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Today’s post is a little less rambling and a lot more informational then my normal style so just a heads up. This post is meant to be a small chronicle of lessons I have learned since going gluten free.
As part of my path to being diagnosed with lupus I started eating gluten free. More because I was desperate to feel better and I just kept hearing about gluten-free miracles from my research. I have not been diagnosed with celiac or gluten intolerance formally through a blood test. In order for celiac tests to come back positive you have to have been eating gluten before the test. I had been gluten free for 2 weeks prior so it would not be positive even if I am. I can, for absolutely sure tell you that I am, at the very least, gluten intolerant after the last few months of ‘testing’ with my body.
So, when I first decided to go gluten free, I did a ton of research on both gluten free blogs and forums. There is so much information out there. It is all confusing and conflicting and, at the same time, wonderful to see. Gluten free eating is pretty common place these days and many restaurants and food companies are educated about food allergies.
What is gluten?
Basically it is the protein found in wheat, barley and rye.
Where is it most commonly found?
Tons of places. The biggies are bread, cereal, and pasta. But it is hidden in just about everything processed.
I decided to stop eating gluten on the day we had a charity dinner. Dinners like these are a part of our lives so I decided I would have to figure it out. Amazingly enough, I was seated at the table with someone who has celiac. He helped me avoid the pitfalls of the salad dressing and sauce on the ‘steak’. He gave me the courage to just ask for a gluten free plate. I didn’t realize how common this was and that most places can, and will, easily accommodate. Without his example I don’t know that I would have even thought to ASK.
How Long Did It Take to Feel Better?
Within 3 days my stomach was noticeably ‘calmer’ than it had been for as long as I could remember. It wasn’t an extreme change, just a general sense of feeling ‘better’.
What happened when you first ‘got glutened’?
The ‘better’ feeling wasn’t overly noticeable though until I had Bearnaise sauce from a mix containing wheat. I was curious if such a small amount would matter. It did. Within 30 minutes of eating it I felt like I had the stomach flu-all the cramping and other lovely things that accompany that.
Have you accidentally been glutened?
I have gotten sick from tomato-basil bisque (I didn’t know flour was bisque). Chips that were made from flour (thought they were corn) and ranch dressing that I dipped my gluten free pizza into. All 3 times have been extremely unpleasant.
How does eating gluten make you feel?
Pretty much it starts with a weird gurgling feeling (my friend Janna’s term) about 30 mins after I have eaten it. Then it feels pretty similar to coming down with a 24 hour stomach virus. I don’t really need to explain that, do I? The times it happened around dinner, I usually start to feel better around noon the next day.
Is there any thing that helps after eating gluten?
I have found that these three things really help me feel better. The probiotic I take daily anyway but I make sure to take extra the minute that gurgle starts. I’m thinking it is the peppermint and valerian root in the tea (I had a bunch around from a campaign I did with them last year) that helps it calm down and the manuka honey is said to help the digestive system. We normally have it around here so that is what I use.
Where do you shop?
Pretty much anywhere but our Costco has a TON of gluten free items. They carry several varieties of crackers, chips, breads and dips that are labeled gluten free. The bread is in the freezer section. Walmart, in our area, even has a good gluten free area. I found grahams crackers for my smores which I have been missing there (haven’t tried them yet though). Places like Whole Foods and Sunflower have GF Pasta which wasn’t too bad. Albertson’s and Safeway have dedicated areas as well.
Is it expensive?
The first week it was because I went out and bought anything labeled GF. Then I realized that 90% of it isn’t what I normally eat anyway. I really don’t like the GF breads available or desserts. Interestingly enough I have stopped even wanting those foods.
What is the hardest thing to give up?
Honestly, once I realized what small amounts can make me sick, nothing was hard to give up. It just isn’t worth it. I do miss pasta but I have found that Noodles and Company’s Pad Thai rice noodles with butter and seasoning really does the trick!
Anyone who knows me, knows we eat out 3-4 times a week. So this was by far the biggest challenge for me. Some places I have come to love that have gluten free choices and I have had good experiences with are:
- PF Changs– Chocolate dome is killer. They have a good selection of choices.
- Tokyo Joes
- Noodles and Company-JUST the pad thai noodles. The employees have to give you a disclaimer speech each time.
- Chiptole, Qdoba, and Rubio’s. Make sure they change their gloves. The chips could be cross contaminated.
- Anthony’s Pizza – gluten free crust could use some work but if you’re craving pizza this is the place. Thanks for the hint Laura. DON’T EAT THE RANCH.
- Chick-Fil-A. Fries are done in separate area at my local one but that isn’t always the case so make sure and ask. Chicken sandwich without the bun is great.
- Ted’s Montana Grill
My good friend was just here visiting and she has celiac disease. She had a great experience at BJ’s (they have gluten free beer) and got awfully ill at Rock Bottom despite ordering a special salad and asking them to be careful where it was mixed. I wasn’t with her at either of these places.
Keep in mind that I live in the southern suburbs of Denver, Colorado. Your mileage may vary with the places I mentioned. Also, I don’t appear to be overly reactive to cross contaminants like having gluten products in my kitchen. No one else in the family is eating gluten free so there is regular bread and all that stuff the boys love around.
What are some of my GF favorite products now?
All bought at Costco
Is this just a phase?
Nope. Not for me. I truly get sick if I eat gluten. I don’t need a blood test to show me what I already know. My body doesn’t like it.
Have I lost weight?
If I have it isn’t noticeable and I think would be more a result of the fact that I am not eating a lot of processed junk. I am also on steroids for the lupus so maybe that is offsetting any weight loss I would have seen. *edit: I decided to weigh myself and I actually have lost 8 lbs.
So, what about you? Experiences eating gluten free? Any favorite products or places you like? Advice?