Apr 26, 2010

Food, the Source of All Evil

I try to stay on the derekh here with talking all things Judaism, but it's nice to diverge every now and again. So here goes!

I've been dealing over the past few years with stomach unsettledness. That's the best way to describe it. I'm perpetually exhausted, everything I eat upsets my stomach, and my doctor however many months ago suggested I hit up a therapist. Stress, she said, is the source of all my woes (weight, not sleeping, stomach issues). The thing is, I can usually tell when my stomach woes and sleeping woes are stress-related, and yes, that's probably about 40 percent of the time. But that other 60 percent, especially right now when I'm -- honestly -- not that stressed about anything, makes me wonder: What's my body telling me?

So I've decided to go gluten free. The National Institutes of Health (that's a .gov site) suggests continuing to eat gluten before and during your testing for gluten stupidness, but I just want to give it a go. We'll see how it works. I'm okay self-diagnosing on this one, because if I go back to my doctor she'll ask me if I saw a shrink yet, and I can't deal with that. Plus, more veggies = healthier Chavi. I'm also avoiding meat after watching Tuvia devour some chicken over Shabbat and after hanging out with some chickens and cows at Old Sturbridge Village on Sunday ...

So it's fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish for me. And I couldn't be happier. The difficulty will come when I have to eat by other people, when it comes to challah, etc. Does anyone have any advice on being a kosher, gluten-free consumer? Anyone?

In the meantime, I'm going to figure out a way to make all of the cupcakes over on Ming Makes Cupcakes in a gluten-free and low-sugar fashion. Go health!

Hat tip to @HeySuburban for posting this website (the cupcake one, that is) up on Twitter :)

12 comments:

TMC said...

Whenever I mention to folks that I'm having stomach problems, I always get accused of "glowing." You're not "glowing" are you?

:)

Suburban Sweetheart said...

AAAAH, A NEW VEGAN! Haha, just kidding. Do what makes you feel better, what makes you healthy. I started feeling a lot better when I cut out raw vegetables & started only eating cooked ones. And also when I realized I was allergic to mushrooms... huh.

In related news, I WANT ALL OF THOSE CUPCAKES.

shavuatov said...

You do need to continue to eat gluten before your gluten intolerance/allergy test, otherwise if the period when you are gluten-free or limited is long enough, your intestines will have started to heal up and the result could be a false-negative. Believe me, I know!

Having said all of that, if your body is anything like mine, you shold see immediate results of going off the gluten - I lost tons of weight, without trying and felt so much better inside (kf you see what I mean). However, I continued to eat meat - so be very careful that you're getting all the nutrients you need!

Good luck!

rachel

Malka said...

Have you gotten checked out by a GI specialist? It can be worth while. Also talking to a nutritionist to make sure you are getting all the same things without meat or gluten. Ive been dealing with IBS issues for the past few years and its an experience for sure.

redsneakz said...

On a side note, and with a serious question; if you don't eat gluten, is it possible to make hamotzi? Four of the five species contain gluten, and much of the oats available here in the states is not guaranteed gluten-free.

Anonymous said...

Get in touch with Vicki, the stamp lady. She has to eat gluten free and Charles has some great recipes.

MrsJessica said...

I have several friends who are gluten free - and basically they don't say hamotzi. No washing, no challah, short birkat after the meal. It's a little weird, but if you explain, people are fine.

The hard thing with eating at other places is that if people invite you, you end up having to talk to them about your dietary needs, even if everyone keeps kosher.

In terms of getting everything you need, check out the South Beach Diet. My mom does badly with gluten and she uses the diet to help her make sure that she gets fiber, etc.

If you need help getting gluten-free vitamins, lemme know.

Malka said...

There are gluten free challah and matzahs that have oat flour. They dont taste great buy you can do the mitzvah of making hamotzi.

Chaviva said...

@TMC If so, it's an immaculate conception!

@HeySuburban Let me know if you try any of them out. I'm jonesing for ALL of them. I must make them ... MUST!

@ShavuaTov/@Malka I've been told to see a GI, but when I visited my doctor last, she never suggested it, so I just ran on the assumption that maybe it's all in my head and related to stress. As it turns out, I think she was wrong to NOT send me to a GI specialist. Although I've read that it's best to continue eating gluten before being tested, I'm more interested in feeling better than continuing to eat something that MIGHT be harming me. There are also other tests that can be done to check for gluten issues, however.

@Anon Thanks mom. I'll try and send her an email! Christina also sent me the email address of John Guittar's aunt, who does the gluten free ordering stuff for Hy-Vee.

@MrsJessica Interesting. And this is halachicly okay? To never say motzi? I'd be okay with this, I just don't want anyone to accuse me of shrifting my mitzvah duties!

@Malka I've seen those online, and there are recipes too. I might have to give them a go and bring them with me to people's homes. I know a guy in Washington Heights who does that :)

Meg said...

My friend is gluten sensitive, and so she brings, like said above, oat bread for Shabbos. Apparently you can make motzi on it.

ByTheBay said...

Hey - I'm a "silent fan" who reads your blog on occasion but rarely comments. Having been down this road before, I have to say that I *greatly* regret not having stayed on gluten long enough to get a biopsy, because I have to deal with not having a solid and conclusive diagnosis - and no ability to know if I'm at higher risk for serious neurological or GI (including cancer) diseases and osteoporosis, or whether by accidentally ingesting gluten I am simply going to make myself temporarily sick versus putting myself at risk of GI cancer, etc. I think that's a pretty major thing to know or not know... right now I'm going thru genetic testing because of this. So I really advise you to actually speak to a gastroenterologist and/or registered dietitian before going gluten-free, and at least get a blood test if not a biopsy. Everyone I know who hasn't done so has regretted it down the road. As with most foods, the longer you stay away from gluten the sicker it'll make you later, which in my case made me so sick (trying to do a "gluten challenge" so I could get accurate test results 6 months after going gluten-free) that my own gastroenterologist demanded that I stop and gave me a diagnosis of celiac based on symptoms and dietary response alone. Also, it becomes really hard not to be tempted to "cheat" occasionally down the road for people who think "well, I don't really have celiac so what harm could it do?" It's really the kind of thing you need to know.

Also, check out my blog if you like and e-mail me any time if you need info or support or recipes. I don't update as much as I used to but if you go through old entries I have recipes for gluten-free sufganiyot, latkes, challah, etc. I also do recipe development and am in school to become a registered dietitian, so I'm glad to help out in any way I can.

Gluten-Free Bay: Kosher Recipes for Gluten-Free Living

ByTheBay said...

Other things worth knowing:

-A good resource when you want to know a gluten-free kosher brand for something, or a recipe, is AllergicJews, a listserve for Jews with food allergies (most of the members are gluten-free, though not all). it's a great place for help problem-solving.

-Most people I know hold that you can't say bracha on challah that's not made from oats (The only gluten-free grain of the "5 grains"). Problem is that oats are often cross-contaminated with gluten and some celiacs can't digest even gluten-free oats. But you can buy kosher, certified gluten-free oat flour from Lara's. I bake challah with it on a regular basis (I haven't published the recipe on my blog yet but it's really tasty). Doesn't taste anything like challah but is really good bread and I make it in a braid-shaped bread pan (GF bread is more like a batter than a dough so it's not often braidable). Or I buy the gluten-free oat challah from Heaven's Mills, which you can buy online I think - I buy it at Natural Spot in Teaneck, a frum healthfood store. Personally, I wash and do birkat hamazon, etc... only when I eat a significant amount of oats. Otherwise, I don't. One rabbi friend has told me that there are opinions that you can wash and say birkat hamazon over any meal that is clearly a full meal and has another grain such as rice in it, but that's not how I hold.

Be careful about getting enough fiber - You'll need to be eating gluten-free oats, quinoa, millet, etc to ensure you get enough fiber... not just because you're not eating wheat but also because processed gluten-free products are usually made of nutritionally empty (and very high calorie) ingredients such as potato starch and white rice flour. The more you can avoid processed foods the better. I'm in nutrition school and have done nutritional analyses of GF products and they're MUCH less healthy. You can put on a lot of weight eating a GF diet if you eat GF bread, pasta, cakes, cookies, etc. There are other nutrients a lot of GF people don't get enough of, too, because most peoples' main source of them is wheat products. For instance, GF cereals and pasta and bread aren't fortified... so you're often getting much less folate and iron and B vitamins than other people, who get theirs largely from these foods.

"Gluten-Free for Dummies" is a useful book to read before you go GF, too.

I really do hope you'll reconsider not seeing a GI before you go GF, though.

OK, enough out of me ;-P Good luck

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