Meet the enemy:
Hello and welcome to wheat free living! I hope this site helps answer some of your questions whether you’re here because a doctor has told you to stop eating wheat, or you just decided to give wheat free living a try.
First off, a bit about myself and my situation. For the last two years I have been suffering from some pretty nasty peptic ulcers, I was ending up in the emergency room at least once every two months and doctors couldn’t pin down what exactly was causing my pain. My primary care physician instructed me to make severe changes to my diet, which included trying to eat more whole grain foods about a year ago, which as you’ll see later was about the worst thing I could have switched my diet to.
After a full year of trying to eat healthier by swapping white bread for whole wheat, and going for whole wheat pasta over the standard fare I was still suffering. In July of 2012 I ended up in the emergency room once again… this time it was really bad, they hooked me up to an IV and gave me three bags of saline along with some pretty heavy pain killers and something to help neutralize my stomach acid. I scheduled one more appointment with my primary care physician the following week to try and find a treatment that would work to stop the constant pain I was in.
During my appointment, my doctor asked me to list the foods I had been eating. I listed out how I had simplified my diet to lots of whole grain foods and whole wheat bread etc… He nodded and then asked me a question that changed my life he said “You know you’re allergic to wheat right?” I was dumbfounded, first because this information would have been useful years ago, and second because I am one of the pickiest eaters you will ever encounter. It turns out that at around the same time as I was diagnosed with the ulcer they also did an allergy test, however the results of that test never made it to me.
After leaving the doctor’s office with this earth shattering news that I would have to completely overhaul my diet, I came home and got on the internet. As I mentioned earlier, I am one of the pickiest eaters you will ever encounter and the thought of eating some of the recipes that are available online had me mortified. Green vegetables? Eww. Garbanzo bean flour? Gross. This was going to be one of the hardest things I’d ever have to do. Not knowing where to start, and unwilling to try a large number of the solutions I was finding, I developed a plan which worked for me. The first thing I did was go through my kitchen and see what was in there that I had to scratch off my diet… the results of this search were mortifying, just about everything in my kitchen that came in a box had wheat, or gluten in it.
A quick google search told me there are lots of ways wheat can be listed as an ingredient on the side of a package, I don’t think companies do this to hide the fact that they put wheat in their products, as most will have an allergy information bit at the bottom of the ingredients which will say “warning contains: wheat (or soy, or nuts, or whatever else could cause issues for those who are allergic).”
Armed with my new knowledge of wheat nomenclature (for a full list, check the info tab on the right) and the realization that my entire pantry was off limits I had some decisions to make. I could continue eating as I had been and suffer greatly, or I could start making sure nothing I consumed contained wheat. I had already decided against making the switch to eating the recipes I was finding on similar sites, but I wanted the pain to stop. Quickly I decided to not focus on adding anything new right away, but simply continuing to eat the foods I knew i liked (again, my picky eating) that did not contain wheat. This pretty much led to me eating chicken and rice for a solid two weeks, as well as rice based cereals Lucky for me soda contains no wheat whatsoever so my daily caffeine kick was safe.
As the weeks went by, I started to think if I ate any more chicken that I would start to sprout feathers. There was also the issue of the rest of my household (wife and two children) being held hostage to my new dietary restrictions (hey, groceries are expensive). At this point I began slowly introducing new foods into my list of acceptable fare. Pork chops, bratwurst, even ground beef patties eaten with a fork and knife vs being in a more traditional hamburger form were starting to creep back in. Then, one day, it happened, I got up the nerve to go all in… I added a spinach salad along side my dinner. Nothing special, just baby spinach leaves, some fat free Italian dressing (after consulting the bottles, I determined fat free to be a much safer option in regards to wheat containing potential) and extra sharp cheddar cheese which was grated. Previously my only interest in salad was as a vessel to get more croutons into my mouth, but this was actually pretty tasty! I’m not sure what happened but after the initial month of living without wheat, I found myself looking for healthier foods.
This post is becoming very long winded but I wanted to write it to serve two purposes: To introduce myself to you, the reader, and to let you know my back story. So now that you know a bit about me, and how I managed to start living wheat free, I hope it gives you confidence in your progress with this new lifestyle.