It seems everywhere I turn lately there is something about being Gluten Free. Little did I know before finally deciding to do a gluten free trial that being gluten free was on the road to be the next greatest diet trend. While it has brought some great gluten free food options it has brought with it backlash as well. Yes, I can laugh at late night talk shows when they quiz people on what evil gluten is. It is a bit of a different feeling I get from bloggers that bring forth their opinions about the gluten free life and this “fad” is ridiculous. Being Gluten Free isn’t easy. It is not the right option for everyone and it isn’t something someone should decide to do without researching the pro’s and cons and looking at their medical needs.
After the birth of my 3rd son I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder and it was after that I have spent countless hours in different doctor offices trying to figure out what was going on with me. I still don’t have any real answers, one doctor says I have lupus and the next disagrees. The only thing that remains the same was I have something autoimmune going on. I only grew frustrated and my dislike of going to the doctor grew. Tired of being prescribed medications that only mask my symptoms instead of getting to the root of the issue I took my health in my own hands. I researched for a few months, reading journal articles and other studies before finally deciding that a gluten free diet may be what my body needs. After all I figured a trial of couldn’t hurt. I had been gluten free for a couple weeks when my husband’s grandfather passed and we went to Ohio. At this point I wasn’t sure how much being gluten free was helping but I soon learned it was. While at my inlaw’s I ate gluten and my stomach problems were back. My stomach was bloated right away and I would soon be in all types of gastric distress. Soon as I got home I went back to my gluten free ways and my stomach thanked me. Heck, my whole body thanked me.
I have been gluten free for almost 8 months now. It has been a learning lesson the entire way. I have learned what I can and cannot eat. I have slipped up too just as I am sure others on this journey have done. After all nobody is perfect. The first time I went out to eat was overwhelming. My husband and I went to a local gastropub and I was so worried about accidentally eating gluten. I did ask my server questions that she begrudgingly answered. She was probably like these other servers that are blogging about their patrons that come in asking gluten free questions and then drink a beer. Well, I was that patron. I was so worried about what I was going to eat that I didn’t think at all about what I drank. I realized my mistake as I was drinking my beer. I had that oh crap what should I do followed by the oh crap that server probably thinks I am an idiot. The truth as my husband pointed out was she probably had no clue. The number of people who actually know what gluten is, while growing is small. If my server did know what gluten is and was secretly judging me, oh well. I doubt she is perfect.
I have learned of foods with “hidden”gluten. These are foods you wouldn’t think have gluten in them. Some of these foods include:
- Soy Sauce
- Cream Based Soups (Cream of…)
- Salad Dressings
- Lunch Meats
- Spice, Gravy, and/or Sauce Mixes
- Candy (such as Twizzlers)
- Eggs served at restaurants
HERE is a really good list to check out to learn more about hidden gluten sources. Being gluten free you learn to read labels well. You become that person in the grocery store examining ingredient lists.
Another place hidden gluten lingers is possible cross contamination when it comes to condiments like butter and then there is your toaster when it comes to gluten crumbs getting into your gluten free food. I have always hated crumbs in the butter and now I have given myself an excuse to buy my own little tub. It is all those little things that you don’t think of.
I have learned to be prepared and to bring my own food when we are headed out of town. I recently went to a weekend long Army family event and based on past experiences I thought I would be ok but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Pasta buffets are not friends of those who are gluten free. Our active duty spouses at least were required to eat what was served so I ended up looking like that picky kid eating plain salad greens. That night after our class we headed to Walmart and I picked up some food. Thank goodness for nearby grocery stores!
Not all places are bad when it comes to finding gluten free food. Many restaurants have options and if you are lucky it is more than just salad. Just remember if you are getting french fries there may be a cross contamination risk if they fry breaded foods in the same fryer as their french fries. Some places will even go above and beyond to help you and make sure your meal is gluten free. Disney World is great when it comes to special diets and I was really pleased when we visited this past spring. It was one thing to be ordering food and my husband and I in line waiting our turn discussing gluten free meals I could have and the cast member ordering it gluten free before I even said anything. I was unbelievably excited while we were in Animal Kingdom and we walked by a gluten free food cart. I was in love! They had everything from gluten free beer to gluten free doughnuts. I had my first doughnut in months and it was delicious!
Not all baked goods are created equal in the gluten free world. It has been a learning curve to figure out how to bake. I have learned that xantham gum is my friend when baking and it is necessary. I have learned all gluten free flour blends are not equal and some are better than others. It has taken me a few months but I have finally figured out biscuits so I can make biscuits and gravy. Cupcakes will be next. I miss cupcakes!
This leads me into the most common things people say when they find out you are gluten free. You are almost always told, I could never give up fill in the blank awesome gluten food. Yes, there are foods I miss but they are coming out with more and more great gluten free products. Then there is the standard I know of someone that is gluten free like their sister-in-law’s best friend’s aunt. Umm, ok? There are other people that are gluten free. In fact, 1 in 133 people have celiac and it is estimated that 83% of Americans are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed (from celiccentral.org). Then there are those that ask if being gluten free is a good way to lose weight. If you eat a lot of crap and you start eating healthier then yes you will lose weight. Myself and my family ate healthy to begin with. We try to keep processed foods to a minimum. I haven’t bought a box of Kraft mac n Cheese since early 2010. So for myself, no I did not lose weight. I have actually gained weight! Go figure! Giving up my favorite homemade bake treats and training for 2 half marathons you would think I would lose. Oh well, I guess. People are curious so the list of things people say is endless. You just have to let people know you are gluten free because our body doesn’t like gluten and we eat this way to make our bodies happy.
There is a lot that goes into being gluten free and I have only touched the surface. It has been the best choice for my personal health. Being gluten free isn’t just a fad crazy diet for me, it is my way of life. It helps me feel better. Being truly gluten free is not something you can take a day off from unless you want your body to essentially hate you. Yeah, so being gluten free may be the cool thing to do right now. I will take it especially if companies want to finally produce products that those of us who are gluten free miss. If only we could get others not to think that being gluten free is so odd.