10 Things You Learn When You Are Gluten Intolerant
I have been gluten free for about five years now, my daughter has been for three, and we finally took my other son and daughter off this year. It didn’t seem fair that the other two kids got to eat things that my eldest daughter didn’t, and it was causing a lot of arguments between the kids. In addition, some research has been done on gluten contributing to hyper-activity, and who wouldn’t rather give it a try to see if it mellowed them out a bit? My father has been telling me for a few years that we should all be gluten free anyways, because in his case, and mine as well, the symptoms didn’t surface until later in life, but our early years of gluten consumption had done damage. No reason to risk that for my kids.
1. There are still plenty of things that I can eat to gain weight. Occasionally, when I tell someone that I am gluten intolerant, his or her response is: “Oh, that’s why you are so thin!” Well for one, I don’t think that I am that thin, and for another, I avoid carbs at every corner. Here are some things that I can absolutely eat, that I still have to avoid: Mashed potatoes, French fries, Ice Cream, Tacos (not the ones from Taco Bell, that is not meat), Fried rice, Pad Thai, Margaritas, Chocolate, Potato Chips, and Crème Brule. The sauces on some of these do have to be watched carefully for traces of gluten, but with caution, I can eat any of this stuff.
2. There are many kinds of gluten intolerance. My father, my kids and I, do not have Celiac disease. They are doing research to look into all of the different types and there appear to be many. Our type causes dyspepsia, and seems to to be hereditary. To be blunt, medical science is just starting to figure this stuff out. I highly recommend that if you have health problems, especially stomach or digestive problems, that you eliminate gluten from your diet for one month and see if you notice a difference. If not, take dairy out of your diet for a month and see if that changes things. It is very hard to determine if there is a problem unless you get these things completely worked out of your body. That is why I suggest that you try it for a month. Many medical doctors are uneducated, or undereducated about these intolerances. The average student gets an extremely insignificant amount of nutritional training in medical school.
3. I don’t care if people are staring at me. I stand in the grocery store and read labels anyways. When I was doing it ten years ago, (I went off wheat before I went of gluten completely), I used to get really funny looks. When you think about it, that is a really horrible thing. How dare you question the ingredients that the corporate masters are putting in your food? Just eat it! Things have changed significantly though. A lot of people are reading labels, and I don’t get the look nearly as often.
4. Pastry is off the table. Cooking at home, I can make just about anything, and I can bake. I tend to lean towards recipes that will be very moist, because gluten-free flour tends to be drier than wheat flour. I can make fried chicken, pizza, cookies and cakes. I also make a really awesome piecrust. The one thing that cannot be replicated…yet…is pastry. The light flakey French kind just hasn’t happened for the gluten free world yet.
5. Portability is the biggest challenge. When traveling, things can get tricky for gluten free people. I have yet to find many things besides French fries that I can pick up and eat while on a road trip. My kids fare better because they have two hands to use, but I need to drive. It seems like every sort of portable food is coated in a layer of gluten. I am looking to a time when we have more options available to us, because I get pretty sick of French fries on road trips, and they are not good for me.
6. There are varying amounts of gluten that those of us who are intolerant can handle. I was uncomfortable yesterday after a wedding because I think that one of the sauces I ate contained a little flour. I knew that risk that I was taking, and luckily my reaction was not too bad. My father’s tolerance is so low however, that if he would have eaten that sauce he would have gotten violently ill. I have seen it happen, unfortunately. His intolerance is so acute, that he can get sick from eating a French fry that has shared the same cooking oil as a food containing gluten.
7. The bright side is that it won’t kill me. My father and I laughed about this one day. Specifically, the fact that when we have a slip up and get gluten in our systems, the result is incredible painful, but not life threatening. Now the long term effects of continuing to consume gluten for an intolerant person could probably lead to terrible health issues, but as long as we keep it out of our diets, we are A-Okay.
8. Don’t lick the spoon! For some reason or another, gluten free flour tastes terrible before it is baked. I cannot detect a bit of the flavor once a cake or cookie, or whatever has cooked in the oven, but I have made the mistake of licking the spoon, and the taste is horrible. I have warned my kids, but I have watched them do it as wel,l and the expression on their faces has been priceless!
9. It is getting easier. With more and more people out there developing intolerances, gluten free foods are becoming more readily available, and finally they are becoming less expensive as well. I have even seen gluten free bakeries popping up in larger cities, and most restaurants are adding gluten free items to their menus. I can even find gluten free beer at my neighborhood grocery store.
10. It has actually been a blessing to us. Because we are gluten free, we cook more and eat more at home, and it has become a habit that I do not believe we will break. We pay more attention to what we are putting into our bodies as a result of our intolerance. I can honestly say that I don’t feel nearly as sorry for myself as other people do. I think that the change has been really good for my family, so what is there left to complain about?