I mentioned this a little bit yesterday on Facebook, but ever since I determined I needed to back on my gluten free diet, I've felt pretty isolated. Everyone around me is enjoying bread and dumplins and more bread and spaghetti....and I couldn't have any of it. It sucked. I wasn't sure what I could eat, what would hurt my stomach, what things I should stay far away from. So every meal ended up being an experiment of what types of gluten I could and couldn't handle. I've come to the conclusion that I can't handle much of it...at all.
First, let me back up. I have not been officially diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Since today kicks of Celiac Disease Awareness Month, I thought I would educate you a little more about what this is. People with Celiacs have an immune reaction in their small intestine when they eat anything that contains gluten. Eating gluten can cause intense pain, bathroom issues (do I really need to go into detail??), weight issues, all that jazz. Great....what's gluten? you ask. Gluten is what is found in wheat, barley and rye. It's also what makes dough stretchy and stick together (Gluten--glue). Back in the summer of 2010, I was having a ton of stomach problems. Lots of tests later and I still didn't have much of an answer...but my doctor suggested a gluten free diet. He told me I could have "a touch of Celiac Disease." So I cut out all whole grains, whole wheat and pizza dough and felt great. I could still have white bread, pasta, breading on foods...it was a happy compromise. Now, fast forward to present day. Shortly after going "semi-gluten free," I got pregnant with Avery. All my stomach pains went away and I was able to eat pretty much whatever I wanted without any consequences. And that lasted up until last month. Avery is almost two and it's taken that long for my stomach to go back to its old ways. So I thought I would start slow, just like last time, cutting out all the things that bothered me before. But then I continued to eat the white bread, pasta and breadings just like before....except this time, I've been really sick. There's been one night this week where I haven't gone to bed in terrible pain from whatever I ate for dinner. Here's where I started to feel really lost. I wasn't completely gluten free before, so I didn't know where to start. I started diving into gluten free blogs and Twitter accounts and Pinterest recipes (my apologizes to everyone who follows me on Pinterest and whose boards were filled with GF recipes the other day...). Some shocking items I've learned I can't have:
- Pickles may contain gluten. Some companies use a malt vinegar in their pickling process, which contains gluten.
- Fast food french fries are not gluten free (even though potatoes are). I learned the hard way that McDonald's coats their fries in wheat for "flavoring." Which begs the question: who tasted the first McDonald's fry and said "You know what this needs?? Wheat."
- Sauces/salad dressings (which stinks because sometimes at a restaurant, salads are the only GF thing on their menu).
- Most potato chips
- Meatloaf (contains breadcrumbs as a binding agent).
- Soy sauce (my Chinese/Japanese loving self wants to cry at this one).
I could go on forever about things that I've eaten that I've had a reaction to. Bottom line: it stinks. There's lots of yummy things that I formally loved that will not be able to cross my lips anymore. But there are a million resources out there I've found that make me feel less alone. I was really worried about how I was going to feed my family with my gluten intolerance. I definitely didn't want to be making two separate meals every night: one for my husband and daughter and one GF for me. On the flip side, I didn't want to punish them and take away all the breads and pasta and things just because I couldn't have it. Thanks to Pinterest though, I've found some pretty fantastic recipes that seem like my family won't even miss the gluten (If you have Celiacs or are trying a GF diet, I HIGHLY recommend following Udi's on Pinterest and Twitter).
And I will say this--I've been eating WAY healthier since I've gone GF. At a restaurant, I'm forced to order things like grilled chicken (can't have breading) and rice (can't have any veggies or sides that are breaded or may be cooked with gluten containing foods) and I feel a lot better. I can tell a huge difference (apart from the pain) when I cheat and eat one of my daughter's mini cinnamon rolls or try to eat a McDonald's breakfast. I feel like CRAP. Gluten free may not be such a bad thing--especially for my waistline!
First, I realize that not many of my followers or readers may be dealing with this. But I wanted to reach out to those of you that may be experiencing a gluten intolerance, or even Celiac Disease. Or maybe you're just in a lot of stomach pain and they can't give you any answers. I hear you. And Celiacs is still a new-ish thing. People every day are being mis-diagnosed with other issues when they actually have Celiacs. In fact, they expect the diagnosis rate to increase by 50-60% by 2019 because we'll be learning more and more about gluten and the symptoms of a gluten intolerance. You're not alone! Read up on Celiac and a GF diet and educate yourself! There's a million and one resources out there to make this transition as easy as possible. And I'm here. :)