So ironically enough, this follows on from my post about the yummy banana bread…one i’m definitely going to have to make GF only in future. Yes…i’m one of those tiresome people, or at least, i’m going to have to become one.
Bear with me here.
To explain: i’ve known for a while now that gluten is a bit of an issue for me. And not in the trendy, affected way that so many these days have embraced, ostensibly for the sake of their health and/or waistline, but mostly as an accessory to their hipster credibility. Sadly it is the latter sort of negative connotation toward being GF that has contributed to me ignoring the issue for so long.
The backstory here is that over the past two years, i’ve been diagnosed with both colitis and fructose malabsorbtion, the former of which my doctor was only interested in medicating me for (and which didn’t do much anyway, so I quit taking his drugs fairly early in the piece) and the latter of which I was supposed to start following a low FODMAP diet for. Have you ever looked at that diet? I saw onions and garlic on the ‘can’t eat’ list and thought, fuck that…because seriously, that’s just ridiculous. I am not cutting those things out of my diet. I didn’t really look further than that, but maybe I should have, in restrospect.
(Spoiler Alert: Gluten is a no-no in FODMAP world. Figures.)
Anyway, it was vaguely suggested to me by my consulting specialists (aka doctors with astronomical fees) that I might want to consider giving up gluten, but neither of them was particularly gung-ho or convincing about it…just a vague suggestion, really. I think more to shut me up than anything, because I wasn’t particularly interested in ‘idiopathic’ as a diagnosis for all my digestive issues…i’m annoying like that. I want to figure out what’s actually behind my symptoms, rather than taking a drug to mask them. I know…crazy, right?
I did actually go without gluten for ages after this, but more as part of an overall eating regime I was into at the time (Whole30), rather than as something I needed to cut out of my diet for good. But over time, the bread, crackers and assorted other gluten-y things crept back in, and before too long it was a staple of my diet all over again.
In parallel with this, my vitality had been going steadily down hill. I have had no energy or motivation for anything, for ages. After I gave up my well-past-its-use-by-date job, which was literally sapping my will to live, I thougth all this would change dramatically – with plenty of time to sleep, relax, and recharge my batteries, I thought for sure my energy levels were going to rebound significantly during this hiatus.
Unfortunately, not only did they not rebound, they seemed to continue going downhill. It has been a very frustrating experience, and I kept thinking…just give it time, you’ll turn the corner soon.
Nope. Didn’t happen.
So, fast forward to the recent Christmas feasting. I haven’t been going crazy, but there has been a dramatic increase in the amount of gluten in my diet. Crackers with cheese, bread with meals, cake, pudding, stuffing, biscuits…the list goes on. I haven’t been eating enormous amounts of food, just enormous amounts of gluten-y foods, as you tend to do at this time of year.
At first, I thought it was a hangover, from alcohol that is. It started with heartburn. Awful, sickening, persistent reflux through the day and into the night. Then came the nausea, then the shortness of breath. It was this one that had me quite worried…I kept thinking, surely I haven’t eaten that much? But it felt as if there wasn’t enough room for my breath, like I couldn’t expand my lungs properly…it was very disconcerting, and not a little distressing. And it went on for days.
Then came the strange, bloated feeling…like I was straining against my own skin. And not, I hasten to add, the sort of bloating you feel when you truly have eaten too much…this was more all over…sort of like…hmmm…an allergic reaction perhaps??? But yesterday, I woke up feeling back to normal, breathing deep and regular, no heartburn, strange all-over tight balloon-y feeling gone…I thought, ahhhhhh…thank god that’s over, whatever it was.
Then I had a bit of toast.
Cue heartburn…cue shortness of breath. Fuck. Could it be the bread? Could it be the GLUTEN??
I knew deep in my heart it was. And I knew the time had come to face up to it. I need to break up with gluten. Like, properly, permanently break up…none of this oh but you’re so delicious surely just a piece of bread or a slice of cake won’t hurt or I just can’t bear to ask the waiter is there any gluten in that so i’ll just have whatever’s on the menu and bugger the consequences.
You and me, gluten…we’ve got to admit the truth. We’re no good for each other. It’s time to acknowledge my body just doesn’t tolerate you, regardless of how delicious you are. We have to part ways.
I’ll miss you…but I love me more. Time to reclaim my energy, my sleep…my health.
When am I starting, you ask? On January 1 of course. Like any good addict, i’m having a last hurrah. I’ll be enjoying my crackers and cake and bread right up to bedtime on December 31…and then letting the heartburn hangover on new year’s day remind me once and for all why 2016 was the year I decided to go gluten free.