Sunday, October 19, 2008

Gluten Free

It's been two weeks since I started my gluten free experiment. I think it might be working. It hasn't been the magic cure I was hoping for, but nothing else has either. Maybe if I combine enough magic cures, they'll add up to me being healthy again. It's a hope.

I did slip up once this past week. (Can you call a deliberate bad choice a "slip up?" Maybe I should say I fell off the wagon.) I had a couple of kolaches on Tuesday morning, and I was miserable for days afterward. Tuesday and Wednesday were both high stress days. Way high, like stratospherically high, stress days. So that certainly could have had something to do with it. The evidence is suggestive, if not conclusive. I think, for now, I'll stick with the gluten free program.

There is some other good news- my short term disability was approved. Thank God. The check arrived yesterday. I'm no longer broke, desperate, and sick. I'm just sick. And desperate to get better, I suppose. But it's a different kind of desperate from worrying about the money and how I'm going to manage going back to work full time when two hours of running errands puts me in bed for the rest of the day. And most of the next.

I do feel like I'm starting to get the hang of this gluten free stuff. I've read three books on the subject so far. (Well, read one and dipped heavily into the two others.) Usually I turn to the web for research like this, but for some reason I'm not finding the information I need this time. I know it's out there, I just don't seem to be finding it. It's striking to me how each book seems to have a different take on what's safe and what's not. Gluten-Free Girl by Shauna James Ahern is certainly the most strict. And in some ways the least helpful for my situation. It's filled with recipes using ingredients I can't have- nuts, seeds, vegetables that I can't digest. It's also the newest book, and you'd think, would have the most up-to-date information.

The other two books are The Complete Idiot's Guide to Gluten-Free Eating and The Gluten-Free Bible. At least one of the authors of the Idiot's Guide apparently doesn't have Celiacs or gluten sensitivity. The Bible was written by someone with years of experience, but it was published in 2005.

Girl suggests that everything that might possibly have the fainest trace of gluten, no matter how unlikely, requires contacting the manufacturer. It has a lot of information, which other sources suggest is out of date, and reads more like a memoir or collection of essays in some parts than a guide book to gluten free eating. Idiot's Guide explains FDA and USDA labeling laws, the likelihood of various ingredients containing gluten, and says it's up to the reader to decide if it's an acceptable risk. They also point out that in our litigious society, some statements are made to cover the manufacturer even if the possibility of contamination is practically non-existent. Bible has a lot of helpful information, including the low down on various restaurants. Did you know (at least, as of 2005) that IHOP adds pancake batter to their omelets to make them fluffier? I never would have guessed that. The eggs are the one item on any breakfast menu that I would have assumed was safe for me to eat.

It's not all bad news. I've canvased the local grocery stores in the last few days and figured out who has which products and for the best price. Of course, the closest store has the highest prices- by a dollar or more on some items. But their meat department is nasty, so shifting most of my shopping to other stores isn't that great a hardship.

Some of what I've tried has been quite good, some has been meh. One item has made me very happy- it's a regular, non-specialty food that recently made a small formula change to become gluten free. Being a major national brand, it's much cheaper than the specialty gluten free stuff. I've got a lot more products to try. Next time I'll come back with a list of what was good and what wasn't.

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