If you notice me *not* digging in at a potluck, carry-in, family dinner, or the like, in 2020, please don’t be alarmed. If I pull out my lunch bag and eat food I brought along with me, it’s not a commentary on your cooking. [RECIPES FOLLOW THIS POST]
We’re friends, right? So I can share this with you.
I am gluten-intolerant. And I’m trying my best to avoid food allergens and cross-contamination. Thanks to liquid smoke (can contain gluten), or some other gluten-containing additive or seasoning/rub on or in the ham I had at a family dinner, I recently went through an attack that lasted 4 days. And it wasn’t pretty.
I didn’t have a chance to read the label, and most people don’t notice if the food they buy contains gluten or not, because they don’t personally have to worry about it. Good for them, but bad for me.
Someone asked me what happens to me when I eat gluten. Is it “just digestive” they asked. You know, asking if it’s just a little tummy ache, but no big deal – I should put on my big girl pants and deal. Well, no. It’s not just a little tummy discomfort. It’s WAY more than that, but that’s a good start. (read on, if you want to know what it’s like, otherwise, skip down about 7 more lines) One of the best descriptions I’ve found:
“Almost immediately after the gluten is consumed, the reactions begin, often as a feeling of becoming flushed with a drop in blood pressure. Shortly afterward, symptoms of reflux may occur followed by intense fatigue and stomach pains, gas and bloating which persist for the remainder of the day. At night, insomnia is not uncommon, and the following day is often marked by gut pain and cramping and frequent bowel movements which are often loose or runny. Moodiness, irritability and anxiety are pervasive, and many people experience problems thinking which they describe as “brain fog.” Itchy rashes and joint pain are not uncommon. For most people, the symptoms persist for two to three days before finally clearing up.” Gluten Free Therapeutics.
Oh, and my skin breaks out. And I get severe headaches. But other than that…
So I posted about my experience on one of my social pages, and what I saw was amazing. I never knew that so many of my friends had Celiac disease or gluten-intolerance. It was comforting, and at the same time, disturbing. So many people going through so much of what I go through when I “get glutened.”
It’s not a trend. It’s not a fad. It’s not a “diet” in the sense that someone will start this on January 1st, hoping to lose weight. It’s a serious dietary issue that wreaks havoc on so many of us.
Good news is that so many foods are labeled “gluten free.” Bad news is that even some of those contain gluten, that sly little devil. Gluten is hiding in spice mixes, some meats (processed – with additives), wheat and certain other grains, sodas, candies, most fast food.
And if the food doesn’t have gluten in it, it may have been cross-contaminated, being packaged or prepared in the same facility as gluten-containing foods. Oh, and it goes by different names. Sneaky little devil! [SEE VERY BOTTOM OF POST FOR LIST OF PLACES GLUTEN MAY BE HIDING]
A little complicated, I’m not going to lie. It takes a lot of time to shop, reading every label if I am buying something I’ve never had before. “My” food, and everyone else’s. “My” butter and peanut butter, so no one dips their knife into the container, the knife touches their bread, and they dip their knife back into the container to get more. Scrubbing down the kitchen surfaces on soup & sandwich night, so that my bread doesn’t touch anything their bread has touched. Giving up some of my favorite restaurants. It’s a bit of work, and sometimes it makes me cry, but it pays off BIG TIME in me not having more attacks.
Oh, and one more thing, for all of us who have any food allergy, – be it peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, corn, nightshades, soy, dairy, eggs, and a whole host of others – thanks for looking out for us, for reading labels, for caring enough to ask.
Some resources/recipes to check out (these are not paid endorsements/ads):