05 July 2013

gluten free

Warning: this post is about going gluten free. Do not read if that topic will bother you.

I went gluten-free.

It was Saturday when I made the decision. I had yet another last minute appointment with my doctor because my throat/sinus cavities/headache situation was intolerable but not strep throat or a sinus infection, and she was sort of like, "Yeah, well. You are allergic to a lot of stuff. What do you want from me?"

"I've been thinking I may have to go gluten free." I said. "My dad and sister are."

"You might want to eliminate dairy, too," she said.

Not what I was hoping to hear.

"The more allergens you can eliminate, the easier it will be on your body," she continued.

"But I'm Dutch!" I said. "We live on milk and cheese!"

"Human beings have only been eating dairy for a very short time, evolutionarily," she said. "We haven't developed to tolerate it."

I decided to start by giving up gluten. I will give this six to eight weeks before I decide on the dairy. One can only handle so much at a time. 

Immediately after the doctor, I was meeting my friend D. for a hike. I meant to pick up a sandwich in the shopping center before we left, but since I was now gluten free (although I'd eaten wheat for breakfast), I went to Chipotle instead and got a bowl rather than a wrap.

On the way home, after an 8 mile hike, I picked up hippie corn flakes and some gorilla munch (corn balls) to swap out for my hippie wheat flakes and bites. That was my beginning. 

Monday at work, two days into the freedom from gluten, I noticed something very curious. 

My intestines weren't all cramped up.

Is this normal? Do most people spend their days with just a total absence of sensation in their intestines? Because, not to get too graphic, it's been a while since I didn't feel crampy and gassy every day. The whole hike on Saturday was fairly miserable due to cramping and gassing. 

(If you've ever traveled to a non-sterilized part of the world, you'll be familiar with this sort of discussion being had right out in public among your traveling friends. After a group of us got back from Nicaragua while we were in college, we conversed for weeks on whether things were solid yet.)

I know how extremely privileged I am in the gluten free realm. I can eat at restaurants that don't use separate utensils. I can eat gluten in a pinch. I can eat gluten if I can't resist. (It's just that it's pretty easy to resist when your digestive processes feel so very much better.)

It helps to live in the fad diet center of the universe, Gone West. There are gluten free bakeries here. Many restaurants are sensitive to the gluten issue.

Today I accidentally bit into a pretzel m&m (I thought it was peanut), and I went and spit it out, but I did get some pretzel stuck in my teeth that I didn't think was worth fighting about. 

Then I had coffee. 

Between the two, my intestines were a little off again.

Tomorrow, I am back on the wagon.

Look, it isn't that I thought people were faking when they said they felt better gluten free. For a year or so, whenever people mentioned the gluten free thing, I said, "I would try it, but gluten doesn't seem to bother my stomach, so it doesn't feel worth it, even for all the other benefits."

Ha! Ha, oh ha! I scoff at myself.

Apparently all the other times I tried going gluten free, I lied to myself and believed that those wheat flakes I had for breakfast didn't count. I think I thought that cutting back on gluten should have the same effects. Not so.

It's just that I didn't expect such a dramatic difference so quickly. It's mind-boggling. I didn't know how bad I felt until I felt good again.

Life is not all a slow slog toward physical misery, it seems.

Now if only I could get a few good nights of sleep, I might really believe that.

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