This blog is about that bitch, Gluten. We all knew the day would come when I’d end up writing about my relationship with Gluten - it’s a love/hate one. I love Gluten, Gluten hates me. Since I’ve been back in LA LA land (the best place in the world for all my gluten free sisters and brothers to live, just FYI), I have been enjoying, well, I’ve been enjoying eating. The amount of GF options here is shamaaaazing. It’s also great to walk into a restaurant and ask for the GF options and them not look at you like you’re an alien with 6 heads. This GF friendly attitude has inspired me to write about my frenemy Gluten. What it is. Where it comes from, I’m going to educate the masses (or rather my Facebook friends).

So. Time for a background. Gluten? What is it? Simply put, it is a mixture of two proteins found in cereal grains - specifically wheat and barley. And what does it do? You know when you knead a pile of dough and it goes all stretchy and elastic like? Gluten is responsible for that. Anything with regular flour in it (bread, pasta, cakes, biscuits, pastries etc) has gluten in it. They are the obvious gluten filled foods. Gluten is a sneaky little minx though and finds it way into other stuff (beer, chip shop vinegar, soy sauce). I love the reaction I get when I explain to people what gluten is in… 
Them: So basically, gluten is in everything. What do you eat?
Me: I mainly eat air now. Air sprinkled with dust….Jokes, of course I can still eat - have you seen the size of my arse? That’s the arse of a girl who enjoys food.

Now, I’ve always had a weird digestive system. You know how when people are stressed or upset they generally have one way it shows it’s effect on the body - some people (like Maud) get really bad migraines, others get cold/cold sores, some might have trouble sleeping etc etc. well they way my body shows the effect of stress/upset is through my digestive system. I mean, Jesus, when I was little I used to vomit, yes, VOMIT every time I had to have my hair washed (I was scared of the shower, ok?).

Luckily, I got over my fear of the shower. My digestive system, however, did not get over being weird. As I got older it only got worse - I’m not gonna tell you all my horror stories, but just trust me. The older I got, the worse it got. I had no clue what was causing my, shall we say, ‘reaction’ to eating (when I say 'reaction’, I mean bowel explosion. Attractive, huh?) 
I cannot count the amount of phone calls and visits to my GP trying to discover what the heck was going on inside of me. Over a period of 8 years, I had blood tests at least twice a year, only to be told each time that 'everything came back normal, there’s nothing wrong’. Yep, my GP basically danced around me singing 'liar, liar, pants on fire’ at me for 8 years. That, for me, was the most frustrating thing. Being told I was making it up, that it was all in my head. I felt like screaming at my GP “you know what, it’s not all in my head. It’s all in my freakin’ toilet!!!!” Even my (then) close friends thought I was dreaming it up.

I managed to get the last laugh though, at age 23 after a trip to Italy (the land of gluten), where I couldn’t eat a thing without being violently ill, I got home and DEMANDED to be seen by a different GP to sort it out. I walked in, exhausted from being ill, close to nervous breakdown, expecting a big fight for the lovely, new, angel - like GP to, before I uttered a word about my symptoms, say “have you ever thought you might be gluten intolerant?” I just stared at her like… What? You don’t think I’m a crazy, you don’t think I’m making it up? This lovely new, shiny, GP who was now my BFF (obvs) spent the next 10 minutes subtly slagging off my old GP for not noticing the pattern of my visits, my symptoms. Quote - I mean, it’s all here on the screen staring you in the face. I can’t believe this wasn’t picked up years ago - unquote. At this point though, I have to say, I was just relieved to have a diagnosis.

There are 3 medical reasons for taking gluten out your diet. 1. If you have coeliac disease 2. If you are gluten intolerant 3. Wheat allergy. And only if you suffer from one of these do you respect the difference of them. For me, coeliac disease is the worse. If you suffer from coeliac disease, your immune system attacks the lining of the small intestine when gluten is present. This means that the villi (the dudes in your small intestine responsible for absorbing vitamins and goodness) are basically killed off, leading to all sorts of other problems like malnutrition and osteoporosis. I read somewhere (can’t remember exactly) that it can take an adults small intestine 2 years to recover after being diagnosed coeliac. 
Gluten intolerance to me, means you can’t digest it. It just runs straight through. It doesn’t physically damage your bowel, it just causes the worse abdominal cramps known to man (what do you mean I’m exaggerating?), hot flushes a.k.a the gluten sweats, and a few hours on the john. 
Wheat allergy is pretty self explanatory. Although sufferers of this can normally eat Barley and other grains that intolerants and coeliacs have to stay way from.

In the 18 months since I was diagnosed as Gluten intolerant I have learnt a LOT about Gluten and how to navigate a GF lifestyle. It’s actually more common than you’d think - they reckon 1 in 100 people in the UK suffer from one of the above.
For me, cutting gluten out has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I feel SO much better now, both inside and outside. I find living GF easy now - I don’t think twice about it, it’s normal for me. Recently an old school friend had to cut gluten out of her diet and, having seen some of my posts before (gotta love those Buzzfeed articles), she sent me a msg about it and I’m happy to report that she seems to have navigated 'the change’ well. It’s easy when you know how, you just need to be educated. Which, obvs, you guys now are if you’ve stuck with this till the end. As always, if you have any questions, you know where to find me - lord knows I love to talk about this stuff.

And for my fellow GF posse… Recommended blog which I’ve just discovered

http://glutenismybitch.wordpress.com

She’s a hero. Enjoy.

Now, I’m off to russle up a delicious GF breakfast before I enjoy some more of this lovely LA sun. See ya suckers.

Xoxo Micks

 

Published by Michaela Wright