetables are essential for us and comprise a large percentage of our diet. We try to get in as many veggies as possible! No veggies are off limits for us, unless we’ve witnessed a reaction, that is. We personally try not to go overboard with fruit as we have historically struggled with yeast/candida. However, we are fortunate to be able to tolerate fruit a bit more these days. Organic is always the preferred choice, however we do our best. We always buy organic for the dirty dozen (strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, peaches, pear, cherries, grapes, celery, tomato, sweet bell peppers, potato, hot peppers) and common GMO crops (which are actually problematic bc of glutamate as well).
Meat, Fish and Animal Protein:
See examples of what we buy by clicking here. When it comes to animal proteins, we look for fresh, locally sourced, organic, grass-fed, pasture raised, wild/net caught meat, fish, eggs and animal protein without any additives, colorings or fillers. US Wellness Meats and local farmers markets may be good sources for meat. Cured meat, smoked meat, jerky, luncheon meat, cold cuts, long cooked meat and meats cooked at an extremely high temperature will have higher levels of glutamate because of the protein degradation. Based on individual sensitivity you may see a reaction to these meats, but the more processed the meat, the more likely a reaction will be. Often, if the meat is listed as “uncured” it is still cured in salt, which will result in free glutamate. Fillers such as “natural flavors”, “spices”, “coloring”, “extracts” or “powders” are added to meat as a source of free glutamate, so we recommend avoiding these as well.
Cook time and temperature can also contribute to creating free glutamate and cause a reaction in highly sensitive individuals. Extremely high heat cooking (400 degrees and above) and the longer the food is cooked at those high heats (like wok cooking, high-heat skillet cooking, smoking, BBQ, etc.) causes the peptide bonds in the proteins to break down creating more free glutamate. However, lower temperature roasting and sautéing meats does not break down the protein or create as much free glutamate. A reaction to this would be based on individual sensitivity.
Grains and Flours:
See examples of what we buy by clicking here. Organic and certified gluten free grains are REID approved in moderation (see REID Perfect Plate). However, they should ideally be consumed in a fairly unprocessed form, as the processing (acid hydrolysis, fermentation, de-fattening, etc.) will result in free glutamate. For example, gluten free flours often undergo hydrolysis or fermentation to strip the fiber from the grains or a de-fattening process to remove oil. These processes result in a fairly substantial amount of free glutamate that some* may react to. A reaction to these will be based on individual sensitivity. The same hydrolysis process occurs in the formation of gluten free noodles. When transitioning to the diet, consider swapping grain or lentil noodles for spaghetti squash, a spiralized vegetable noodle alternative or a grain/lentil noodle only containing one ingredient (brown rice or black beans). The risk of free glutamate will increase when you start to see more processed grains like brown rice “flour”, rice bran, parboiled, germinated or even white rice. Black and brown rice are preferred.
We understand, the process of making homemade flours can be extremely overwhelming so don’t worry about this step as you’re transitioning, but you’ll want or need to eventually take this step as diet evolves. However, flour blends containing “gums” and tapioca flour should be strictly avoided as they often times contain some of the highest levels of free glutamate.
The reason why you will see me using more grain free type of recipes, is because most gluten free and grain based recipes call for the use of gums, which are sources of glutamate and cause a reaction for our son. Tip: Ground pumpkin seeds or tahini can be used in replace of almond flour if there is nut sensitivity or a substantial oxalate issue. Nut flours may also constipate some, so keep that in mind. Coconut flour can be very tricky to use and doesn’t act as an equal substitute to other flours.
Spices, Condiments and Powders:
See examples of what we buy by clicking here. Through Dr. Reid we’ve discovered that the FDA code of regulations has specific requirements for the “spice” or “spices” label. Using the term “spices” allows manufacturers to protect their proprietary blends without revealing trade secrets. Use of this term also allows for free glutamate to be hidden in products. Not all spice manufacturing processes are created equal. For example, powdered foods and additives often contain additional stabilizing, sulfating, and/or anticaking substances, and all of these can be called “spices” on an ingredient label. Free glutamate is very often a result of many of these manufacturing processes. We have reacted to foods containing “spice”, so we only purchases foods where the ingredients are specifically called out. For example, organic basil, organic oregano, etc.
The same is true for the term ‘powder’. Like, “spices”, often fillers and anti-caking agents are allowed as ingredient but not required to be labeled under that term. The powder process also sometimes involves high pressure, heat or hydrolysis conditions that can create free glutamate in the process. We specifically, look for the term ‘ground’ or ‘granules’ for a safer and cleaner option. Fresh herbs/spices are always the safest and most potent for therapeutic properties. Do not forget to read ingredients on spice blends for hidden sources of MSG.
We also try to avoid canned items as they cans are often lined with free glutamate/MSG to mask the flavor of the can.
Baking Powder is another to be aware of. It is highly processed and often contains free glutamate in the form of cornstarch. A quick sub for baking powder is mixing equal parts fresh lemon juice and baking soda.
“Extracts” (i.e. rosemary extract in meat, vanilla extract, almond extract, etc.) are also a way in which free glutamate can be hidden. These items can easily be made at home but be sure to use potato* vodka in the process.
We also only use Himalayan or sea salt to lower our glutamate risk.
See examples of what we buy by clicking here. Oils can oxidize, contributing to free-radicals, which contribute to oxidative stress and glutamate signaling in the body. The use of canola, sunflower, safflower and other inflammatory oils should ideally be extremely limited due to their poor omega-6 and omega-3 ratios. Overconsumption of these oils will result in excess inflammation which will encourage additional glutamate signaling. Ideally, oils should be in dark glass bottles and stored in cool dark places. We personally use the following oils: Olive oil, grapeseed oil, avocado oil, walnut oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, tallow/lard, ghee
Fermentation of foods can be another source of free glutamate in the diet. This process is not labeled on foods and the amount of free glutamate produced is dependent on the fermentation time, the microbes used for fermentation, and the amount of protein in the food. Fermentation of any higher protein food (kefir, grains, dairy, soy, lentils, etc.) will result in some free glutamate. In addition to this, we also do not use kombucha or any fermentation with refined sugars as Dr. Reid has warned us they will encourage a carbohydrate/sugar metabolism and promote overgrowth of other pathogens like candida and parasites.
We’ve found that fermentation of fresh vegetables and herbs are great options that act as natural probiotics and help to repopulate the gut with good bacteria. You will find a more diverse range of probiotics by varying your fermented vegetables and herbs than you would find in a packaged bottle of probiotics. Ferments are high in histamines, so if you witness a reaction (flushing, eczema, irritability, insomnia) to those, you might have a histamine intolerance (see my post on that here). Probiotics can act the same way by triggering histamine release. A histamine intolerance falls under the mast cell activation umbrella. Glutamate activates mast cells which then release histamine. Glutamate levels need to be lowered prior to reintroduction to high histamine foods in a manner which provides tolerance.
Higher levels of glutamate can commonly found in the following food and drinks:
Fermented grains (water kefir, coconut kefir, etc.)
Fermented dairy (yogurt, cheese, etc.)
Fermented soy (soy sauce, tofu, etc.)
Fermented sea vegetables
Vinegars, Wine and Alcohol:
Vinegar sensitivities are typically related to what the vinegar is made from, wine or alcohol. There are different ways vinegar is made, but in its most basic form, vinegar is acetic acid that is made from alcohol which, in turn, is made from sugars. Many times, the ingredients used to make vinegar are things like rice, wheat or corn, which naturally contain protein. The higher the protein content, the higher the level of free glutamate will be found in the final product. Apple cider vinegar is different though. Apples have the least amount of protein of any food that is made into vinegar, therefore apple cider vinegar would likely have the least amount of free glutamate out of all the types of vinegars on the market. If you aren’t sure how or what a vinegar is made from, it’s a safe bet that it’s made from corn or wheat and can contain glutamate as a contaminant.
The same process occurs in the fermentation of alcohol. Potato vodka preferred over other types of alcohol because of the lower glutamate content as opposed to alcohols made from corn or grains. Caution needs to be used with wine due to possible additives, colorings and flavors that are not mandated to be listed on packaging. For those highly sensitive to glutamate you will want to avoid consuming or cooking with alcohol, wine or vinegar. Small amounts of potato vodka or apple cider vinegar may be the exception. A reaction to these will be based on individual sensitivity.
We consume natural sweeteners in moderation. Refined sugars can be very inflammatory and will result in a surge of glutamate. Here are some examples of sweeteners we use: raw organic honey, dates, organic fruits, fresh stevia leaf (we purchased a plant from Lowes), maple syrup (look for those processed with lower heat to lower your risk of glutamate. Otherwise, it may be problematic for some) and coconut sugar (not daily consumption but would be a better option than cane or beet sugar)
Bone broths and meat broth:
Broths are generally REID approved; however, you will want to avoid high cooking temperatures, long cook times (over 3 hours stovetop, 1 hour pressure cooker) and the addition of any vinegars to the broth. Vinegar lowers the pH of the broth and hydrolyzes the proteins in the bones and skin of the animal, which will degrade the proteins. When broths are cooked for long periods of time with lowered pH conditions (from the added vinegar), the more free glutamate is created in the broth. Commercial broths always have additives (glutamate) and should be avoided.