Thanksgiving, Christmas and the holidays are the perfect time to plan dinners and try new recipes. This holiday season, I can truthfully say that I am somewhat unprepared.
I am totally gluten free and I am learning more and more every single day. I have learned to eat with discretion and also take note to what I am eating.
Many of the foods that I used to love have gluten in them. Two of my favorites were pretzels and French bread. After that, I love pasta. Pasta was a staple during the week. It was inexpensive and could be made in a variety of ways.
I have always had stomach problems. I was diagnosed with many things. What was more disturbing was that even the mention to a doctor that something else was wrong had me doubting my own self.
I had to just take gluten out of my diet. I had to try something as I was in pain or had stomach discomfort most of the time. Gluten naturally occurs in barley, wheat, rye and spelt. There are other foods that could be contaminated by gluten just by being made in a factory or kitchen that has or is also being used where wheat flour is. I was amazed how many foods could contain gluten such as soup and soup mixes, deli meat and seasonings because they thicken with wheat products. Even teas that use barley malt can give you a bad stomach ache.
No more bagels, bread, cakes, cereals, cookies, muffins, pancakes, french toast, tortillas or anything made with wheat.
I have become an expert at checking labeling. Now there are other things that can use as a substitute for the above items but I am learning slowly.
Some people have Celiac disease and others have allergies and intolerances. Some people become very ill and have feelings of fatigue, stuffy noses, rashes, achy joints and a whole lot of other issues.
I have been feeling 80 percent better since going gluten free. I have not been diagnosed by a medical specialist because I felt that if I could follow the diet, I would be able to see for myself. I did not want to get an allergy test as I was already uncomfortable with everything else that I was experiencing.
I did a lot to change my life. Changing my family, however, was very difficult. They are not following the gluten free lifestyle so there have been a few mishaps. One was putting the gluten free muffins in the same Ziploc bag as the buttermilk muffins. The other was thickening the potato soup with flour. It was indeed an experience both times.
My children were looking at me like I was crazy. They had the same look as some of the waitresses when I ask if they have a gluten free menu. Even tiny amounts of gluten can make you sick. I remember one time when I asked for no croutons and my salad came with them. The waitress took the salad back and when she returned I could still see remnants of the bread crumbs. I explained very nicely that wheat makes me very ill and it was not just that I did not like them. She understood then as I am hoping more people do and care about the health of their loved ones.
I joined facebook support groups like “Gluten Free Girlfriends” and read plenty of articles.
It has been a process but I am proud of my success and the fact that I lost a substantial amount of weight from around my waist. The best outcome ever! Get healthy.
This column was printed in the November 30, 2014 - December 13, 2014 edition.