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