Thursday, February 11, 2010

Adventures in Gluten-Free Living: Take One

The more I thought about it, the more I thought I might as well share a few of my gluten-free experiences with all you lovely readers. Why? Well, first of all, it provides me with something to talk about when I can't think of anything else, or when I've already featured other Etsians several times this week. ;) Secondly, there are a lot more people out there that have celiac or other gluten-intolerances, just like me, who might appreciate the humor in what I've gone through. Thirdly, I think there are some myths out there involving being gluten-free, and I'd like to dispel them.

Ok, so I don't have time to tell you everything I've already learned in the short month and a half that I've been gluten free, but I will share some things.

First, my story: I've had icky stomach issues for years. I was told it was IBS; I was told I needed more whole grains; I was told it was the arthritis meds I take (which is actually pretty legitimate there, that has been part of the problem); I was told it was all in my head (SOOOOO tired of that one!); I was basically told all sorts of things that never helped.

After switching to a new primary care before the new year, I approached her with my ideas on how what I eat might be affecting my arthritis pain, and whether or not I could try this diet that I created after doing research. As we talked, I mentioned all the stomach stuff, and she said "Have you tried going gluten-free?" She then explained that she could give me a test, but that it would cost a lot (let's just say my insurance is basically nonexistent), or that I could try gluten-free for two to three weeks, and then if I didn't notice improvement, I could stop.

So I went home, talked it over with the hubs, and from that point we agreed to go gluten-free (at home - my hubs eats whatever he wants when he is at work because he doesn't NEED to be gluten-free). The long and short of it? I saw improvements within DAYS of switching! All those years of thinking I needed to shove more whole grain bread down my throat to feel better was actually making me SICKER!!

I have now been gluten-free since the beginning of the year, and feel wonderful.

So, myth #1: If you find yourself irregular, you need to consume more whole wheat. FALSE! Sometimes you have a gluten intolerance - go get tested, or at least talk it over with your doc.

Myth #2: Only people who are super-skinny can be celiac. FALSE! I found out that many people - myself included - actually gain weight with worsening symptoms, because you bloat out and retain a lot of water, and you aren't getting the nutrients you need from your food. In fact, at the gluten-free support group I went to, at least 50% of us newly gluten-free were "chunky".

Myth #3: Gluten-free foods taste nasty. TRUE and FALSE! lol. There are definitely some incredibly nasty, barf-worthy gluten-free foods out there. I should know, we've tried many of them! But there are also some really great products.

And here is where I want to give a shout-out to an incredible local company that has provided me with a reason for living (yeah ok I would have kept living anyway, but this made my gluten-free life more enjoyable):

Pudgy's Pizzeria in Omaha, NE. Click here for their website.

Of all the things I was missing, pizza was my top gluten craving!! Pizza is probably one of my most favorite foods of all time. I had made a few homemade versions, but nothing beats pizzeria pizza.

We heard that Pudgy's had gluten-free pizza, so despite the fact that it's a good half hour drive from our house, we drove out last night and tried them.

I AM IN LOVE!! *throws handfuls of hugs and kisses into the air*

Not only do they have gluten-free pizza, but it's INCREDIBLE in taste and is just like regular pizza! Plus, they have gluten-free breadsticks, they have salads, AND they have gluten-free hot wings!!! AND THEY LET YOU CHOOSE ANY AND EVERY TOPPING IN ALMOST EVERY SINGLE SIZE! That is way better than our local Godfathers, where you are limited to a small pizza with one of the following: pepperoni, hamburger, combo (both meats), or cheese.

Their service is incredible - the owner is there, friendly, and more than willing to strike up a conversation - and their prices are even better - we got a 14" pizza, one deluxe Chicago-style hotdog with the works (for my hubs), an order of breadsticks and a drink for under $25!! Plus, they had out gift certificates that you can sign up for free to receive special deals from them, and they have a coupon magnet program - you get 1 magnet per $15 you spend, and once you have 10 magnets you can turn them in for $15 off an order!!

Let me tell you people - this is the best of the best when it comes to Gluten-Free restaurants! If you are near Omaha, NE you really need to stop in and check them out!!

Anyway, on with other work. I will post some other time about some other gluten-free experiences I have had. :)

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