Saturday, June 25, 2011

Goodbye Bread!

Ever since I was little, I've had a faulty stomach.  I remember going places and always looking for the fastest way out in case I had to throw up.  (No, I don't throw up often and never have, but I did feel sick all the time and it just became a part of my personality to think I was going to barf.)  I always eyed the closest bathroom and made sure I could get there fast if I had to.  I envied everyone who could eat a chili cheese dog and drink however much they wanted because I never felt good when I ate badly or drank alcohol.  Ask any of my friends, if there was one thing I could trade in back then, it would have been my stomach.  I wanted a new one, and one that worked!

I told my parents for years that my stomach hurt after I ate.  And I swear I would eat something and then have to run to the bathroom just to see what I came right back out the other end, gross I know.  I thought that maybe I was missing a part of my digestion, that maybe one of my intestines wasn't connected properly.  It got to a point, at the end of high school, were I was a very skinny girl who did not feel like eating at all because everything hurt my stomach.  I have never enjoyed food, cooking or going out to eat because no matter what I did I always felt horrible afterwards.  Eating became a waste of time and I just did it for fuel, never for fun.  I didn't made anything yummy for dinner because no matter what I knew it would make me feel bad.  And, whenever I did cook or go out to eat, I certainly wouldn't eat the leftovers because I thought the dinner itself poisoned me.  Every boyfriend I've ever had got used to eating all of the food I brought home from restaurants because I swore it was the food that was bad and not my stomach.  But, none of it ever seemed to bother them like it bothered me.

About 7 years ago my mom and I went to see a gastrointestinal doctor to find out why my stomach hurt all the time (and ultimately the reason I developed an irrational fear of throwing up).  He diagnosed me with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and gave me a prescription for elavil a drug that used to be an anti-depressant but is now used for chronic pain.  The first time I took it I felt empty, every thought that came in my head just flew out of it, so free and easy.  I started taking it every night in hopes that I would feel better, and for 5 years I did.  I relied on this medicine and instead of fixing the problem or finding out more, I took it to ease the pain in my stomach and ate however I wanted.  Things still bothered me but I think the medicine just blocked the pain, most of the time.  

I ended up needing my prescription refilled so my husband and I headed back in to the doctor a couple of years ago.  He told me that when he diagnosed me for IBS he took blood and actually found that I had two of the three indicators for Celiac Disease, a gluten allergy.  He said that I could get the gluten test done but that it is a small surgery (they take a biopsy of your intestine) and it would only tell me that I would never be able to eat anything with wheat it in again afterwards (there is no magic pill or medicine to help).  So, I told him I would just try it myself and see how I felt.  But of course I didn't and waited two years to actually do something about it.

After we lost the baby a friend of my dad's asked if I had Celiac Disease.  Someone else I talked to also mentioned it so I looked it up and found websites like this, detailing infertility and miscarriage in women with undiagnosed Celiac Disease.  It got me thinking that maybe this is the time to try not eating wheat and I finally had a motivation other than just doing it for me (which was good enough but I thought it would be too much work).  So, I did, and we got rid of all the wheat products in our house in April:

That month, I didn't eat a lot of wheat but drank my beloved Abita Strawberry Harvest wheat beer (you can only get it from March to June in AZ!) and still ate some sauces with wheat in them on occasion (yep, gluten is a thickener so sauces, soups and seasonings use it).  But it May, I went full force because I started to feel better.  And, let me tell you, my life has changed!  I no longer feel sick after I eat, I started cooking more and more using gluten free sauces, pasta and products.  A friend of mine told me that after a couple of weeks of going gluten free that I would feel "light as a feather" and I did, it was amazing.  

Wheat products make you feel full and bread was always my comfort food.  I always ate pasta or bread when my stomach hurt, claiming it made me feel better.  But a gluten allergy can make you suffer up to three days after you eat something, so the bread I thought saved me was actually hurting me.  Lots of people have also asked me since how I will get my whole grain servings, when pregnant again, if I don't eat wheat, but I read this blog and knew it was possible (she had a happy, healthy gluten free baby!)  Whole grains can come from rice and other products, you just have to be more proactive in finding them.  It was tough at first to feel full, I was always hungry because gluten does that to your body, but after eating more protein, trying gluten free hot dog buns, bread and pasta, I felt full and more fulfilled.

It is 2011 and you no longer have to eat gluten in order to have your breads and pastas, there are so many alternatives out there.  We have found lots of products that taste just like the real thing, and after you see how good you feel, you don't even miss the wheat.  Sometimes I find myself eating gluten free spaghetti and I have to stop for a minute to remember that my noodles are gluten free, they taste just like real wheat noodles, no kidding.

Here are some of the products we like best:

You can get this stuff at Sunflower, Whole Foods, Wal-Mart and even your regular grocery store, they all have gluten free sections or food marked gluten free.  Bob's Red Mill makes gluten free cake mixes, flour and bread mixes, Annie's makes blue box mac and cheese (just like my favorite, Kraft!) and a velveeta kind, San-J makes gluten free cooking sauces and soy sauce, you can get banana bread mix, french bread mix, pancake mix (even Bisquick has a version!) and pizza crust mix, we like the Trio breakfast bars, Thai Kitchen rice noodles and the best gluten free version of pasta is Tinkyada brown rice spirals (at Wal-Mart for $2.99!).  Udi's and Rudi's makes gluten free pizza crust, bread, hot dog buns, cupcakes and doughnuts and French Meadow Bakery makes gluten free cookies and brownies.  There is a whole world of gluten free products out there, just try them and you will LOVE them!

My whole life I always hated Chinese food and Mexican food, because it hurt my stomach.  I thought it was the cheese, beans and mix of flavors but really it was the gluten.  Soy sauce, and most Asian sauces, have gluten in them (including BBQ sauce) and the tortillas were the ones killing me at all the Mexican food places.  Who knew?!
When you are making dinners that are gluten free, make sure you stock up on protein instead, so you feel full.  Tofu, greek yogurt, fruits, veggies and spinach have been life savers for us.  Here are some things we've made:

(Chicken kabobs with gluten free soy sauce, Italian dressing, balsamic vinegar and veggies.)

(Machaca from a grass-fed beef pot roast with peppers and onions.)

(Here's that pot roast, with onions potatoes and parsnips.)

(This stuff is amazing, see it below with gluten free pasta, chicken and veggies.)

(Made our own fries from potatoes and french fry seasoning with grass-fed beef burgers on gluten free buns.)

(We make these with tofu and chicken, just fry either one in olive oil and then add to Frank's wing sauce and butter and cover with feta and ranch, on gluten free buns with sweet potato tots made with gluten free flour.)

(We buy this mix at Sunflower and it makes two large pizza doughs.  Cover it with sauce cheese, veggies and grain-fed chicken meatballs and it is delicious!)

You definitely do not have to sacrifice taste, or even a bunch of money to go gluten free.  It just takes reading labels sometimes and bringing your own buns to a BBQ but it is SO worth it.  You can also eat so many things you ate before like rice, potatoes, and chips - you just may have to google some things before you buy/eat them.  Frito-Lay even has an amazing website that tells you all of the different brands of chips and which ones are gluten free!  Many companies do, and lots of message boards post about different foods, just look up something if you aren't sure.

For those of you in my life who are constantly wondering what I can and can't eat, here is some information about a gluten free diet (which someone with Celiac Disease must adhere to).  And, here is a list of all the foods I have to avoid for the rest of my life, as someone with Celiac Disease. 

This has been a life-changing journey for me.  So many people suffer from this disease and don't even know it, and I was one of them.  If you have an aversion to food, if your stomach hurts all the time, if you have abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhea, I suggest you don't wait almost 33 years to try it out like I did.  I could have been feeling better this whole time if I just would have known.  Just how many people have this disease?  Here is an article that talks about how common it is.  Some people are even going gluten free as a diet, here is a great article on how going gluten free is also a diet fad today.  (It does help you to feel/look less bloated and heavy all the time.)

So, there it is.  Who knows if this is the reason we lost the blueberry, but I KNOW that it is the reason for me feeling bad most of my life and not loving food as much as I should have.  Thank goodness it is so easy to get gluten free products now, and that companies are labeling their food so that we know if it is good for those of us with the allergy.  I don't even miss the things I used to eat, because I remember just how bad they made me feel, and it has completely changed my life.  I guess everything does happen for a reason and as I write this I feel thankful that I tried this out and it helped, even though it took a very significant and sad event in my life to make me do so, it was the push I needed.  It's funny how things work out sometimes, and hopefully now me, and our future babies, will be healthier because of it.  (And thank you to my husband, Ian, who has taken this journey with me and been so supportive, he is feeling better because of it too!)

If you have any questions about this, please post them below.  I would be happy if I can.  Thanks for listening, I hope this helps others out there, like me.  After all, this is why I write this blog, for me and for you.  :)


  1. This is interesting! I've been told I have IBS too and it seems like bull. Though getting my gall bladder out might help but not really. It just seems like such a HUGE step!! Thanks for posting :)

  2. Great post Allison! Thanks for the blog shout-out as well! I can relate to what you went through growing up, as I was always looking for the nearest bathroom too...I even went through a phase where I would wrap a sweater around my waist everywhere I went because I was afraid I wouldn't make it to the bathroom in time. Kind of strange, but definetely a sign that something was up with my stomach. Too bad my doctor just prescribed me Zantac instead of seeing if gluten or other foods were the problem. Best of luck on your gluten-free journey, and I'm glad you have been feeling better already. By the way, $2.99 for Tinkyada?! That's a great deal! ( :

  3. Becky - try going gluten free!

    Ashley - nice to hear from you! Congrats on your new bundle of joy!