Sunday, January 31, 2010

Gluten-free, Here I Come

Consider yourselves warned -- I'm probably going to be grumpy over the next few weeks.

A few days ago, after I whined to my husband about how much my gut hurt and how freaky I find the whole bloody diarrhea experience, he suggested, "Hey, maybe you should just try the whole gluten-free thing for a month and see what happens."

It's one of those things I've been skeptical and resistant to trying without some testing suggesting it would be helpful. Allergy testing and celiac testing (both blood and biopsy of the duodenum) have been negative for wheat/gluten sensitivity.

But things clearly aren't getting any better for me, so besides the inconvenience, what's the harm in trying it? Even a placebo effect would be more than welcome at this point. And my GI doc says that they're finding more and more people with rare forms of celiac that normal testing doesn't identify. So maybe I'm one of them.

The big stumbling block for me going gluten-free is breakfast. I am all about the various forms of bread and toast. For the past few years, I've been obsessed with toasted bagels in the morning. I've previously gone through periods where I only ate freezer waffles for breakfast, or certain types of breads for toast. I ate cereal (dry/no milk) as a kid, but only until I outgrew cereals with marshmallows. :-)

And I've just always loved bread, for any meal! Back before we had to set a good example for a munchkin, Scott and I would occasionally devour a loaf of garlic bread for dinner. Just garlic bread. Yummmm!

Anyway, I haven't found a solution for this problem yet. But my friend/neighbor Joan, who has a son with celiac disease and also is a registered dietitian, sent over some gluten-free things for me to try, including some freezer waffles. So we'll see how those work tomorrow morning. We also made a stop tonight at New Seasons Market and picked up some additional food replacements for me, including gluten-free crackers and pretzels. Since I'm currently not allowed fresh fruit and veggies, I'm pretty much at a loss as to what to snack on if I can't have wheat. I'm hoping these will help give me some options.

So, time will tell if this is the solution for me. I'm sure I'll keep y'all posted. Meanwhile, I'd be grateful for any suggestions about how to make this transition to gluten-free. And if you're local to Portland, OR, I'd love suggestions on where to shop for gluten-free foods.


Jim Purdy said...

"I'd be grateful for any suggestions about how to make this transition to gluten-free."

When grains and cereals started to make me extremely miserable, I found it very easy to switch to gluten-free.

Good luck in finding something that works for you.

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Jeanne said...


Have you ever had Nut-Thins crackers in Almond? (Look for the blue box as there as two almond types). I think the brand name is Blue Diamond. They ARE gluten-free.

I eat them with goat cheese on them. Yum! A friend of mine got me into them. (She has the strictest diet I've ever seen because of all of her illnesses).

I also know many people who tested negative for celiac disease but who have found a gluten-free diet helpful.

If you can't find these crackers at the grocery store, try the health food store.

My daughter likes them plain but I like them with goat cheese... or peanut butter. I'm not sure if you can have those but I like the crackers with either.


Aviva said...

Jim: I'm happy for you that your transition was easy! I hope when I look back on this experience, I feel the same way, even though it feels like a struggle right now. :-)

Aviva said...

Jeanne: Thanks for the suggestion. I've heard good things about the Nut-Thins, but I'm allergic to all nuts, including the ones that aren't really nuts, like peanuts. Sometimes I think my body just like to be as complicated as it can be. :-P Hope you're feeling better and headache free!

queenofoptimism said...

Good for you! I've only tried a gradual reduction. I did find (and continue to find) Trader Joe's a valuable source - they clearly label their gluten-free items. I also found a variety of items on Amazon and in my Grocer's organic section. Keep us updated!! ***hugshugshugs****

Just Jenn said...

I know I might have suggested a GF diet for you ages ago... I'm glad to see that you're at least trying it now.
There's a support group meeting at Emmanuel Hospital in NE next Saturday if you need some help. We have a lot of resources! As far as bread for breakfast goes try New Cascadia, it's an all GF bakery. Scroll to the bottom of this page:
for a map of GF friendly places to eat locally. Also it will give you times and locations of the meeting.
If you can make it up to WA. about 10 minutes north of the border is an ALL GF grocery store called
Lingonberries Market.

Just Jenn said...

The other thing I thought I'd mention is this... you may in fact have a non-Celiac form of Gluten Intolerance. Also depending on what tests the doctor ran you could've come up with false negatives.

For more about non-Celiac Gluten Intolerance you might want to read "Healthier without Wheat" by Dr. Stephen Wagen. He breaks it out in very easy to understand layman's terms on all it is to be sensitive to wheat. (He's also speaking in PDX the second Sat. in March)

Still hoping you find answers. Let me know if I can help in any other way.

Aviva said...

Thanks, Jenn, for all the info and advice!

I know that further testing for celiac could be affected by my choosing to go gluten-free now, but I guess it finally sunk in that if it makes me feel better, it really doesn't matter whether I have celiac or I'm just sensitive to wheat or gluten. I think it was about a year ago that you tried to make exactly that point, but I wasn't ready to hear it then. (And since my husband is the cook in our family, I really needed his buy-in to go gluten-free. I'm so not a cook.)

I think it's cool that when we realized our normal beef stew recipe wasn't gluten-free, all I had to do was google "gluten-free beef stew" and I had my choice of a bunch of recipes. :-)

My neighbor Joan had already told me about Lingonberries, although I haven't made it up north yet. I definitely will, though, as soon as I feel well enough to go somewhere besides to see doctors. :-)

Thanks again for all the resources you pointed out. (I'd already found my way back to your blog, but I guess I didn't make my way to the bottom. I will try to make the support group meeting next weekend! Thanks for telling me about it!!)

Aviva said...

Q: Wow -- I hadn't thought of Amazon for looking for gluten-free foods. Thanks for that suggestion!! *hug*

Just Jenn said...

It's very hard for some people to come to terms with a GF diet... there's definitely a grieving period over having to give up certain foods and the pervasive convenience of wheat, so don't feel bad if you feel bad. It takes some time to adjust to it but if you feel better in the long run then it's worth it.

Also you should know that wheat has a mild opioidic effect on people so if you feel like you're "addicted" you might not be too far off base. Take your time and just try as best you can to stick to the diet while you become familiar with it. Remember there's a substitute out there for nearly every "normal" wheat food that's ever been made... so if you're craving something look on-line or ask around, you're bound to find a satisfying substitute. You can do this!

Aviva said...

Jenn: Wow -- really? I thought I was exaggerating and joking, but it's interesting to hear that there can be a wheat addiction. I wouldn't doubt that I was, if it's possible, because I definitely had days when that's all I wanted to eat. Especially when I was feeling lousy. Wow. I remember how tough it was to kick my caffeine habit back around 2001. Well, I guess if I can kick caffeine and wheat, there's hope that someday I'll kick the sugar/candy addiction too. :-) I *really* appreciate the encouragement and support, Jenn. Thank you!!

Just Jenn said...

Welcome! =)