Archive for November, 2008

The Aftermath

November 16, 2008

I decided to tackle a potentially insurmountable obstacle this weekend. I became tired of looking in my cabinets for a snack, only to be faced with a ton of food that wasn’t gluten-free, so I cleared the way for bigger and better things. I took every wheat or gluten related item out of my kitchen and piled it in a big box in my living room. As I looked at the giant heap, I started to get sad that Oreos, glutinous pasta, and my chicken broth (?!) no longer had a place in my life. I have literally felt like I’m in mourning at certain points. Food is a HUGE deal to me, if it’s not obvious by now.

However, as I reflected a little, I realized that I was ridding myself of many food items that I’ve kept around for convenience sake. I often rail against processed food, chemicals, additives, preservatives…and yet I was still eating them, like the biggest hypocrite EVER. Products like these are easy and convenient when you’ve had a long, hard day at work and just don’t have the intestinal fortitude to roast a chicken and bake your own bread. Gotta love the Kraft mac and cheese with a Diet Coke on the side; welcome to my senior year of college.

I’ve decided to seriously challenge myself to walk the walk on buying fresh, organic, and now wheat free food. Not to say that eating wheat-free is “diet”; Annie’s makes a pretty deadly gluten free boxed mac and cheese! But food should just be food…there shouldn’t be anything extra in there, including wheat as a filler, thickener, whatever.

I’ve decided to donate all of the unopened food in my pantry to a food bank. Tis the season πŸ™‚ The opened stuff will go to my parents because let’s face it…my rents don’t normally buy Oreos and will be excited to get their hands on some preservatives and lard-y goodness!

Anyone else purging from their pantries this holiday season? If you are and are in the greater DC Metro area, please consider donating your extra food to the Capital Area Food Bank. You’ll get warm and tingly inside when you do this. Trust me.

Mystery (possibly) solved

November 13, 2008

Have you ever had weird health symptoms that just wouldn’t go away? Or a condition that persisted no matter what you tried? I’ve had a set of symptoms present for years including stomach issues, canker sores, and depression that I’ve gone to multiple doctors about and nobody has ever suggested that they were connected or had anything to do with gluten.

Throughout our relationship, Keith has noticed certain similarities in my health and his. I brushed it off because I figured “There’s no way that I could have Celiac! A doctor would have diagnosed me long ago!” Finally though, I developed a skin condition that prompted me to go to the allergist and figured “What the hell? I might as well get tested.” So I went in to see my wonderful allergist, promptly became ill at the sight of the needle when she went to take my blood, and went along my merry (albeit a bit wobbly) way. She called about 10 days later to let me know that my IGE number (the one that measures antibodies present against wheat) was slightly elevated. Basically, that means I’m (possibly) allergic to wheat. UGH.

I’m Italian, so this is a huge deal to me. I can’t eat pasta or cannolis or crusty Italian bread. I can’t have pastines in my Gramma’s chicken escarole soup. I can’t have minestrone, pannetone, Italian meatball cookies, or mannicotti. Basically…I was pretty sure that my life was over. I know it sounds melodramatic, but food is a huge deal for me and for my family and this felt like the end of my world in a lot of ways.

The amazing thing about being allergic to wheat is this: wheat is omnipresent. SERIOUSLY. Name a processed food…there is likely wheat in it. My two favorite stunners are soy sauce and ice cream. Wheat is often used as a thickening agent and is present in foods that you would never imagine. The reality of my new life is that I spend the majority of my food shopping trips reading ingredient labels and looking for code words for wheat and gluten. You should try this sometime, you’ll get a kick out of products that have what seems like a completely unecessary amount of wheat in them. The plus side is that this is going to kick me in gear to make MANY more things from scratch, which I should have been doing anyway to avoid the processed food trap. I enjoy a large variety of veggies and unusual ingredients (I already owned soy flour and pearl tapioca…what what!) so I’m hoping this won’t be a horrible transition.

Thankfully, Keith has been really supportive of my decision to stop eating wheat. I’ve been wheat-free now for 2 weeks and I really am starting to notice small differences in my health. I feel fortunate that someone could recognize my symptoms for what they were and that my health has been improving! It’s amazing the conditions that we learn to live with, never realizing that a solution could be out there or that our symptoms are all connected.

I wanted to post a link to the Celiac Disease Foundation in case you had any questions. Stay tuned for my adventures with gluten-free baking….oh boy. πŸ™‚