the state of the gut

Since I am currently struggling with a stomach bug, and quickly approaching my first gluten-free anniversary, a “state of the gut” address seemed appropriate. On 23 March 2008, I began a gluten-free diet to alleviate gluten intolerance, possibly Celiac Disease. (I say “possibly” because I have not yet been able to go back on gluten so I can be formally tested.  Ingesting gluten for a month would certainly mean more sick days than I can take right now.)

Due to my diet, I have rediscovered my love of cooking, though grocery shopping — while less confusing and overwhelming — is still frustrating. I have lost the taste for cookies and cakes, but still yearn for dishes like biscuits and gravy from Boogaloo’s and focaccia from Arizmendi. Despite how much I disliked Whole Foods before this whole thing started, it has been a place of gluten-free miracles.  Trader Joe’s has been excellent as well; tonight, FunkyPlaid stopped by one on his way home and brought me all sorts of gluten-free goodies.

While in Scotland last autumn, I feasted on Sainsbury’s “Freefrom” line of breads, and am baffled that no American grocery stores carry a line of gluten-free baguettes, naan, and English muffins. Bob’s Red Mill has a tasty line of bread mixes, however, many of which I have baked and enjoyed. Amy’s Kitchen has some tasty gluten-free frozen pizzas, and Mariposa Baking makes the best biscotti I have ever eaten.  Nothing comes close to Freefrom, though.

Dining out is still enjoyable, but not the experience it once was. Everything on each menu must be scrutinized, and at first I was fairly embarrassed about being That Kind of diner, asking all sorts of questions about what I used to regard as magicians’ secrets.  No longer can I glimpse an ingredient or a sauce and order solely on whim.  Brunch is a particular wheat-laden obstacle I avoid whenever possible.

Now to the good news: with the exception of a compromised immune system, I am physically and emotionally healthier than I have been in years.  While I still have headaches from time to time, I no longer have migraines.  My moods swing normally … or as normal as I get, anyway.  Insomnia is the exception instead of the rule.  The gluten-free diet is not the only source of my newfound health: each day, I take a multivitamin, a calcium supplement, and an iron tonic called Floravital recommended to me by my friend Kirsten that has done wonders.  Just today I started taking PhytoPharmica’s Probiotic Pearls in order to boost the useful bacteria in my gut. I feel great when I exercise, but struggle to keep a routine when I fall ill.

I have a ways to go with this new life, but as I write this I realize how far I have come.  Luckily, I have an incredibly supportive partner, family, friends, and coworkers, so I know I am not doing this all alone. The Internet has been a great resource for me over the past year, not only to educate myself on medical issues but also to learn from people living with Celiac Disease. I owe a great deal to Shauna of Gluten-Free Girl and Kelly of The Spunky Coconut, whose positivity and innovation inspire me to rise above the day-to-day setbacks.  I aspire to gain grace and peace about this part of my life.

3 thoughts on “the state of the gut

  1. Hope you feel better soon. I know the joys of gluten issues/food allergies. My teen years were spent avoiding gluten, milk, eggs, chocolate. A couple slices of bread, a cup of milk, a couple of Hershey’s Kisses, one or two eggs max… those were the limits for the span of a couple days. That made life so much fun from about age 11 to 19.

    My family and relatives had to buy food items for me from a couple hours away as health food stores were scarce here. Rice flour from China and Japan etc. Birthdays were always frustrating… See this cake and this ice cream? NOT FOR YOU! HAHAHAHAHA! Okay, maybe just a little… but one or two forks over and it’s a night on the turlet for you!

    Thankfully getting to college and maturing physically proved the cure. I was like a convict out of jail when I discovered the dangerous bowl of ice cream I had just risked my wellness upon had had NO effect!! YIPPEE!!! Experimenting revealed my liberation in the days ahead. Beer could suddenly be consumed too!

    But I had become pretty familiar, to the point of disgust, with rice and potato flour based food naturally. Potato and rice flour pancakes, rice cakes, rice crackers etc. Ugh. Had them coming out my pores.

    Now I refuse to eat any more carob products since I don’t have to. Never again. I can still kind of overdo it with rich dairy products though but it’s not the same.

    My whole point here is that I actually envy you dealing with this issue in 2009! There is SO MUCH STUFF out there now that wasn’t around in the late 70s to mid 80s and it’s right on grocery store shelves!! Rice milk, soy milk, almond milk etc. All the lactose-free drinks! All the flavored rice cakes! All the organic products! Gluten free cookies! Amazing!

    You lucky, lucky girl!! 🙂

    1. I’m so glad to hear your situation was temporary. You’re right; I’m very lucky to be dealing with this now instead of then, and in the Bay Area, no less.

      1. I totally want my food allergies back and/or celiac disease! It would SO rule right now! It’s the GOLDEN AGE, I tell you, Halsted!! GOLDEN!

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