Gluten-free since: 2010
Are you completely gluten-free?
"I've has been on and off since 2010, but for the past three months, I've been really consistent."
What made you decide to go gluten-free?
"My daddy who is an MD and my best friend Kyoko suggested trying to eliminate gluten after observing my reactions and sensitivities over the years. My mother cooked every meal from scratch growing up and we had a very traditional Asian-Filipino diet. Breads, wheat-based pastas, and wheat-based flours are not really part of it. When I left home, my diet changed. Although I exercised regularly and ate healthy, I constantly felt tired, had stomach pains, and overall digestive issues. So, they suggested I try something closer to the diet I grew up with."
Take us through a typical day of meals for you on a gluten-free diet.
"Every morning I start the day with some Mariage Frères or Lupicia hot tea and Bio-K + Organic Rice and Dr. Ohira's Probiotics. I'm also lactose-intolerant, so it's really important to have probiotics as a supplement. Usually I have a Blueprint Cleanse Juice on my way to the train. At lunch, I eat sushi religiously every day. I venture out mid-day for a chai latte as a pick me up and to just walk around. At dinner when eating out I like to keep to seafoods, veggies, salads, and I love ordering a mass assortment of small plates at restaurants. If I cook at home, it's rice and fish, or pureed veggie soups or stews over rice."
What's the hardest thing about being gluten-free?
"The most difficult part is my penchant for croissants and cupcakes. Thankfully marcarons are naturally gluten-free so I can curb my cravings at Ladurée, my favorite place in the world."
What do you like about being gluten-free?
"It really makes me feel better and frankly, I. Love. Rice. These days it is much easier to find gluten-free alternatives. Fortunately for me most are made with rice or rice flour. The taste and the texture of many of these mimic the rice-based breads and desserts I ate growing up."
Have you noticed a difference in your health or the way you feel since going gluten-free?
"Yes, an immense difference! I feel much lighter, more energetic, and I'm ill much less. I used to be sick at least three to six months out of the year."
Do you ever cheat?
"Yes, but only with sweets. I have a major sweet tooth which is a problem since it involves both gluten and dairy. Although there are many alternative baked goods, the texture is just not the same."
What gluten food do you miss the most?
"If I didn't cheat, it would be croissants from Charlotte Patisserie."
What kind of advice would you offer to anyone who is considering gluten-free?
"I would say try it out for 30 days and gauge how you feel. The transition hasn't been so difficult for me because it's a diet rooted in the one I grew up with."
What are some of your favorite gluten-free brands/foods?
"I enjoy all the Food for Life breads, in particular the Wheat and Gluten-Free Bhutanese Red Rice Bread, Suzie's Thin Rice Cakes, Nature's Path Peanut Butter Panda Puffs Cereal (dangerous for all), Erewhon Cocoa Crispy Brown Rice Cereal, Oskri Coconut Bars (If you like coconut macaroons these are for you), and Natural Nectar Gluten-Free Craklebred (I buy multiple boxes of these). Overall Lundberg Farms also makes some of the best tasting gluten-free products — their rice chips, rice cakes, and pastas are all good."
Where are some of your favorite places to eat gluten-free?
"I still haven't familiarized myself with gluten-free specific restaurants in NYC. In LA, my constants are: Vardo in Venice Beach, Juliano's Raw in Santa Monica, Cru in Silverlake, Cafe Gratitude in Larchmont, and Real Food Daily."
Can you offer some advice about eating out at restaurants when you are gluten-free?
"Ask questions! People never ask because they don't want to be 'That Guy.' Why hold yourself back from being you? Just ask."
What are some of your tried-and-true gluten-free recipes?
"It's not extravagant but it's a simple, fast and fantastic snack: Avocado Toast. I mash a whole avocado, a squeeze of a lemon, two teaspoons of thai red chili paste, and a pinch of sea salt in a mortar and pestal. I like to put this on top of toasted bread, rice cakes, or crackers."
There's a lot of controversy around the idea that gluten-free is not a healthy lifestyle. What do you have to say about that?
"The reality is everything is healthy and everything is unhealthy. Every human being has their own opinion, but those opinions shouldn't bear the majority weight on a decision you make for yourself. Your diet is your choice to take care of yourself. Gluten-free works for my diet based on many factors. I will listen to someone's opinion, take it into consideration, but ultimately I follow my own."
Gluten-free since: 2010