Gluten-Free: The Perfect Storm

With May being Celiac Awareness Month, there is all of this talk about available gluten-free products, gluten-free news in the media (FDA Labeling – 1in133.org), and how to go gluten-free. But what there isn¬â„¢t always a lot of discussions about is just really how hard it can be at times to maintain a gluten-free lifestyle.  Well, that is the crossroad at which I am at once again in this process of living a gluten-free lifestyle.

A few months back I went through a very traumatic breakup, leaving me feeling totally shattered.  Just a few weeks after the breakup, I was let go from my job for reasons that were inexcusable.  I¬â„¢d never been let go from a job like this, once again leaving me feeling such a level of betrayal from those around me ¬ Life was not giving me a break!  Not how you want to kick off your 40th birthday or start the New Year, it was the perfect storm! I felt like I didn¬â„¢t need any more character building exercises, I had enough personality and character having been through eight car accidents, a breast cancer scare, and a diagnosis with Celiac¬â„¢s Disease in the last few years.  But what I didn¬â„¢t want to admit to myself, is that I was feeling as though my body has failed me and I was angry at my body!

      

Who talks about being angry at their body or feeling like their body is failing them? I¬â„¢d been over and over this in therapy after my car accidents.  Why was I back at this place again? Yes my body has changed.  So I can¬â„¢t eat everything I once used to.  It¬â„¢s not like I lost a limb or lost my sight.  Poor me I have to really watch what I eat when I go out to dinner or attend food events around town.  I have been heard telling people and this is the premise for my blog is that you can ¬Å“eat gluten-free almost anywhere.¬Â  Not such a big deal right ¬ So why then was I mad at my body?  Well, I think it¬â„¢s pretty easy – It¬â„¢s Change!  I had gone from being a very health, physically fit woman to now having had back surgeries, spinal epidural¬â„¢s every 8 weeks and being overweight.

I went into see my doctor recently and told her I was having a very difficult time with living a gluten-free lifestyle.  I explained that I just got so stressed out that I didn¬â„¢t care what eating gluten was doing to my body, was it really that big of a deal?  So I get an upset stomach from eating food that contained gluten or that my body may ache for a few weeks or months due to the gluten exposure.  I wanted what I wanted, when I wanted it, and the consequences didn¬â„¢t matter, I would pay the bill later.  Sound familiar?  Well the problem with that thinking is that it does matter.  Repeated exposure to gluten can cause some serious long-term effects.  I was aware of this and knew it was going to take at least three to six months for my body to recover if not longer, as I had been exposing myself to gluten for more than two months off and on.  Was I really willing to pay the price?  I¬â„¢d been through a breast cancer scare, had a lumpectomy and remember how terrifying that was.  Did I really want to be treating my body so disrespectfully that I would once again have to come up against another serious diagnosis?  The answer is clearly no!  I also learned that I was punishing myself because I had no other outlet for my unresolved feelings about my car accidents, the breakup and the job situation.  My doctor explained to me ¬Å“your attempting to exert some level of control in your life,¬Â being that I was experiencing major levels of stress in every area of my life.

Why am sharing all of this you may find yourself asking?  Well it¬â„¢s about being honest and about how hard it can be to stay the course when life throws repeated curve balls your way.  We all deal with those curve balls differently, be it stress, a death in the family, a loss of a job, signing that big deal and/or an engagement.  Some of us eat or drink excessively, while others throw themselves into work or exercise.  Many of us struggle with eating right, regardless if we have a food allergy or specific dietary restrictions.  What is important and what I have walked away with is that we have to honor our bodies; it’s really all we have!  It¬â„¢s not like a car you lease for a period of time and then trade it in on a new model.  We get this one body and we have to take care of it so it will take care of us!

The other lesson I have walked away with and really value the importance of this wisdom, is giving one¬â„¢s self enough time and being prepared.  What do I mean by this?  I know I have dietary restrictions I have to live by diligently.  I need to allow myself enough time to prepare my food for meals.  I need to leave myself enough time to shop appropriately for groceries (Big Tip: Create a weekly meal plan).  I need to be prepared and ensure I have gluten-free items in my house at all times so if I am in a hurry, I can grab a quick gluten-free snack or whip up a meal quickly with gluten-free ingredients, not order out or pop through the drive-thru for some fast food.  It¬â„¢s frustrating to me and a bit embarrassing, as I talk about this in my blog quite a bit and it is one of the first recommendations I make to individuals who are going gluten-free. It’s a common misstep, however, a costly one for me as of late.

I hope you find this helpful and know that you¬â„¢re not alone.  Sure it¬â„¢s tempting to eat all of those foods you used to love and remember tasting before going gluten-free! But the beauty of a gluten-free lifestyle is your taking better care of your body, and gluten-free eating and dining out can be just as delicious.  Take the time to learn just how to make your favorites! Not sure where to start? There are some great resources like the National Foundation for Celiac AwarenessWhole Foods Market which teaches several gluten-free classes, as well as several gluten-free cookbooks, gluten-free food bloggers and gluten-free consultants.  There are also support groups! Gluten-Free Faces is a great place to talk to your gluten-free peers!

Thank you for allowing me to share my story with you! Remember it is a journey and if you fall of the wagon, you can always get back on to continue your journey!

Here are some of my favorites & “must-haves” to help me stay on track:

Breakfast/Snacks:

-Almonds (good sources of protein and a quick snack – Other nuts can be used)

-GF Granola (Breakfast)

Fresh Fruit

Hail Merry Snacks (Macaroon¬â„¢s, Nut Mixes)

-GF Yogurt

GF Flours I have on hand at all times:

-Almond Flour

-Brown Rice Flour

-Corn Flour

-Garbanzo Bean Flour

Glutinous Rice Flour

-Sorghum Flour

Quick Prepare items:

-Have meat of your liking cooked and in the refrigerator. You can create a quick salad, or just eat the meat which is a good source of protein

-GF Pasta (My favorite is Schar pastas).  I can add pre-cooked meat to the pasta and add a sauce for a complete meal

-GF Quiche (I make one of these up each week & it¬â„¢s  great for a quick meal be it breakfast·lunch·dinner)

Restaurants/Trailers in Austin I frequent for gluten-free meals:

24 Diner (just launched a gluten-free menu items)

Beets Cafe

Chez Zee

Hopdoddy Burger Bar (ask to not have the bun heated to avoid cross contamination)

Lift Cafe

Parkside Restaurant

Second Bar + Kitchen / Congress

Snack Bar

The Evil Wiener (Food Truck) (I order the Dog Quito on a corn tortilla)

The Peached Tortilla (Food Truck) (I order the catfish on a corn tortilla – breading is corn-based)

Trio at the Four Seasons

Wildwood Art Cafe

Cookbooks:

American Masala (Suvir Suran)

Blackbird Bakery Gluten Free (Karen Morgan)

Elana’s Pantry (Elana Amsterdam)

Simply Sugar & Gluten Free (Amy Green)

Spain – A Culinary Road Trip (Mario Batali)

Thai Street Food (David Thompson)

The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Comfort Food (Bette Hagman)

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