Hi there, nice to meet you!
First things first. I am one thousand percent gluten free. Everything I eat is completely gluten free. I do not have a gold standard celiac diagnosis… meaning, I did not have a biopsy of my intestines to receive a diagnosis of celiac. I do know however, that if I eat gluten, even a contamination, I get very sick. For days. I am not able to manage daily life skills if I eat gluten. So, since I don’t have a true celiac diagnosis, I am considered “intolerant.” Nothing grates my last nerve more when people ask…. “Are you celiac, or just intolerant?” As if I’m simply being fussy. Yes, truly celiac positive comes with a slew of further complications. Celiac disease is an immune response that attacks the small intestine when you eat gluten. The small intestine is full of these cool little projections that are in charge of absorbing nutrients. The response to gluten flattens out these projections in celiac disease. Think of it like this… as you take your car through a car wash all of those fantastic, octopus-like strips break down and absorp all the dirt from your car. The same strips are in your intestines, called villi, to absorb nutrients. If you have celiac and eat gluten, those villi flatten and can’t absorb nutrients. The damage can also make the intestinal wall a bit leaky so undigested food, toxins and bacteria can escape and wreak havoc in the body. Think of holes in the wall of that car wash, allowing all the dirty water to flood the street. The damage that’s caused can be permanent, leading to long term effects like other autoimmune diseases, rashes, anemia, infertility, and cancers (http://celiac.org/celiac-disease/what-is-celiac-disease/).
So what happens in those of us who are “just intolerant?” This is medically called non-celiac gluten sensitivity. It is thought that the walls of the intestines become inflamed when these people eat gluten. The inflammation causes the same reaction of poor absorption and leaky intestinal walls, but no permanent damage occurs.
There’s more research coming out that looks at the rise of toxins (pesticides and herbicides) in our food sources are causing a rise of gluten intolerance. There’s some consideration in the correlation between the introduction of genetically modified crops and the rise of gluten intolerance.
What does all of this mean?
While my mind would really love the answer to why my body refuses to allow me to eat deep dish pizza and drink beer… it doesn’t change the fact that I can’t bathe in pasta and smash donuts. It does however, make me super thankful that I figured out what was wrong with me and I am able to control my symptoms by simply changing the way I eat. No medication, just diet changes. Beautiful.
My journey started in 2006. Fresh out of nursing school and working a job I loved in a busy ICU. I got sick all of a sudden. Swollen hands, painful joints, sore muscles, brain fog, crushing fatigue coupled with poor sleep… I lost my health, my ability to work… I lost me. For three years I saw various specialists who had varying opinions and diagnosis. I was on so many different prescriptions, and yet nothing was making me feel better. Nothing was healing me. In 2009, I did a fast as part of a spiritual practice. For three weeks I ate nothing but fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. No meat, no dairy, no grains, no coffee, no alcohol, and no sugar. By the end of the first week, just 7 days later, most of my symptoms were gone. I finished out the three weeks, and was able to discontinue all of my medications. I had lost 15 pounds of water weight and was feeling down right sassy. Food sensitivity testing was done and I happily fired my specialists.
So here I am, 8 years later…. gluten, whey/lactose, soy, cashew, and walnut free. I eat tomatoes and garlic on rotation.
I use my nursing degree now to counsel patients on food sensitivities and gut health. I use my passion for good food on this website. The recipes I create are always gluten, soy and dairy free. Our baking mixes are my own original recipes that we used for 4 years in our brick and mortar bakery. We decided to switch from a brick and mortar bakery to an online community. I'm hoping it allows me to play with food and ingredients more, and offer resources to you. Life is good and I want to share it with you.
So. That brings us here. You on that side of the computer screen… me on this side. Different times, different spaces, but there’s this thing that’s brought us together. Each of us has a story, we all have a reason that our food choices are so danged important in our daily world. The reasons, honestly don’t really matter… whether you have a gold standard celiac diagnosis from a physician, a positive food sensitivity test from an osteopath, positive muscle responses from an acupuncturist, or man… you just plain feel better if you don’t eat that damn gluten… we find ourselves here. You on that side of the computer screen… me on this side.
Gluten has become kind of a buzzword lately, hasn’t it? I’m confronted almost daily with such varying emotions tied to this tiny little protein. Seems that everyone has an opinion… and they’re not afraid to share it. Waitresses roll their eyes (you don’t even want to know what the cooks have to say), cashiers comment on how expensive your groceries are, some doctors tell you it’s all in your head (especially if your lab tests are normal), your neighbor says you’re just picky, your office mates want to know why you just can’t have half a bagel???? Holidays are a push-pull of “I am going to stay strong so I feel great… but oooohhhh…. are those Grandma’s cinnamon rolls?????? ” Then there’s all the silly marketing schemes… gluten free water, gluten free auto repair, gluten free checking accounts. Honestly. Dinners out? Business luncheons? Birthday parties? First dates? Ugh. Whatever your reason, this is hard.
Here’s my proposal. Let’s do this together. I don’t care if you’re celiac. I don’t care if you’re “just intolerant.” I don’t care if you’re paleo. I don’t care if you’ve decided to eat only orange vegetables and green fruit (I mean… let’s talk about this one, but I won’t judge). I don’t care if you’re reading this because you’re curious. Let’s unwrap this mystery of gluten free eating, no…. gluten free indulging… gluten free living.
I’m a food nerd. I suppose that’s the same as a foodie… lord knows I love to eat, but food nerd is a little more appropriate. I love the science behind food. I love to understand how things grow to be big and beautiful and fantastically edible. I love to understand how organic foods are different from conventional and how GMOs are completely transforming our food system and bodies. I love to explore how our food effects our bodies, our health. I love to play with food and ingredients and discover the best way to make Grandma’s cinnamon rolls so I can still taste the memories and love, but not get sick. Stick with me kid. We’re gonna figure this whole thing out. Let’s unpack it all, week by week. Leave me a comment and tell me your story! What's something that you'd like to learn?
Until next time- Cheers!