I gave up gluten when I was in grad school. It was a new concept to me, but as I pursued the nutrition specialty for my degree, I thought, “Maybe there’s something here.” So, I played around with giving it up and I felt better and better as time went on. Gone were the bloating, gas, cramps and unpredictable digestive upsets. Increased energy, clearer skin and regularity arrived in their place. Gluten-free became less of a learning curve and more of a way of life. I learned about gluten-free baking, flours, cookies, packaged products and how to avoid the hidden sources of gluten. I encouraged others to do the same and I have literally worked my practice around the removal of allergens, like gluten.
But I cheated. I hate to use that word, but that’s what it was. I believe in moderation. I believe in obeying cravings. Still, if I’m sensitive to a food and I eat it, I’m cheating. When I was pregnant with my first child, I was just turning the corner from vegan to omnivore and I ate no less than three burgers a week from In-N-Out (aaaah, I miss them!). I didn’t think about the gluten, I just knew I wanted a burger! I was a 90% gluten-free person. I didn’t buy it and I didn’t bring it home, but I would have a bite here and there when I was at restaurants or social events. However, pregnancy seemed to be an especially gluten-filled time.
After the birth of my second child, we discovered that she was allergic to wheat (via a blood test at nine months of age). She had low markers, but considering how little I consumed, we removed it completely from her diet and mine. It wasn’t that hard, considering how familiar I was with a gluten-free lifestyle. Still, I missed it. The occasional hamburger (with bun, from Five Guys… it’s not In-N-Out but it does in a pinch), or naan from an Indian restaurant, or just a good ol’ fashioned piece of real bread made me swoon. I continued to eat gluten-free until my daughter weaned herself at 14 months. Her eczema cleared up quickly and we went about our lives.
When she weaned, I couldn’t wait for a taste. I was so excited. I just had a little here and there and I loved every bite. Then, this summer, I started having reactions. We weren’t sure what they were from but they were serious. They involved rashes, and throat swelling, itching inside and out and extreme lethargy. Benadryl kept me out of the hospital, barely. It also exhausted me for a day or so after using it. Then I discovered HistaEze, which I HIGHLY recommend. It has none of the side effects of Benadryl and all of the necessary ingredients to stop allergies in their tracks (whether seasonal or situational). Still, we needed to know the cause. I started to have increasing anxiety about going places just in case I had another attack. With five attacks in two months, I contacted an allergist and set up an appointment.
My appointment was yesterday. I had a back scratch test done and wheat flared up instantly. By the time the 15-minute wait was over, it was taking over the other tests on my back. As the allergist said, “We found our smoking gun.” Somewhere between pregnancy, nursing, giving up gluten and taking it back, wheat and my body had a horrible disagreement. The Gluten Doctors have a great blog that I read and they also agree cheating is not an option – read more here.
Yes, I know how to live wheat and gluten free. Yes, I can help you learn too. But only time can help me say goodbye. Food is a powerful force in our lives. It’s associated with pleasure and celebration, comfort and joy. It’s okay to mourn. But it’s not okay to deny it or lie to myself about it. Like any bad breakup, it might include some wine, chocolate and a chick flick, but I’ll get through this!