My gluten free adventure started a year ago, when a regular checkup discovered I was missing some important vitamins in my body. As a very health-conscious person, I was a bit concerned. I eat very healthy food and have loads of energy, so there had been no indication anything was wrong.
My doctor was great. He did not just give me supplements but was very determined to find the source of the deficiency. I went through a series of checks that ended up discovering I do not have the enzyme required to digest lactose, the sugar in cow's milk. It was sad to learn that (I love milk, yoghurt and cheese), but at the same time relieved, because it could have been worse.
During that period, I met a friend who had discovered she had Lupus (an autoimmune disease) and had almost died from organ failure. For the two previous years, she had taken chemotherapy medication, looked half-dead and we had all been very worried about her. When we met, she was still on the same medication, but she looked amazingly better than ever.
When I asked her how she had recovered so well, she said she had discovered she was gluten intolerant and had decided to stop eating gluten. I asked her if she had Celiac (my doctor had sent me to check that too and, thank God, I do not have it) and she said, "No, I don't, but I figured I could try not eating gluten for a while and if I felt better, I'd know it was a good choice".
That was 6 months ago.
Our daughter Noff has a good friend who lives across the street. From time to time, the girls cook or bake in our house and take some of their creations to share with the other family. One day, when we brought over something made of flour, the neighbor said to me her husband was gluten intolerant.
That was 3 months ago.
At Eden's work, each of the team members brings food to share with everyone once a week. One of the women is on a gluten free diet and Eden was very upset that the others did not bring gluten free dishes to accommodate her. Whenever it was Eden's turn, she always looked for gluten free dishes.
Last month, I organized another get-together with my lady friends. One of them had battled weight, smoking and low energy for over 15 years until she had found a doctor who had decided, just as my doctor had, to find the source. On top of sending her to millions of checkups and tests, he had suggested she try taking gluten out of her diet.
On the same evening, as we sat next to one of the friends' house pool, watching possums climbing up and down the trees, another woman said, "Oh, I wanted to tell you I've been gluten free for 3 months now and I feel awesome. I feel I can think clearly. It's like having new prescription glasses that make everything look clear and crisp".
I knew what she meant, because about 20 years ago, Gal and I changed our eating habits and this was exactly the feeling we had - thinking clearly, like changing prescription glasses. I have also changed several prescription glasses over the last 25 years…
As I came home, I realized that although the topic of the evening was not gluten free diets, this was the only thing I remembered. So I decided to try. "What do I have to lose?" I asked myself.
I can probably write a whole blog just about my gluten free adventure, but I think I will share with you just what has happened so far.
- One month passed and everyone who hears about it freaks out and immediately says, "I couldn't do it". People! Wake up! You can do everything. It is no different from giving up sugar, reducing fat or avoiding coffee. If you ask me, it is better than being lactose intolerant, because I like dairy food more than I like bread (it is not like I could choose anyway).
- Rice is my friend. Having rice noodles is a perfect replacement. I love rice paper rolls and I love sushi.
- Since we changed our diet 20 years ago, I have been reading the labels on all food products, but this made me read them again and look for other things.
- The supermarket is full of gluten free replacements that are not as good as the "real" thing. We set a goal to find perfect replacements and have found a mud cake mix that is super perfect. I can eat it and the kids love it.
- Since gluten intolerant buyers have less of a choice and the market is smaller, most gluten free replacements are way more expensive than the products they replace.
- The kids actually like some of the gluten free things I buy, which proves again that kids will eat anything you put in front of them if you present it right.
- The limited selection forces me to eat more homemade and fresh food. This way, I know what goes into what I eat and it is generally good for my health.
- After 3-4 days, I felt less hungry. Another bonus.
- The real challenge for me is thinking about what I eat. I hate that! I often say I would rather skip a meal than have to prepare it. This is where Gal comes in real handy…
- It is a bit harder when the family meal contains lots of gluten and I need (or Eden, because she is so supportive and helpful) to make a separate meal for me and for the family. I do not like it that we do not all eat the same thing.
- Luckily, I do not have Celiac and I can cheat from time to time.
- Last night, I had another ladies' night and it was easy to choose what to eat from the variety of food on the table. You do not even have to say that you are gluten free most of the time.
- I lost 4kg (9lbs).
We'll see how well this continues.
Be happy and healthy,