(Post warning – some photos in this post may be unsuitable for all audiences.)
As you all know I have been down for the count the last week. This is not the first time that I have had this happen but it doesn’t get easier. Aside from the guilt that comes from missing things like work, family obligations, and activities with friends there is also the “I should be doing something other than laying in bed” guilt. It’s hard, but we need to give ourselves a break sometimes. As I am now feeling more human I have been going nonstop for the last 2 days (and currently avoiding finishing my final paper like the plague) I thought I would take a break and finally say Hi to you all.
So I wanted to have some real talk about Gluten Free Food. I have had 3 tests come back saying that I have Celiac’s disease. Three times (and then really every time I eat) I have ignored that information. More recently I have been diagnosed with Dermatitis Herpetiformis (D.H.) which is basically this awful, itchy, burning, itchy, painful, (did I mention itchy?) rash. Mine is on my foot, and thankfully only on my left. I have had this rash for about 8 years and been diagnosed with everything from warts to Dyshidrotic eczema and been treated for all of them. None of the treatments worked, so it has become something that I try and deal with. I have found creams that make the itching bearable, I have been on crutches when it is really bad, and more often then not I have to pass on the pedicure before vacation. My problem with this diagnoisis is that the immediate treatment for D.H. is Dapsone which I am HIGHLY allergic to. The 2 other drugs that might help are also Sulfra based so again, a hospital stay does not sound worth it. Because, yea that is my life. So instead of being able to have any relief I have to do it the old fashioned way and cut out Gluten. (I should also be cutting out dairy – but you can only ask a girl to do so much!)
So here’s the thing – Being gluten free is not the end of the world. There are so many freaking options now that are actually quite edible, if i dare say delicious? I am so super lucky that my best friend started her journey with Celiac’s a few years ago and is a G-d damn pro. If you don’t have a super fantasic wifey like I do then the internet is your new best friend. Pintrest has SO. MANY. F*#KING. RECIPES. Like for real! (Check out my pintrest or insta for some ideas!)
I want to remind you that I am not a doctor, I am not recommending going gluten free as a diet. But if you chose to cut gluten out of your life, like so many of us Lymies have, here are the top five things that I wish someone would have told me (or if they did I would have actually listened):
I wish there was a book that you were handed when you get a diagnosis that was called “Celiac’s for Dummies” (or Lyme for that matter!!!!!). In my perfect world that I have created this book would have a encyclopedia list of gluten free foods, a restaurant section, a makeup and beauty product section (oh yea, you read that correctly – see #3), and then a recipes section with only delicious and inexpensive meals that your whole family would love, and no child would ever complain about. Unfortunately, the internet is as close as you are ever going to get to that. So do your research. Make sure your resources are credible. Im the first to admit that I go Pintrest happy and just pin things without actually opening them. But make sure you look closer before you leap!
2. Go Cold Turkey
Like seriously, I wish that I could have paid a coach to come in and purge my life of all things gluten harboring. The first time I said “ok, this is a thing that needs to happen” I still half-assed it. I would start buying a few gluten free meals, or checking labels more, but I was still eating bread. I was not thinking that gluten can be in spices, makeup, beverages, sauces, etc. So while I was thinking I was making better gluten free choices I was ruining whatever gluten free thing I had by adding gluten. The point I really want to make here is don’t make excuses, don’t “cut back”, just rip the f*#king bandaid off and grow a pair, alright?
3. Labels are your friend (and so is google)
There are these super convenient, easy to read labels that are on products now. A really really easy way to start reading labels: if it’s not grown in the ground and fresh or feed something that was grown in the ground (or ocean?) it might not be ok, you better check the label. Like basically if it has a label you need to check it. Beverages are simple, water. HAHAHAH. No but really, there are a ton of alcoholic choices (think wine, cider, spirits – also gluten free beers!) and non-alcholic, just check labels. Stay away from Wheat beers! As for make-up, this is probably more so for those of us with skin related gluten issues, there are companies out there that sell gluten free products. See tip #1 and check the interwebs!
4. Don’t Diet
This was the only mentality that helped me. I wanted brownies I made gluten free ones. If I wanted ice cream I found a GF version of it. It was important to me to know that I wasn’t being forced to diet, I was not eating the things that made me sick. There are GF pasta’s and breads and while you can certainly give up “carbs” I know there is no way I could do that. So bring on the GF pizza, GF burritos, GF crispy chicken – Imma eat it and imma love it!
5. Have Backup
Listen, my husband is totally behind me 110% when it comes to needing to make adjustments to my health but no man is going to give up beer. At least not my man. It’s great that we now hunt for gluten free options together. He wants beer, I’ll have cider or wine (on the rare occasions I actually drink anymore). He wants burgers for dinner, he picks his buns and I get GF ones. We’ve left coffee shops to find other ones where I could get a drink. He makes me feel like he has my back and that’s important because you wont always have that. You will end up meeting friends out somewhere that has NOTHING on the menu you can eat. My recommendation: Carry a protein bar around with you! They make some delicious GF flavors. And know that it is ok to pass on activities you know will involve food, you can meet after, you can host, you can have kick ass friends like I do that have full gluten free menus because they know how important it is.
**Bonus – Have a cheat list
I’m not a professional gluten free person. I’m totally still figuring this out. I know that it could take 6 months or more until I see if this is an accurate diagnosis (the rash – I know I have Celiac’s) so right now I am in it for the long haul. But I also know that if this doesn’t clear up the rash then I may lay in a bag of mini powdered donuts (real talk: If someone knows of a GF version of those help a sista out!). In the meantime I know of people who can’t have a crumb of gluten, those that can have a few sips of beer and be fine – maybe a little uncomfortable, and those that can eat a loaf of bread and the worst that is going to happen is they are going to s&!t a lot. The only way I will know what kind of person I am is trial and error. So I make this imaginary list of foods that I am giving myself the ok to eat if the opportunity arise. Thankfully these things are either food trucks or multiple hours away – right now I think we are safe.
That list involves the following:
Loaded Mac & Cheese bites from Murphy’s Mobil
A caprese grilled cheese from Say Cheese
Cheese Fries from Kelly’s Roastbeef
Gourmet donuts from Duck Donuts
When the craving for gluten foods gets too bad I remind myself that this is what my foot looks like (and how amazing it would be to get a pedicure again!). Please note that these pictures may be disturbing to some. This is what has been diagnosed as Dermatitis Herpetiformis. If you are experiencing any similar symptoms please call your doctor and discuss this. These pictures are all of the same foot at different stages of the rash.