GF Personal Update….March 2013

Many people have been asking me how the gluten free change is working for me and how I am feeling. So I thought this posting should do just that….I will tell it like it is! After all, I have been fully wheat free for over a month and before that 2 weeks mostly GF. Time for reflections….
Sometimes we endure something nasty for so long that we stop noticing it until it disappears. It is a bit like that for me. After about ten days GF I noticed my tummy felt odd. It felt weirdly calm and pain free. And suddenly I realized that I had been in constant pain, so constant I had somehow managed to grow used to it and just ignore…. so life could go on. Sure there were times it was worse and I noticed some pain. But frankly, I had grown rather accustomed to an aching belly. And when it left it was a revelation! I feel hugely better for the change. But I also underwent ten days of heavy duty antibiotic therapy for a bacterial infection of my stomach which they discovered when they went in for my biopsy. It was also causing tummy badness! So it is a bit tough to say which pain was from what.
I still feel tummy pain on occasion, especially if I eat something with a bit of wheat in it. I ate a chocolate cookie the first week, While at work I absentmindedly popped it in my mouth and only realized my error as I was swallowing it! I felt ill from some tasty homemade chocolates after Valentine’s Day and some malt vinegar on my fish/chips on another day. These small errors of consumption have alerted me to how easily wheat caused symptoms occur. No longer am I the least bit skeptical about my illness. I have incontrovertible evidence of my celiac in how I feel so hugely better in my tummy and how easily wheat causes me pain if I eat even a very small bit.
People say the weirdest things. A neighbor asked how my diet was going; implying I was trying to lose weight or that it was optional. I reminded her that it was a life style change for my health. Others tell me it is an easy change. I say no on that. It was a real struggle to accept this diagnosis. Scary to try to make simple things like gravy. A struggle to walk away from something I loved to the point of addiction. And it is a daily temptation to face, often unexpectedly. There are snacky items full of wheat all around me at work and it is tough to just look away and not eat even one pretzel or cracker or cookie… It has become easier over the weeks and I know it is for the best. Yes, it is not quite the same as a drug or alcohol addiction but the pull is very difficult at times. I know I must do this, but that addiction will likely still tug at me for the rest of my life.
I am reading Wheat Belly by William Davis, MD and it is full of startling information that gives me real pause. I see myself in some of those stories and it is scary. That book is a confirmation of why I need to be wheat free for the rest of my life. I highly recommend you read it.
Eating out is getting less scary as is cooking GF. People have given me quite a few recommendations on where I can get GF meals, particularly pizza for which I am so grateful. I am baking mostly yummy stuff that people are glad to consume greedily. I am lucky that I already knew how to bake and was cooking most of my food from scratch. I can only imagine how this transition would be if I didn’t have those kitchen skills already. I have made GF gravy, GF white sauce and have thickened beef stew with non-wheat flour. I have successfully altered a wheat recipe to make baked goods that are now gluten free. I now know I can do the GF life style. Don’t worry about me anymore! I might fall down once in a while but I really don’t want to cheat. I want to be healthy and feel good.

Anybody want my Wondra Flour that made my gravy so smooth or my mirin rice wine that has a tiny amount of wheat starch in it? Or those dutchy wide homemade noodles I was hording? The purging continues, as it must! Hooray for wheat free! I am not suffering, I have yummy foods I can make and enjoy. So, be supportive and understanding of your GF friends. I suggest you try a GF food when you have the opportunity: like the banana nut muffins I made Sunday, wicked good – no one would ever guess they are GF…. I am very lucky!

**Update….Months later I found that container of Wondra flour in my cupboard and with only a few sad thoughts…threw it in the trash!
First published mid-March 2013

Eating Out GF….A Tricky Business

ImageIt used to be so easy to eat out but I didn’t realize how tough it would be to do so with celiac. No more Subway. No pizza from either of the two places I liked, both are located in Bethlehem. No more pasta with red sauce and seafood at Nino’s. No more warm garlic bread to start and where to even go? At first it seemed I had no options. Then things shifted. I researched a few locations, got some information and eating out became reality!

My first experience was at Red Robin because someone had told me that they had gluten free buns for their burgers. So off we went. It was my first eating out GF experience. I asked for their gluten free menu and got a Xeroxed stapled together packet of pages in typed text. What had to be requested to be left off each item that could be remade as GF. I read it twice, felt intimidated and then chickened out. Literally! I had a chicken cobb salad and asked they remove the blue cheese crumbles as suggested. And someone else ate my garlic bread L Staring at that plate of bread was a major bummer. Next time I will definitely try the GF bun….

A little over a month ago I ate some Panara food – last time I thought. Not so – I find that they have a “secret menu” that you need to ask for; their GF menu! I can’t wait to go and check it out. They keep it secret so they can test it without spending a lot on publicity or publishing costs.

I know there are a few pizza places that boast of GF pizza. The only one I know of for sure is in the basement behind the Bethlehem Brew Words. Got to try it out soon as I am craving pizza for sure…..

Last Sunday I ate Wendy’s. I had their Baha salad which has a cup of their famous chili poured over it. It comes with GF tortilla strips and a big glop of guacamole. It was delicious, really high quality greens and the whole mixture worked well together. Beware, the red jalapeño dressing is very hot!

I found a website that can help celiac sufferers find a restaurant for eating out: Only trouble I see is that it doesn’t have an entry to sort by location so if you look for a pizza place you are looking over a number of states…that sure seems silly to me. It should have a spot to type in the city or at least the state.

I would like to eat out once in a while but it seems like a lot of work and I fear that ignorant staff will say things are GF when they are not. People forget that they put flour in gravies and sauces. And sometimes you can get sick just because of cross contamination; food baked on floury bread boards or pans can do a number on an already messed up digestive system. Some ingredients will be questionable; white vinegar, soy sauce, blue cheese. Chefs that do not realize they must use clean utensils to stir or taste GF foods are contaminating everything GF that they dip that spoon into if it was anywhere near wheat or other gluten containing foods. It will be a bit complicated but what in life isn’t a little tricky? GF pizza here I come!

First posted in early March 2013