Today the biscuits are tempting me. I’m volunteering at an event and I’m manning the reception desk. Women are embarking on a journey into economic empowerment. It’s wonderful to be a small part of this. Now that they have moved into their first workshop, I’m making myself a cup of tea. I can smell the sweetness of the biscuits. I can feel the crunch, the way the crumbs melt in my mouth….
What a beautiful daydream. My mouth is watering.
This is the first time since starting my #glutenfreeadventure that I’ve been tempted.
Usually, I see bread, cake, biscuits and I see poison. Because for me it is poison. It poisons my mind and sends my body into an IBS nightmare.
But since the beginning of September, my IBS has been back and camping out in my digestive system like French truck drivers on strike.
It’s not a result of me going off my special diet. I haven’t changed anything. But I’ve gone from no IBS symptoms to constant trouble.
The only cause I can think of is my endometriosis. I can feel that getting worse. And it is a known cause of IBS. And it’s incurable.
My two pregnancies etc have taught me that hormone treatment is not an option. I’d be like a bulimic on steroids. I might even vomit more than F used to do.
So I’m feeling royally f***ed.
It’s not a helpful perspective. And I’m struggling to shift out of it.
But those cookies I could smell? That was the nudge I needed. No matter how good they smell, they are poison.
It’s easy when things are going well. It’s when the problems start that you get tested. And I’m being tested. I was drifting. But those cookies may have just saved me. For today at least.
It’s summer so there have been a lot of barbecues. And I love a homemade burger. I make the patties myself in our scotpak rahim family tradition with some cumin and coriander thrown in.
I’ve never added egg or breadcrumbs for binding so I’m happy that this is something that doesn’t have to change for my gluten free adventure. On the scale I’m somewhere around gluten sensitivity and gluten intolerance.
I have my patties ready. All that’s missing is the soft, light roll to put the burger in.
Well, I also have IBS and am following the low FODMAP diet. Almonds are on my exclusion list too. As are a whole bunch of seemingly unrelated foods including most fruits, some veg and most grains.
So on Wednesday I had another look for gluten free bread. And I found some rolls. Excitement was building as I reached out and picked up the packet. And squeezed.
I was so happy! These were light and soft. And they were part baked so I could finish them off in the oven at home and have warm rolls. Yes!
So with anticipation, and a dose of “don’t get your hopes up” I read the ingredients (in dutch). No potato. Score!
Wait, what’s that I see? Apple fibre. Are you kidding me? I have a very bad reaction to apple and it’s definitely on my list to never eat again in my life.
So it’s time to face facts. I can’t take the easy way out and buy ready made. I need to get busy in the kitchen and make stuff myself.
It’s weird that I was even thinking about buying because I love to bake. I guess when I heard gluten free I just chucked baking into the basement of my mind and locked the door.
Now I’m checking recipes against the FODMAP list to see what to try first. I’ve seen a choc chip cookie recipe with chickpea flour. I can have limited amounts of chickpea, which is good because it will stop me eating the whole batch. One a day will be my limit.
Am I jumping on a fad? No. And I’d be really late to the party if I was.
But let me give some context.
Since the age of about 14, I’ve had monthly episodes of IBS. Relatively mild and manageable. Well, ok, it was disruptive and painful but I put up with it.
It was manageable until I had my eldest, F. During my emergency c section I got a lovely bonus gift of endometriosis. Of which a side effect and symptom is IBS. So my IBS spiralled and grew and got so bad that I had pain and discomfort everyday, all day.
And like any health conscious, aware, parent of a sick kid, I went and got it checked out straight away. As soon as it became unbearable. Not a moment later.
But there isn’t a cure for IBS. And whatever the original cause, the best way to help reduce symptoms is to change your diet. So I took on board my doctors advice to eat crudites (yes, that is really all he said). I started googling IBS and even joined and IBS support group. Wow! those people really suffer! Their stories scared me away.
I knew I needed to make a big change and I needed the head space for it too.
So as a health conscious, aware, parent of a sick kid, about 2 years later I got there. I needed to eliminate foods from my diet.
So last October I started the FODMAP diet. My understanding of it is this: basically you are avoiding foods with excess dietary sugars that can ferment in the gut and cause bloating, cramps, a spastic colon, inflammation …….
It took me a long time to get my head around it: give up certain foods, possibly for life. For the sake of my health.
It should have been a no brainer. Don’t eat that, feel good.
It seems like a small change but it’s massive. It affects the whole family, how we do the shopping, how many meals I need to cook each day. And I’m not even going to mention going out to eat.
And I can’t remember all the foods I should avoid so I use this app. But that’s for another post.
This post is about gluten free food and the surprising amount of potato.
Wheat is a big NO NO for IBS. So I had cut that out. And I found an alternative, Spelt. It’s a relative of wheat and hasn’t been genetically modified the way wheat has been.
I was eating limited amounts of spelt bread and doing ok with it.
100% spelt. Check the ingredients people! Marketing people lie. “look! buy this spelt bread, it’s so healthy!” they say and then on the back you see “made with 50% wheat, 10% spelt flour…”
But my nutritionist asked me to go gluten free for 3 weeks. Why? Because although I may not notice any problems with spelt, the gluten in it could still be doing damage to my irritated and inflamed gut.
So I did it. And I felt great. Really good. A real uplift in my mental health too.
Then I had some wheat and spelt. And it hurt. A lot.
And that just sucks.
So, I decided to check out the gluten free offerings. I love rice, LOVE IT. But sometimes you just want some toast. I was missing “bread” type foods.
And that’s when I found the potato conspiracy. It’s in EVERYTHING.
Those crackers look so good. A mix of potato, rice and a million other things. It looks good. But don’t be fooled. They are solid stodge. Heavy and with this really weird texture that makes me think of potato dust.
When I was a kid I worked in my parents corner shop and bagged potatoes. Took potatoes from a massive sack and bagged them up into 5lb bags. I loved that task but my nose would fill with that potato smell of good potatoes with a coating of mud – they stay fresher for longer that way.
But I don’t want to eat potato dust.
And the bread. Oh it looked so promising. And although it felt dense, I didn’t mind. I like slightly dense bread. It’s like you can feel the wholesomeness of it. All those whole grains.
So I toasted some gluten free potato bread. Spread my salted butter (oh Clover, I miss you. Did you know that in Holland everyone uses unsalted? yuck)
And…. potato dust. Heavy. No crunch.
The texture is just awful. It’s a bait and switch. It’s like they put all the effort into making it look right and forgot all about the taste and texture.
So I’ll just have to content myself with rice crackers and give my gut time to heal. I know this is going to take months, possibly more than a year. And then maybe I’ll be able to have spelt.
So for all those coeliacs out there, like my sister S and fellow blogger C, I’m starting to get what life is like for you. Gluten is everywhere. Like those damn potatoes.