Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Gluten Free is the Way to Be

Ladies, I've been keeping a secret.
Nothing big really, but it affects my life in a major way and might explain some things I generally mention. As big as this is for me though, I do know that it could be a lot worse and in many respects, I am very lucky.
So...I have Celiac's Disease, which is a genetic auto-immune disorder where my body doesn't process gluten or wheat products. The only cure is to cut all of these foods out of my diet. This means I can't eat all bread, flour, wheat, and gluten products. Yes, you read that right-- I can not have all those good, starchy comfort foods.
Pizza and beer? Nope.
Pretzels, cookies, and crackers? Nope.
Bread, rolls, stuffing? Nope.

My doctors finally figured out what was wrong when I was 17, right before graduating High School and going to college. Which means that for 17 years I was eating foods that were toxic for my body and explains why I was a pretty sick kid growing up.

At first I didn't think about it much. I thought it sucked, but I don't remember dwelling on it- Hell, it could have been a lot worse. I met with a nutritionist and tried a ton of new products-mostly made with rice and potato flour. Some I fell in love with and are close to the real deal, some were so gross and gritty and grainy I wanted to be sick. I have one specific memory of tasting a new pancake mix and it was so gritty and so far from the real deal, that I literally broke down crying into the mix. It was pretty miserable.

All in all, I've got things figured out. I have a staple of my favorite gluten-free products that I keep on hand and even found a gluten free chocolate cookie dough ice cream!!! However, despite all this...I have a few lingering issues.

1. I was raised Catholic and therefore participated in communion every Sunday. The bread served at communion, however, is just that...bread. So, I can't take communion. I have struggled with this for a long time and quite honestly, its one of the major reasons I don't go to mass. At first I thought, well God wants me to take communion and therefore he won't let this particular bit make me sick. This turned out not to be true. So, I started faking taking communion and giving the bread to my father back at the pew (If you are Christian and appalled by this, please don't tell me, I already know and it bothers me deeply...but I'm being honest here and honestly have very few other solutions). I refuse to not participate because sitting in the pew not getting communion makes me feel less like a Catholic. On the research I've done, the Catholic church's policy is that the communion bread has to have gluten in it (it has to be bread) because it was actual bread in the Bible. So...what's a girl to do? Fake it or sit out? I'm still not sure. But, I've already decided that for Lent I will figure out a solution to this (I'll keep you posted).

2. The other issue that gives me considerable trouble is weight loss! My diet is already so restricted that I have a hard time giving up other good foods. A year or so ago, I did WW and did really well for the first 8 weeks or so. Then, I hit a wall and just couldn't handle it anymore. Basically it goes like this-- gluten free foods are pretty gross in general and so to make them better manufacturers add more fat or use non-whole grain products (white rice flour instead of brown rice flour) which decreases the fiber content. So although moderate in calories, lots of foods are low in fiber and high in fat, which sky rockets items on the points scale. It is simply too restrictive. There are no low carb breads in my life or light crackers or 100 calories oreo snack packs. There is barely bread, crackers and cookies. This is my struggle. I have already given up so much, I hate to give up the bagels I found that actually taste like bagels even if they are 400 calories a serving. So, again, whats a girl to do? Well, I've decided to count actual calories instead of points. So far, the results aren't very encouraging, but I'm willing to hang in there.

3. This is my final point. I never realized how much I would miss food until the last few months. Lately, I see someone eating a piece of pizza and I have to physically restrain myself from taking it from them and throwing it in my mouth. I MISS THESE FOODS. This past week my mom brought home cinnamon buns and I almost cried. honestly. I haven't had a cinnamon bun in over 5 years and I'm not really sure I will ever have something that gooey and good again. It is seriously weird to say that I miss a food, it makes me feel very odd and disgusting. But the hardest part of it--is the finality of it. It's not like I'm on a diet and am just cutting bread out but can indulge every once in a while. It is, no more bread, ever. There isn't much a girl can do about this point, but it has just been frustrating these past few months like nothing I have ever experienced and I just wanted to vent it out.

WHEW! I am not going to lie, all of that felt really good to get out. If you hung in there through all that reading, thank you. I know it was a long and pretty heady reading. I promise that my next post will be more light hearted and considerably shorter.


Mojito Maven said...

Seriously I cannot imagine how hard this allergy would be (I thought being allergic to chicken was hard). I had a friend in college who had a gluten free diet and I know it was SO HARD for her. *HUGS*

Marlene said...

It must be so difficult facing those challenges on a constant basis. As if weight loss isn't hard enough!

Miss Anne said...

Oh sweet pea, I feel you.

Since I had Gastric Bypass back in March of 2008 I haven't eaten a piece of bread, pizza, noodles, etc... I had to give them up.

BUT.... being healthier and feeling good is more important to me than any slice of pizza could ever be!

Stay strong, take care of you and know that I think you are such an inspiration!

Saskia said...

It must be so hard for you. I had never realised before how limited and strict you needed to be.

I hope you enjoy the gluten-free goodies when they arrive!! I double, triple checked!

Thanks for your comment - it means a lot to know people are thinking of us.

Saskia x

Anonymous said...

Im sorry that it is so hard for you. I cant imagine how I would feel.
I am Catholic too and I don't go to mass very often, but I will say that when I go I see lots of people who don't get up for Communion. I dont think God will think any less of you. I am sure he understands.

my mid mid-life crisis said...

I cannot imagine how hard this must be. My best friend from home has it, too. It's hard when I offer to take her out to dinner and she reminds me that half of the places I list don't have food she can eat.

Thanks for sharing with us.

I'm going through a similar battle, but it's by choice. About 2 months ago I chose to become vegetarian. Now I see a burger and I feel like I just have to have it. I know the feeling of wanting it so badly, but knowing that at this point it would probably hurt me if I did eat it. I can't imagine going through that without having a choice.

Sarah said...

Check out this site http://www.cherrybrookkitchen.com/. I discovered them when I had to go dairy free, they have gluten free products too. I love their products & even prefer some of them to the "normal" options.
I've also heard they're working on developing a gluten free beer, so their could be hope for that, eventually.

Mrs. Stilettos said...

I promise that while I am home 24-7 this fall I will make you homemade glut free goodies for you to enjoy and eat as much as you want of...and I'll eat them with you :) love you

Mrs. Potts said...

I wish that the gluten free food would be yummier for you.

I'm not Catholic, so I could be way off, but I don't think that God would want you to suffer. It seem to me that the act of going up there & accepting it, but not actually eating it would be ok with him.

I have to say, I do feel for you. I know a girl who fakes this disease (yes, she fakes it) & it makes me sick that she would do that when people really do suffer from it.

I would make you something yummy if I could!

J said...

My dad has Celiacs disease and I understand what you are going through. He was diagnosed with it about 2 years ago I think and at times it has been hard. My dad has recently tried giving up all carbs except about 30 grams (i think) and it seems to be working well. Keep working at it and don't give up!

Mrs. Not-so-Domesticated said...

Wow, what a challenge...everyday of your life, and not by choice. That must be so difficult for you and frustrating too!

I'm planning on watching Lost tonight, but probably after its on...so I can fast forward through the commercials. I'm not getting the whole Locke dying thing, and I know that we won't get answers until the end of the season. Ugh! But I still watch it anyways...

Kristen said...

Just popped over from Mrs. Potts blog. I saw your shoes and had to check you out.
Sorry to read about those challenges. I know from trying to lose weight myself right now, how hard it is on "normal" basis.
Good luck with your journey.