It has been seven days since my neurologist recommended that I begin a gluten-free diet as a way to determine whether many of my symptoms, symptoms that I attribute to chronic Lyme disease, could be caused by a gluten allergy or sensitivity.
I dove right in.
Everywhere I go I ask, “Do you have gluten-free choices?”
Mall food court, I did the circuit. The only place I found any kind of response other than “We can make you a sandwich without the bread” was a Burger King where they have a list of food allergens contained in every single menu item. I ordered a salad.
While my 21-year-old son (all of my children read food labels intelligently) read the ingredients on the salad dressing packet, I enjoyed a gluten-free salad. I was concerned about the cheese on the salad as most grated or crumbled cheeses are treated with an antifungal to keep them from growing mold. I need to do a little more research, but I chose a salad with blue cheese, plain chicken breast, and an apple cidar vinegar dressing.
Here is what I discovered: that salad was made with near-zero nutritional value iceberg lettuce and a single piece of walnut. I was hungry enough that it was delicious anyway. I could only eat half of the salad because my stomach has shrunk from grazing on nuts, dried fruit and GF crackers all day long. The salad dressing was made with soybean oil which means it most likely contained genetically modified soybeans. Sigh. I was gluten free but I was not GMO free.
I have eaten the following foods over the past six days:
Mary’s Gone Crackers Herb Crackers with organic goat cheese, cream cheese, and plain with almonds, organic dried cranberries (sweetened with organic apple juice), organic banana chips, fresh pineapple, hamburger patties, eggs, homemade mayonnaise (made with rice bran oil, egg yolks, homemade pear vinegar, and sea salt), homegrown lettuce, and more almonds and cheese and crackers. I nibble on snow peas when I work in the garden, too.
Every time I go to the grocery store, I spend a few minutes identifying gluten-free food products. I look for GF wherever I go.
Oh, I discovered that Bob’s Red Mill has a gluten-free oatmeal line: rolled oats, quick oats, and steel cut oats. But none of these are organic, and some people cannot tolerate even GF oats. I love oatmeal, so I will check the chain grocery and health food stores next time I visit. Probably best to avoid for the first six months of GF diet anyway.
Do I feel a difference? I feel less foggy headed but pain and fatigue have not changed. It is still too early to notice changes that might require months to heal, if they do heal, from a supposed autoimmune response to gluten. I am noticing a huge difference in the fairly bad edema I have been experiencing in my legs over the last six months. My right leg seems to have gone back to near normal, but my left leg is still swollen and slightly warm to the touch. I am watching it. Yes, I have lost weight, but I know it is water weight at this point.
I actually feel very tired because I know I am not getting enough calories. I need to make myself eat two eggs every morning. Oh, my appetite has nearly died. That is good and bad. I forget to eat.
I know I am on this adventure with a lot of other people facing the same challenges. I am not alone, and I will figure this out.