Saturday, January 6, 2007

What is Gluten and Why Can't We Get Along?

Last week I was thrown for a loop. I found out I am "gluten sensitive." That means my body, instead of digesting gluten, makes antibodies and attacks it like a virus. Well, that's bad, because fighting an infection with these antibodies starts tearing you up on the inside. If you believe everything you read, you'd think gluten is responsible for nearly every modern ailment. At the least, it can cause a lot of problems, and after 2 years of gastric docs, a colon surgeon (but no surgery, thank goodness) and more tests than I care to think about (most of them traumatic and humiliating) I finally may have an answer as to why my digestion went awry.

Going gluten free is a huge adjustment. It's becoming easier as more people become aware, but it's still a huge adjustment. Gluten is in everything that has wheat, barley, and rye. That's a lot of stuff. No more normal bread, pasta, cookies, muffins, granola bars, cereal, you get the point. My wife's being great and cooking some great gluten free stuff (the best it can be). It's a big adjustment for the whole family. We had to explain to the kids that Daddy's stomach hurt from some foods and he'll be eating special foods from now on without worrying them. They seemed to understand it well for a 4 1/2 year old (#1), a 3 year old (#2) and a 7 month old (#3). OK, #3 didn't care, but she will.

So being gluten free will be part of my life. I've decided to make it a positive thing and use it as a catalyst to get healthy and learn about nutrition. It's just part of life. And I'll learn how to balance it with everything else.

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