I was feeling a little bad for a couple of weeks. Not terrible, just kind of like I was fighting a little virus or something~ bit of a headache, less energy, skin looking bad, vague sense of un-well-ness. After about a week I started thinking, wait a minute, this feels like gluten! But what could it be? My diet has not varied much lately and I rarely eat out and the symptoms were persisting, telling me I was taking it in continually but it seemed in low doses because of how stealthily the bad feelings crept up. That is when I thought about the supplements I take everyday and I began to wonder when was the last time I checked to make sure those are gluten free…and let me just say as someone who used to work in the natural foods industry and as a certified herbalist I tend to take more supplements than the average human, so that’s a lot of bottles about which to keep vigilant. Sure enough, my three Whole Foods brand supplements were made in a facility that also processed wheat, etc. They weren’t made with gluten mind you, just had potential to be cross-contaminated. To be honest I was dubious these were the culprit~ am I really that sensitive? After I stopped taking them, I felt a little better the next day, and even better the day after that, and by the third day I woke up with no headache. Bingo. It is a bummer to be so sensitive although I do take those supps every day and who knows for how many months it’d been before either a. it built up in my system as a problem or b. I just had starting taking some that were indeed contaminated. It was a good reminder to keep vigilant. Now I make sure my supps have a cute little gluten-free symbol on the bottle~ these are the most common:I’m partial to that top one…tatoo material maybe? I’m gluten-free after all. Or at least I try to be.
While living in Prague my spectacular flatmate and I talked about everything under the sun, but really, the majority of the time, by a significant amount I’d say, we talked about food. Usually it was what we’d be eating if we were home right now, or in some other city, or what we ate at such and such restaurant, and what we would like to cook if only we could find the ingredients in these tiny little grocery stores. Because of that, I know far more about the frozen foods in Canada’s fine stores than any American should, and she probably will make a pilgrimage to a certain dark coffeehouse in a bad corner of Cincinnati one day. At the time we were both pescatarians in a city that is more red meat and potatoes than Texas. Needless to say, our options were limited. We lived on bread and cheese and surprise, surprise, I got horribly sick for months. At that time I was not aware of my gluten intolerance, but my natural foods background let me know it was something diet related. I started steaming broccoli for breakfast and living off Uncle Ben’s minute brown rice. And pineapple juice. Prague didn’t have much in the way of juices, but it had the best pineapple juice ever~ we drank it daily out of the same kind of box we later in the day would drink our ‘fine’ wines. The juice sections in Prague grocery stores at the time amounted to about half of an end cap. My flatmate went to Berlin over the holidays and all I remember from her trip was that the juice sections there were whole aisles, just like here. Anyway, at Trader Joe’s last night I saw they have a new pineapple juice in the cold section and I just had to try it. The ones in glass that sit on the shelf have never lived up to Prague’s standards so I have cautious hopes for this one. It isn’t organic so I won’t get it often, but in homage to my lovely friend and our days in Prague I’m going to down a glass and then throw together a sopsky’s salad, hold the fried cheese, please.
When I was first diagnosed with gluten intolerance, my physician said that once I got all of the gluten out of my system and out of my diet for a few months I might be able to reintroduce small amounts and tolerate it. This was great news at the time, but after years of a gluten free diet I can tell I have become more sensitive, not less so. I’ve talked to other gluten intolerant people who have had the same experience, so I wonder if anyone ever successfully reintroduces wheat back into their diet? It would be so nice to go out to eat and not worry about the soy sauce used and such, but honestly, I’m not sure I’d want to be able to eat all the wheat I wanted anymore. Having to think a bit more about every thing I put into my mouth has made me make healthier choices, and honestly, I rarely even buy or make gluten free bread anymore. I eat more salad and soups, and (probably way too many) corn chips and rice crackers. Just because I’m gluten intolerant doesn’t mean I can’t still be a carbo-holic, unfortunately! But generally, I eat far healthier than I used to, but I feel far ickier when I do eat some smidgen of errant gluten. I’d really like to explore more more traditional diets, like in that book, The Jungle Effect, to get more ideas on foods, because one thing I do miss is the ability to trust food out and about, so I end up mostly only eating what I make, which is limited. Maybe some cooking classes are in order.