Sunday, August 25, 2013

Going Gluten-Free - My Life Without Beer

So recently I have decided to stop ignoring the blatant facts in front of me and finally face up to something I have been avoiding for months: I am allergic to gluten. It was an incredibly difficult thing for me to finally admit to myself, because it meant that I could no longer skate around the idea of living without gluten, but now had to put that idea into full action in my own life.

Why was going gluten-free for me so horrifying a thing to think about? Well, when I had been playing around with the thought of giving it up, I realized something. If I could never eat gluten, I could never guzzle down another ice cold Alexander Keith's. I could never order another tall, frosty pint of Stella at the bar. I could never cook another batch of stir fry vegetables in my favourite beer. All my brand loyalty would have to be thrown out the window! And I am a woman who takes her favourite beers seriously. Not only that, but I could never have french fries again, or a greasy cheeseburger, or a juicy Philly Cheese Steak sub at some vendor booth at the fair. In the past year I have cut down my consumption of those sorts of things tremendously, but I still liked to indulge. And going gluten-free would mean saying goodbye to those things forever.

It was a sad thing to think about. I almost wanted to have a goodbye ceremony. Me, dressed in all black, holding a Moosehead in one hand and a Sub Venture chicken bacon wrap in the other, sobbing uncontrollably. But I never did, and now it's too late. I just want to feel better. I'm tired of having a distended abdomen and an intense reaction in my gut every time I eat gluten. I want to feel normal, like normal people who eat normal food do. There are going to be times when someone is drinking an ice cold brew beside me and I'm going to lose my resolve and drink one, but I need to cut that out as much as possible. The gluten I am unable to digest is keeping me from absorbing the vitamins and minerals from my food, and I'll never truly be healthy until I am only ingesting food my system can handle.

So what are the basic things you can't eat if you're allergic to gluten? Well, to start with, all conventional flours, including wheat, spelt, rye, barley (which includes anything malted), triticale, graham flour, kamut and etc. That would be simple enough, however these things are in SO many products, it would surprise you! Already with these we are eliminating beers, breads, candies, cakes, pies, cookies, crackers, pastas, gravies, french fries, processed luncheon meats, a lot of salad dressings, most potato chips (because of the seasoning) and a lot of different sauces. Being gluten-free means checking the label of everything you buy that is processed or made up of a bunch of ingredients, because a lot of the things added to these products contain gluten.

In other words, IT SUCKS.

But! It is really easy to use rice or quinoa flour to make your own gluten-free breads, cookies, cakes and pies, and gluten-free beer is available as well. Plus, you can eat ALL vegetables and fruits, nuts, wines and alcohol, you can use rice noodles instead of regular pasta, make your own salad dressings (which is better and more natural for you anyway!), and eat dried fruit instead of candy. In a way, it forces you to watch even more carefully what you are putting in your body, and to prepare your own items instead of buying them processed, so it's really a good thing!

I really enjoyed looking through this blog for gluten-free recipes, and a lot of them are vegan too. Check it out!

So, in short - I miss my beer, but I've got my whiskey, and oh my goodness do I miss bread, but... I'm feeling healthier, stronger, and have a way better attention span, so I'm excited to see how much better I'm going to feel once my system has been cleansed a bit.

Are you gluten-free? Let me know how it's going for you!