Gluten free, gluten free, here is what it means to me.
Ahhhhhhhh, couldn’t figure out a way to start this.
So, in case you didn’t know, Eli and I are straight up 100% gluten free all the time rock on!
Eli has had the blood test for celiac disease, I have not. His test came back negative, but that means next to nothing so we just put out fingers in our ears and say “la la la” to that. The blood tests for celiac disease are totally unreliable. And also because our pediatrician sucks and knows nothing about celiac disease, Eli wasn’t eating gluten at the time of the test. All I care about is that Pants started to gain weight as soon as he started eating gluten free. I haven’t been tested because I don’t see the point – regardless of the test results, I still wouldn’t eat wheat. When I eat wheat, I feel like hot garbage, when I don’t, I feel fine. So that’s pretty much all the science I need to make that decision.
I’ll tell you honestly that going gluten free really wasn’t that bad. I felt better right away, so that helped. I have always cooked a lot, so that also helped. Fruits and vegetables and meat and dairy are all gluten free anyway. There’s so much food you can eat! I can still eat rare steak and caprese salad and mashed potatoes, and honestly as long as I can eat tomatoes life can go on.
I was thinking about this the other day, reading what Jess wrote about her feelings before lap band surgery. It reminded me a lot of my fears in the first few weeks that I went gluten free. Luckily, it turned out that “CAN’T” is a million times easier for me than “SHOULDN’T”. Before becoming gluten free, I spent countless hours of every grocery shopping trip ogling the cake counter, inspecting the cookie aisle, drooling over cupcakes. Now I just skip that section and I don’t even think about it. Much simpler that way, to be honest. And these are always foods that I knew I should be avoiding anyway – I am not well controlled around carbs. I can eat a loaf of crusty bread at a sitting, or nibble down a half a pan of brownies. I have always been the type to skip the chicken and the brocolli and just eat the noodles. Bread and I haven’t been able to be alone together in the same room since 1993, for certain.
There’s also a lot more food out there that you can eat than you might realize. Trader Joe’s has a long gluten free list. Whole Foods has the gluten free stuff marked on the shelves with a sticky outy green tag. We have a gluten free store in Sacramento, which is insanely awesome, but most of my favorite stuff from there can be ordered from Amazon or directly from the manufacturer if you don’t live somewhere with so many resources. In a nutshell though: Tinkyada pasta is awesome, anything from Pamela’s is great, but especially the baking mix, with which you can make chocolate chip cookies that no one can tell are gluten free, I wouldn’t even bother with all those little bags of rice flour, just get the Pamela’s stuff, you need some gluten free tamari instead of soy sauce, you need to read every label before you know what’s safe, and you can’t eat pizza or drink beer anymore. You might want to buy a new toaster.
Sometimes I cheat, and it’s almost always for ramen noodles or pizza, and then it makes me sick, and I regret it, but dude, there’s just nothing else like a slice of pineapple pizza from Pizza Hut or a chicken flavored cup a noodles.
No one makes bread that’s as good as good as bread loaded with gluten. Sandwiches aren’t ever going to be the same, but there are some breads that are almost as good toasted, and I can live with that. I make versions of my favorite sandwiches wrapped in lettuce and I find myself surprised at how delicious they are.
You can eat the “protein” style hamburger at In and Out and their french fries are safe, but anywhere else you need to make sure that battered fried food isn’t cooked in the same fryer as the fries.
And avoid anything with bean flour in it, it’s disgusting.
Rice Chex are gluten free! Awesome.
Honestly, the first couple of weeks that I went gluten free I was reading “Heat” and watching “Top Chef” and I was well and truly pissed off about the bread and pasta situation, but I just don’t care anymore. We make the best of the hand we are dealt and that’s that.
The other reality is that eating gluten free is pretty expensive. A bag of pasta can cost anywhere from $4 to $5 dollars. A large bag of baking mix is $16.99. A tiny little loaf of gluten free bread at the farmer’s market is $6 dollars. But I just can’t worry about that. I could worry about it until the end of time, and it wouldn’t change anything. I could choose never to make chocolate chip cookies, because a bag of flour is $16.99, but if you could Eli’s best imitation of Cookie Monster (“COOOOOKKKKIEEEE!!!!”) you’d know that wasn’t even remotely an option, his mama is gonna make him some cookies! So I plunk down my six dollars and go on my merry way and that’s just that.
The strange thing is that this gluten free thing has completely changed my life, and I never would have known that I had a wheat allergy or celiac disease or a gluten intolerance or whatever you want to call it if it hadn’t been for Eli and his mysterious weight loss. I always assumed I had IBS and I didn’t feel like not ever again eating onions or tomatoes or coffee so I just ignored my stomach. And then I stopped eating gluten and I stopped having terrible bloating and gas and feeling sick every night of my life! Imagine that!
For those of you wondering – without going into graphic detail – it was not as simple for me and my complicated guts as “Oh, I ate a doughnut! Now I feel sick!” Instead, for me, other random things (onions, eggs, salad, unpeeled tomatoes, beets, etc) made me sick, all the time. It got so that every night I had a huge bloated stomach, terrible intestinal pain, and really bad diarhhrea. But it wasn’t a simple “eat gluten=feel horrible immediately” relationship, which is why I thought I had IBS or just a sensitive stomach. My theory (based on no medical knowledge whatsoever) is that gluten irritates my intestines to the point that I can’t properly digest other things, but regardless, I can eat onions again, so color me happy.
Slynnro has also written about this if you want to read her take on it, which is a lot more interesting and informative than what I have to say, probably, but I am guessing she didn’t have a toddler screaming “BOBICLE!” at her the whole time she wrote it, so there!
Honestly the only thing that’s really floored about me about going gluten free is that I never ever ever in a million years would have figured it out if it weren’t for my son. From the mouth of babes, indeed.
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