Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Living a Gluten-Free Life

Disclaimer: This post is pretty long. I warned you ;)

My gluten-free journey began last summer when I started having severe and chronic gastrointestinal issues. Out of nowhere, I was sick pretty much every day. I was having every tummy issue you could imagine, bloating, vomiting, cramping, etc, etc. Finally, after not getting to leave for a river trip with the coach's wives on the day I was supposed to, I had had enough. I called my mom bawling (she knew I hadn't been well) and she said that I needed to call my doctor the following Monday. I ended up going to the doctor after I returned from our river trip, and they ran several tests on me and did blood work to see if I had some sort of infection or parasite. Those tests didn't reveal anything, so I was referred to a GI specialist. He concluded that I was malnourished (I had lost 10 lbs) and needed to have a endoscopy as soon as possible. A week later, the procedure was done. I was scared of what it might reveal, but I knew that the Lord would watch over and take care of me. They took a biopsy of my stomach and small intestine which revealed that I had Celiac Disease. Ironically, my mom had recently read a short article in a magazine about Celiac and thought that that may be it!

So, what the heck is Celiac Disease?! Celiac is a digestive disorder that is characterized by a toxic reaction to the protein (gluten) found in certain grains (wheat, barley, rye, oats). Celiac is hereditary, chronic, and autoimmune. Celiac disease is NOT a food allergy (although some do have allergies to it), and the only "cure" is to eat gluten-free for life.

This was extremely scary to me at first. On one hand, I was thankful that I finally knew something and that it was nothing that would require further medical treatment, but on the other hand I'm thinking "I don't WANT to eat this way!" Now I am grateful that I have a disease that I get to control. It's up to me to keep myself healthy, and that is a blessing. I don't have to endure any kinds of treatments or medical procedures.

One of the first things I bought was this book:

It is very informative and helpful to a newly G-free eater as well as their families! It tells you just about everything you need to know about living a gluten-free life.

One of the hardest parts of this lifestyle for me has been eating out. Fast food is pretty much out for me (a blessing in disguise) and eating at restaurants can be tricky. Some restaurants are very cooperative (PF Changs, Pei Wei, Outback, Natural Food Center) but others have NOTHING that I can eat which is probably frustrating for people eating with me! This has actually been a good thing though because I now cook dinner at home more than I ever have. Not only are Rob and I saving money, but we are also saving ourselves from lots of hidden ingredients and toxins in mass produced foods.

The best place (in Abilene) to find gluten-free products is Drug Emporium, but they can also be found in major grocery stores now! It's exciting to me that even Betty Crocker has these products now! There is a replacement for just about everything that I enjoyed before. Textures of thing like breads, baked goods and pastas are definitely different from the "regular" stuff, but it's something that I am now kind of used to. Here's an example of a dinner we enjoyed last night:

Gluten-free pasta bake! I made it with brown rice macaroni which is more nutritious than regular bleached white pasta.

Living a g-free life is a great, natural way to live. I have never felt better than I do today, and I really believe that it is a good way to live for even those who do not have gluten intolerances. I can eat anything that comes naturally from the earth, which is what we should be doing anyway, right? People ask me all the time, "Do you ever cheat?" and my answer is "NO WAY! It's so not worth it!"

Gluten can hide in tricky places, so if you are making the switch to a g-free life, read EVERY label! Some of these include:
-soy sauce
-seasoning packets
-salad dressings
-"Modified food starch" could be code for gluten!! Don't chance it!

Anyway, I think I've probably harped on this topic enough for today, but if you want to know anything, just ask! :):)


Shelley said...

Ok, I would LOVE to have your email address... I recently had the blood test for Celiac disease and I am full of questions. Do you mind chatting over email? Mine is sdhale@embarqmail.com. Loved the post! I am getting the book!

Kelsey @ Seattle Smith's said...

I am so glad you figured it out and are feeling great with your gluten free diet! What a great tidbits!

Roxanne said...

Katie, what helpful and informative post! Good job.

Whitney said...

One of my friends thought she had fibromyalgia (sp.?) and started a gluten free diet, has lost about 20 pounds and feels amazing! It has changed her life! You definitely should post more about this... I don't have any symptoms but am always looking for ways to eat better! ;) I feel like lately I'm just in a rut! We don't have any junk food in our house but I definitely don't eat enough fruits and veggies!

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