Return of the Prodigal Diner

I’ve decided to revisit this lovely little collection of foods after some time away.  If you have read the introduction, you will know that I have struggled with food allergies and intolerances since I was a small child.  Recent times have been no less trying.

You may recall that most of my favourite foods contain some form of starch — a quick glance at the sidebar should fill your eyes with crepes, breads, oats, flours.  It is not a coincidence.  Fast foods are often heavy on the bread to trick your brain into being satisfied with your purchase.  Potatoes and pastas are a staple of the need-it-now kitchen.  Even if you are blessed with the time, patience, and desire to stand in front of a hot stove, chances are you’ll have made a pie or a batch of cookies in your day.

Enter: First big life change of 2011.  The events of January 4th indicated a problem that I could no longer ignore.  Following a half-day babysitting, my grumbling tummy required food; I looked at the day’s pay in my hand and ordered a pizza. I wolfed it down happily while watching a movie with my then-boyfriend (now-husband).  About 20 minutes after I stopped eating, my stomach began to swell.  It was so big and painful that I changed into pajama bottoms for extra space and stretched out across the couch.  I then did what could only be described as passing out; my head, stomach, and back all raging against me could not even stop the sleep.  I awoke to the understanding that a change had to be made.

Clearly, the was not the first time I’d encountered these symptoms, but it was the first time that they interfered with my life in such a drastic way since my mother put a little bug in my ear.  She had read about someone with Celiac Disease who had the same, increasingly damaging signs of poor health.  I rolled my eyes — who lives without gluten?  But, knowing no harm would come to me if I went gluten-free for two weeks, I begrudgingly took up the challenge.

Within two days, I felt amazing.  Surely I had gone without gluten for this long before now?  I’d had dinners of rice and vegetables many times in my life, but I’d also had really good days before as well.  The results in the first month were astounding.  I couldn’t go back to eating gluten even if I wanted to pretend I was fine.  My hair got softer, my skin less dry.  I was able to breathe more clearly and sleep at the appropriate times of the day.  No more swelling or stomach pain.  I had so much more energy than I have ever known myself to have.  My mood was so much brighter.

Thus ended my love-affair with wheat.

It was not an amicable break-up, to be honest.  I felt great, but I was upset over every little thing I could not eat.  I didn’t see any doors opening when all these lovely, grain-filled ones were slamming in my face.  I didn’t know about substitutions and specialty foods yet, primarily because I didn’t realise that many other people suffered.  And, when I discovered packaged gluten-free bread, let’s just say I was underwhelmed.  You can see where even the thought of this blog depressed me.

Finally, a light through a window!  I began searching the internet for information on gluten-free lifestyles, and I came across a message board (I wish I could link you, but my knowledge of its whereabouts is long gone.) where Celiacs and other gluten-frees were discussing how, after getting the gluten issue under control, they were able to introduce foods they were intolerant to back into their diets.  Under careful supervision from my by-then-fiancé, I tried my first red food in years.  No reaction.  A few more red tidbits.  No reaction.  The curse of the lycopene had been lifted!  (In the interest of full disclosure, the same cannot be said of the red-meat malediction.)

I started to experiment.  I got myself back into the kitchen and learned new tricks.  A lot of my new recipes take longer, and sometimes things aren’t as soft or fluffy as I would hope.  But, I’m learning to cook all over again.  I’ve had a number of health problems in the past year, but none of them were gluten-related.  As much as I hate to admit it, I’m better off without gluten.

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