Biting the (Gluten-Free) Bullet

For the sake of those readers who did not grow up with medical professionals and so are unaccustomed to casual discussion of any and all bodily functions, I will try to avoid too many details. Suffice to say, for almost as long as I can remember, I have had a wide range of digestive problems. After talking to someone with celiac disease over a year ago, I realized that gluten may be a trigger. This seemed to be confirmed when I reduced–but did not eliminate–my consumption of gluten, and saw less frequent symptoms. But I started to have other problems since my gallbladder removal last year, and in recent weeks, I’ve been feeling all kinds of worse.

On Friday, I made some homemade naan, and as I was lying around in low-level but undeniable discomfort, I realized that I needed to follow the advice of the great Ron Swanson:

It was time to admit that my current system wasn’t good enough. I had to make major, whole-ass changes. Starting this past Saturday–Feb. 14, because Valentine’s Day doesn’t suck enoughI became one of “those people” and went fully gluten-free (GF).

I am not happy. I come from a family not only of cooks and bakers, but of skeptics. I haven’t informed my parents (who dine heavily on pizza, pasta, and sandwiches) of this change yet, but I rather expect my dad to dismiss it as just a fad. I have cousins who are already dairy-free for health reasons, so I’ll be throwing another wrench into holiday-dinner plans. I’m visiting a friend in Las Vegas this weekend, and I dread the inconvenience my new lifestyle will cause. I had to nix plans to get Chinese when another friend visits next month, because with all the wheat-containing soy sauce, egg-roll wraps, noodles, fried-food breading, and fortune cookies, I may only be able to eat white rice, green beans, and orange slices–which I can have at home. I will never drink Guinness again (yes, I know they make GF beers, but Guinness is the only beer I’ve ever enjoyed).

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*weeping*

Thankfully, I enjoy cooking and baking, I enjoy experimenting, and I enjoy learning about the science behind how things work. So with Internet sources like Gluten-Free-Girl and Gluten-Free Goddess to guide me (not to mention Amazon.com), this might even be fun. I’m not only learning about what this means for my body, but what gluten itself is and how it can be replaced. I feel smarter already.

Right now, though, I’m still in a mourning stage. When it comes to changes, especially ones that seem negative at first, I don’t do well with the part that requires me to make peace and reconcile myself to a new reality–the feelings aspect. I want to fret and fume and whinge about it. But when it’s time to take action, I do a whole lot better. I can problem solve; I can be practical; I can do. In time, my feelings will bow to my actions and my logic, and all will be well.

And no matter how much I b*tch about this, there is something I can’t deny: It’s Day 4 of my GF life, and I already feel better than I have in the last few weeks–physically, at least.

How I like my crumpets

I WON’T LOSE YOU, DEAR CRUMPETS!!! I WILL FIND A WAY FOR US TO BE TOGETHER AGAIN.

Wish me luck.

And fear not, regular readers–this isn’t going to become an exclusively gluten-free blog. As I said when I wrote about my singleness status last month, GF posts will just become a part of my regular grab-bag of topics.

5 thoughts on “Biting the (Gluten-Free) Bullet

  1. This is all sooooo familiar to me! Ugh! I feel for you! I really do. I suffer from IBS, with symptoms that wax and wane inconsistently. This past Fall, I was so miserable I was literally losing sleep over it. My GI discomfort was so extreme, I couldn’t fall asleep some nights and it occasionally woke me up in the middle of the night. Desperate for relief, I too tried a strict GF diet (loving the Ron Swanson quote, by the way). I didn’t tell anyone for fear they would think I was just trying to be trendy. And then Thanksgiving and Christmas rolled around and I had to inform some family whose homes we’d be dining at. Nolan can’t have dairy, and with my new GF restrictions, my mother-in-law was completely overwhelmed and we had to eat at restaurants because she was too afraid to cook anything. At first I struggled with giving up baked goods, which were a huge part of my diet, but I consoled myself by eating tons of cheese. In the end, I couldn’t decide if the GF made enough of a difference for the sacrifice that it was (some days I felt great, but then my symptoms would return for no reason). I ultimately ended my strict GF diet, and saw my doctor. Before I could implement her recommendation, my symptoms mysteriously and significantly improved. I have changed my diet, but am fortunate to not have needed any long-term food group eliminations. So, I understand your need to grieve. But, you can totally do this. Good luck, Em!

    • Awww thanks Melissa! Glad you got relief from your own issues. Bodies are just weird. To be honest, I’m super worried that I’m going to be better for a while, and then relapse, and I’ll be back where I started. But I’m getting ahead of myself–we’ll see what happens for real.

  2. Hey, Em! Great job while assin’ it! I know it sucks. I’ve used a lot of Gluten-free Girl’s recipes and they are outstanding! We love and support you. Glad to hear you are already feeling better! XO

    • Thanks Beth! I was reading Gluten-Free Girls’ intro to GF living, and she emphasized the need for a support network. I just shrugged and went, “Yeah, okay. Whatever, I’ll deal with it however I can.” But since I started all this, I’ve gotten some really positive and downright touching feedback, and it really is encouraging and does make all the difference.

  3. I’m not personally gluten-free, but I have worked in a camp kitchen during the summer for years and have frequently needed to do gluten-free baking. We have found a brand of gluten-free flour, Namaste, that is an absolute life saver. We’ve even made half decent cinnamon rolls with it. Just thought that it might help ease your transition. Good luck!

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