Today is my third anniversary of going gluten-free. I can’t believe that it has been that long. It some ways it seems like it has been much longer since I have had a Ho-Ho (well, really, it has been more like 10 years) or a nice, warm piece of Sourdough bread. I will never forget that first day on the diet, or the night before, when I ate my “last meal”. My “last meal” consisted of a grilled chicken cheese steak & fries from Charley’s Steakery. Boy, was it good. How I felt afterwards, not so good. The next day, I made my way through the day avoiding all gluten. It was quite a challenge. What the heck was I supposed to eat? I didn’t know anything else. Was I ever going to enjoy a piece of bread again? Was I ever going to have a cookie or a piece of cake again? Would all replacement foods taste like cardboard or sandpaper? I know that the first roll that I tried was horrible. I had no idea that you were supposed to toast it first for the best consistency. I threw the package away. I should have let Jon use them for hockey practice. ;) Funny thing, I now eat these on a regular basis…they are the GF French Rolls from Trader Joe’s, and prepared right, they are really good. Little did I know back then.
I went through many other foods that I determined were horrible and some that I fell in love with. I love Van’s Wheat Free Waffles, they were a breakfast staple for the first 6 months or so on the gluten-free diet. I had to find new favorite foods. Another staple quickly became black beans, brown rice and cheese. All naturally gluten-free. I could eat tortilla chips on the side, as they too, are mostly gluten-free. (**I have run across one or 2 brands that use wheat starch, so always check labels!) I was quickly learning that sticking to whole foods, like meats, fruits, veggies and rice, it was pretty easy to follow the gluten-free diet. Where the difficultly later came was baking. I think I waited a good year or so before even beginning to tackle some of my beloved recipes GF. I had quite a few disasters. There have been many more successes. Now, I frequently bake GF and usually no one even knows the difference!
I was amazed at how quickly I noticed a difference in how I felt. Gone were the cramps and pain that always seemed to be in my stomach. Gone was the bloating and gas. I now had a good reason to follow this crazy diet…I actually felt better! Yes, I had ups and downs, as most do when first going on the diet, but the longer I was on the diet, the better I felt. I still have days every now & then when things aren’t right with my stomach/digestive system. Chances are that I have run across some gluten either in my home (Hannah & Aaron are not GF) or eating out someplace. I can usually tell within an hour or so.
Eating out has become much easier since I first went on the diet. I was very intimidated at first and didn’t want to even try to eat out. I was scared. The amount of restaurants that now have GF menus is astonishing. When I first went GF, there were only a handful of places close by that I felt comfortable eating at. Now, the number of restaurants has almost tripled. It is amazing. The increasing awareness of Celiac Disease has really made following the gluten-free diet at home or eating out, much easier.
So, today I will celebrate my new-found health and well being. I will celebrate with GF cookies and probably a GF beer, too, though not together. ;) Now, if I could just find a good, easy GF sourdough bread. YUM!