Monday, July 14, 2014

L is for Living Wheat-Free


A few years go our family started a new journey on a road to be healthier.  We started pretty basic at first. You know, less processed foods, less "junk" food.  We did some research, discovered the benefits of fresh-milled flour and the vitamins it contains and progressed to grinding our own- wait for it- WHEAT.  Yep, I have buckets full of wheat berries now sitting in the pantry.  Buckets.

And I now have a child that needs to be wheat-free to be healthy.

Rewind the story a little.

Our oldest has always had allergies.  She was always sniffy or stuffy or sneezy. (sounds like a fairy tale, huh?)  But that is just how she was.  We gave her medicine and life went on without much thought to the cause.  Unfortunately as she got older, her symptoms grew worse and she struggled ten fold between college and our move out west.  It became evident by the time she came home last December that she was not only getting worse, but sicker as well.  After initial blood work, we were referred to an allergist and the rest of the story is a mixed bag of good and bad.

The good- we now have a reason for her struggles and she can get better.  She IS getting better.  Gaining weight, feeling better, more energy- her spark is back and we are so grateful.

The bad- she is allergic to the world.  OK, maybe not the world, but most of it.  She tested positive for 60 out of 64 things.


Wheat is one of them.  At first we were told they felt it was environmental only, so we went with that for a while and are deep in the process of sterilizing her world as much as possible.  THAT should be a whole new post!

But through the advice of several people we began to question the wheat piece of the puzzle.  It seems that even if you are not "allergic" to wheat, it can be an inflammatory for those with severe allergies.  On a whim, we decided to take her off it and see what would happen.

WOW.

Really,  WOW!

Good news- within days, her allergy symptoms were much improved and her energy was through the roof. Think Energizer bunny.  Seriously.  She actually drove me crazy for a few days.  She said she had forgotten what it felt like to actually feel good.  Sad, but true.

With her daddy!

Bad news- well several things.

1- Wheat is in everything!  We thought we could take away the big things and that would be the end of it. ha- see number two
2- Once you take wheat out of your diet, going back is HARD on your body.  It becomes more sensitive, so despite the fact that she has survived for 20 years with wheat, now that she is off it, there is no going back. see number 3!
3- "going back", AKA cheating, produces bad things.  Aches, pain, headaches and on and on.  And now even trace amounts are an issue so we have had to tighten our belts even more.
4- Cooking and baking wheat free is like rocket science.  Too many choices, too much cost, confusion.  UGH!  Boy, do I have a greater respect for people who have children who have severe food allergies.  I do not know how you do it!  Some days I feel like we are swimming in a sea of confusion.
5- Eliminating wheat  from your diet can make you lose weight.  While this is not a problem for some of us, just saying, for those of you that know my oldest, it is a problem.  She cannot afford to lose weight so that is something we are currently trying to work through.

Good news- There are alternatives.  Did you know the the Betty Crocker Gluten Free Brownies are amazing?    Ronzoni pasta tastes just the same.  Udi bagels make her happy.  We have also found just this past week that spelt does seem to be safe for her so we are now experimenting with that.  Rice Chex and Rice Crispies are wheat free.  Dear friends of ours from Comfort Foods now offer GF pancake mix and brownie mix to die for.  And the best- Olive Garden has GF menu choices.  Made her day!!!

Bad news- Goldfish, Triscuits, Oreos and Chinese noodles are a no no.  Going out to eat is a little more challenging.  And pizza- well, we are still working on that one as well.  We did a taste test one night with two different doughs-Pamela's Baking and Pancake Mix, which we really like for cookies and muffins, and Full Circle GF Pizza Crust Mix.   The consensus was the Full Circle Mix was the best, but we still are open to other ideas.  We have yet to try just using spelt in place of wheat flour on our regular pizza dough.


Here's what is sad to me.  In the process of trying to make our family healthier we made one child worse. When we got our mill, we went crazy with it.  Hence, the buckets of wheat.  Homemade bread cookies, bagels, pasta, cakes and on and on and on.  Go figure.

In a perfect world we would all be able to process and enjoy the foods God gave us.  We do not live in a perfect world.

It makes her sad that her body reacts so negatively to something that should be good for her.  Some days it is a guessing game to what made her feel bad.  Thankfully, there are no allergies in heaven!

Until then, like many of you, we move forward with each day and are learning.  We do the best we can and are grateful it is day-altering, but not life-altering.

We know so many of you are on this same journey and MANY that have more severe allergies, food and environmental.  We would love to hear from you!  What works?  What doesn't?  What is your favorite wheat alternative?  Snack ideas?  Any and all suggestions are welcome!

Sometimes just knowing you are not alone is worth its weight in gold!

Blessings,



We are joining some amazing bloggers who blog weekly through the alphabet over at Ben and Me.  Hope you can join us!

Ben and Me

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16 comments:

  1. We have a child with multiple food allergies. She was diagnosed 3 years ago. It is still a guessing game sometimes. We are now looking at getting rid of wheat to help her do even better. So thankful that you were able to find what makes you daughter feel better. I have found the information in the cookbook Cooking Free by Carol Fenster. She does have a pizza crust recipe (or two) in her book, as well as good information on how to make the changes to recipes with the many various flour choices that do not contain wheat. I will be continuing to follow your journey through this. - Lori H

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    1. Thank you Lori! I am putting that cookbook on my wish list!

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  2. Thank you for sharing this. It does sound like a challenge. I am glad that you are seeing good results as that makes it worthwhile.

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    1. Thanks Beth! One day at a time!

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    2. Thanks Beth! One day at a time!

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  3. Thanks for the encouraging reminder that there are no allergies in heaven.

    Have you tried the Enjoy Life Cookies that you can get at a lot of Commissaries? We all love them. For a while we used the corn and quinoa pasta from the Commissary, and the other day I found brown rice pasta at Costco.

    Are there any specific recipes that you're looking for (other than pizza dough)? I've been gluten free for about four years, and my youngest has been wheat free for two years. When it was just me avoiding gluten, I didn't make nearly as many treats as I do now that there's two of us.

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    1. Cristi, we are away from a commissary this move, but I will be on the lookout for that brand next move. Thank you! What flour do you use to make cookies and cakes? Do you make bread?

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  4. Have you heard of the book Trim Healthy Mama? There are many healthy, wheat free alternatives and great ideas in the book. They also have a Facebook page and a private group where you can do searches for recipes. Pinterest has TONS of ideas, recipes etc. for gluten and wheat free recipes. I've tried a pizza made with a cauliflower crust that fooled my husband, who hates that vegetable. He loved it.

    Also, one note on wheat. Wheat has been genetically modified to the point where it is not the way G-d created it. One author said a better word for it would be "franken-wheat". Your whole family would be better off without it.

    It's nice to meet you and find your blog. I found you through Modest Mom link up this week. I hope you'll stop over to my blog for a visit.

    Shalom and blessings,
    GG

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Gail. WE have done THM some, but the recipes do not seem to be supplying enough fat for her. We have laughed that she is doing THM in reverse- butter, sour cream and cheese on everything she eats! Wish I was on that kind of diet! haha "Franken-wheat!" love it!!

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  5. I was going to mention the Trim Healthy Mama book but I see it has already be mentioned. There are several groups on facebook for it that share recipes.

    I totally understand your pain about changing to a healthier lifestyle and finding out it wasn't good for your child. When my oldest (almost 14) turned one I was convinced regular milk was the worse thing for him so I started him on soy milk. At 2 we had allergy testing and found out he was severely allergic to soy. :/ I thought I was doing something healthy but it just wasn't healthy for him.

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  6. Yes, wheat free is an enormous challenge. Especially for Americans. Have you ever thought of studying the Mediterranian diet? Pulses, rice, veg, salads, fish, meat, fruit and snacks...food a plenty with no wheat whatsoever. All meals practically from scratch. I would highly recommend you to search out foods from countries where wheat does not grow well. Whatever they eat must work as the race doesn't die out!
    I eat calcium free and citric acid free and have studied deeply many foods for their nutritional content. I have to read each label for all the ingredients of everything I pick up. Citric acid is a cheap acidulant, anti oxidant and preservative. I am from the Catalonian region of Spain. I pray this gives you new ideas and it is always interesting to turn out new style meals. If there are any questions you would like to ask me you can find an e-mail address on the side bar of my blog. I also have plenty of recipes under the title of Munchy Monday! As they say, I've been there, done it and got that particular t-shirt :)
    In Him, S

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    1. Welcome! Are you living in Spain still? Thank you for the idea- you are right, there are many cultures she would probably do so much better in! Off to check out your web site and will try hard not to bug you! ;)

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  7. My oldest went GF at the age of 18, after years of struggling. She has found everything you said to be true, especially that the body is more sensitive to it after being off of it. It has helped her tremendously as well. Praying your daughter continues to be healthy and grow stronger.

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    1. Thanks Erica. Glad you all have seen positive changes as well!

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  8. I had to laugh at the irony. We have a lot of allergies here, and my one son had outgrown a wheat allergy about two months before my husband got diagnosed with Celiac. Yes, I cried. For me. :)

    I'll promote myself and say come check out my blog - almost all of my recipes are wheat free - because they are from either when Jude was allergic or hubby cut wheat. (Oh and for brownies, I swear by King Arthur mix. Even my picky FIL didn't realize they were gluten free until he saw Neal pluck one off the plate and eat it. :)

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    1. Oh good grief Meg, serious?! I would have cried as well. Thank you for reminding me about your recipes- off to check them out!

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Thanks for commenting. I love hearing from you!