It's a View Worth Seeing and a Trip Worth Taking
My World Famous Buttermilk Biscuits – OK, “World Famous” is pushing it but still..
No way…. Are you kidding me?!….. Talk about a kick in the pants…. SO out of left field… Nah, can’t be… This is a huge deal… My wold just got turned upside down… This might be the worst thing that has happened to me in a while… —- Okay… Not that big a deal.. Talk about a wake-up call… Should have seen it coming… It is what it is.. This isn’t a huge deal… My world just got turned upside right… This might be the best thing that has happened to me in a while.
Looks, for all the world, like one bi-polar paragraph doesn’t it? It’s sort of a modge podge of my thoughts over the past 7 months, so – in a sense – I guess my emotions were kind of bi-polar for a while.
As I’ve often said on this particular blog as well as my other blogs, I don’t AT ALL like to talk about myself. I guess that’s odd for an only child, but I get nothing out of discussing moi. Someone’s not doing this “only child” thing right. However, I figure that if anyone can ever be helped (in any way at all) by my personal experiences I won’t just talk about it, I’ll sing about it.
So here we go.
Around the end of the year (2013), my oldest daughter (Emily) began having some pretty frightening health issues. Earlier in the year she’d had gallbladder surgery and, as an over-protective mother, I guess I’d been watching her like a hawk anyway. She began to have insane allergic reactions – to the point of her throat swelling up sometimes when she was eating. This was all on top of stomach issues that were also bothering her, but somehow the upset stomach took a backseat to the feelings of chocking to death.
Like I said, scary stuff.
She and I both suspected she had a gluten intolerance/allergy and it was decided that she’d do an “elimination” diet for a few weeks to see if her symptoms cleared up. I decided to “go along” with her for a couple of weeks – to sort of “get her started on her way” and give her support. I was pretty sure this was a diet that she’d have to stick with for GOOD, so I wanted to walk along with her – at least the first part of the way – to help her find recipes, alternatives on restaurant menus, gluten free products on the market, etc.
Her allergy and digestive problems cleared up almost immediately. It’s actually what we both expected to happen, but we were relieved to know there was something she could do to get better. What no one expected was this: It was exactly two weeks into our gluten elimination that it hit me… I felt better than I had in a long time. I’m the proud (sarcasm emphasized) owner of a hiatal hernia and I have whackadoodle allergies and bronchial asthma…. all of which vastly improved during this two week time. I had more energy, less stomach aches, less gassiness, less bloating, less allergy attacks, fewer asthma episodes, less hunger, etc. Mouth sores healed and vanished, and other “little” things I’d somehow learned to kind of ignore disappeared.
But there’s more. I had experienced stomach and digestive issues for some time – issues that were slowly, but surely, getting worse. I always had an excuse for them, though. It’s the hiatal hernia, it’s my thyroid medicine, it’s all part of aging, etc….
I went back and re-read all the articles I’d read when researching Emily’s symptoms and realized that mine were also listed. But I hadn’t been looking for them. When a mother hen is on a mission, she sees her chick and only her chick… in this case, a sick chick!
It became obvious to both of us that we had to stop eating gluten – which is, as it turns out, in A LOT of things! A. Lot. Of. Things. Not only is gluten found in the usual suspect lineup – bread, cornbread, pizza, doughnuts (this one stings the most), fried chicken, fried everything, and anything breaded – it also turns up in soy sauce, a lot of salad dressings, every store-bought soup imaginable, taco seasoning, and 101 other places you wouldn’t even think to look for it… until it means the difference between having pain and not having pain. Then you learn to look everywhere.
Although the whole “going gluten free” thing didn’t shatter my world (by any means), it did feel like an annoying thorn in my finger.
I’ve been an avid cook, food blogger, cookbook collector, restaurant reviewer, Food Network addict, and lover of all things food for too many years to even count. To add to the misery, guess what some of my favorite things to make have always been – homemade bread, buttermilk biscuits, cornbread, pancakes, cakes, cupcakes, pies, and pastries. Serious. You can’t make this stuff up. I was so cocky about my buttermilk biscuits that I only allowed real butter to EVER be served with them. And then I told butter it was an honor it shouldn’t take lightly.
So… yeah…. having to change my entire way of eating and enjoying food disrupted my culinary world. Kind of turned it on its head, if we’re being honest.
Favorite restaurants had to be scratched off the list, certain cookbooks were handed off to other people, and I had to learn a whole new way of cooking and enjoying food. I found that even something as simple as enjoying Food Network shows was affected. It’s not a gluten free network, after all, so the frustration of seeing so many things that meant zilch to me anymore became more than I was willing to deal with. Oh, lovely, she’s making doughnuts today… Fantastic, he’s visiting another burger restaurant… And now he’s in a Pizza dive.. Of course he is.
Thanks, but no thanks.
Turning the Corner
As with just about anything that we’re up against, it finally got to the point where I realized it wasn’t SOMETHING that needed to change, but rather SOMEONE who needed to change. Besides, I couldn’t change my body’s intolerance to gluten any more than I could change the fact that it’s in so many favorite foods to eat, bake, and cook.
I had a brief, but effective, talk with myself and decided that…. what do you know…. this isn’t the end of the world. I decided that it really wasn’t the END of anything so much as it was the BEGINNING of something.
Put simply, I turned the corner.
I even decided to stop using “negatives” when I thought or spoke. Instead of saying, “I can’t bake my favorite sourdough bread anymore…” I changed my mindset to, “It’s time to come up with new recipes…. this’ll be fun.”
Instead of dwelling on foods I can’t eat, I’m focusing on the ones I can. When it comes to traveling through life, Can is a much more pleasant companion than Can’t.
Can sees the rainbow where can’t only sees the storm.
Emily and I were even talking about our new way of eating one day and actually found ourselves being thankful for the change.
We both listed the unhealthy foods we’d recently had to give up, including the frequent fast food trips. Like most people, we’d both found ourselves going through drive-thrus more out of habit than hunger. No longer feasting on fast and fatty foods meant that we were actually eating healthier than ever before – while feeling better than ever before.
Even more surprising is the fact that, not only was going gluten free a blessing for our health, it has proven to actually be a blessing for my cooking adventures.
I can’t tell you how many meals I’ve made that left my husband and I convinced that the food’s better than ever. From Salmon Patties to Belgian Waffles, I’ve worked with my “gluten free” versions to the point that they’re actually better than the ones I used to make.
Even my meals are better because this way of cooking/eating has opened up a whole new world of flavors and creativity. It’s bringing out the best in me because it has challenged me. If I’d just kind of moped around I would have never seen the silver lining.
It’s when I turned the corner that I could finally see it. It had been there the whole time, but I HAD TO BUDGE to actually see it.
What’s more, when my daughter and I started talking about the benefits of eating gluten free, a benefit we both noticed was an unexpected one: We aren’t as hungry as we once were. I’m not sure if it’s tied in to gluten, itself, or or the intolerance of it, but cutting it out seems to also cut out a lot of hunger.
I’m pretty sure the odds are that you have no intolerance, whatsoever, to gluten. Chances are none of the gluten information is relevant to you in any way. However, I will say this: If you have any unexplained allergies, stomach issues (bloating, pain, frequent gas, a “gnawing” discomfort, etc), unexplained weight gain or loss, excessive tiredness, headaches, or mouth sores – give some serious thought to cutting gluten out of your diet entirely for two weeks. If the way you feel suddenly improves… well, welcome to the club!
If you don’t notice any improvement at all (not even a little), the culprit’s probably something else and a trip to the doctor is probably in order.
Either way, gluten (cursed little demon) isn’t really the main thing here. Silver linings are the star of the show. Whether it’s in plain sight or you have to “turn a corner” in order to see it, once you see your silver lining, life will never be the same again.
No matter what life hands you, always look for the silver lining and never stop looking until you find it. More times than not, it’s a delicious surprise.
Pizza with a Gluten Free Crust… Boom!