It’s my first post! So I’ll start with a disclaimer: I am not tech savvy, and I am not a professional writer or a healthcare professional. I do not intend to give medical or lifestyle-changing advice. I’m only here to share my day by day because I didn’t find an existing blog that worked for me when I looked.
I plan to post recipes that I find, test, and like. I will also share restaurants of “safe” eating out in Seattle, WA (and later in Austin, TX). Mostly, this will be general rants, raves, questions, and tips that I stumble across in this new journey!
Let me tell you more about why I’m writing. Within the past two weeks I had blood work done. The labs came up positive for the anti-gliadin antibody. Meaning, as I understand it, that my immune system is recognizing gluten (a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye), as the bad guy. It’s seeing it as a pathogen -as something dangerous- that my cells need to attack in order to protect my other cells, (aka me). Similar to the response that occurs when I have a cold, flu, or some other type of infection. Unfortunately, my immune system has made a dreadful mistake and is not protecting me. It is, instead, attacking the healthy tissue of my GI. Fail.
Yesterday was upper endoscopy day. In preparation I had to binge on gluten for days. It was grand even though I felt pretty icky at times. I survived the procedure and received color photographs of my esophagus, stomach and small intestines immediately (!). Even in my drugged state, I was pretty impressed with that.
Results didn’t look promising for a future of wheat bread, pasta, cookies, cupcakes, flour tortillas … and the list goes on. And on and on and on. No pathology results yet, so at this point in time I am just hopeful that it’s nothing more than the big C word (Celiac disease). An aside: can we just drop the “disease” word out of there? I am not sick, and I plan to stay that way.
When I first heard about the blood test, I felt a bit overwhelmed. So I immediately made I made a quick list of pros and cons:
– The problems I was having have not been caused by something horrible, life-threatening, or by something that will include a great deal of physical suffering.
– I will not need to take medication.
– I can still drink wine, most liquor, and some special GF beer!
– I can also still have dairy. It would be very sad to have to say goodbye to cheese, and leaves me with some great GF dessert options.
– This diet is going to make me feel better!! This is huge.
– And this diet is also probably much healthier overall than the standard Western diet.
– This is going to be a huge lifestyle change and it is going to be very difficult.
– I will have to completely forgo a very long list of foods I love. Granted, this could also be a pro because it’s probably a good idea to avoid deep-fried things, cakes, etc …
– I can’t drink the beers I currently like and GF beer might be gross.
– I have to stick to this diet strictly and religiously or else I can seriously damage my internal organs (pending pathology?).
– Eating out is going to be very challenging and it is going to be difficult and sort of embarrassing to have to explain the details of my life to every server I meet. This is also going to be a problem in social settings and with family etc …
o I fear that people will think I’m just embarking on the hottest new diet trend and will judge me for it.
o I fear that people won’t take it seriously and I’ll end up consuming gluten as a result.
The list of cons seems longer and heavier. But most of these are mental and emotional. The pros are concrete and will very clearly going to make me healthier, and therefore happier.
First, I should state my food habits up until yesterday: I have always had a pretty demanding palate. I suppose I’m a food snob and, to me, not all flavor profiles are successful. I have a tendency to be picky and I hate raw tomatoes, arugula, and bean sprouts. I have avoided fast food, corporate-style and national chain restaurants to the best of my ability because –let’s be honest- their food just isn’t that good. I come from a food appreciative family: my mother is a fantastic chef of middle eastern, and all other cuisine and my sister is just as talented having gone to culinary and pastry chef school.
I have been a pescetarian for the past three years. (A pescetarian -aka vegequarian aka aquatarian- is one who consumes seafood but no other meat). I was never a big meat eater and sharing a life and a kitchen with a lifelong vegetarian/pescetarian sort of converted me by happenstance. So this GF thing is going to be even more challenging with these restrictions. I will give it my very best shot but realize that at some point in time, I may need to be open to changing this. I also love love love pizza, pasta, bread, cookies, and matzo ball soup. In reality, most of my favorite foods are chock-full of gluten.
Yesterday was day 1 of the doctor-ordered gluten free (GF) diet. I started out with beans, cheese and corn-only tortilla chips. It was all we had around the house that was safe. For dinner we went to a sushi place in town Village Sushi that advertises a “gluten-free menu.” And so, the learning curve began. Here is what I learned:
1) Gluten-free menus do, indeed, exist.
2) Sushi is a good place to start. Most options can be de-glutenized with a little cooperation. And sushi is delish! A true favorite around the Pacific Northwest.
3) GF soy sauce is good! My fiancé and I could barely taste a difference.
4) Beware of “GF” menus. Even they, are not foolproof. Agedashi tofu straight off the GF menu sounded good. I decided to try out my “eating out GF” skills by mentioning the need to avoid cross-contamination. I told our friendly server that my food should not touch a knife, a cutting board, or anything else that had come into contact with a gluten-ous source. Unfortunately, the tofu could only be made in oil that also deep-fried battered items. Oh well. I guess it was a good first lesson.
Later was a trip to Trader Joe’s (check out: Gluten-free Trader Joe’s). This was a great and uplifting experience. They have a bright pink packet in the store that guides you to all of their GF items and many of the shelves are labeled GF! I found a lot of items that were safe for me. Thank you Trader Joe’s! I will miss you in Austin.
This morning my wonderful and understanding fiancé made me smoothies for us for breakfast (Thank you!). Plain yogurt, 1 whole banana, soy milk, and frozen raspberries. It was great! I sort of felt like I wasn’t eating real food, but it’s lunchtime now and I have not felt hungry all morning. I haven’t quite figured out lunch yet, so for now it’s cucumbers, hummus, GF crackers, and cottage cheese (all from TJ’s).
Well I’ve spent half of my day writing this post. I suppose I should go work on that pesky thesis.
If I end up with any readers, I welcome your comments, questions, recipes, and words of wisdom. Time to eat!