Healthy Mama Hodgepodge: Gluten Free Living

Quite sporadically I have shared the blessings and successes of health and diet adjustments at Hodgepodge. You likely know about the allergy challenges we face with our children. But now that it’s been eight months of a diet change, I thought I’d share the triumphs in healthy living for me – the mama.

Over the next little while I’m sharing a Healthy Mama series. I plan to let you know how I’ve lost 22 pounds and now need new clothes. Not only that, I feel better than I have since I was in my early twenties.

Hodgepodge Healthy Mama

Why am I finally sharing? I’ve been asked by several – “Tricia, what are you doing? You are losing weight and you look great!” I was reluctant to share because I wanted to be certain to have months of proof. To honestly see long-range results.

(The information I share here is by no means medical advice. Just simple, practical encouragement and sharing of how thrilled I am to find what works for me. Some links are affiliate links to products we have grown to love and truly depend on. See our disclosure policy. Please know I am not a dietician though I feel like with my parenting and allergy-friendly living experience I could be a nurse practitioner. :) )

See, I am constantly learning new things while managing and caring for my epipen toting children. One child was gluten free eight years ago – back before there were entire sections of gluten free foods in every corner grocery store.

And it wasn’t until my dear friend Jenny suggested that my struggles might be food related too – that I had considered eliminating foods – for myself. The more I have learned about my children’s allergies and how positively they react to eliminating foods from their diet, I started to think about my health.

I have experienced decades of inflammatory arthritis (thankfully, not rheumatoid arthritis). This inflammation had me in to the rheumatologist at least a couple times of year to have enormous amounts of fluid drained from my knees and to get a shot of cortisone. Plus, in the last several years I have experienced overall joint paint. I started asking the question: Could my body possibly be reacting to foods as well?

The Great Freedoms of Homeschooling

This photo was taken in July of last year. Six short weeks of a gluten free diet and I could walk to the end of this favorite trail with my family. Prior to that they would walk ahead and I would wait on a bench. I have always loved walking for fitness. And now this gift has been returned to me!

Low Sugar Living

Several years ago, my aunt went on a no sugar diet and eliminated other foods as well. Mainly those with acids. She saw wonderful benefits! When she read my post on Awaking to the Aching, she suggested I consider the same diet.


I have been following her diet for three years (though mine is more low sugar than no sugar.) I did see good results. In the great style of a blogger, I shared recipes and, of course, I started a Low Sugar Living Pinterest board! But I continued to have the sudden knee swelling and overall joint paint and inflammation. I even spent an entire year on a low dose of Prednisone. Ugh! The last straw was having my knee drained again in May of 2013. The sudden knee swelling seemed to be so severe – almost like an allergic reaction. So I sought the advice of my friend who had been sharing her journey in Facebook statuses.

I have not been alone! Thanks to my friend Jenny. Plus Hodgepodgedad also has a good friend who has seen remarkable results with a gluten free lifestyle. He and I both read the book, Wheat Belly. It made sense. We took the plunge – Hodgepodgedad and I went cold turkey gluten free in June of 2013. Since then he has found that he can have gluten occasionally and he does not feel bad.


Last October I was able to hike again for the first time in years. Well, not mountain climbing but hills seem like mountain climbing to me. And I was able to do it!

Simple Start Guide to Egg and Nut Allergies at Hodgepodge For years now I’ve shared tips and recipes for dealing with my children’s allergies. Even recipes at Food Allergies on a Budget. Here is my Simple Start Guide to Egg and Nut Allergies.

Benefits of a Gluten Free Lifestyle (Positive Changes I Have Noticed)

  • The biggest change I have noticed is in my hands. My fingers look normal – not swollen all the time. Soon I am going to have to get my rings resized because they almost fell off swimming in the pool late last summer! They continue to rattle around on my ring finger.
  • I feel better – have more energy. I can go a week or more without needing an afternoon nap!
  • I can walk further distances. At the end of last summer I could walk for fitness again! It was freedom!
  • My joints feel stronger.
  • Overall – inflammation is down. I don’t wake up aching any more unless I have eaten something I shouldn’t have.
  • We’ve also noticed improvements in some of the children. One child in particular with very low energy – feels much better when he eats a gluten free diet.

Over the course of the summer, I replaced gluten filled with gluten free products. This transition time was good not only because of all the benefits I listed above but also because it gave me time to build my confidence. And to learn that, just like my allergic children, there is still so much more I can eat!

Healthy Hodgepodge Mama - gluten free and Trim Healthy Mama style

This photo, from September of last year, was also a milestone. I could walk the beach without my knee swelling. And boy do I love the beach… See? I am not a skinny mini. The overall goal is health with weight loss being a wonderful side effect. As I will share in future posts, I noticed the largest weight loss when I stepped things up on the Trim Healthy Mama diet.

Further Healthy Mama Steps

I will also add that I quit coffee about a week and a half after going gluten free. Because I had eliminated gluten, I noticed that immediately after drinking coffee that my hands swelled. That was a very hard week! But I will be sharing about that step next, along with all the many benefits and what I have replaced coffee with!

Plus, last November (yes, the week before Thanksgiving!), I started on the Trim Healthy Mama diet. That took my healthy mama track to a whole new level. This is also when I started to notice significant weight loss! (more on that in a future post.)

Living this lifestyle is definitely continuing education for me. The Lord has surrounded me with wonderful, knowledgeable, been-there-done-that friends who know recipes, resources and have walked this path. I am very grateful!

If healthy changes are something you are considering – pray on it and consider keeping a food journal.

Coming up in the Healthy Mama series…

Guess it’s time to find some before and after photos, huh?



  1. 3

    Laureen E. says

    thanks so much for sharing, I’m definately following. I started thm last Aug. and I lost some weight and felt better, then Dec. added back in some flours at Christmas a bun here or there and I had major stomach issues creep in, passed out, and after testing found nothing but reflux. Decided to go gluten free and see what happened and sure enough felt normal again (taking food enzymes and probiotics as well) and don’t need the $160 side effect layden prescription from the g.i. dr. I also had major join issues (fibro. bursitis, sacroilitis) and have been prob. 95% free of those. will be looking fwd. to reading your posts, especially the family cooking ones

    • 6


      Phyllis – I had heard and heard and heard but it took me just simply being fed up with the doctor visits and feeling poorly. You, my friend, have had an incredible couple of years.(big hugs to you for all you have handled plus praises for your triumphs!) There’s also much to be said for balance. Believe me – I still have some sugar treats. And I will be sharing about that too.

  2. 8


    I am so proud of you, and I’m very inspired by you. I think you might be giving me the kick in the pants I need to do something about not feeling well. I just needed that extra nudge. Truly, thank you Tricia. :-)

    PS — I noticed how GOOD you looked when we saw you not too long ago!
    Mary recently posted..SQUILT Music Appreciation Winter SaleMy Profile

    • 9


      Mary – thank you – it’s encouragement from friends and a nudge from the Lord that got me going. I did it in stages though. Starting with ready made and easy. Then stepping down in one area and then another as I felt comfortable and ready. Definitely a process! Celebratory steps along the way…

  3. 10

    Anne says

    This sounds like my story! I have two kids with severe food allergies. When my second child had failure to thrive, we found out he had Celiac Disease. That is when I discovered I had it too! After eliminating gluten for one week, I woke up and was crying and screaming at the same time. I could not believe that my joint pain was gone! I could actually get up without pain. I had been living with joint pain since I was 10 years old or so. I am so glad you have found relief through Gluten Free living, and can truly appreciate how wonderful that is! One thing I wanted to mention: there are a lot of coffee that has gluten in it. Why? Because coffee is naturally “greasy”. Manufacturers add flour to absorb the oils. There are safe coffees out there. But I just wanted to share that some coffees make me sick, as if I ate small amounts of gluten (joint pain, swelling, stomach aches). Some coffees are safe. Not saying you should go back on coffee – Caffeine is not the best for health anyways – but wanted to share the information.
    Best of Luck!

    • 11


      Anne – what an amazing (and similar) story! Thank you, yes, I have been reading and researching quite a bit about coffee and gluten sensitivity. I have not been formally tested for anything but elimination has had wonderful results for me as well. So happy it has for you as well! I have found a wonderful substitute for coffee and look forward to sharing about it.

  4. 12


    So excited for you. Enjoyed the eggplant lasagna tonight from the book. A simple change, and my insulin doesn’t spike. It really is about learning new foods to eat. THM has changed my entire family. Tweaking it to fit our needs and responses. Hubby and I are each down 40+ pounds and have so much energy. I hope others read your post and find encouragement to take the steps to health.

    • 13


      Angie – I have been following your story and you are such a wonderful encourager! 40+ wow! SO pleased for you and your family. And I agree about the lack of insulin spike – I am less grumpy and am not hungry until lunch when I have protein. That makes such a big difference! And yes, the energy! High five my fellow THM friend!

  5. 14

    Susan D says

    Oh Tricia, thank you so much for posting this!! It is very encouraging to see how well this eating plan has worked for your family. I am definitely looking forward to more posts from you! If you need to add me to a mailing list of some sort, please do so.

    • 15


      Thanks so much Susan. I am looking forward to sharing more! (and we will be glad to add you to the mailing list since you requested) – and just so our readers know, anyone can sign up for free emails/posts by submitting name and email in the upper right hand corner.

  6. 16

    Melissa B. says

    I am very excited to read about your gluten-free lifestyle. I am diabetic (type 2). It has been suggested to me to go gluten free in the past. I have always been hesitant to try it because I have thought that it would be too hard to do. I hope to be inspired by your future posts to give it a try. I need to read the book you mentioned, Wheat Belly. Even my dentist suggested I read that. I guess it is time to see if the library has it.

    • 17


      Melissa – my husband is a border line diabetic. He does not have to take any meds because of the gluten free lifestyle and walking for fitness. It sure seems like BIG changes but the feeling better part makes each and every baby step worth it! And I will add that Wheat Belly was educational but Trim Healthy Mama is the practical, implementation that helped me the most.

    • 19


      Barb – I am so grateful to you for your cheering, for your help and advice. Talk about an amazing job – you are a wonderful example of healthy living and goal setting. You look great! Thank you, my friend!

  7. 20

    kelly says

    Hi Tricia,
    LOVE your blog and art lessons. Congratulations on finding what works for you and your family’s health.

    We went gluten free for awhile a couple of years ago and I found some great recipes. (We are no longer gluten free, but I have kept some of our favorite recipes to share or to make for friends when needed). I have a couple of kid approved recipes that after several tries (6-10 different recipes tried for each before finding a “keeper”!!!) for homemade bread, pizza crust, cookies (all purpose gf mix), etc. PLEASE let me know if you would like these. I would be happy to share our favorites.

  8. 22


    So, so happy you’re feeling better!! :o)

    I can’t wait for the rest of the series. I just went gluten-free about three weeks ago for constant belly pain. I feel so much better, too! My next step it to transition the rest of the family over to help heal some asthma and attention issues.
    Cindy recently posted..Charlotte Mason Phonics and SpellingMy Profile

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