Gluten Free Kinda, Sorta

We've been a largely gluten free household for a few years. A couple years ago we got a super-duper expensive bread machine that could make 100% whole wheat loaves. I was in bread making heaven. No more door stopper loaves from the oven.

We started to eat a lot of bread. Then my skin-sensitive husband developed itchy rashes and an uncomfortable heaviness in his digestive tract. And within the year following our bread machine purchase our two youngest developed regular and persistent tummy aches. By that time Damien had eliminated gluten from his diet (no easy feat as anyone who has tried can testify to) and suspected gluten as the tummy ache culprit for the children. After elimination and re-introduction we found this to be the case.

So, we've had a couple years of restricted gluten in our home. Gluten definitely hurts Damien and regular sore bellies were reason enough to remove it from the kid's diets. So with 3 gluten sensitive family members Celine and I joined the others in solidarity and stopped eating gluten at home also. No bread, wheat pasta, regular pizza, barley, oatmeal (processed in wheat facilities) etc... It was hard, but doable. Once a month or so, sometimes more often, we'd eat wheat. Cookies at a function, pizza for a treat, bread at a restaurant. Inevitably Damien would break out in a rash and feel gross and the kids would complain of sore bellies. But gradually we've noticed that Brienne and Laurent weren't hurting after these indulgences. So we'd try a little more next time and when we found that they stopped complaining altogether we figured we were maybe in the clear. And that's where it stands right now.

ciabata: totally not whole grain but such a nice treat

When we started our gluten-free journey we didn't know anyone else who ate this way. But over the past couple years the number of "gluten-free" friends and family has grown. It's rather ironic that we are now less gluten sensitive as friends are discovering their own gluten sensitives. Although the kids haven't had recent bad reactions to gluten we're not going back to the way we used to eat, probably ever. I'm fairly certain Damien's gut is not going to change soon and I continue to cook all our family's shared meals gluten (& animal and refined sugars, flours & fats) free. But the kids and I have started to eat wheat products a couple times a week. What a treat. Did I ever miss bread!

Our journey into gluten-free territory has been a real blessing for our family. We've been forced to change our diet to more whole, unrefined foods. Vegetables, beans, fruits, nuts, seeds, and gluten free grains. It hasn't always been easy, I shed a lot of "I can't make decent pizza" tears before we gave up altogether and instead eat out at a local inexpensive Thai restaurant for a treat. And because no one is deathly allergic we have always been able to indulge now and then.

But it's nice eating bread and cookies (my personal weakness) when I'm out with the kids. And here's where I give the plug for our absolute favorite bakery in town. If you're a local you must try The Bread Shack. The kids and I eat rolls and play the odd UNO game there every week on our Tuesday afternoon errand run. Maybe we'll see you sometime if you happen to be buying a loaf during our weekly stop. You won't regret trying their wonderful bread. If you don't have any issues with gluten that is!

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  • Karen

    Karen on Jan. 28, 2009, 12:30 a.m.

    The Bread Shack is truly a delicious place to eat all yummy yeasty bready and grainy things! The Christmas loaves you shared with us were soooo good. Thanks to your family's gluten sensitivities, I've expanded my baking arsenal of ingredients and experimentation. Good learning curve for me.


  • Anonymous

    Anonymous on Jan. 28, 2009, 3:17 p.m.

    Not to rain on your parade, but your husband and kids need to be tested for Celiac disease. Gluten intolerance in its many forms doesn't "go away" even if symptoms appear to be gone. If your children and husband are suffering from an autoimmune gluten intolerance (this is what most people have), then they can NEVER have gluten even if they are symptom free. Symptom free doesn't mean there isn't internal damage going on. Many people experience a reduction in symptoms after being GF for a while, but Gluten Free is a medical diet, not a fad diet, and must be continued througout life.


    • renee

      renee on Jan. 28, 2009, 6:50 p.m.

      Celiac disease is a medical condition. Eating gluten free can be a health choice, as it is for myself since I am fairly certain I don't have Celiac, but I think avoiding refined wheat flours is overall better for my health. Or it can be a medical necessity, in that case it's a medical diet. Gluten-free in and of itself is not a medical diet. It's a choice.

      Thank you for your concern, your not raining my parade smile. As a rule we don't go the route of medical tests but listen to our bodies. But maybe this is something we need to reconsider. I have often thought that I don't want to do internal damage (why we avoid fats and such).


  • Anonymous

    Anonymous on Jan. 28, 2009, 4:58 p.m. For more specific and truthful information about celiac disease and its lifelong impact, here's some insider documentations. I agree with your previous poster that if you have any problems, especially ones that have led to skin problems, you need to take this condition more seriously. There is a nearly 100% correlation between celiac sprue and dermatitis herpetaformis btw, so it's likely that is your husband's condition. I hope you'll re-consider this off and on approach.


    • renee

      renee on Jan. 28, 2009, 7:03 p.m.

      Wow, more anonymous lurkers coming out to chastise me. Who knew this was such a hot-button issue!

      I totally appreciate your concern. My husband already believes he has an autoimmune disorder. That he was able to self-diagnose from lots of reading, studying and listening to his body. Perhaps I misrepresented him in this post. He is very disciplined in how he eats and has excellent health because of it.

      Why wouldn't I take an on again off again approach? Something hurts so you stop doing it. You try it again and see if it affects you. If it does you stop.

      As I mentioned in my reply to the previous commenter, getting tested is maybe something we need to reconsider. Don't get me wrong, I'm not opposed to getting tested but having figured out our own health for so many years (starting 10 years ago when my husband started having allergic reactions) our solution to health problems is to read a lot, know and listen to our bodies and make changes accordingly. The medical system usually has nothing to do with our health so it requires a shift in thoughts to consider going there.


  • William Beverly

    William Beverly on Jan. 29, 2009, 12:03 a.m.

    Hey Renee -- Super Cool Pix by the way!!!
    Sounds like you got the idea. I think I ran across a link to your posting/blog at . It is a wonderful thingee on the net that, kind of like a 24-hour newspaper or news wire service, publishes (electronically) excerpts and links from various Gluten-Free, and Celiac Disease Related Blogs and sites to those of us who are actively seeking information about CD and G-F'ness and related issues. This would account for your sudden increased exposure. And I can't speak for the others, but I only wrote to you because I can relate and I would imagine that many others feel the same way. CD can be a real bummer and we all go through our processes as we evolve and hopefully learn to thrive with CD - as opposed to in what I call CD Denial. And also, you mentioned something about the struggle of trying to help friends and family understand about G-F eating needs -- Deb Brammer had written (kinda) about this, and I added a little in an article: I hope this is helpful. And hang in there! You are going to do just fine. William Beverly


  • chrystal

    chrystal on June 23, 2010, 10:37 p.m.

    I'm so glad I found your blog! (and being from Maine helps too! I grew up there!)I've recently also decided to go "gluten free" despite the allergist simply wanting to put me on allergy meds-though he says I'm not "allergic" to anything. My symptoms are calming down after 3 weeks of not eating gluten and milk products. It's def worth it to me/us. I'll def be using your site often for GF recipes!


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