Thursday, November 5, 2009

Going Gluten-free

We get to blame Kevin for our new dietary restriction, but honestly its been a welcome relief rather then a hassle. Anyone who has eaten with Kevin knows that there were a list of foods that we thought upset his stomach everything from french fries to gravies to white wine. We always thought it was what Americans "put into" their food, since we had less trouble when we were in Europe. We never knew what might set him off and if it was a bad bout of stomach troubles he had a difficult time getting his stomach to return to normal which meant EVERYTHING set him off. For this reason, a f ewyears ago, we chose to go organic or natural and keep things as close to its source as possible, but even still there would be things that bothered him. After much research I came to the conclusion that Kevin may be intolerant to gluten. It took some convincing and showing him the symptoms but we finally made the leap after indulging in some gluten-y foods over our "going gluten-free" conversation. This particular meal made him really sick and convinced him that it might be something to try.

That night we had our first gluten-free meal and it was a typical meal that we have on any other day. Within twenty-four hours of going gluten-free his stomach was free of pain and cramping. It was the quickest turn around I have ever seen. Literally, we didn't believe it and kept thinking it was mere coincidence. We kept waiting for something to upset his stomach. Nothing did. A week passed and then almost two and it was the longest he had gone without a stomach ache in SEVENTEEN years! Needless to say we were convinced that we were on to something.

Around the same time he left for Vienna, he was about to tour the Balkans with our students and was worried that it would be difficult to stay gluten-free. We packed some Lära Bars and told him to stop by the grocery store the morning of their departure and pick up apples and oranges. It worked, he only got a litte sick on the road once and he got the sickest when he went to our favorite pub and wimped out of telling our friend, Rainer that he had gone gluten-free. Rainer brought him a "special" meal called Bayern Schnitzel. (a schnitzel is a breaded filet of meat deep fried yummy-ness). He felt ok that evening but the next day he was definitely feeling ill. Since being back from Vienna we have stayed gluten-free and he still has had no stomach issues. Restaurants are more difficult but because "gluten-free" is the fad diet of the moment we have found that many places have gluten-free menus.

Cooking gluten-free hasn't been difficult for dinner. We never had rolls as a side, we used few sauces that weren't homemade and we tried to eat whole foods. Unfortunately, our favorite delivery was Chinese food. We have had to abstain from it until we figure out what might be gluten-free (very little I am guessing). Breakfast also hasn't been terribly difficult. No more toast and english muffins, sausage, pancakes or french toast. We are pretty lucky in Denver to have a couple of great options for gluten-free bread called Udi's. The bread is SO good you wouldn't even know it has no gluten. Also, while most sausage contains gluten our favorite sausage doesn't, its called Boulder Sausage. Between Udi's, Boulder Sausage we get toasts, sandwiches and Bob's Red Mill gluten-free flour we haven't really missed the gluten. It has been a bit of an experiment to bake with the gluten-free flour. So far we have made: Pizza Crust, Banana Berry Bread, corn bread, and pie crust for my very homemade pumpkin pie (it came from actual pumpkins, not a can!) Once we got the xantham gum everything has cooked better, our pizza crust was a first attempt, I could probably do it better a month and a half in to our new diet.

More than that, even though I am not going gluten-free for my health I have noticed my stomach feels much better too. A side effect that we weren't expecting was weight loss and loss of inches. In the first few days we were each losing a pound (or more in Kevin's case) simply by removing the gluten from our meals. For Kevin, the extra padding around his middle has been greatly reduced and getting smaller everyday. He now feels full and satiated after each meal. (A common symptom is the inability to ever get full because the body is not absorbing the vitamins and minerals.) He no longer snacks between meals and late at night (which may account for the weight loss too!) He even looks healthier.

Overall this has been a great change for our family. Jameson and I are only mostly gluten-free. We occasionally indulge: crackers, cookies and a few other things, but Kevin doesn't begrudge us gluten because he feels so much better without it in his system. It will be interesting staying gluten-free in Vienna the land of breaded meat, pastries and beer, but I will keep you all posted.


Michele said...

Is it Celiac Disease? My coworker has the same aversion to gluten complete with the symptoms and he was diagnosed years ago with Celiac Disease. He said beer was the hardest thing to give up but I've got you covered: and something at Wholefoods
Something tells me you already knew this though :)

Aimee said...

Kevin got a blood test that said it was not celiac disease. The doctor and I aren't entirely convinced this is accurate, mainly because we had already gone gluten-free. However, there is a non-celiac gluten intolerance that has similar symptoms. We are going on the basis that he has the non-celiac gluten intolerance, which makes him happy because occasionally he can indulge in a beer. Yes, there has definitely been a grieving process (what do you mean I can never have a beer again?? What about a Big Mac?) Overall, he has come to the conclusion that having a totally healthy stomach is nicer than the beer he is missing.
Yup, we have tried some gluten-free beers: One called Red Bridge by Anheuser-Busch. Its not bad, and when the craving strikes it seems to do the trick. He likes wine too, which in its pure form is gluten-free and that is helpful.

heather said...

Hi Aimee,

I love your blog! Thanks for the shout out about Udi's Gluten Free last month.

I would like to contact you regarding a potential project with Udi's and your blog. All 5 of our Udi's cafes have a gluten-free menu and I would like to hear your thoughts about a potential review.

Let's connect. You can email me at

Talk soon.

- Heather

Heather Collins
Udi's Gluten Free Foods
Marketing/Social Media