Gluten-Free... Sort of.

I used to get the worst stomach pains. I'll spare you the description of what it felt like. Just know... it was really uncomfortable. It was embarrassing to be at my desk after lunch, bent over in my chair holding my stomach. It wasn't really easy to make any client calls in that position, either. The pains became so frequent and got so bad that I decided to discuss it with my doctor. After hearing my symptoms, he suggested that I try removing different foods from my diet to test which ones might be bothering me. I started with tomatoes because my mom always had issues with them and I just assumed it might be hereditary. I love tomatoes. I can stuff a whole basket of cherry toms in my mouth. I'd show you, but then you might never be able to eat that succulent fruit ever again, so I will refrain. You're welcome.

Thankfully, it was not tomatoes.

The next thing I tried was pasta. I was eating pasta nearly every day. I started my pasta habit as a waitress at a restaurant that had one of the most popular pasta bars in the South Coast Plaza area. Our Chef, Geno made so many delicious combinations with all the varieties of pasta, the various sauces, and every kind of topping possible. I learned to make the BEST pasta dinners. Sadly, removing my favorite meal option from my diet seemed to make a big difference in my belly aches. Reluctantly, I stopped eating pasta. I occasionally have some at a party, but it's not something I indulge in any more.

Taking pasta out helped, but not completely. I didn't want to admit it, but I knew it had to be another grain item that I overindulged in. I have a thing for bread. I love bread. Like... LOVE!!!! I especially love a warm loaf of sourdough bread straight out of the oven. Mmmmmm... soooo good! Begrudgingly, I cut back on the bread, and guess what? My tummy trouble seemed to go away a little more. It was a bittersweet discovery.

Later, I took out pizza. That one hurt the most, but not as much as it hurt after eating a few slices. I love pizza, as much as I love tomatoes and bread, which are the two main ingredients in pizza, so not much of a shock there. After a few years of not eating it, I started to react to it the way a former smoker reacts to the smell of cigarettes. I got sick just thinking about ordering it.

For years, I plodded along, skipping over most of the menus whenever I'd go out for dinner with friends or family. Then a few years ago, everyone started serving gluten-free foods. I was like, "What the crackers is gluten-free?" That's when I found out about celiac disease. Celiac disease is a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing parts of food that are important for staying healthy. The damage is due to a reaction to eating gluten. Although I've never been diagnosed, knowing that the removal of certain foods from my diet, I think I must have some kind of gluten intolerance. So rather than continue finding out about items that I can't stomach by being doubled over in pain, I started looking into which foods contained gluten. I was surprised how long that list was!

Did you know that even cough syrup has gluten in it?

Last summer, my favorite cough and cold remedy company, Vicks came out with a new line called Nature Fusion. Not only are the cough and cold products made with real honey, they are non-alcoholic AND Gluten-Free!

With so much awareness about celiac disease in the last few years, it's really easy to find a gluten-free version of my old favorite foods... including pizza!! My kitchen is now stocked with quinoa grain pasta, gluten-free bread mix, pizza crust made from rice, and Nature Fusion cough medicine. I still occasionally indulge in foods that are not gluten-free, which folks that suffer from celiac disease can not do. I don't have a horrible reaction to those foods, and I think that's because I have incorporated many gluten-free and whole foods into my family's meals. I'm also glad that there are so many menu options now available when we eat out.

Even though I've never been officially diagnosed, I know that my health has benefited from going mostly gluten-free.


Hey, did you know that I'm a Vicks Blogger? Yep! That means I've been compensated to talk about something I probably would have talked about for free... but don't tell them that! ;)