Gluten Free Living
The photo of Vernazza is now framed with rustic wood and hung from the beam of the hot tub deck, thank you to my amazing husband, Paul!
Here I’ll be talking about some things about living with gluten intolerance ~
Enjoying gluten free food, including delicious gluten free breads and desserts, traveling both in the states and abroad, while being on a gluten free diet, and just living gluten free or with severe gluten intolerance, are some of the things that I am continuing to learn more about as I have struggled with gluten intolerance for what I now believe to be for the past 36+ years. I was diagnosed with IBS in the mid eighties, the catch all (at least at the time before food allergy testing) after being tested for every kind of cancer it could be and being treated for an ulcer (that I never had to start with). I continued to live with sickness for I’d say about 80% of my life. I would take foods out of my diet that seemed to make me feel worse, but I had no idea of the real cause.
I know people don’t consider gluten an allergy, and the experts say it is just an intolerance, but if you have Celiac disease, or gluten intolerance or sensitivity, it is serious. Celiac disease, which affects 1 in 100 people in America, is an immune response to the protein in gluten, found in wheat, barley and rye. In the case of Celiac disease, the introduction of gluten into the body, creates an immune response that can do intestinal damage and cause damage to organs also if the person continues to eat gluten. There are many symptoms that go along with the disease and also with gluten intolerance. I have never been tested for Celiac disease, since I would have to add gluten in to my diet again after taking it out over 15 years ago, but I do have at least ten of the symptoms.
After years of trying everything else, and at the point of having very severe joint pain, along with many other symptoms, and finding my aunt and my mom both had gluten intolerance, I decided to take gluten out of my diet. I didn’t realize that in taking gluten out of my diet, I would actually be able to eat and enjoy life without having constant stomach aches, pain, heartburn, gastrointestinal craziness, itchy skin or rashes, headaches, sore throats, and joint pain, all of these kept me from enjoying the things I loved: gardening, playing piano and painting, of course eating good food. I woke up with a stomach ache most days and went to sleep with a stomach ache as well. After I ate, I was sick and in between meals or snacks also.
At the time when I was trying to eat without gluten in my diet, there just weren’t many recipes available or good gluten free options even at stores. Now, there are many more recipes and foods readily available, but I just want to share some of those I’ve tested over the years.
I love to travel as well, and have found some places are much easier to find gluten free food. Other places you travel to, you definitely will want to and need to pack some food with you. The picture posted here is Vernazza, in the Cinque Terre, a beautiful little town on the coast of Italy. Many Italians also have Celiac disease, and restaurants have offerings on their menus to accommodate the need in Italy. I’m not saying everywhere does, but there are more options available. Most places had a gluten free pasta available or a delicious risotto that did not contain any gluten. If you know how to say a few important phases in the language of the country you are visiting, you should be able to clearly communicate your need to the server. Although, here, in the U.S. I have on many occasion, when I told the server I could not have any gluten, they said, “so, no dairy, right?” or “no wheat?” HAHA. If that ever happens, please find another restaurant. You can use the app Find Me Gluten Free in most cities, even overseas. It’s amazing! I have found bakeries in Paris using this app and restaurants in many states and in Europe and Hungary. Read the reviews on the Find Me Gluten Free app and on Yelp or Trip Advisor. I wouldn’t eat there if people with Celiac or gluten intolerance have noted sickness after eating there.
If you have Celiac disease or are gluten intolerant or sensitive to gluten, my heart goes out to you. I know the struggle and the struggle is definitely real. Simple things, like going out to eat or going to friends for dinner, are simple pleasures that are just a bit more complicated when you can’t enjoy gluten, or even have one crumb in your diet. In our house we have separate sides of the toaster, separate butter dishes, separate skillets for gluten products, and the kitchen is cleaned often. It’s complicated when you are severely intolerant. We aren’t just doing it for a fad or to keep our weight down. So, you have to trust the restaurant you are dining at, and ask very clearly and specifically for what you need. You have to assert yourself and speak up, which isn’t always easy for me. And sometimes even when going to a restaurant you dine at often, you may get a server that perhaps doesn’t write your severe intolerance to gluten down on the ticket, or in the kitchen contamination might happen if they are not careful. And then for me, and I know for others, it is weeks of being sick and all sorts of symptoms that go along with it. Doing this blog is my attempt to help others who want to enjoy delicious gluten free recipes and food, and a few tips I’ve found over the years. My daughter is also gluten free and I want her to have a catalog of recipes to enjoy good gluten free food too. I hope I can share some of what I’ve learned over the years and that you’ll find some helpful things as I share.
And now I think I’ll have a Soft Honey Ginger Cookie (freshly made) and check on my loaf of gluten free sourdough bread that just came out of the oven!