Okay, so I don’t wear a hat…but if I did, it would definitely be off.
You’ll read in a minute why this was almost me at the grocery store yesterday
I know there are people in the world who think that eating gluten-free is a choice, a fad, or maybe a way to demand attention they’re not otherwise getting. But according to an article by Dr. Mark Hyman, MD, along with a host of others, people with gluten allergies and sensitivities have an increased risk of death, from 35%-72% higher in fact.
At the moment I’m in between doctors, but the last one thought it might be a good idea for me to try a gluten-free diet, since the treatment she prescribed for hypothyroidism wasn’t making me feel better…but she didn’t test me for anything.
Much as it pains me to admit it, I only played with the diet for almost two years. Frankly, eating gluten-free is hard. Where is the fun in going out for dinner if you can’t have the fresh-baked breads, the batters, croutons, and desserts? My bread machine used to be my very favorite small appliance, but most gluten-free bread recipes are (in my opinion) awful. They need to be toasted or broiled until very crunchy for me to eat them without gagging…because most baked goods minus the wheat have a very eggy, icky texture that I just really can’t handle.
And so I cheated on the diet…a lot. Sometimes I would go without gluten for months at a time…and then be tempted by things like real, chewy pizza crust, a soft sandwich bun, or a jelly doughnut.
I found out two things during that time. One, it’s pretty much impossible to just cheat once. “Okay, I’m just going to have this sweet roll, or this slice of pizza, and then I’ll be good.” Gluten seems to be addictive…at least it is for me.
I also discovered that as my body healed, the side effects of gluten got worse and worse, until May fourth…almost two months ago. And the only things I’d eaten that I shouldn’t have were one – one – snack cracker and two small bites of cake. That’s it. Everything else was gluten-free.
My symptoms are intestinal, but I also have issues with edema. My feet, ankles and calves will swell up so bad that they actually hurt. My fingers do, too, but not to that extreme. It can take several weeks for all of the swelling to go down…if I don’t have another bit of gluten.
But the symptom that scared me into behaving – forever – has to do with the simple act of breathing. For days after I ate that single cracker and two bites of cake, it felt like my lungs were being compressed. Expending any kind of energy…walking, laying down on my bed, bending down to pick up something I’ve dropped…will make it feel like the air is being squeezed out of me, and inhaling isn’t any easier.
Last summer, just walking in the sand on the beach was a nightmare. I was afraid my daughter was going to have to call an ambulance. It was so bad, and I had so much trouble drawing a breath, I actually thought I was going to die that day. I didn’t realize at the time that it was gluten, until a similar episode happened a few months later and I put two and two together…finally.
And I still allowed ‘real’ food to control me off and on until May fourth. By that time I guess I’d finally been scared enough and, to the best of my knowledge, I haven’t had even a tiny bit of gluten since.
But, as I said earlier, it’s hard. I don’t even want to think of all the money I’ve wasted on gluten-free foods that were disgusting…and wound up in the trash. A ‘corn puffs’ cereal comes immediately to mind. It looked kind of like a name brand that I’ve always enjoyed. Brought it home, poured some in a bowl with milk, took a bite…anticipating something normal…only to find that it was actually the tops popcorn. Yes, you read that right. Popcorn. For cereal??? Not for me. I tossed the rest of that in the garbage.
Crackers that have the texture of rice cakes when you start chewing them, instead of the saltine crunch I crave. Funky flavors, tough breads, non-flaky biscuits. Yeah, not an easy transition to make.
So as I said in the beginning, eating gluten-free is hard. But some companies are stepping up to the plate and making life easier for people like me. As I write this, three little tubs of Pillsbury dough – pizza crust, chocolate chip cookie, and pie crust – are sitting on a shelf in my refrigerator. Tonight I used some of two for my supper – a small pizza and a couple of cookies.
I’m going out on a limb and saying the pizza crust is great. My only complaint about what I made is that I used a new sauce…and didn’t like it at all. But for texture and holding up…the crust was fine. The cookies…oh wow! It was SO great to have a cookie that was soft…and tasted like a cookie…that I was tempted to go bake the rest of them. Common sense did prevail though, so I’ll be able to use my toaster oven to bake just a few at a time over the next couple of weeks.
If you, or someone you know, needs to eat gluten-free, I encourage you to click on the link above for more information. Pillsbury doesn’t seem to be doing a lot of advertising, so I’m going to do a little for them.
Feel free to share this link, reblog this post or whatever. I want to get the word out so these products don’t disappear. I’ve already called the manager of my local grocery store to let him know how happy I am that they’re now available…and to strongly urge him to put them in a more prominent place, rather than kind of hidden near the bottom of their regular Pillsbury display case.
I almost forgot…they have a lot of recipes for these three products on their website. I’m looking forward to trying some of the tarts with the pie dough. 🙂
Psst! Did you hear about my new secret group on Facebook? It’s so secret you won’t be able to find it no matter how hard you look. In fact, the only people who will find it are those who have subscribed to my newsletter (http://kristykjames.net/newsletter/), and who send me an email or Facebook message letting me know they’d like to join. That way I can send an email invitation.
Why a secret group? I thought it would be a fun place to just chat and get to know one another. Yes, I’m still a teenager at heart. I’ve always liked the secret clubhouse kind of thing. They always seemed so mysterious and exclusive.
That is awesome you are able to stick to the gluten free diet. There is no way in the world that I would be able to do it. I have worked with students that were on a special diet of no gluten and no dairy and I just shake my head at the cost and the inconvence of it. (I have never tried it, so I can’t shake my head at that…LOL)
Oh it could be worse, Danielle. Compared to what people were forced to eat even five years ago, I’ve got it pretty easy. But even if it wasn’t, that whole respiratory thing would keep me on the straight and narrow now. It is really scary, especially when just four bites of a food with gluten will make it hard to breathe and walk for a few days.
Please feel free to shake your head though. It is a major pain, lol. 🙂
It’s awesome that somebody finally decided to produce gluten-free products which are actually edible! I’m so happy for you 🙂 But to be honest I’d love to see the youtube of you dancing at the store. lol
Thanks, Debbie! I’m pretty happy about it, too. I have found a bread mix that makes great pizza crust and bread sticks (like take-out), and Betty Crocker came to the rescue with a cake and brownie mixes…AND biscuit mix. They’re not really like real biscuits, but they’re a lot better than some of the others I’ve tried.
Um….about that dance. Unfortunately common sense prevailed there, too, and I resisted the urge. I wasn’t quite ready for a vacation at the local funny farm. I want to put that off until late July or August so I can take advantage of their central air conditioning. 😉
Oh wow! I’m so happy that you found something yummy that won’t hurt you. Being gluten free is super hard and I applaud you for committing to it. I had my last cup of coffee on February 26th. That’s the day I finally, finally admitted that coffee doesn’t like me. I don’t get as sick as you, nor is it anywhere near what you have to deal with, but I can empathize a tiny bit with you. Enjoy your new find.
Oh I can totally relate to the caffeine/coffee thing, Tameri. My pregnancies were high risk so I gave up coffee to hopefully help that. It was a MISERABLE experience. So bad in fact that I said the heck with it and never started again. I knew there would come a day when I would want to give it up for health reasons…and didn’t want to go through that again. I still miss it even now. My body is so used to no caffeine now that when I overindulge in chocolate occasionally, it makes me shaky.
But thank you, yes. I totally intend to enjoy these products. I’m trying to figure out what I want to try with the pie crust. I’m thinking chocolate tarts and breakfast tarts (something I can freeze for a quick meal or snack). I would have said chocolate and egg tarts…but that just sounded wrong. 🙂
Hi Kristy. I have trouble with my thyroid too and I hated the idea of taking a pill every single day for the rest of my life. But, there’s just some things you have to do.
I’m so sorry about your gluten-free experiences. I’m sure I couldn’t do it. Kudos to you for finding the problem (finally) and now trying to kick it in the butt. I hope all of the Pillsbury stuff keeps you focused and positive in your fight for good health.
w/a Jansen Schmidt
LOL…I’m definitely focused on that now. May fourth was the second of four Saturdays in a row when I’d planned to eat gluten. Four celebrations where I looked forward to eating real food. But after the second one, on the fourth, I realized how stupid I was being. The next event was six days away and I was still having all the horrible side effects…and really scared because I knew about the time the respiratory ones eased up, I’d just be causing them again…and I said enough!
It’s funny you mention kicking something in the butt. I’m working on another non-fiction book about me. Who knows when it will be finished, but kicking butt is actually in the title. I’ve been reading/watching videos by Dr. David Brownstein and I’m hoping some of what he has to say will, if nothing else, make my thyroid work more efficiently. 🙂