Thursday, June 18, 2009

Quit Punching Me in the Stomach, Thank You Very Much!

I'm still here! I've been remembering to take pictures of food I've been eating but just not finding the time to post about what I've eaten. Such is life. I'm going to try and do a few posts over the next few days so I can bring you semi up to speed on my food life. Just to highlight: I (very badly) made cheese and discovered a new useful kitchen tool.

But the latest food news in my life is that I recently discovered that I have some weird reaction to wheat. Ok, so I'm not 100% ready to called it an allergy just yet. As someone who once dated somebody who had a wheat/gluten allergy where if he had some he'd do into anaphylactic shock, well I'm not ready to call what happens to me an allergy. It feels disrespectful to those who truly are allergic to such things.

What I have noticed is that if I eat too much wheat stuff I feel really bad; I get stomach gas that feels like someone is punching me over and over again. I also get a lovely rash on my arms and legs (I say this as I itchy my leg, reaction to wheat in the batter of some fish tacos I had on Tuesday, I think).

So being 34 years old and learning that you can no longer eat, with abandonment, the foods you love and grew up with is a big life change. At least, it has been for me. Let me tell you I love wheat so very much. I love pizza, pie, cake, bagels, donuts, bread and so many other lovely wheaty things and have been really bummed to have to let those foods go for the most part. Thru the recent loss of these carby loves I've noticed a few things:

The first thing is that wheat is a damn hard thing to avoid if you try. On Sunday I went to brunch with some friend to a place called the "Friendly Toast". I heard that they made good huevos rancheros and I knew that they also made a lot of vegetarian friendly dishes so I thought that the wheat issue wouldn't be an problem, despite the name of the place being "The Friendly Toast". No so. Everything came with bread and I mean everything! Including the huevos rancheros. They didn't come on top of corn tortillas as I would expect, no they came in top of a big slice of wheat bread. Ok, fine, I won't get the bread but when everyone else's brunch dishes came with thick fluffy slices of toasted cheese or wheat bread, I started to feel a bit like a second class citizen. Clearly toast was a big deal here and I feel like I really missed out not being able to partake.

The second thing is that wheat is super easy to forget about. On Tuesday I went to La Verdad for tacos with E and our friend R. It was a lot of fun and in the heat of the moment I decided I wanted fish for dinner thus ordered the fish tacos. R also has a gluten allergy and was going to say something to me but she figured I knew already that there was most likely wheat flour in the batter encasing the fish (duh!). E completely forgot about my allergy and for a few hours so did I. I ate the tacos without even thinking. Once I got home, I was greeted with stomach pains so bad that I had to get into bed in the fetal position or weakly walk over to the bathroom. Oy vey, it was really bad. In the past, this would occasionally happen to me and I would wonder if I needed to be taken to the hospital because the gas pain was so unbearably painful. And just as quickly as it hit me, it would go away as well. It's really great that I now understand what was happening to me but not great when I forget about it.

Slowly, I'm learning how to manage without as much wheat in my diet. I've become a big fan of corn tortillas in place of bread at home and have found that I can buy a big stack at Shaws for $2.50 and it lasts a long time. I've also discovered Lara bars too! I had to admit I was skeptical of yet another "power" bar but Lara bars are different. They're all natural and taste great. They remind me a lot of the date nut cookies from Archway that my Dad enjoys for dessert after dinner. Lara bars are very tasty but you have to know that they won't really actually taste like "pecan pie" or "cherry pie" or whatever but are tasty in their own way.

And E has promised to come up with a wheat free cake recipe and pizza crust recipe that will knock my socks off. So life after wheat might not be so bad after all.


Andra Sue said...

Welcome to my world, chica! I've been gluten/wheat free since the third week in March and I feel great (finally). I had all your symptoms and then some, which cleared up in about two weeks after I stopped eating wheat...pretty amazing. Good luck with it--it's totally not as bad as you think! :)

Leah said...

You too?!?! It seems like everyone I know is affected by wheat/gluten. Let me know if you come up with an amazing pizza or cake recipe :)


Andra Sue said...

Yeah, crazy right? Every month it seems like someone else I know is affected. WTF? :(

Actually, I am trying a different take on this whole thing--I have a kind of holistic view, where I'd rather not change a whole bunch of "other" high-glycemic index carbs for the wheat. I figure, if my body doesn't need real wheat products, it also doesn't need the substitutes. So I'm just not eating any kind of bread/cake/pizza/cookie product at all. I'm down to basically protein, dairy, veggies and fruits...with a little potato or rice thrown in now and then, and that's it.

It's had a nice side effect on my energy levels--evening out the insulin spikes does wonders for afternoon productivity. :)