Looking for a Mandate

I would like to announce with certainty that the man friend and I are very clearly not affected by gluten. Or that we are. But the fact is, after two weeks of carefully planning meals, annoying/annoyed waiters, and research, we have no certain answer.

Let me take you back two weeks. We started with risotto and macadamia encrusted sole, and moved our way through one carefully prepared meal to the next. There wasn’t necessarily a jump in energy, in fact, sometimes we felt pretty terrible, which I’ll just go ahead and blame on the elevated amounts of corn we were eating. It’s delicious and terrible. The second week, the momentum of intense cooking slowed down. Making elaborate meals from scratch is exhausting, as is cleaning up after them. So we forayed into the outside world, where I quickly found that people either get the GF thing, or they look at you like you’re an idiot or a jerk. “You want no tortilla on your burrito? Really?” Yes, really.

To cap it off, we traveled to Phoenix to visit friends and see some spring training goodness. It was an incredibly short trip, but what I learned was, Mexican food is your friend. Yes, corn is the enemy, but when your choice is nothing vs enchiladas, well, enchiladas it is. Also, when making changes to an order, be very very clear. Otherwise, the breakfast burrito sans tortilla, and steak instead of sausage, no potatoes, will end up as steak and potatoes. Perhaps the waiter in that instance thought, “Why does she even bother eating out?” Or maybe he was hung over. I have no idea. Either way, that’s what we were doing that morning, and I can’t tell everyone else that we can’t go out to eat because I need to monitor every ingredient that goes into my meal.

Back home, we feted our reintroduction to gluten with a wine and food pairing dinner that a friend of ours put on. The food was amazing. The wine was amazing. The gluten was minimal, but present. And so the next morning, hung over from the 5 or so glasses of wine we had happily drank, we both had oatmeal. The man friend described the way he felt after that as “all holy hell” while I had a few cramp-style pangs in the abdomen. But oatmeal doesn’t have that much gluten at all, it’s simply cross contaminated. Then, of course, I waited much too long to have lunch, and felt more than a little run down walking back from Trader Joe’s with my half loaf of a whole wheat miche. I made myself two open-faced sandwiches, chowed down, and then pretty much conked out for a nap. Dinner was gluten-free.

Both of us were tired, and although there was a bit more random stomach pain on my side, it wasn’t anything that I wouldn’t normally assume was indigestion. Or intestinal elves. Yesterday, more bread, and no pain, less sleepiness, and generally, not feeling too shabby. And today, besides the unnecessary glass of beer I had with lunch, I feel just dandy.

Basically, this leaves us nowhere. It’s not like our bodies hate gluten. Or want to let us know that they love it. Perhaps our experiment should have run longer, a solid month instead of 2 weeks. Either way, when you work so hard to curtail one aspect of your diet, it almost makes you feel proud. Like you accomplished a great feat. Not that it’s really a great feat, it’s mostly just annoying, but after being on the diet, if the only people I really anger are waiters, I’m not terribly worried about it. I’m almost inclined to not eat gluten, partially because we still have GF products in our pantry (fyi GF rice pasta is yummy), and partially because I trained myself to care.

So what’s the next step? I think there’s a good chance we might get blood work done. It might be more expensive, but it will certainly be more conclusive. Because in all honesty, if you don’t have to be gluten-free, why would you be? Sure, it got easier as we went along, but I’d rather have one less item on the bad list and not scour each label for malt syrup or hassle the wait staff. Also, upon reading up on different experiences, it turns out that it takes up to a year for some people to feel completely well and for symptoms to disappear on their GF diet. A year seems, well, superfluous without actual medical proof.

So, the experiment was eliminate gluten, see how we felt, reintroduce it, and observe our reactions. Conclusion? We’re probably not gluten intolerant, but pending blood work, that is uncertain. Yay, I guess. Off to make a pie. Or a tart. Or something delicious filled with dense flour that doesn’t fly everywhere and stick to everything. Yay to that, for sure.


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