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Not Guten for My Gut.

Skipping gluten was once classified as a preference, but the last few weeks have shown me – beyond a shadow of a doubt – that gluten is not “guten” for my gut.  It feels good, figuring out what was causing so much chaos, and I feel more human, and much healthier.

So all that “oooh, so healthy!!” stuff aside, going gluten-free while traveling is a pain in the ass.

Choosing gluten-free options isn’t unfamiliar territory for me, as we did skipped gluten entirely for Birdy for the first 15 months of her life.  I’m accustomed to carefully reading food labels while shopping, and I’m no stranger to reshaping recipes to fit nutritional needs.  But on the road, it’s hard to tell what foods contain what.

Last week, my family and I were in Vienna, Austria and it was my first experience with “needing” to be gluten-free and being away from home at the same time.  At home, I can read labels.  In Vienna, I couldn’t even read the menu unless it had English subtitles.  The language barrier, plus the dessert constants, made this trip a challenge.

“Let’s stop at that cafe and get strudel!”

“How about some chocolate cake?”

“The schnitzel looks delicious!!”

Everything in Vienna looked delicious, and covered in a layer of gluten.

Being gluten-free is a double-edged sword, but one “for good,” as my daughter would say, because rethinking carb consumption is (sigh) good for my blood sugars.  Avoiding the cream-filled desserts and opting for coffee instead gave me some really steady post-prandial blood sugars.  Not piling on the carbs made for awesome Dexcom graphs, but it was frustrating to have yet another food rule in place.

“I’m pissed off because it’s not a matter of choice.  I like choosing healthier foods, but I really don’t like being forced to because of all this gluten crap,” I said to Chris over yet another boiled-chicken-over-greens lunch.

“I know,” he said, diving compassionately headfirst into a plate of schnitzel.

And sometimes things just got all screwy.  Like on the plane ride home to Boston, where I avoided the roll of bread and opted for the chicken-and-rice meal choice, only to find out from the flight attendant that the sauce on the chicken contained flour (the presence of which was confirmed by my belly about 45 minutes later).  Or when I ate a bag of plane pretzels, forgetting that I needed to care about gluten.  My brain isn’t rewired yet and I need to constantly remind myself (see also:  grabbing a bite of Birdy’s breakfast cereal, only to remember that it contains gluten, and then spitting it into the garbage).

Because it’s not all in my head.  Removing the fog and bloating from my body’s repertoire is such a relief, and I have no desire to go back to the way I’ve been feeling over the last year.  The few times I made the mistake of eating something with gluten in it, I regretted it.  The return of bloating, headaches, abdominal discomfort, and exhaustion were a reminder that my body does not respond well to gluten.  Even if the tests for celiac and gluten sensitivity came back negative, there are clear and present markers that I feel better going gluten-free.

This is an adjustment, but in time, I’ll have a plan.  I’ll have this figured out.  My health is worth the investment.  Besides, Riesling is gluten-free, so I’ll be just fine.

10 Comments Post a comment
  1. Laddie Lindahl #

    When I did my 3-week G.F. Trial earlier this summer, my only almost-oops moments were when I was feeding grandchildren. More than once I caught myself starting to grab a cracker when I poured some in a snack-cup or star or eat the crusts cut off a sandwich. It was an eye-opener to see how much mindless snacking I do around the kids.

    Although G.F. can be a pain, I am so glad that it makes you feel better. My endo is a big believer that a gluten sensitivity is possible even if you don’t have a positive celiac test. And GF can also be good for diabetes unless you start buying some of the horrible GF products made with rice starch, tapioca, and about 20 other unheard-of ingredients.

    Since you live in RI, you should just go to Bigfoot Katy’s house for dinner every night.

    09/22/14; 2:25 pm
    • “Since you live in RI, you should just go to Bigfoot Katy’s house for dinner every night.”
      Sounds like the absolutely best option! 🙂

      09/23/14; 12:28 am
  2. It doesn’t exactly apply in this case, but… YouCanDoThis. Actually, you are doing this. Hope the trip (and the conference) was nice anyway.

    09/22/14; 3:43 pm
  3. Suki #

    Funny that should pop into my mailbox, as I am just now listening to “Wheat Belly.” I really feel like the time is come for me to try gluten free in earnest. I have made some of the same mistakes you described, such as mindlessly grabbing some food stuff, only to remember after it is in my digestive tract that it did indeed contain wheat flour. I also found that it helped me to have gluten free crunchy snacks, such as Mary’s Gone Crackers. Good luck to both of us!

    09/22/14; 7:59 pm
    • I’ve heard so much about that book that I think it’s time for me to read it. Finally. (And good luck to you!!!)

      09/22/14; 8:11 pm
  4. The problem is that eating gluten free while travelling is still a complicated thing even after 16 years – both from an organisational and emotional standpoint. Though it is definitely easier now than it used to be. And you are right, at least the wine is always gf! 🙂

    09/23/14; 9:25 am
  5. Olivia #

    I’ve been a Type One since I was nine years old, and allergic to gluten since I was six. Recently I also quit eating dairy, and those are only the two “big” allergies. There’s also a huge list of little ones…cilantro, tomato, banana, blue food coloring, anything citrus, carrots, radishes, avocado, peanuts, etc…I could go on, but I won’t.
    If I’m away from home I usually just bring my own food. It’s much easier that way. 🙂

    10/20/14; 3:44 am

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