Tuesday, July 17, 2012

"So pretty much, you can't eat anything, right?"

At first, it sure seemed like it. Having been raised by the woman I like to refer to as Martha Stewart #2 (though she prefers "Mommy"), no bread, cupcakes, Chinese food, or cookies seemed like the end of the world to me. How can I function properly without my every-other-day baking (meditation for me) sessions? No more dim sum trips with my pals? Well, yes, but...let me put it this way:

Have you ever taken Benadryl? Nyquil? Tylenol PM? They knock ya right out. Imagine eating a piece of toast for breakfast on a sunny Saturday morning. Now picture yourself suddenly feeling like you've overdosed on Benadryl, without having taken any medicine whatsoever, for the rest of the day, and Sunday too...and the first 3/4 of Monday. Glued to the couch, lethargic, unable to keep your eyes open for more than an hour, and then back to sleep you go.  To some, this lazy lifestyle may sound enticing, but when you're still too exhausted and achey to take a 2-minute walk, things aren't as peachy as they might have seemed. It's as if some unidentifiable power is pulling your eyelids shut and you can't do anything to fight it--you just drift off to sleep. When you're awake, you're grumpy, snappy, and have fog in your head that you can't shake out.

Maybe it's the caffeine messing with me, I wondered. So I cut it out. Nope.
Maybe I should go to bed at the same time every night. I became strict about my bedtime and wake-up time. Nope.
Maybe I should google all of my symptoms...*3 weeks later* Bingo.

Gluten. A protein found in wheat, barley, rye, yadda yadda yadda. Celiac this, celiac that. My head was spinning. Apparently this gluten stuff is everywhere, from breads to soy sauce to "natural flavors" in spice blends. Even ketchup! But apparently gluten intolerance is faaar more common than I thought. Most people just don't know that's what's making them feel tired, nauseous, arthritic, etc. All of my symptoms were on tons of forums and websites dedicated entirely to the gluten intolerant community. I went to the gastroenterologist, who was convinced I had Celiac, but luckily I was tested via biopsy and found out I'm Celiac-free. However, he told me that I had a definite gluten intolerance and advised me to completely cut out all gluten from my diet. 

Lactose. Something I've always known my tummy couldn't take. Shooting abdominal pains within seconds (literally) of eating yogurt or butter made it pretty darn clear I needed to cut that out a long time ago. So I did, for the most part, but now I kinda just pick my battles--if it's worth the stomach ache, I'll indulge. This is only because my lactose symptoms are FAR more short-term than my gluten ones. However, I've recently cut out dairy in addition to gluten because I'm beginning to think some of my brain fog is caused by it. Apparently it's common that those with gluten intolerance also need to cut out dairy as well. What joy. -_-.

Going out to eat with friends has proven to be the most frustrating task. I have a few annoying options to choose from:
1. Don't go and meet up after everyone eats. -- awkward.
2. Go to the restaurant and pester the servers about whether or not they have gluten-free options (they usually don't). -- annoying.
3. Go to the restaurant with your own food and bust out your Tupperware of quinoa while everyone chows down on burgers  -- sad.
4. Eat right before and order water while everyone says "I feel awkward that you're not eating. Are you okay?" -- ugh.
5. Research the restaurant menu via iPhone and cross your fingers the ones your friends picked is safe. 99% of the time, it isn't. Refer to option #4 sans the ability to eat right before. Hungry time!

As you can see, my only really safe option is to make all of my meals at home. It's a little discouraging at times, but it's something I know I'll get used to in due time. If I wasn't taught how to cook at a young age by my mama, I know, without a trace of doubt, that I would have gotten bored with food by now. "Gluten-free" grocery store items like chips and brownie mixes are always overpriced and not even that great. Baked goods are either too gummy, too dense, too light, too something that just ain't right. I can't wait for the day when I make a successful gluten-free cake from scratch. That won't be happening any time soon, though, considering how many expensive flours, starches, and gums I need to blend. :( I shall keep my hopes up high! :)
So for now, I keep each day's food different so that I don't run the risk of getting bored. My pantry and fridge now consist of these vital items:
You won't find much meat in my posts as it doesn't usually sit well in my stomach. 

And these are some of my favorite things to eat:
Microwave poached egg on a broiled GF Trader Joe's waffle.
Sweet coconut risotto with fresh mango slices, topped with toasted sesame seeds.
Whipped cream, vanilla, strained blackberry puree, sugar in an almondmeal tart crust.
Egg whites, broiled GF waffle, avocado, sea salt.
Broiled corn tortilla strips, black  beans in enchilada sauce, avocado.
Quinoa & pinto bean fajita tostadas on broiled mini corn tortillas.
Steamed veggies, black rice, fresh raw corn, liquid aminos (in place of soy sauce).
Vegan nachos from Native Foods Cafe.
Cheesed & cheeseless enchiladas with quinoa, chicken, lime, cilantro, and spices.
Banana oatmeal pancakes topped with almond butter.
Broiled salmon, steamed veggies, balsamic reduction.

Tomatoes, quinoa, black rice, kale, peas, onions, curry, broth, and spices simmered together.

Using this recipe: http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com/2007/04/veggie-lovers-shepherds-pie.html

Cut-up vegan patty & edamame sprinkled with BBQ seasoning.

I was devastated upon hearing about my gluten intolerance, but my tummy doctor put it into perspective: "Cutting out wheat is like having a table full of assorted fruits and you simply cannot eat one of those fruits. You have all the other fruits in the world to eat. Why worry about the only one you can't touch?" Thanks Dr. Lai :)

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