Four Years of GLUTEN FREE living! I hope this doesn't turn you off right away, this isn't one of those gluten is evil, gluten makes you fat, gluten is of the devil posts. Nope. Just, "This isn't nearly as hard or as weird as people think!" posts.
Why?: Dr. Oz(I'm not a fan) came on and I couldn't get to the remote to change it for a bit because I was in the middle of something, which I'm glad now happened. The lead in was about surprising symptoms why you might be gluten intolerant. I do not have Celiac Disease that we know of, but it's possible, I cannot be tested, yet. I had all of the symptoms mentioned except bloating. My tummy seemed fine, but in hindsight, they weren't. Couldn't lose weight(probably because every diet included adding more whole wheat and grains into your diet), lingering headaches(not migraines, but always kind of in the back of my head), arthritis, keratosis pilaris(skin) etc.....
I decided to give it a 100% attempt, give it my all, for just 2 weeks. At the end of 2 weeks I was feeling so much better. So I tried 2 more, and when the family and those around me said I was walking faster, had lost weight, and looked happier I knew I was going to try it until my next check up with my allergist. At this time I was still on Xolair injections(for those with high IGE levels that triggers allergic induced asthma), Advair(the max dosage), Singulair, Claritin, Albuterol inhalers(which became ineffective due to a formula change years before), and using essential oils for allergies as well. I realized when November came around and we were out of state for Thanksgiving, I got the flu, I had not used my rescue inhaler ONCE since I had gone gluten free. I had been on medications for asthma and allergies since I was 18 months old. I'm 47. That is a LONG time to have asthma and deal with medicine. I had been hospitalized over a HUNDRED times for asthma and pneumonias, and hundreds of ER visits, long term use of steroids that caused many painful and long term side effects that also affected the quality of my life growing up. So, going a few days was miraculous in itself, but going 6 months?!!!! We were onto something.
Next check up, the Dr. didn't want to change anything quite yet. I agreed. But he did let me go down a dosage level of the Advair. I explained to him how I had also tried some cookie dough in a moment of weakness and been exposed to wheat again and I felt like I had been hit by a Mak truck for about a day and a half. Every joint ached, I had a headache, I hurt ALL over. I had tried it again 2 weeks after that, same thing, and I got itchy all over. I have followed a wheat free diet perfectly. I read every label, prepare food myself, or read labels(discreetly), eat before I go somewhere, and check with restaurant employees after doing my research ahead of time. I can write a whole other post on the jokes and very not funny reactions I get from people/restaurant employees who mock this gluten free, wheat free NEED of mine. I am NOT one of those people that demand special attention, I merely ask so I can decide if I want to chance it.
I have a pet peeve of those parents of children with food allergies that demand an entire school eat peanut free. Let me explain. This is MY allergy, and relying on other people to make my life safe is irresponsible. That child will be let down by someone who is uneducated or irresponsible and have a reaction. I grew up with other food allergies, sulphur dioxide and MSG. Those were life threatening. I learned very young that I am the only one who can be sure of my safety in elementary school. I was the only child with an inhaler(which had to be left in the office at that time, we were not allowed to carry our EMERGENCY inhaler on us!). I have had reactions when I was not careful, it was ON ME. I would never ever try to make someone else, a party hostess, room mom, etc... ever feel bad about not providing allergy free treats or food for me. Learning how to be free of certain ingredients is difficult and takes A LOT of study, and there is a lot of FALSE information out there!
"Rice Krispy Treats", you would think were gluten free, but there is malt added to make their texture even more appealing. I had people close to me try to convince me they made them just for me because they were gluten free, and it sucked trying to explain to them after they put work into them just for me because they cared about me that they were still not safe and I couldn't even have "just one bite?"
DO NOT RELY ON OTHERS. THEY MEAN WELL, BUT IT IS NOT SAFE. TEACH YOUR CHILD, PREPARE YOUR CHILD AHEAD OF TIME, HELP THEM GROW AN INDEPENDENT ATTITUDE SO THAT OTHERS DO NOT MOCK OR MAKE FUN OF THOSE WITH ALLERGIES ALSO.
There are countless sources online(only look for reliable ones though!) that can help you learn to deal with food allergies. I keep a list of favorite places and menu items so when I'm on the go with friends and family I have a choice in an instant. And then I ask AGAIN with the server if it is still gluten free. Supply companies change their ingredients, restaurants change their supply companies, and they may just change things because of time or money. Even if you order something that is known to be gluten free, just remind them, "I need this gluten free". Certain restaurants, and even in Disney World(awesome!) will "red flag" an allergy and they may fry your french fries in a dedicated fryer that does not share with items like battered chicken, etc.... Disney World brought out my hamburger with a gluten free bun on a special colored tray and they used a dedicated fryer on the opposite side of the regular fryer for my fries. It had a special skewer in the middle of the hamburger making sure I knew it was a GF bun. There is a lot of cross contamination, especially in sandwich shops. I will give a shout out to Costa Vida since they are one of my new favorites. As soon as the food preparer hears me say, "and I need this gluten free please", they put on fresh gloves, prepare the meat and corn tortilla behind the normal station, but in front of me so I can see it. They will fix any error immediately and with a happy face. Whoever trains these servers should be given a huge thank you. I have never been given any grief. (It was hectic once and they said they'd bring my salad out to me, they did, but it had a flour tortilla in the bottom instead of corn. When I explained the order mistake they immediately started a new one without any issue whatsoever. If "I" had stuck around to watch I would have noticed and corrected it then. Please don't be mean to restaurant servers, ever.