Gluten-free dumbass in denial

Monday, September 14, 2009

As you know, because I whine about it all the time, I feel perfectly shitty 99% of the time. The other 1%? Moderately poopy. The point is, I never feel GOOD. For a long time I attributed that to my thyroid issues. But lately, I’ve been trying to pay more attention to what I eat and how I feel when I eat it.

My conclusion? Gluten. That pesky little protein found in wheat, barley, rye and usually oats. I already knew any type of baked goods affected me badly, causing bloat, weight gain and general misery. And, while I hated to admit it, my beloved Quaker (crack in a box) oatmeal practically put me into a coma. I decided a two-week gluten-free trial was in order.

So I bought a book. Gluten-Free Living for Dumbasses Dummies. And I learned things. Things like autoimmune disorders, such as Hashimoto’s Disease (which I have), are often a symptom of a gluten intolerance. As is a Vitamin D and B12 deficiency (both of which I have). And other symptoms I had also pointed to a gluten intolerance:

Headaches (including migraines)
Inability to concentrate
Hair loss
Low blood sugar
Night blindness

And those are just the symptoms that apply to me. If you read the entire list, you would be convinced that YOU are gluten-intolerant, too.

I learned that most people with gluten allergies or intolerances will not ever be diagnosed. Because doctors don’t usually test for it. That there will be 1 diagnosis for every 140 cases. Don’t ask me how they know that if the other 140 aren’t ever diagnosed, but that’s what they say.

Focusing on all the foods that are naturally gluten-free, such as meats and seafood, fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, rice, and most dairy, I made a list and went grocery shopping. I decided not to go crazy with buying gluten-free baked goods, such as bread, because I wasn’t really even sure if this was my problem. And for two weeks, I could live with corn tortillas if I needed a sandwich.

It was not all that difficult. I didn’t notice anything dramatic in the way I felt. I ate yogurt mixed with rice and raisins for breakfast instead of oatmeal. I ate a bowl of rice chex with skim milk for a snack. I ate refried beans with cheese and corn chips. Steak and potatoes. Salads. It was not bad.

Still, I lasted only four days. Why? Beer. I caved when we went bowling and they did not sell anything gluten-free. I was weak. But an interesting thing happened when I had that beer. Absolutely nothing. No bloating, no abdominal pain, no gas, no headache. It was the first time in that whole day that I DIDN’T feel bad. I had eaten a gluten-free, sugar-free protein bar that afternoon (Think Thin brand…it was gross) that made me nauseous. And it wasn’t just because it was nasty.

Here is where the dumbass in denial part comes in. That bar contained dairy. As did the yogurt with my breakfast. As did the cheese (and lots of it) on my refried beans at lunch. I was living large in the gluten-free dairy department.

And I’m allergic to casein, a milk protein. Tested and diagnosed two years ago, it is an undeniable fact. One which I choose to ignore. I keep eating it because doing so doesn’t send me into anaphylactic shock or anything. So it must be okay, right? It must be something else making me feel bad. Anything else. Dear God, please. I CANNOT GIVE UP CHEESE.

Sigh. I must give up cheese.

Time to face the facts and deal with them, I guess. So now I will buy more books that will teach me how to live dairy-free (and I might still stay off the gluten…unless it comes in beer) and I will focus on foods that are naturally dairy-free. And I will try to remember that going dairy-free is probably good for me even if I wasn’t allergic to it. And maybe I’ll feel better.

But I don’t like it. No sir, not even one little bit.


Anonymous said...

interesting! I always learn something new from your blog. I feel pretty poopy myself most of the time...I still haven't figured it out. I gave up long ago telling any doctor...they think it's all in my head.

Mrs. Jelly Belly said...

Oh, I know EXACTLY how you feel. Wait until you get to be my age...then they just lay everything at the door of menopause.

Housewife Savant said...

You don't have to like it JB. Murmer to us, your faithful reader friends. We'll react with appropriate "Aw"s and "Sorry"s with our mouths stuffed with cream cheese sandwiches.
You feed us knowledge. We'll provide pity.

Cyndi said...

So no ice cream or queso in Chicago? Thank goodness you haven't eliminated the beer!

ree said...

The more I read about gluten problems (and my mother has no tolerance for gluten whatsoever) and its relationship to autoimmune disorders, I wonder if cutting it out would help my hair grow back and get rid of the psoriasis.


Bethany said...

Oh no! I sometimes think I might be allergic to lactose sometimes, but that would be so hard :( Good luck!

Miz said...

That is 100% me and gluten as well.

Im allergic. sensitive but since it doesnt send me into shock (merely SHOCKS PEOPLE when I get an ugly rash all over my bod) I still eat it.

my husband shakes his head in befuddlenessment every time...

Anonymous said...

I've long ago learned that some foods make me feel worse, not better. Even when they're supposed to be healthy foods, like whole grain cereals. I also find that some of the foods I have sensitivities to I can eat in small amounts with no ill effect, but that eating it frequently makes me feel simply awful.

I've also learned that if I completely banned everything that makes me feel icky if I eat "too much of it", I'd pretty much be left with popcorn and water.

I've consciously lowered my gluten intake because I am pretty sure I'm sensitive... and that this sensitivity seems to have grown tremendously since my gastric bypass. I also have autoimmune disorders (Lupus and Hashimoto's Thyroiditis) and yeah, it really seems to go hand in hand.

Tammy Howard said...

No cheese? No fun.

No beer? Unthinkable.

Camevil said...

Abstinence + gentle & occasional reintroduction = success when it came to the hubs' gluten intolerance. What works for him seems to be what worked for you, too. Oh, and I've also heard that certain flours (high protein) can cause the reaction to go into overdrive. Which may explain why one pizza at one restaurant is a-ok, but a different pizza brings the hurricane.

Did you ever notice if you're symptoms also included spontaneous retardation? It seems an inability to think/focus is also one of those nagging problems.

Sorry about the casein. I feel like I should send you flowers and a stuffed animal. No cheese. Sad.

Camevil said...

Oh, we found out that cider (strongbow, particularly) is an excellent beer substitute if you can't find Red Bridge or other GF beer.

midlife mommy said...

I couldn't give up cheese to save my life. Or ice cream. Now yogurt? Not a problem. Yuck.

BetteJo said...

OMG. I am SO sorry for you! I don't think I will ever undergo any test that might reveal I would have to give up CHEESE! It's GOD'S FOOD!!!
So sorry, that's a painful revelation to come to.

MaryRC said...

dairy reeks havoc in my body, but do i care? NO... good luck with this one, gluten.. need my carbs and my cheese.. hope you can do it and feel better tho.. i'm totally willing to support you from afar on your endeavor.

Greta said...

I am going to go out on a limb and guess that you are blood type O, like me. (I also have hashimotos) I do not do well with wheat or dairy (but still do eat them from time to time....erg). Dr. D'Adamo wrote the "eat right for your type" book 11 years ago and recently came out with a new one called Genotype Diet. I was all excited because I thought maybe in his new book my "type" would be one that could eat LOTS of wheat and dairy. Sigh. Great book, by the way. I just got it yesterday. And...surprise surprise...I am "the hunter" type. Where is the Woolly Mammoth when I need it? :)

Anne said...

You don't know me, but I came across your blog while trying to find out if Jelly Bellys are gluten free. Anyway, I have seen gluten free beer being sold at Whole Foods. I haven't tried it, but if it's decent, that may solve your gluten issue. Good luck.