For reasons I’ll not go into here, I’ve been gluten free for a month. My doctor asked me to try it, and she’s a smart cookie whom I like a lot. Plus? I’m a little scared of her. I think it’s good to have a doctor and a good friend you’re a little scared of. Because I feel that there aren’t enough people on the internet talking about their dietary restrictions, let me tell you about it.
I’m back on the wheat.
Sweet, sweet gluten. Protein of the gods. Gliadin and Glutenin are the demigods. Gliadin, just a protein. Glutenin, magic. Glutenin gives stretch, bounce, chewy mouthfeel (EEEW!), and is the love of my life. I thought that going gluten free was going to be good. The first couple of weeks, I was down with it. Especially after I ate Quorn.
In the grocery store, there is what I like to call the Aisle of Tears. It’s all the -free stuff. It’s amazing that food that is supposedly so free of ingredients can cost so much, but there you go. Soy-free, milk-free, wheat-free, meat-free, cruelty-free, taste-free, nutrition-free. You can get anything removed from food on the Aisle of Tears. Now, look, I know that many people are allergic to many ingredients. I know that for some people eating wheat makes them puff up like the Stay Puft man. I’m not making fun of those people. I’m making fun of the food. The food is ridiculous.
Let’s talk about sandwich bread for a second. I’m fine with making a sandwich from a corn tortilla, but sometimes you just need bread. Those frozen loafs are many things, but good is not one of them. Yes, some brands are better than others, but they are all bitter processed loafs of rice flour and regret. At one point I found myself craving thick crust pizza. I don’t even LIKE thick crust pizza.
One of the things that we eat when I’m too lazy to cook (i.e. every other day) is salad with frozen chicken thrown on it. Quorn is a fake chicken product and it comes in nuggets. I thought, yeah. Throw that on my salad and pretend it’s good. Actually, it IS pretty good. But I think I got caught up with all the stuff my nuggets of sadness didn’t have in them and forgot to look at what they are actually made of. Wheat. The first ingredient on the list is wheat. My bad. It got ugly later. We shall speak of it no more.
This is where I thought, EUREKA! There’s something to this other than deprivation! I decided that going back on the wheat was going to be too ugly to contemplate so I’d just stay gluten free. Then the other day, I got a hamburger. At this place the cheese is on the bottom which makes the bun stick. No problem. I was starving. I dutifully removed the top bun trying not to look at it’s golden crispy edges perfectly toasted and full of Maillard reaction yumminess and kept its wheaty butt intact. Later? Nothing. No bloat, no other things we don’t talk about in polite company, no nothing. I graduated to a piece of pizza. Nope. All good.
Going gluten free did not make the symptoms I was trying to get rid of any better. I have arthritis and it might have made joint pain better, but not enough to forgo fresh bread from La Baguette. Many people say their skin looks and feels better. Mine doesn’t. In fact, all I know this did for me was cause me to crave candy and pan pizza. I have been fixated on the things I couldn’t have. I think for a lot of people, cutting out gluten does wonders. I think for me, a person who likes just about everything but okra, expanding my diet rather than restricting is the way to go. I like the good stuff so I’ll eat more of it. In the long run, I think that will be more beneficial to me.
I have, however, become very conscious, especially after The Great Quorn Incident, of what I’m eating. For example, swapping wheat pasta for rice and corn pasta really doesn’t get you anywhere. It’s still full of processed starch and carbs. Because I’ve had to take the time to either read a label or run through ingredients in my head before eating, I’m not mindlessly eating as much. The level of processing and fillers in so many gluten free food is a little scary. Triscuits have three ingredients. Glutino crackers have fourteen. I know not all products are like this. What I’ve found is that being gluten free means so many of your options are processed and pre-made. Not that we never pop a frozen lasagna into the oven, but that’s a rare occurrence in our house. I’m going back to real food.
Plus Chuck is really tired of hearing me complain about not having bread. And also sniffing his breath for focaccia.