It’s been a long road.
I’ve wanted to write this up for a couple of weeks now, but I’ve been too nervous. I keep waiting for the old gluten symptoms to spring up, but so far…nothing. It’s been three weeks that I’ve added spelt back into my diet and so far I haven’t had any issues. Spelt is the last thing I gave up way back at the beginning of this blog’s existence actually, and now it’s the first thing I’ve put back in my diet after years of actively trying to heal my gut. My personal symptoms include bloating, headaches, fatigue, general malaise, and acne. I realize these sound like odd things to string all together, but the fact is that when I used to eat wheat, those issues plagued my life, then when I’d stop they’d stop, then when I’d eat wheat either as an experiment or by accident, sure enough, those symptoms would immediately be back. So far though, these last three weeks have been symptom-free despite eating spelt once about every other day. It isn’t much but I was so nervous to do it that it took about a month of thinking about it before actually eating a bite of spelt. (By the way, spelt is a variety of wheat with a lower than average gluten content which is why it is more tolerable than regular wheat flour.) My protocol started two years ago which I detailed here, but I also ended up adding adaptogens to my daily life which balance all the bodily systems, digestive herbs every day, and I’ve used Renew Life’s IntestiNew powder for a few months to really rebuild the intestinal lining. I also did a candida cleanse about a year ago b/c it’s important to your digestive health to make sure you don’t have an overabundance of candida in your system which many many people do because of antibiotic use and sugar-filled diets. If you are working to overcome food intolerances, here are some things to consider:
- Stop eating the trigger foods (of course)
- Take probiotics~ the highest potency ones you can find, and take different brands each time you need a new bottle. Talk with your doctor or naturopath about the dosing because most likely they will recommend higher dosages than on the bottle. This is especially true if you’ve been on antibiotics (ever) and never taken probiotics before.
- Heal intestinal lining by taking glutamine and herbs targeted towards such, and also by eating foods that are not overly taxing on the digestive system. These can vary by people, but you know what sits in your gut or causes you to bloat and have digestive distress and what feels good to your body when you eat it. By taking digestive enzymes before you eat and incorporating digestive herbs into your diet, you are also aiding the healing process.
- Give it time. Depending on how long it’s been an issue in your life, it could mean 3 months to 2 years of work. Trust your body, your intuition, and your medical professionals, but especially your body. Food intolerances can arise at any time in a person’s life but they don’t have to last for the rest of that person’s life. You can beat it, you can heal, and you can have optimal health.
Curing food intolerance is not something to undertake alone. I’ve worked with my physician, naturopath, and a GI specialist, plus I am an certified herbalist who’s worked in the natural foods and products industry so I know about what supplements are out there. Please work with health professionals of your own before trying to heal yourself, but hopefully this post will encourage others to heal and not just live with food intolerances indefinitely.
Even though I’ve been eating gluten-free for about ten years now, I still like reminders of those hidden places where gluten may lurk. This infographic from Delicious Living is a nice visual reminder for some of those sneaky spots:
I would add herbal teas to this list because I often find barley malt on the ingredients lists of herbal tea blends, especially Yogi teas (which I love!). Not all have barley malt, but I know Stomach Ease does and so does Kava Stress Relief, both of which I used to drink regularly and highly recommend if you aren’t avoiding gluten. Otherwise, find another tea to drink and read those labels!
Finally it’s fall here and our kitchen is alive with soupy smells and warm light instead of the harsh heat of this past summer, and the intermittent construction that had me searching for appliances, counter space, and counters, actually. It’s been fun making French green lentils again, minestrone, polenta, and risotto, without sweating and/or swearing. A welcome change. While our little kitchen has been turning out more variety than ever, such as this great soup: Egyptian Red Lentil Soup (read the comments below the recipe and modify according to taste, but for our family I doubled the cumin as several people suggested) and this delicious Pumpkin Spice Granola from Celiac in the City, it is hitting me even harder than ever that my kids’ schools’ lunch menus are like a study in wheat. Can school cafeterias really not think outside the gluten box? Every single day the main food item has wheat~ lasagna, chicken nuggets, pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, spaghetti, sandwiches, and on and on. Is it really that hard to mix it up a bit? No wonder so many people have reactions to gluten~ any time you saturate your body with one ingredient your body starts to react to that ingredient, and Americans love their gluten. My older son forgot his lunch one day so he ended up getting nachos with fresh carrots and steamed broccoli on the side. He said the carrots were stale and the broccoli was gross, and this is a kid who literally cheers when I make broccoli and orders it out at dinner~ he loves it, so I can’t imagine how this broccoli was ‘gross’. I’m glad he was able to find gluten-free food, but if the vegetables they offer are either raw and stale (he knows a stale carrot when he eats one. My kids eat raw carrots every single day.) then of course the kids aren’t going to choose those items. It just doesn’t make sense to me why they don’t offer soups full of veggies, roasted vegetables, or more grain and beans together like a rice and black beans, or quinoa and lentils~ these are not overly expensive and they are not hard to make. They’d give kids a break from wheat every once in a while and are nutritious, filling meals. Of course I’m all in favor of the schools having school gardens to help grow some of those herbs and vegetables too, but at the very least we could improve the lunch menus. Jamie Oliver is making real strides in England which shows the time is right~ people are starting to take school lunch nutrition seriously. Over on our side of the Atlantic Chef Ann is tackling school nutrition through several different initiatives and proving people are willing to listen and change. Let’s keep the energy going in that direction! Maybe it’s the cool fall air, or maybe it’s the bright warm kitchen, but I’m starting to feel cautiously optimistic.
Our summer began much the same way as last year’s summer, with a trip to Louisville, KY to see family. This year we ate multiple times at Annie May’s Sweet Café and were even picked up from the airport with big pretzels from there (thanks Mom!!) which were the first we have had in years and something my youngest misses very much. They only have them on Wednesdays and if you really want a lot of them you best get there early. If you find yourself there on another day there are plenty of other delicious foods to eat though~ I recommend getting a sandwich while my oldest adores the soup there and the carrot cake cupcake. My youngest had a ‘super cookie’ which he thought more than lived up to its name and in fact all the sweets we tried did not disappoint. They have a sign that says they deliver which my son got all excited about until I explained that meant deliveries around town, not to Seattle. Talk about bursting someone’s bubble.
We also went to Holiday World again and was even more impressed with their gluten-free options than last year. (Disneyland/world take notes please!) Besides the fact you can find allergy free food as well as just gluten-free food about anywhere in the park, they now set up a little stand that is completely gluten-free.
We flew on Delta and brought our own food which was good since the free snacks were cookies or pretzels. The boys used to be able to eat those cookies so that was sad, but they got over it while sipping ginger ale and eating from their over-stuffed food bags. I had packed enough for an all day delay like the one we experienced last year and since the flights went actually well we ended up with a lot of left-over food. Delta does have one gluten-free option for buying food, something snack-y and overpriced of course, but at least if you are starving you do have something to eat.
We came home to a ripped-up kitchen (husband is remodeling) and continually high 80s and 90 degree heat with no A/C so cooking has not exactly been my favorite pastime thus far this season. I tend to love the heat but after a few evenings of sweating through dinner prep even I am ready for a break in the high temperatures. The farmers market on Saturdays is booming with berries already though with the best blueberries in June I’ve ever had, and my friend just brought over fresh picked raspberries last night and those are the best I’ve ever tasted in any month so I guess the sun and heat are working for some things. I sure hope this means we’ll have an extra long berry season and not just an early one that is over as quickly as it popped up. After the trip to see family my sons were a little sick of photos but I had to take this of the Saturday Farmers Market. There are less gluten-free vendors there this year but my oldest still gets his favorite street tacos there and my youngest has discovered kettle corn. It’s worth the trip for those alone.
We recently had the opportunity to try the entire line of Canyon Bakehouse goodies and we now have some new favorites in this house. The seven grain bread is the closest thing we have had to whole wheat bread. The texture and taste are surprisingly familiar to the whole grain breads I grew up on and altogether different from any other gluten-free bread I’ve had in these past 10 years of being completely gluten-free.
The other new family favorite is the focaccia. Both my sons loved the taste fresh out of the bag or warmed up in the oven under the broiler. This is a perfect bread to add to the side of soup or salad although really my sons will eat it along anything. This bread is also a unique offering in the gluten-free field and I appreciate the fact Canyon Bakehouse also makes these breads dairy, soy, nut and gmo free.
Life is short~ be kind, be wise, and try some new bread.
Pizza is one thing nobody should be forced to live without. I tried Schar’s pizza crusts for the first time last night and the pizzas were delicious. I love the fact that there is an actual raised crust on the perimeter of the circle~ that’s the first I’ve seen that in all my gluten-free pizza trials. Does that make sense? Maybe a picture is in order:
See what I mean? And it’s on a large dinner plate so that is the size of the crust~ enough for two with a side salad unless you are feeding growing boys in which case it is convenient that one box comes with two crusts inside.
I made mine with pesto, mozzarella, orange and yellow peppers, red onion (which I always want to call purple onion) and sun-dried tomatoes. Delicious. And the crust is not only gluten-free, it is also dairy and egg free which is another hard to find aspect in the gluten-free pizza world. Another thing that sets this crust apart is that it is actually filling in the same way gluten crusts are. You know how a lot of gluten free things feel airy and not substantial? This feels like you are eating something real. Mmmm~ I think it’s time for leftovers…