Gluten Free....Are You Serious?

On November 3, I was on the Q train to Park Slope in Brooklyn. I was headed to my favorite sandwich place on 5th Avenue. Bierkraft was one of my most favorite places to go when I lived in NYC and every time I'm back, it is one of my first stops. I usually go alone, earbuds tucked into my ears as I walk from the train to the restaurant. I already know what I'm ordering. This guy:


This past November 3, I ordered my sandwich like any other time, ate it with a root beer like any other time and walked to the Barclay's center to head to my next stop. November 3, I was headed to Grand Central Terminal to run an errand.

About an hour later in Manhattan, I found myself dizzy and focusing on keeping the contents of my stomach contained as I hauled ass through Grand Central, on my way to a bathroom.

What was going on?! Did I get a bad olive?

I managed to get through my errands that day in Manhattan, and ended up back in Brooklyn at my sister's apartment. I got a big glass of water, took a shower and laid on the couch under a blanket the rest of the night. It was all I could do. I felt....sort of like I had the flu? But with weird stomach pain? And like my mind was foggy.

The next day, I got up and looked at my UP Band information. I've been wearing an UP Band for about 18 months and I track my food often.

For some reason, I noticed right away something unique.

I hadn't had bread, noodles, wheat......gluten for about 5 days....just by accident. Until yesterday.

Let's back up to early June when I moved to Mainstrasse Village in Covington, Kentucky. My next door neighbor, Meghan, I discovered, was gluten intolerant. What? Like what is that? I asked her one night. She explained the difference between a gluten intolerance and celiac. The seed of education and knowledge was planted, my friends.

So in November, I realized what might be going on. My beautiful Bierkraft sandwich was perfectly body, was just not going to be cool with it anymore.

I decided that while I was in NYC for work (which was about 3 weeks) I would not have gluten. The first step to a proper diagnosis is to remove it from your diet for a few weeks, then reintroduce it and see what happens. If you reintroduce it and you're fine, then no gluten issues. If you reintroduce it and you get sick, you have a problem with gluten.

I was fine with that. I could rationalize more oysters and wine that way.

So I did. I ate lots of oysters while in NYC. Like these:

Oysters[Are you into oysters? Follow my friend Julie's blog In a Half has beautiful photography and lots of stuff about bivalves here.]

In all seriousness, I went through my entire NYC trip in November without a lick of gluten. It wasn't hard to do because when I'm in New York I am busy with work and seeing friends and walking around and just doing stuff. And, for me at that point, it was just a matter of picking the gluten-free chocolate chip cookie over the regular chocolate chip cookie, or the gluten free pizza over the regular pizza. It was literally not a big deal.

By the time I met Victor in Virginia at the end of the NYC leg of my trip, I had dropped a pant size. My skin was brighter. I hadn't had a single issue with asthma. I had no runny nose in the morning. I was sleeping like a rock. I had not had any headaches. I woke up each morning bright and chipper and clear-headed.

This past Saturday (we're in December 2013 now if you follow me), I picked up a new box of black tea from an international market we have here in Cincinnati. It was in bags and I had heard good things about it. I had a cup of tea around dinner that night. A few hours later, I needed to use my inhaler. Victor and I just thought I needed it because I was around cats the night before and I'm allergic to cats and really haven't been around them regularly since last year.

The next day, this past Sunday, I had two more cups of tea....a tea bag each. And about an hour later, I had 'that' pain in my stomach. My cheeks got red, my face swelled up a bit and my skin felt 'tight.' I felt really brain foggy and was trying to find some words in normal discussion. I was having hot flashes. My asthma was giving me trouble. My abdomen swelled up. [You can ask my sister, I got her on Skype the next day and showed her the glory of my distended gut.]

I went through the whole day with Victor....what I ate. It was all fruits and vegetables and wine.

Oh way....the tea?

Apparently, gluten can be found in the glue used to seal up the tea bags I was using. I did not even think to check if it was gluten free.

At this point, I've been gluten free since early November. I'm going to have the official 'blood test' done in January to confirm what's going in and get a bit more information.

I'm sharing this because I literally never considered myself a candidate for a gluten intolerance. But I can not tell you how drastically this change in diet has impacted my health. I was already in great health: regular yoga, meditation, mostly vegetarian diet, lots of walks in my neighborhood, low stress, healthy weight....but I guess I had no idea.

So, here's what I want you to do....take this quiz:

Be honest! No one is looking over your shoulder.

I took this when I was in NYC and that's how I decided it would be worth it to avoid gluten during my trip. And now, I'm on a new adventure!