Friday, July 26, 2013

Grieving For Gluten

I want a piece of cake with thick, buttercream frosting, any kind of cake will do.  Or, how about one of those French cream horns, flakey pastry filled with luscious cream?  Perhaps just some macaroni and cheese?

Nope, can't have it!  I'm nearly 60 years old, all my life I've been able to eat cakes, pastries, cookies, ice cream, pasta, any kind of cereal...but not anymore.  First started the lactose intolerance about 6 years ago.  Every single time I ate cheese or had any kind of dairy product, I spent minimally 3 hours in the bathroom.  It took me almost a year to put two and two together...and many near accidents before I realized, IT'S THE DAIRY!! So, no more dairy.  No more shrimp fettuccine.

All seemed well for about a year, until the bathroom episodes resumed with the vengeance of a tsunami.  It's lucky I live alone, the moaning and groaning of the painful cramps sounded as though I were dying.  At times, I wished I had.  It was that bad.  As a nurse, I was stumped as to the cause, certain I'd eaten nothing with dairy, I went searching the internet.  Voila---Gluten Intolerance kept
popping up.  Admittedly, even as a nurse of 35+ years, I had never once encountered anyone with a gluten intolerance problem.  Even more sad, I really wasn't sure what "gluten" really was. 

I read on and learned "gluten" is in almost everything we eat these days.  Even worse, it's hidden under different names, here is a short list, yes, there's more:  Abyssinian Hard (Wheat triticum durum)
Alcohol (Spirits - Specific Types)
Amp-Isostearoyl Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
Atta Flour
Barley Grass (can contain seeds)
Barley Hordeum vulgare
Barley Malt
Beer (most contain barley or wheat)
Bleached Flour
Bread Flour
Brewer's Yeast
Brown Flour
Bulgur (Bulgar Wheat/Nuts)
Bulgur Wheat
Cereal Binding
Club Wheat (Triticum aestivum subspecies compactum)
Common Wheat (Triticum aestivum)
Cookie Crumbs
Cookie Dough
Cookie Dough Pieces
Criped Rice
Dinkle (Spelt)
Disodium Wheatgermamido Peg-2 Sulfosuccinate
Durum wheat (Triticum durum)
Edible Coatings
 Edible Starch
Einkorn (Triticum monococcum)
Emmer (Triticum dicoccon)
Enriched Bleached Flour
Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour
Enriched Flour
Farina Graham
Flour (normally this is wheat)
Fu (dried wheat gluten)
Graham Flour
Granary Flour
 Hordeum Vulgare Extract
Hydrolyzed Wheat Gluten
Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein Pg-Propyl Silanetriol
Hydrolyzed Wheat Starch
Hydroxypropyltrimonium Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein
Kamut (Pasta wheat)
Kecap Manis (Soy Sauce)
Ketjap Manis (Soy Sauce)
 Maida (Indian wheat flour)
Malted Barley Flour
Malted Milk
Malt Extract
Malt Syrup
Malt Flavoring
Malt Vinegar
Macha Wheat (Triticum aestivum)
Matzo Semolina
 Oriental Wheat (Triticum turanicum)
Orzo Pasta

Suddenly, the bells went off in my head as I recalled what I had eaten in the past week.  Bread, pasta, fake crab in my salad, Chinese food with mushroom gravy and all had made me very sick.  For the next week, I eliminated ALL GLUTEN from my diet and felt great, no cramps or diarrhea and lost a few pounds.  I couldn't wrap my head around it, wasn't quite convinced and while out to dinner with friends, I ate a few dinner rolls.  Big mistake!  I almost didn't make it home. 

I read the book by Dr. William Davis, Wheat Belly, Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight.  A wonderful book and I highly recommend it.  It provided so much insight as to the whys and reasons to avoid wheat even if you're not intolerant---yet.  Links to Dr. Davis's book are located on this blog page.

After reading his book, I immediately cleaned out my cupboards and pantry of ALL GLUTEN and gluten related (hidden) products.  It was nearly bare when I got done.  After that, I headed to a health food store and purchased gluten free pasta, bread, sauces etc.  It was pricey, but I had no choice. 

I have found that most gluten free breads taste just like cardboard and really wasn't worth eating.  I essentially gave up bread but will occasionally bake some gluten free corn bread, which at least has a substance and tastes like the real thing. 

I feel better, no more cramping, no diarrhea.  After 2 weeks, another amazing thing happened, my blood pressure decreased to about 100/60....consistently.  I am hypertensive and take a number of anti-hypertension meds, I had to cut them in half and within another week even eliminated 2 of them. 
I had also been experiencing neuropathy in both feet, on and off for several years and I'm not diabetic.  Once I cut out the gluten, the neuropathy resolved.  Amazing, because the neuropathy could get pretty bad at times.  Even now, if I accidentally eat something that contains a 'hidden' gluten, the neuropathy is back and lasts for almost 10 days.  I did some further research on this and yes, there is such a thing as Gluten Neuropathy, it's the 2nd most common symptom of gluten intolerance. 

However, in the meantime, I still miss all the things I used to love that is made from white flour and gluten.  Foods I grew up eating, those luscious cakes, brownies, pasta smothered in cream sauce.  Sometimes just to torture myself, I will walk down a bread aisle at the grocery store....just to inhale the aroma of bread.  Yes, I'm grieving gluten.
Gluten Free T-Shirt
T-Shirt Available at Cafepress, Click on Link below

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