Gluten Free for Me

“Gluten…but isn’t that in everything?” is what my dad said to me when I told him of my wheat allergy. Just love him! The discovery of my gluten allergy was long before anyone knew what ‘gluten’ was. I actually couldn’t even use the word gluten, I had to say ‘wheat’ which would cause people to react the same way my dad did, “So you’re like pretty much allergic to everything?”

Yes, yes I am (insert laughing with tears emoji). I discovered I was allergic to gluten after many years of struggling with stomach problems through a blood test. The minute I cut out all forms of gluten (because it’s not just wheat!) from my diet I saw an immediate difference. It was so shocking to me that I was scared to eat because I had never eaten anything where my stomach didn’t hurt afterwards. Sure, I have other allergies and sensitivities on top of wheat along with an autoimmune disorder so that definitely doesn’t help, but gluten was a HUGE problem in my life.

In the beginning I didn’t eat out a lot, I couldn’t. It was too hard to make sure there wasn’t some ‘wheat’ in my food. I would cry a lot. My husband was amazing. We had our year anniversary trip planned already to France and Italy. I was devastated. How can you go to Italy and not eat pasta?! Well, I did. I had gluten free pasta and it was incredible! I also had regular pasta. Yep, I did. Their wheat is grown different (yes, NO GMO wheat!). I did not get sick. Was this a combination of being gluten free for so long and then having some for the first time? Maybe. But I truly believe it’s because of the way they harvest their crops. I also have a very high sensitivity to dairy. I try to consume it in only small amounts. While in Italy, I had pizza and gelato three times a day. This is not an exaggeration. I never got sick. NEVER! I would move to Italy in a heartbeat…

So, back to ‘gluten’ being unheard of (besides in Europe, but they’re always more ahead of the game than the U.S.)…

It started to come around and pretty soon I didn’t need to check labels so carefully (mostly because I knew what did and didn’t contain gluten) as it was stamped right on there…GF! Restaurants started offering dedicated gluten free items and menus and new completely gluten free places started opening up! It was amazing. I started not to feel so alone. Heck, Elizabeth Hassleback was diagnosed with Celiac disease as well and wrote a cookbook (which I’ll be honest to say she’s got some great recipes!). But I have to say my favorite is Danielle Walker and her blog Against All Grain. Her story is truly inspiring and her recipes are ridiculously good!

When I became gluten free, so did my husband and my surrounding family was also very supportive (making gluten free foods and treats when I would visit). I have a ton of go-to dishes I make (that I would be happy to share for anyone interested!) and options to keep in your purse or the car (because fast food is NOT your friend!). Don’t get me wrong, I still have moments of where I want that piece of birthday cake but I know not eating it will benefit me more in the long run!

Even though I eliminated gluten, I still wasn’t feeling as great as I had hoped. My mom is a nurse practitioner and knew a doctor who specialized in functional medicine (functional medicine is an integrative, science-based healthcare approach that treats illness and promotes wellness by focusing on the biochemical processes that go on in the body, and the ways that natural substances such as vitamins and herbs can impact those processes). After many tests, I began the ‘elimination diet’. I eliminated everything I didn’t test a sensitivity for which left me with 15 foods. Yes, only 15! I was told I had a ‘leaky gut’ and it could be cured with the right vitamins and diet. After I slowly added back in foods, I realized I had a high food sensitivity to dairy and soy as well as a mild sensitivity to tomatoes and chocolate. I only eat organic cheese in moderation and completely avoid soy. I also limit the amount of tomatoes and unfortunately chocolate that I eat. I supplemented with vitamins my body was lacking and although it was a difficult six months, I healed my gut and I felt great!

Now, my allergies and food sensitivities don’t bother me as much. It’s become a way of life and something I can manage. I continue to try out new recipes and ways to ‘modify’ gluten ones (feel free to send any of your favorites my way!). I pray that my kids won’t suffer with any of these issues but happy to know GF has come a long way and probably will only continue to as they grow.

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