Monday, August 8, 2011

Gluten-Free Trial & Error

For years I have continued to eat my normal diet full of fast food, carbs, starches, junk food, diet soda and still lots of veggies, some fruits and lean meats.  I am a busy mom of five children and I also work part time.  Stress is a huge factor because I am an emotional eater.  Chocolate for anxiety,  carbs for irritability and starch for depression.  Sometimes I even combined all sorts of foods because I wasn't quite sure what I was feeling. 

A few months ago I started to feel nauseus about an hour after eating.  It didn't really matter what I ate...I'd feel sick.  The feelings were real.  In fact, a few weeks before I made a huge self-discovery, I had decreased my intake of food because I couldn't bear feeling nauseus again.  If there is one thing I hate's vomiting.  Luckily, I never actually vomited, but there were times I wish I could because I felt so sick.  It was that bad.  Only two things helped: 1) Not eating.  Bad idea.  Obviously this was something I would struggle with and have....since puberty.  Sigh.  Not eating only lasted for so long because I started to feel a different sickness...hunger and low blood sugar.  2) Snuggling with my husband.  Just laying my head on his chest has eased so many of my aches and pains, emotional/physical/psychologicial, over the years.  My husband is the epitome of my childhood stuffed monkey, "Scooter".  

*********Scooter was a well loved (and needed) friend, so much so that he, to the chagrin of my new husband,  shared our marriage bed for several years. I'm not sure what eventually happened to him and I can't quite remember just when it was that Scooter was replaced retired,  but as I grew to trust my husband more I was able to fall asleep beside him without some fuzzy monkey trying to co-sleep with us.  Later on, we had much better co-sleepers to keep us up at night...there wasn't any room for stuffed monkeys anyways.  Come to think of it, I'm quite sure Scooter is in some plastic tub full of forgotten, well-loved stuffies.**********

On July 16, 2011, I had just retrurned home from a Shakespeare Festival with my middle son, Casey.  I was miserable the whole trip.  Tired, nauseus and just wanting my husband to make me feel better.  The food that was provided was full of all the stuff I normally ate, just more junk,  and when we had to eat a meal on our own, it was fast food.  As we rode home on the 4 hour bus ride, I clutched my pillow and tried to take deep breaths as I looked straight into the cold air blowing on me so I didn't throw up. That evening I made a vow to figure out what was wrong with me.  It wasn't a virus, I was sure of that.  I also knew the answer was obvious, clear as day, but I wasn't seeing it and I had to be the detective.  

One thing was for was making me sick.  Maybe I was allergic to something?  I already knew I was allergic to milk as a baby and it has (in my mind) changed to a lactose "sensitivity".  I am watchful of the amount of dairy I take in because the after effects of too much dairy is not fun.  Also, I am sensitive to eggs.  Too many eggs (more than 2-3 a week) cause some serious IBS issues that are not pleasant for me or anyone else around me.  Taking inventory of what I had eaten on July 17 gave me an pretty clear idea of what might be wrong.  Since I am already conscious of eggs and dairy, I began researching gluten intolerance. Breads and baked goods are a huge part of my diet, so I decided to cut out breads (buns, rolls, toast, pastries...cupcakes ::sniff::) and I didn't feel sick that day.  The next day, I went shopping for fruits, veggies,  gluten-free corn chips and salsa. Obviously, I couldn't live off of these items, but it was all I could do mentally for now.  If things get too complicated I tend to zone out and my body didn't need me to zone out, it needed my full cooperation.  

Wednesday we ate dinner at church.  I called ahead to make sure there was something I could eat and they assured me I could eat it all....except the crutons on the salad.  I was told the ingredients and they even checked the spices to be sure.  I wish I had asked about the refried beans.  I figured they were just beans...there isn't any gluten in beans, or so I thought.  I was wrong and I was sick an hour later until the next morning.  I loathe feeling's the worst!

After that Wednesday I knew it was gluten.  At this point, I'm not sure how much different I'll feel if tests come back negative.  I have struggled to make the GF changes and while it's been so hard to break my bad habits, cravings and such, I know how much better I am starting to feel.  I will still go the medical route...just in case there is something else there, but I'm trusting my instincts on this one.  I've only accidently "glutened" myself twice and purposely once (STUPID!).  That one time was last night when I decided to taste two spoonfuls of the Blue Bunny Red Velvet Cake Ice Cream that is in my freezer....the carton I bought just thinking, "One little taste won't hurt.  I'm feeling better these days." 

 Milk, Cream, Sugar, Red Velvet Cake Pieces (Unenriched Wheat Flour, Water, Sugar, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Corn Starch, Pasteurized Eggs, Cocoa Processed with Alkali, Salt, Baking Soda, Red 40 Powder), Buttermilk, Flavor Base (Corn Syrup, Water, Sugar, Natural Flavors, Salt), Corn Syrup, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Cocoa Processed with Alkali, Mono & Diglycerides, Cellulose Gel, Cellulose Gum, Carob Bean Gum, Guar Gum, Carrageenan, Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 1.

ALLERGEN INFORMATION: Contains eggs, milk and wheat
Uggh! Huge mistake! It was good, but not that good.

 I didn't even tell my husband that I did that to myself and when I longed to lay my head on his chest, I just couldn't bring myself to because I was the one responsible for making myself sick. Sort of a self-imposed punishment because I knew better.  I finally confessed to him why I was sick last night and he laughed.  I'm glad he has a good sense of humor about it because I gave myself a big enough tongue lashing to last a lifetime.  Whether I told him or not, I know his chest is always there for me to rest on.  I love my husband and am extremely grateful for him.