If you know me, then you know this is no simple statement. Since 2002 I have been gluten free. Not a diagnosis that came easily. I had gone my entire life up to this point in pain, sick, or somewhere in between. Even in my most pain, at my sickest, I would have never imagined that my diagnosis or prognosis could be as simple as eating gluten free.
The gluten free life isn't easy. If you or someone you know is gluten free you perhaps can sympathize with the limitations. Gluten is an ingredient in most foods. It's what makes bread rise, it's what makes cookies expand, it's what makes bagels so damn good. It's also what makes gluten free bread horrible, because without gluten, you get a hard rock solid loaf of dough.
What makes this journey in my life interesting is that I had no problem doing it. I didn't put up a fight or sneak gluten laden food. I was so sick and in so much pain I was willing to try anything. At this point I had nothing to lose. The blessing here is everything I gained. A new outlook on food.
You may laugh, but I really don't like food. My entire life, food has been hit or miss. I can remember delicious pizzas, my mom's famous chocolate cake, and buttery sugar cookies. I can also remember being in pain after eating eggs for breakfast. Somewhere around 7 years old, food became a chore for me.
After having a stomach bug that decided to stick around for months rather than days, my mother was given a list of foods to feed me. Don't deviate from this list, the doctor said, she has a sensitive stomach the doctor said. This started my modified BRAT diet. I ate the same meals at the same times for weeks. I had become so paranoid and neurotic about being sick and being in pain that even these simple meals pained my mother, who bless her soul, sat with me and coached me through every bite. Lying through her teeth that this meal wouldn't make me sick. It wouldn't give me a stomach ache. That I'd be ok. Lying because she didn't know, but she was hopeful.
As I got older and my stomach was less sensitive I integrated other foods, but every couple of years I would get sick or the flu and the cycle would start again. I have gained and lost more weight in my 33 years than Oprah. Seriously! My freshman year of high school was spent with an aching stomach begging for food, because the worst thing that could happen to a freshman in high school is being caught in the bathroom with her pants down. No joke, half of that year was spent starving, and making excuses. By the end of that year my appetite returned and so did the weight. What's the second worst thing to happen to a high school freshman? Being fat after being near anorexic.
So after years of pain and sickness, with nothing to lose, I went on what is called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. It's very detailed and has many rules. Google it for more info, but the basics are NONE OF THE FOLLOWING: SUGAR, DAIRY, PROCESSED FOODS, SODA, BREAD, WHEAT, OR PRODUCTS FROM GRAINS. You get the idea that it was in the extreme. From here I discovered Celiac disease, and thought when I was feeling better, and not living my life in the bathroom, I'd try gluten free living. I've never looked back.
Most people grimace when I tell them I'm gluten free. Like they feel sorry for me. I just grin, because they shouldn't . Being GF has opened doors for me food wise. Avocados, cream cheese, M&Ms. All things I eat now that I didn't eat before. The freedom to go out and eat at restaurants and not feel like I'm playing Russian Roulette. It's been amazing. Being gluten free has also forced me to learn to cook and bake. Yes, that's right, I can actually do those things. I had too. Where was I going to find GF brownies, or pancakes, or turkey burgers? I wanted chocolate chip cookies, so I baked them.
Being GF isn't always easy. I usually take my own food to dinner parties. I have to take my own bread to Panera. I'm famous for eating before going out with friends to avoid mishaps. It's tough for me to just grab something on my way out. Almost everything has to be made before. After Mackenzie was born I lived off Tostitos. Now when I see a bag it's like a bad hangover. And since I'm the only GF person in my house there are nights that I make 2 dinners. One GF and one regular. On those nights I'm usually eating eggs.
Now, here are great things about being GF. I bought a GF cookbook and actually used it. Even better John loved the GF Turkey meatloaf I made. Which is amazing in itself. I've become an excellent label reader! I can spot GF ingredients a mile away. Many times I get to pick the restaurant when dining with friends to ensure I can eat. SCORE!
So today I was rejoicing in the fact that Vons now sell GF bread, and that I had some in the freezer. I was also thankful that it actually tastes good. I was also planning my next go at chocolate chip cookies. I need to order the flour (www.julesglutenfree.com) and then remember that they cook best when you use 1 stick of butter and 1 stick of margarine. You think GF living is hit or miss? GF baking will reduce you to tears! My new goal, a GF yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Some people dream in color, these days I'm dreaming in cake...