The State of the Nation – 9 months of being gluten-free and counting… my blessings

As I was typing my last blog about a catering company, it occurred to me that a lot of my recent posts have been about specific products. Now that’s all very useful for those of you seeking information on things gluten-free, but I’m starting to sound a bit like an unpaid advertorial :-).  So I thought it was time for a catch-up on how my first 9 months have gone.

The first few months were really hard. If it hadn’t been for the encouraging words of my husband and my 12 year old daughter, and for the gradual improvement in my skin, I would probably have given up in disgust. I found it terribly hard some days, especially during lunchtimes and work events. Even dinners out were hard – what hidden gluten was lurking in menu items? I got so frustrated, because I already have eating restrictions around caffeine (coffee and chocolate), egg yolks, apples and red wine, and it seemed just mean that I couldn’t eat yummy fresh bread, cakes and bakery items. Weekend lunches were the pits with the others guzzling food from the bakery while I ate my rice crackers.

However, I have long been a positive person, and so I like to count my blessings. I have daily blessed the fact that I like to cook and that I know how many things are made – from scratch. I also bless the fact that I am not and have never been a great fan of packet mixes. I have no problem with other people using them, but you know what? I’m happy to take an extra 10 minutes and make it from scratch. I regularly count my blessings that I am NOT coeliac, and that gives me significantly more freedom than it might – after all, if I eat something with gluten in it, my skin may react. It won’t make me ill like it would for someone with coeliac disease. So my learning curve, although steep, hasn’t been as painful as it might have been.

I am thankful that my family have coped really well with my experimental cooking and have got used to their lasagna with gluten free cheese sauce, or their crumble topping being gluten free. They’ve uncomplainingly taste-tested muffins, bread, waffles, and every other gluten-free variant of a normal dish that I have put under their noses. My mother-in-law makes a special effort to find gluten-free foods and bring them home. My four year olds ask “Is this flour OK for you to eat Mama?” before offering me their latest snack. I am thankful for my friends who not only make sure they always have at the very least gluten-free rice crackers in their homes for me but who also read this blog and recommend it to other people that they know.

The other thing which has been great is doing this blog. Since I started writing and actively seeking out information, like-minded souls and products which are good for me to eat, the whole gluten-free experience has been that much easier. Suddenly there seems to be product around, and recipe books and it has all got so much better. Maybe I am just used to the concept now

About a month ago, I decided to test my system out and see how the gluten-free thing was going. Yeah, ok, fair cop – I got cocky! I ate a bit of gluten here and there, the odd biscuit at a party, battered fish at a conference, and was generally less careful. Needless to say, my skin reacted and now my eczema is back with a vengeance. My face is still good, which is nice, but my arms, back, legs and fingers are looking a bit grotty. So now it’s back on the wagon properly and let’s see how long it takes to clear up again. In the meantime, we’re back on the moisturize, moisturize, moisturize routine and being careful about everything I put in my mouth.

Keep checking in on me and I’ll let you know my progress!

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