living gluten free

living gluten freeGoing gluten free has made me even more defensive than usual.

Why? Well, there’s all sorts of debate about this whole gluten thing. Most people will agree with the fact that there’s a percentage of the population who has a major problem with gluten. These people cannot eat the stuff without getting really sick. They have celiac. Since it’s diagnosable and has an official name, most people are OK with acknowledging that it exists.

Where you start to lose some of the believers is when you talk about gluten intolerance. This is not something very official. A lot of people have self-diagnosed themselves as having an issue. Other people (like me) have had medical professionals tell them that they “probably have an intolerance and should avoid it” or that their antibody levels are off and their celiac results may be a false negative. A colon biopsy can give you a definitive answer but… that means you need to go and get your colon biopsied. Uh, no thank you.

Here’s what I know.

If we’re out at a restaurant or something and I eat gluten by accident (say forgetting that sometimes flour is used to help bind meatballs), I’m bloated like I’m six months pregnant before we even get in the driveway. I feel sick and lethargic and I don’t want to talk to anyone. Sometimes my stomach aches and burns and twists so that the only thing I can do is curl up in a fetal position and sleep. After a few hours, I start to feel better but it can take days for the bloating and the overall feeling of grossness to leave me.

Call it whatever you’d like, but it happens when I eat foods containing gluten. That means I’d rather avoid the stuff so that I can function like a normal human.

Recently Ellie has been having some tummy troubles too. A whole bunch of tests later and the results show that, like her momma, her celiac test may have come back as a false negative. The solution? Removing all of the gluten.

Now, it was hard enough for me to go gluten free. But a four-year old who doesn’t eat many things to begin with? Now that’s a freaking party.

Anywhere we go I now pack an arsenal of gluten-free supplies. Pirate’s Booty and yogurt are two of my favorite go-tos for Ellie. I’m partial to KIND bars and homemade trail mix.

And restaurants? Pshhhhhh. How do you feed a kid who would happily subsist on pizza and chicken nuggets? Luckily more and more restaurants are cropping up with gluten free options that make eating somewhere other than your own kitchen a possibility. If you live in the Hudson Valley, check out my post for Wee Westchester about 5 great gluten free restaurants in Westchester. If not, Google is your best friend. You can find hidden gluten free menus for a bunch of chain restaurants and a ton of ingredient information with a simple google search.

If you’ve recently gone gluten free and need a little help in the what the heck do I eat department, I’ve got a few posts (and a whole gluten free Pinterest board!) that might help you out:

And if you’re in the market for a gluten-free cookbook, I highly recommend America’s Test Kitchen’s The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook. My husband just made Ellie a batch of chocolate chip cookies (which are her favorites!) from there and no one could even tell the difference.

And please remember this: going gluten free is not a cool weight loss hack. You don’t lose a ton of weight by cutting out gluten. If you lose weight it’s more likely because you stopped eating crappy processed foods and are eating much more clean. But if you load up on sugar-filled gluten-free options instead of their gluten-filled counterparts, you’ll probably gain weight.

Are you living gluten free? Do you have any tricks that make it easier for your or your family?

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Written by Jennifer Garry

Jen is a freelance writer and girl mom from New York. When she’s not knee-deep in glittery crafts and girl talk, you can probably find her sprawled across her couch in the middle of a Netflix marathon with dark chocolate smeared on her face. The struggle is real.