My Gluten-Free Experiment cont.
It has now been nearly 3 months that I've been eating gluten-free (GF). And a week ago I decided to see what would happen if I added gluten back into my diet. The first day I ate a piece of regular bread. In all honesty after not having eaten "real" bread for 10+ weeks I expected this piece of toast to be the most fabulous food I've ever tasted. It wasn't. It was okay, but honestly I've come to appreciate the layers of flavor in GF foods. On my second day I had another piece of regular bread with breakfast and a few regular crackers with lunch. I felt slightly bloated about an hour after lunch but nothing like what I'd been experiencing back in May when I started this whole thing. Day three of my eating gluten experiment saw another piece of bread for lunch and linguini with dinner. Holy Toledo! About 30 minutes after eating the linguini I was in pain - bloated like crazy, gassy beyond control (I sat on the front porch for about an hour so as not to offend my husband), and with abdominal pains that I just wished would go away. By the morning of the fourth day I knew gluten was not my friend. I still felt heavy in my gut, my BMs were irregular and foul smelling for the first time since I'd gone GF and an uncomfortable achy feeling ran through my colon down to my rectum - this was reminiscent of the beginning of a UC flare and I wasn't any too happy about it.
Gluten-free I am and gluten-free I'll stay. I may not have Celiac but I have now confirmed that I have a gluten intolerance or sensitivity or whatever you want to call it. It was on that fourth day, 11 weeks into my GF experiment that I decided to commit to eating GF long-term. I threw out the last remaining remnants of regular flour in the house, washed all the ceramic canisters in scalding hot water, and drove off to the local health food store where I invested in all the appropriate alternative flours I would need to make my own breads and other baked goods.
My kitchen is now a continuous GF experiment. I've been able to find recipes that give good guidelines for making GF breads, cookies, cakes, brownies, scones, etc. But the thing is there seem to be as many recipes for "all purpose gluten-free flour" as there are alternative flours, and that's a lot. So, I've taken to making a recipe, tweaking it a bit to make it more to my liking - certain flours have certain flavors, some strong and some more subtle - and then making them again. My husband is a trooper. He doesn't need to eat gluten-free but he's more than happy to be my guinea pig even when something doesn't turn out quite right.
The only stumbling point I see in all the gluten-free eating is when I travel and am not in control of what I'm eating. Oh, you can tell the waiter or waitress that you're gluten-free and they'll guarantee you that what they bring you will have no wheat in it. Don't believe them. There's a little thing gluten-free people need to be aware of and it's called cross-contamination. Here's how it goes: The chicken breast they grill for you may not be dredged in flour, but the previous chicken breast they cooked on the grill probably was and your dinner is now sitting in the remnants of it only to become noticeable to you after you've eaten it and begin to bloat uncomfortably.
If you really want to be 100% gluten-free you have to be diligent and well-informed. People who have Celiac disease really can't risk eating any gluten so they'll have to go through their kitchens and discard things like wooden and plastic utensils that have touched gluten containing products and are now contaminated. Certain kinds of cookware will have to be replaced as well as they can remain contaminated even after thorough washing. And eating out will become difficult, although gluten-free restaurants do now actually exist here and there.
One other thing I've found to be extremely helpful during all of this are digestive enzymes. I take one at the beginning of each meal and now actually feel as if I am digesting my food and getting some nutrients from it. I also feel as is my body is happier for it and not simply rejecting what I put into it. I have more energy, feel better overall, and while I'm now constantly thinking about what I can and can't eat, I'm no longer constantly thinking about poop and bathrooms. It's a nice reversal and I'll not complain about it.