Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Gluten Free, Milk Free, and sometimes Soy free...


We hear the word and we picture ourselves in a journey of self denial and loathing. But, we have a diet in this house, that sometimes has nothing to do with weight loss. Diet can mean your eating lifestyle. Diet can mean the way you have to live in order to live healthily.

Diet has been made out to be a battle and a four letter word, but in all honesty, all it means is what you should be putting in your mouth for living.

Because of diagnoses in this house, our eating lifestyle includes a lot of elimination of sugar, no gluten, no milk or milk products for our child and no soy or wheat for me.

Every time I think of the food juggles we have to maintain in this house, I realize how second nature it has become for me. But I forget how difficult it is for people who do not have food allergies, and for people who have to be subjected to going out to dinner with us.

That's when it becomes a hassle.

It's makes you feel pretty high maintenance when you have have to turn down pot lucks (or when all you eat is the food you brought). People roll their eyes when you tell them you don't eat bread or pasta. The no-carb movement has created a cynicism in the eyes of the public.

People don't understand that food allergies don't always mean peanuts and shellfish. It doesn't always mean carrying an epi-pen or wearing an alert bracelet.

I have met a lot of people who think that we are exaggerating when we tell them we can't eat wheat or milk. I have had people think I was lying and I have had people who think that their food didn't apply. I have had people take my (and my daughter's) food allergies as a personal insult because I could not eat the food they made.

Trust me, I miss macaroni and cheese, I miss bread and cheeseburgers, egg rolls, wontons, linguine and lasagna. I miss cheesecake and cookies and banana nut bread. If you make them for me, if you bring me muffins or offer my daughter a cupcake, know that it's not that we don't want it-- we cannot have it. It makes us sick.

I have to send food with my daughter when she has sleep-overs. If I don't, she invariably ends up staying home the following week to recover because she forgets to ask and sometimes accidentally eats something with gluten or casein. Sometimes even now, I forget to read a label until we go exploring to locate the newest allergy trigger.

I used to tell people that she was just gluten sensitive because that was what we found in her blood tests. But in all honesty, the only thing that keeps her from being called "Celiac" is the fact that she has not yet had an intestinal biopsy. She has all of the symptoms.

In Germany, in Europe even, it's really hard to explain to people that you do not eat pasta or bread. It's practically a sin. With bakeries on every corner and even Saturday fresh bread delivery, you get a funny look when you ask for the gluten free option.

We are the devils, and should live off of the land for the heathens that we are --seeing that we cannot eat bread (my daughter and I) and I cannot drink beer.

Therefore out of our trials, I can tell you we save a lot of money and calories by not eating out.


Here's where it gets tough.
This is what else we need to/ have to avoid:

Caffeine- caffeine is not good for IBS, it can trigger exacerbated symptoms.

Eggplants, Mango and pineapple- While the doctors tell me that food allergies don't develop overtime, these are foods we were implementing in order to supplement what we had to take out of our diet. They aren't foods we eat often and we have found that these three do not agree with our daughter. Which adds to the finding- new foods or unfamiliar ones are always scary.

Soy- soy is not good for growing boys, women with thyroid disorder or risk for breast cancer. I am not a growing boy and I hope I am not at a risk for breast cancer, but my thyroid cannot tolerate this food additive.

Milk- Casein intolerance is sometimes found in conjunction with those of us who have wheat sensitivities. That means cookies and milk are no more unless I make them gluten free and the milk is either almond or rice.

This has created havoc for us in ways we never would have imagined.

Vegetarianism- Vegetarian is way more difficult if you have to be a gluten free, casein free, soy free vegetarian. You might as well just go completely vegan and eat the grass in the backyard.

Birthdays- Ice cream and cake are no longer welcome. You might as well just offer us a steak.

Pizza Parties- Pizza is deadly for our tummies. Just pass the salad and the wine bottle, we'll chew on the candle wax.

Biscuits and Gravy- this is one of the saddest sacrifices that have died on the alter of food sensitivities.

Fried Chicken- Popeye's and Grandma's Sunday bird are no longer options for us southern girls.

What we are learning through trial and error: Thus far, the two best all purpose flour blends for gluten free bread, pastries, gravy, fry mixes and (The best damn even better than gluten laden) chocolate chip cookies is Arrowhead Mills All Purpose Gluten Free flour and Namaste Foods Flours and Gluten free Pancake and Waffle mix.

If all else fails and you are desperate: Gluten Free Bisquick is an OK substitute, but it pales in comparison, in my opinion.

Check back soon for recipes and even plug for Gluten Free foods.

I can promise you, the chocolate chip cookie recipe will make you never want a gluten cookie ever again.

(By the way--Are you a gluten free product manufacturer? We'll gladly sample and provide feedback.)

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