“Any time anyone works to cope with serious changes in diet, there are emotional stages we all face. We are all in the same family.” ~Lee Bernstein~
(Note: Be sure to visit the knitting and food tips at the end of this blog)
One of the things I’m proudest of in life is losing over 100 pounds. Except for a stubborn 15 pounds, I’ve kept it off for almost 20 years now.
So, when I was told I could no longer eat anything that contained wheat, barley or rye, I said to myself, “That’s okay. I can do this. I’m an expert at overcoming food challenges.”
It was odd. I was relieved. revived even, to learn I had gluten-intolerance. My brain and my body had become so excruciatingly ill from gluten, I was grateful to learn I could heal myself by doing something as simple as giving up certain foods.
Well let me tell you, it wasn’t so easy.
As it turns out, I’m one of those gals so sensitive to gluten that even foods labeled “gluten free” can cause me to have a horrible reaction.
Gluten hides, too. It lurks in everything from flavored coffee to licorice to soy sauce.
One of the biggest challenges was remaining symptomatic after giving up gluten in foods. I learned I had to give up my favorite brands of cosmetics, toothpaste, soap, and hair products. I had to stop using our toaster, convection oven, along with anything plastic, wood, non-stick, cast iron (in this case, perfectly seasoned antique cast iron—that one really hurt). This is just a small, partial list—it went on and on.
Because I am so sensitive, I also get reactions to a lot of packaged foods normally considered gluten-free. The problem is they share facilities or lines with gluten or wheat products.
Cross contamination is a challenge, too, especially in restaurants. Unless the kitchen and wait staff are as conscientious as surgical nurses, contamination can happen.
Let’s say I go to a restaurant and order a salad with vinegar and oil dressing. Salad greens, vinegar and oil are all gluten-free.
However, just prior to cutting a tomato for my salad, the preparer assembled a sandwich for another diner. He wipes his hands afterwards rather than scrubbing or putting on never-used gloves. Or maybe a server—someone who has handled tray after tray of gluten-filled meals—puts a straw in my water without scrubbing or putting on gloves first.
These simple acts can cause cross contamination and cause a reaction that may last, at least for me, up to a week.
It is even more difficult to dine with friends and family in their homes. I can’t even use the same can opener as other people.
So as you can see, all of this going gluten free stuff wasn’t nearly as easy as I thought it would be.
It was time for a pity party.
And so, I set about mourning the loss of food and the loss of having control over it. I became quite angry about it – a typical stage of grief.
In other words, I turned into a bitch.
It stuck me how, in many ways, the feelings I experienced were the same as the feelings anyone feels when they have to deal with food issues—allergies, weight loss, diabetes, whatever.
Any time anyone works to cope with serious changes in diet, there are emotional stages we must all face. We are all in the same family.
My rules might be more stringent than the rules some other people have, but my rules also were much easier than wellness issues faced by countless others.
I needed to get over it.
Knitting to the rescue!
Stay tuned . . . my next post will be about how knitting helped turn my life around.
Tips of the Week:
Knitting: I learned this at Sheep’s Clothing yarn shop in Valparaiso, Indiana.
If you use a long-tail cast on and find yourself wondering how much yarn to use for the tail, take the needle you’ll use and loosely wrap the yarn around the needle—one wrap for every cast on.
If you like, add an inch or two more at the end, just to make sure you’ll have enough. Then, proceed to do a long-tail cast on, making sure that the tail yarn goes around your pointer finger and not your thumb.
The pointer finger uses the most yarn during the long-tail cast on process.
I never knew this. I used to put the tail around my thumb. Consequently, I always end up with a tail longer than the devil . . . and please don’t ask me how many times I’d start knitting the first row (sometimes even the second or third or tenth) with the tail instead of the working yarn (even if I trimmed it). I guess the devil made me do it.
This long-tail cast on tip worked perfectly for me. Try it and let me know if it works for you, too. Feel free to share other cast-on tips, too.
I can’t use most store-packaged dried beans due to processing cross-contamination. Since being diagnosed, I’ve tried to find a source for legumes that are packaged gluten-free.
I found one: NutsOnline.com. They carry wholesale nuts, legumes, whole grains (certified oatmeal and quinoa included), dried fruits and more. Many of the items are GIG (Gluten Intolerance Group of North America) Certified Gluten Free.
Not all of NutsOnline products are certified, but many of them are. Look for the Certified Gluten Free designation in the individual product listing.
Many of their products are also Kosher and/or organic. The prices are reasonable. The more you order, the less you’ll pay in shipping charges. Of course, if you have an allergy to nuts, check with NutsOnline first to see if these items are safe to order.
They also have sample packets available if you like to try a little before you buy a lot.
So far, I’ve used their fava beans, organic quinoa, organic cannellini beans, and their cranberry beans, all without issue. Yipee!