Gluten sucks…

It’s really been the week that wasn’t.

I wanted to write about painting wallpaper, and thrift store art (both mentioned here)–but I didn’t.

I wanted to show you a really cool fabric store (mentioned here)–but I didn’t.

And I wanted to experiment further with home-made tortillas (mentioned here) so I could share some great stuff with you in today’s Friday Food post–but I can’t.

There’s a couple of reasons for all that, but the main one is that on Monday night or Tuesday morning (or both), I most likely ate something with gluten in it.

What it’s like

By early Tuesday morning the migraine hit, accompanied by its usual partners in crime: nausea, body aches, foggy brain, fatigue, etc. I had to stay at work for a crucial afternoon meeting, and then I went home and passed out for several hours.

Thought I was a little better by Wednesday, but left work after a few hours. The headache was mostly gone, but the intestinal issues were worse. Went home and passed out again, after eating a lunch of white rice with chicken broth–the only thing that felt remotely possible. Dinner that night was rice and beans and corn tortillas (not, however, homemade ones). Thursday was similar to Tuesday (had to stay at work), and I’m not really sure how today’s going to go. Having typical pre-migraine signs this morning–so maybe this isn’t about gluten at all (which would be more discouraging yet, as I’d be back to not knowing what’s really going on).

More frustrating than feeling crappy is not knowing why

The most frustrating thing? I’m not sure what the source of gluten was (or, truly, if this was a gluten-caused episode). Added some A.1. sauce to some hamburger (eaten with no bun) on Monday night. Had cereal on Tuesday I thought was safe (it’s made of oats), but maybe it’s not. I’ve learned that even oat cereal can be trouble if made in a facility that processes wheat products, and most are.

Spent time trying to find out if A.1 is gluten-free, but the results of my internet research were inconclusive. Many people say yes, but I can’t actually find an online list of Kraft’s list of gluten-free foods. It used to contain malt vinegar (and malt has gluten), but apparently it doesn’t anymore. I don’t know for sure; I’d need to call Kraft and I just wasn’t up for that kind of phone call. Maybe next week.

The bright side of needing some answers is that I did find this great resource on the Glutenista site, which lists all kinds of gluten-free food companies and gluten-free food lists from mainstream food companies.

Since going gluten-free, it seems that I am more sensitive to it than ever. I don’t know if this is typical. It is frustrating. Except this time, every time I’ve had migraine since going off it, I can conclusively trace it to a likely ingestion of gluten.

Since going gluten-free, when I accidentally eat some–even the smallest amount–I get a migraine and the severity is off the charts. Off my previous charts, anyway.

Why this stuff matters to anyone, not just the gluten-intolerant

And so, I have no great ideas or thoughts to share with you this week. I have had no energy to try anything new or take any photos or ponder the deeper meaning of any of this. (And really, who wants a photo of rice and steamed vegetables, which is about all I’ve been eating?)

The pondering has been especially challenging, as the brain fog has been the worst part.

Bottom line:  I’ve been too sick to do many of the things I wanted to do this week.

And this is why food matters. I am realizing in ways I never could when I could eat complete crap and do whatever I wanted (and look the way I wanted) that food is our fuel. That media campaign from our childhood was right:  We are what we eat. When we eat junk, we can’t do and be all that we want to. In my 20s, I was better able to power through feeling like crap (because I did eat lots of what I’d call crap, and I felt like crap much of the time) but I look back now and just wonder what I might have been able to do if I’d been putting good food into my body.

And for some of us, the wrong food is poison. That is why, if someone tells you they can’t have gluten (or dairy or sugar or peanuts), I hope you will be patient and empathetic, and supportive of whatever they have to do to not eat it. It’s not a fad or a lifestyle choice. Foods are a real problem, for a growing number of us.

Hope to be back with our usual programming next week.