Thursday, April 9, 2015

the devil's in the wheat-tails


I *cough* might be *cough-cough* gluten intolerant *cough-cough-cough.*

Son of a faerie-flax-biscuit!

I have relentlessly made fun of this whole gluten free thing for YEARS. I'm not talking about people with legitimate gluten allergies, e.g. Celiac's disease. I mean "gluten intolerance" and the whole movement. I was 100% convinced it was a phony rich white person fad, like power-walking, Atkins, "cleanses," kale and chia seeds. Like Paleo and Crossfit. Like some trendy cult. I didn't buy it for a second. I thought it was a fascinating sociological experiment. Like a combination of placebo effect and Kool-Aid-drinking Hale Bop/Charles Manson groupie/sheep mentality weirdness. Or like those girls at college parties who pretended to be drunk or high after drinking literal Kool-Aid and smoking oregano. I wanted to yell "THE EMPEROR'S NOT WEARING ANY CLOTHES, PEOPLE!"

Funny how things work out.

For the past 5 plus years (actually most of my life), I've been plagued with an array health problems and have had a baseline comfort level somewhere between "Call Dr. Kevorkian" and "Mildly Shitty." I've been to SO many doctors and taken SO much medication and undergone SO many tests and procedures, all to no avail. Finally, in an act of desperation, I decided to go see a doctor of "natural medicine."

Now, don't get me wrong. I believe Eastern medicine has just about as much, if not more, to offer the world as Western medicine does. In fact, Yours Truly is a certified practitioner of Reiki. Pseudoscience though it may be, I wholeheartedly believe that we all have "energy" that can be harnessed, and that our minds are powerful medical tools.

Still. The gluten thing. Bah.

Anyway. I went to go see this doctor. He was right down the street, and has been featured on Dr. Oz several times so he MUST be legit, right? He put me on this insanely stringent diet where I basically couldn't eat anything except lettuce and lemons and kukui nuts picked by the light of a full moon. Plus I had to take about 14 horse pills every day that regularly lodged themselves in my esophagus. I did this diet for 30 days, and I was EFFING MISERABLE. I had headaches so bad I could barely see straight. It was just not a feasible long term plan. So I quit the diet, and the doctor. The only benefit from that whole experience was that I felt SO terrible, my normal baseline level of craptastic-ness seemed like a big step up.

So I go back to my primary care guy. Antibiotics, steroids, two specialists, and my head is still full of snotty sludge 24/7, which is now one of my primary medical concerns. Fast forward 6 months, I decide to try the hippie hoodoo healing route one more time. This round I try a chiropractor (a field of which I am inherently distrustful)-slash-naturopath. She dresses like a waitress at Medieval Times and her office smells like patchouli. She was 45 minutes late to the first appointment. Then she "adjusted" my neck, and I thought I was possibly paralyzed. Things weren't looking promising.

However, I wanted to be able to say I'd exhausted every avenue. I told her my last attempt at a crazy Nazi no-nothing diet was a complete fail. I said that eating solely kimchi, kukui nuts and pink Himalayan salt hand-hewn by off-duty Mt. Everest sherpas just wasn't a sustainable solution for me. She looked at my blood work from this company called Cyrex (which had actually been ordered by the Dr. Oz guy, and, judging by the cost, involved filtering my platelets through 24 carat gold). Apparently the tests showed a "sensitivity" to several types of grain. But she said dairy, eggs, rice and corn were all fine. So, I reluctantly committed to going gluten-free, even though I think it is the greatest conspiracy IN ALL THE LAND.

And then.

After approximately 5 days, my sludgy head was clearer than it has been in the past FIVE YEARS.

I shit you not.

I was simultaneously thrilled and devastated by this discovery. Not only because I would have to join the ranks of the "Gluten Intolerant," which I had heretofore believed was, as my daughter would say (quoting Lord Business) a bunch of hippie. dippy. baloney. But also because, along with cheese, my husband, my kids, and alcohol, bread was one of the top five happiest things in my life. (Not necessarily listed in order of importance ;)).

At first, I was so excited about being able to breathe, and not feeling like I had concrete in my skull, I was pretty motivated to stick with it. I admit I have had a couple of missteps. The problem with my "all or nothing" personality is that when I fall off the wagon, I fall off the wagon HARD, hitting four donuts and an entire plate of garlic knots on the way down. (What with the gravitational force, they flew straight into my gullet. Do not stop, do not pass go.)

Still. That glimpse of sinus amnesty has motivated me in a way that little else has to stay true to the cause. Plus, it's a lot harder to eat when bread when you're busy eating crow ;)

Lest you think I've suddenly become health conscious or something, let me give you a short list of things that are gluten free:

6 "gluten friendly" coconut muffins from Soup Plantation (slathered in whipped honey butter, natch')
Basically all of the Easter candy
kiddie pool easter basket on pinterest
Snickers ice cream bars
Root beer floats (plural)
A platter of hand-made marshmallows (which, while cute, are 1/8 as delicious as Jet Puft)
Peanut Butter - eaten LIKE A BOSS (aka standing over the sink eating it with a serving spoon)
Salt & Pepper Crinkle Cut Kettle Chips

Suffice it to say, this has not been a helpful stop in my journey toward smaller pants. I basically approach my gluten free diet like I do vegetarianism. Which is to say, in an astoundingly ass-backwards manner. A friend of mine summed it up quite accurately the other day when he said, "You're basically the worst vegetarian in the entire world. You're like those girls who say they're virgins, but let guys f*** them in the a**."

Yep. That would be me.
Join The War on Terror
I still think people be crazy. I'm more of a moderation type of person. Okay, that's not true. I'm not much for moderation. I just don't believe in needlessly depriving yourself of the things in life that make you happy. But, I just wanted to confess that I am a circumspect convert re: gluten.

The end.

Food for Thought (Now Gluten Free!)

A Heart Surgeon's Viral Confession - Behind the beloved idea that processed food is 'slowly killing everyone' by James Hamblin on The Atlantic. "I am a world renowned heart surgeon who has been working for 25 years and has conducted over 5,000 open heart surgeries..." and who got his medical license revoked in 2008 but we'll just gloss right on over that part!

Then there's stuff like Subway and Wonder Bread and 500 other brands putting azodicarmonamide a.k.a. yoga mat rubber in their f*cking foods. You know. Little things like that. (That's actually a good article that points out we might be a little alarmist about this kind of thing. But still. Dude. Yoga mats.)

And speaking of alarmism. Just saw this. Pretty interesting: The "Food Babe" Blogger is Full of Shit by Yvette d'Entremont on Gawker. (Turns out the Food Babe got her medical degree at the same place as me - Google U, baby!)

And finally, The Gut Brain Connection (Video) from Cyrex Labs

^ The views expressed in this video are those of Cyrex labs and not necessarily those of the author of this blog. Honestly the video faintly smacks of the Church of Scientology propaganda and I would not be at all surprised to learn that they're a bunch of whackadoodles. Still. They tested my blood and told me I had a "sensitivity" to wheat and barley and faro and rye, and I've stopped eating those things (except for that unfortunate run-in between my mouth and half-a-dozen powdered jelly donuts), and have felt much better, so, make of that what you will.

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