Suddenly Celiac: Coming Clean with Gluten

October 20, 2017

Dear Gluten,

It’s been about 3 weeks since I got your Dear John letter. Wow, that was something else. It was pretty earth shattering there for a while, but I wanted to write you to let you know that I’m doing okay. Actually, I’m doing great without you. I don’t want to rub that in your face too much though because I was always taught to take the high road. I’ll do my best, but there are a few things I need to get off my chest.

It was hard to clean out the house. I’ll be frank, that royally sucked and quite the challenge as well. Sure, the pastas and flours and such, those were easy. Getting rid of all the condiments where there’d been double-dipping (e.g. cross-contaminated), like the mustard, mayo and jam jars, was a bit of an effort, albeit a costly one. And tossing nearly all the Asian sauces, now that was rough. I loved those sauces. Everything went to good homes though (I didn’t want to be wasteful), and anything that hadn’t been opened yet, like the Costco size soy sauce, went to our local food bank, so really it ended up being a win-win. What was really a slap in the face was having to investigate literally each and every brand of gloss, lipstick, and chapstick that goes on my mouth. That’s where you get tricky, Gluten, because there’s no requirement to label these products gluten free. No, siree. And when you’re snuck into cosmetics you often go under the guise of triticum vulgare (wheat) and hordeum vulgare (barley). Clever you. You’d think cosmetics companies would want to save precious character space on those teeny tiny labels and just print “wheat” instead of the aforementioned in the ingredients list, but I guess Latin sounds swankier than gluten.

Needless to say, it has been an expensive endeavor ridding my life of you. Do you have idea what a Clarins lipstick costs? A Bobbi Brown one? Almost $30 buck a pop. I can't even talk about Chanel or I'll weep. Yeah, it adds up. Emery (you remember my 7-year-old daughter?) is thrilled at having a whole new collection of “grown up” lipsticks to add to her play makeup kit. She especially loves that brand new Taylor Swift red one (I couldn’t pull it off anyway). It actually was a good teaching moment, though, handing her that loot of lipsticks. You know, the whole “less is more” thing.

The hardest part about not having you in my life anymore is navigating restaurants. I never gave a second thought to a menu before. But now?, holy cow!, it’s like walking through a mine field! Even if something says it’s gluten free you really don’t know if it truly is. It may be gluten free enough for the skinny model chick who’s afraid of getting a muffin top, but “gluten free enough” is not good enough for me. It’s not even safe for me to pluck croutons off a salad. And forget French fries. If they were fried in the same oil as, say, the beer battered fish I covet so, then forget it. But little by little I’m learning which restaurants actually know how to handle gluten free dishes properly for people like me, and which are just catering to those following the "diet du jour." I do miss the spontaneity of going out for dinner, now it simply requires a lot more forethought than it did before.

I do sometimes wonder if all the random issues and illnesses I’ve had in my life were because of you. Like why was I the only kid in school who got bacterial meningitis? Was it because my immune system was shot and I was the lucky one who couldn't fight it? Was my infertility caused by you? Those two years of fertility meds and sticking my belly and butt with needles filled with hormones made Lance Armstrong look like an amateur. But it was way worth it in the end because we finally got our beautiful Emery. I know I'll never have answers to the aforementioned questions, and that’s fine, but I do know my low thyroid is because of you. Thanks. (Sorry, fell off the high road a smidge there).

But on to the good things I’ve experienced without you…

I’m pooping much less now! I know, I know, tmi, right? I thought it too provocative to talk about poo as well, but Dr. Oz says we should all be talking about our doodie: what it looks like, how much we’re going (or not going). It really can tell us a lot about what’s going on in our bodies and we should stop and listen more. My doctor told me, “Nooo, going 5 to 6 times a day is not normal.” Who knew?! I just thought I ate a lot of fiber. So, my bathroom and I are spending a lot less time together. Fine by me.

I’m also much nicer. You might say that I’m already a really nice person, and I would agree, but my family delicately informed me the other day that I had been getting a bit snippy sometimes. That damn near broke my heart because they are my heart, my soul, my every reason for being. But now, even just 3 weeks without you, I am “The Nicest Mom Ever.” At least that’s what Emery tells me and I’m going with it.

If I do say so myself, I think I have a bit of a twinkle back in my eye and a lil’ skip in my step, too. Sometimes I catch myself smiling for no reason and it’s because I feel so much freakin’ better without you. So when you told me it was you and not me you were so right. It was totally you! (Darn it, sorry, I totally fell off the high road again there).

It’s funny, I started writing this letter thinking I needed closure with you, but I realize that you never get closure with a break-up. Instead of banging your head against the wall trying to find answers to all the why’s, or trying to connect the dots where there may not be dots to connect, I’ve learned you just need to accept and move on and find your own happiness (and health!).

And that’s exactly what I’m doing.



Resources I’ve found essential in my understanding of and recovery from celiac disease, chronic gastritis, and inflammation:


Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic

Mayo Clinic Going Gluten Free: Essential Guide to Managing Celiac Disease and Related Conditions

Gluten Freedom: The Nation's Leading Expert Offers the Essential Guide to a Healthy, Gluten-Free Lifestyle

What I’m cooking out of now:

Jennifer's Way Kitchen: Easy Allergen-Free, Anti-Inflammatory Recipes for a Delicious Life

The Anti-Inflammatory Diet & Action Plans: 4-Week Meal Plans to Heal the Immune System and Restore Overall Health

The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen: Recipes for Noodles, Dumplings, Sauces, and More

Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Baking Revolution Continues with 90 New, Delicious and Easy Recipes Made with Gluten-Free Flours

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