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Bread And Butter

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

So… yeah.
You haven’t heard from me for a while.
Haven’t really been keeping up with eating healthily and getting exercise. I was having enough trouble eating, period. Every time I ate, I would feel ill, and most of the time it wouldn’t end well. I ended up not eating much, or, on occasions when I found something that didn’t make me sick, eating like a pig because I was so HUNGRY… thereby making myself sick in an entirely different but no less uncomfortable way. *sigh*
My muscle tone is gone. My energy level is in the toilet. And my immune system isn’t doing much better.
I’ve had an endoscopy, so they could try to figure out what the heck is wrong with me. For the time being, my diagnosis is “really bad reflux.” I’m not entirely satisfied with that diagnosis, to be honest, though I’m taking the drugs that were prescribed for me.
It was suggested to me (by my mother, actually) that my problem might be gluten-based. This came up after the endoscopy, so my subsequent attempts to go gluten-free did not affect the outcome of that. I came back negative for celiac, but the doctor said that I could very well be gluten-intolerant, as about 8 – 9% of the population is (that was his number; everywhere I look, I see a different percentage. In one place, 6%. In another, 11%. I’m splitting the difference and sticking with his 8 – 9%).
So… gluten-free(ish), for about 3 weeks now.
And I feel sooooooo much better.
It hasn’t been without the occasional stumble; for instance, I was unaware that the whiskey in Irish coffee was barley-based. So… that’s off the menu, since I spent all Saturday morning ill. It’s been a learning experience, let me tell you. Even Mrs. Butterworth’s Light has barley malt in it. Found that out when my gluten-free waffles made me sick; it didn’t make any sense until I read the syrup. Seriously? SYRUP has gluten in it?! Fortunately I was able to find the Wegmans equivalent, which is gluten free.
Am I sad to lose wheat?
Yes, of course I am. Gluten-free products have yet to thrill me on the bready front. There are, apparently, no edible gluten-free matzohs, so I’ve no idea what I’m going to eat at Hanukkah this Sunday. This whole gluten-free thing has come on fairly suddenly, and I don’t believe the rest of the family outside the immediate is aware of my issues. Maybe I’ll bring my own GF bread, or something, I dunno. I’ll have to talk to my father about whether my aunt is aware, or what’s being made, or whatever, so I can prepare in advance.
As challenging as this has been (I’ve got a pantry closet, a fridge and a freezer full of food I’m not allowed to eat but am unwilling to throw away. I’m particularly unhappy about the cranberry Thomas’s English Muffins, which I ADORE), there is no question in my mind that I need to keep it up. If your choice is eat weird food or be sick all the time, it’s not a very tough choice to make. I mean, crap – I had an ORGAN removed earlier this year because I was sick all the time, and it DIDN’T HELP. Giving up matzohs seems minor, in comparison.
It also answers a lot of questions. Like, for instance, why I’m allergic to most shampoos, conditioners, and moisturizers. I mean, I could be wrong – I could be allergic to something entirely different in them. But the last two random bottles of shampoo I picked up recently to look at the ingredients because I turned out to be allergic to them over the course of the last year, it turns out, had gluten in them.
So! Going gluten-free.
It’s a whole new world.
It’s a world in which I’ve gone slightly bonkers over the last couple of weeks.
See, when I was eating glutinous products, I ate lean. Not precisely healthy, given that I lived off of Lean Cuisines and Lean Pockets, but I ate 3 squares and 2 healthy snacks a day, and basically stayed in my calorie limits and was a good do-bee. A miserably ill do-bee who lost most of the nutrients she ate shortly after eating them, but a good do-bee, nonetheless.
I’ve lost 5lbs in the last few months, prior to going gluten-free. With no exercise at all, which… never happens. I just don’t lose weight without working really, really, REALLY hard at it. But when your body isn’t taking in the nutrients from the food you’re eating, it doesn’t matter how well (or badly) you’re eating; you’re going to lose weight. Add to that that, I’ll admit, the constantly getting ill was definitely taking a toll on my desire to eat at all, and… well, you get 5lbs lost with no effort.
The last couple of weeks, I eat… and I don’t get sick. (Well, mostly).
So I’ve been EATING.
Gluten-free bagels with olive-oil based margarine, with American cheese and hard salami. Hot dogs with gluten-free rolls. Amy’s Rice Mac & Cheese, which I will not be doing again, because it’s 400 calories, 150 of them from fat, and it wasn’t even that GOOD, and it was expensive.
My lifesaver through all this has been Kettle Cuisine’s Chicken Soup with Rice Noodles. It’s a frozen soup. 140 calories, 3g of fat, 14g of protein… you could do worse as a lunch to pack for work. It beats the pants off of a Lean Pocket. And I found out yesterday that a fair number of Smart Ones meals are in fact gluten-free, so the prospect of not only being forced to learn to cook, but being forced to learn to cook gluten-free, has been put off just a little. I did pick up a bottle of Good Housekeeping’s Good Foods Red Wine Shallot Marinade, though, so there’s that to look forward to. The only marinade recipes I have right now are full of soy sauce (which is also full of gluten! Yay! Gluten-free soy is SOOOOOOOOO high in sodium. I bought it, but… sheesh!), so it’s nice to have another option.
I’ve got some other (thankfully temporary) diet restrictions at the moment, due to the reflux. No citrus (waaaaaah! I eat an orange EVERY DAY!!! I’ve got a fruit drawer full of oranges, and I can’t eat them for… well, they’re going to go bad before I’m able to eat them. So I’m going to have to find them a good home. I had water with a slice of lemon in it at a party the other day, without even thinking about it; MAN, did that hurt), no pickles (smaller waaaah, I don’t eat them very often and I do have a bit of a complex about them since I bit into one a couple of years ago that had a big ol’ shard of glass in it and shattered one of my teeth, but gosh, I like them), no tomatoes (no big whoop, there; won’t touch ‘em anyway), no fried food (waah. I’m not supposed to eat it anyway, so it’s not a huge part of my diet, but sometimes you just want a chicken nugget. On the up side, I have gluten-free chicken nuggets. On the down side, they might make me sick, anyway. *sigh*), no coffee (yeah, no. Not obeying that particular rule. Sorry. I’ve cut down, but life without coffee just ain’t gonna happen), no alcohol (I was booze-free for two weeks. At Thanksgiving, I said screw it, and drank it anyway. I was OK, then. But this weekend, I had a glass and a half of white wine, and I was in pain for hours. Not sure if it was that, or the capers in the chicken, or the pat of butter Mom threw in at the end of the cooking-in-olive-oil process, or something else. It really sucked, though)… the list goes on.
And some gluten-free things (e.g. Bakery On Main’s Apple Cinnamon Cereal Bars) are off the list, because I’m apparently allergic to them. Don’t know what’s in them that I’m allergic to, but it made me break out in an all-over incredibly itchy but invisible rash, so that was fun. It’ll be interesting finding out which of the ingredients it was, when I eat something else and have the same reaction.
So… yeah. Food is a challenge. But I’m getting there. I failed (as per usual) to track my food over the weekend, but other than that I’ve been really good. I’ve stayed well within my calorie range, though I’m having some trouble with my carb count (again as per usual) and my fat count is low (which, again, is the way it usually is, which may be a contributing factor in what caused all this in the first place). I’ve been taking a multivitamin again, which I hadn’t been doing for a long time.
Things are getting better.

In other news… I won a TV at the office holiday party. As HDTVs go, it’s pretty lame; it’s about as low-level a name-brand model as you can get. That said… I didn’t have it a week ago. And it’s an HDTV, which I’ve been pining for and couldn’t afford. So… yay!

Speaking of can’t afford… eating gluten free is expensive. And I went gluten free in December, which is the most expensive month to do anything. I am SERIOUSLY low on cash. I just finished buying presents for all but a few of my friends, the in-laws and the in-law baby; the rest of the family is taken care of. Oh, wait – I still have to buy a pastry brush, and one more $10 iTunes gift card (I’m being the cheap cousin. Normally the 5 Jewish cousins get $25 Target gift cards, but money’s tight and times are hard; it’s $10 iTunes cards this year). But other than that, done. Which is good, because bills and rent are so very due.

Plans for the week –
1. Start (and finish) the jewelry commission of bracelet, ring and earrings for a 10 year old that I got from a friend of mine. They’re supposed to be done before Christmas Eve, so… soon would be good.
2. Get the living room clean enough to do at least a little exercise. I don’t care if it’s Walk It Out, or Gold’s Gym Cardio Boxing, or pulling out the mini-floor-cycle, or what, but I have to move my body SOMEHOW. It’s been WEEKS since I did ANYTHING, and I am not cool with that. Gold’s Gym Cardio Boxing is more fun, but since the Christmas tree is right next to the TV, that might be dangerous.
3. Behave myself with food. Just because it’s gluten-free and I CAN eat it, doesn’t mean I HAVE to. For example, Snyders makes delicious gluten-free pretzels, and Tribe roasted garlic hummus is naturally gluten-free. This does not necessarily mean I have to chow down on them.
4. Keep tracking my food.
5. Find out what’s being served at Hanukkah
6. Enjoy life.

I’m not really very good at #6. I live life, but I don’t, for the most part, enjoy it. I haven’t for a really, really long time. I’ll keep working at it, though.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • JKM822
    I'm lactose intolerant, but yogurt and cheese don't seem to be a problem. Butter is a problem because fat and I aren't friends right now. A combination of having my gallbladder out this summer, & my recent diagnosis of nasty reflux mean fat is off the menu for a while.
    Bakery on Main has certified gluten-free oats. It may be that it's the oats themselves that are the problem, but while I've had some un-fun reactions to Cheerios recently, none of them were like what happens when I take Percocet (the invisible horrific itch thing). For the time being, I just won't eat those bars & hope for the best.
    Thanks for the support! I'll keep my fingers crossed on the casein, and that I won't develop yet more sensitivities.

    2688 days ago
    Wow, I feel your pain on the GF and other food intolerances front! I've been avoiding SO many things for about 7 months now. It is in fact challenging, expensive, frustrating, etc. Thank goodness you don't have celiac disease though! (I don't either and often find myself grateful!)

    Is Bakery on Main made with certified GF oats? I forget. In case you don't know this yet, oats are so highly cross-contaminated that most people with gluten intolerance are advised to eat only certified GF kinds. Yes, they are pricey. Sigh.

    Have you looked into dairy yet? Many gluten intolerant people also are casein-intolerant, so no cow's milk. I appear to be. I hate to suggest one more restriction, but your comment about your mom adding butter at the end of something made me go, "uh huh."

    I could go on and on, so find me if you want to talk food! emoticon
    2688 days ago
  • JKM822
    Brilliant! Thanks! :-)
    2688 days ago
    This is my favorite GF recipe blog: http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.c

    2688 days ago
    It will take time to figure out what you can and can't eat.

    I switched to sprouted bread 2 few years ago (I think it's low in gluten but maybe not gluten free, Ezekiel brand) and it is so much easier to digest. I lost weight eating that in moderation instead of the bread I used to eat.

    You'll find a balance of what you can eat and what will satisfy you, not make you sick and actually be healthy for your body and will give you energy and fuel.

    I am glad that you have started putting the pieces of the puzzle together. You'll get it and will find what works for you.

    congrats on winning the TV!

    2688 days ago
  • JKM822
    I'm looking into getting a bread maker; that should lower the bill a bit. The GF pantry all-purpose flour and favorite sandwich bread mixes are supposed to be pretty good, and if I buy in bulk on Amazon, it'll be cheaper than these GF bagels and bread loaves I've been picking up frozen. And hopefully I won't even have to freeze the heck out of them!
    And yes, OK, I'm going to have to learn how to cook. It's too expensive to keep living on microwavable gf soups, on top of the Smart Ones dinners. Lean Pockets were at least relatively inexpensive, and I got two in a package. ;-)
    But yeah - totally worth it, if it makes all/most of my GI issues go away. This past year has been hell.

    2688 days ago

    Comment edited on: 12/13/2011 12:11:35 PM
    I went gluten free in August and was absolutely shocked at all the random health ailments that just disappeared. Initially, I didn't replace most things with gluten free versions, I just cut bread and pasta out completely. For grains, I adore quinoa cooked in GF chicken broth or brown rice, but that's about it. In November, I wanted to try my daughter on a GF diet and so I started buying a lot of the replacement products. My grocery bill seriously doubled. It's so expensive! Good luck with this. The more time I spend GF, the less I want things that I used to crave. We were at a party this weekend and there was this amazing looking cake and I wasn't even tempted because I knew the pain I would be in wouldn't be worth it. So it does get better!
    2688 days ago
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