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One Year Of Gluten Free

May 16, 14 One Year Of Gluten Free

Almost exactly a year ago, my doctor and I determined that I needed to go to a gluten-free diet. I have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which is an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack itself, starting with the thyroid. Much research shows that gluten triggers the attack, so we decided that I would go gluten-free. I also suffer from chronic migraines, have low energy, pernicious anemia, and deal with anxiety issues, all of which have a connection to gluten allergies and issues. After that meeting, I went home and researched for days because I wanted to make sure that I was making a good choice for me. All the research led to going gluten-free. So, a year later, I have been a pretty successful gluten-free girl.

At first, this was not an easy choice. Heck, even now it is not easy. In the beginning, though, it seemed like everything had gluten in it because gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, and these three grains are found everywhere. No kidding, everywhere. Even things that I would not expect to have gluten in them do. For example, the cereal Rice Crispies has gluten in the form of malt. I do not know why it has to be there, but apparently it does. There are gluten-free versions of Rice Crispies, but still. Another surprising example was soy sauce. And then there are the soups, sauces, and salad dressings that have gluten added for thickening. I thought, wow, how am I going to eat?

Then I learned that there are gluten-free versions of most things, like the gluten-free Rice Crispies and gluten-free soy sauce, soups, sauces, and salad dressings. I even found good gluten-free breads, well, not good but definitely edible. I like the Udi’s Whole Grain bread the best as far as store-bought goes. I found pretty tasty gluten-free pastas. These may not be as good as regular pasta, but they are good in their own right. I have to say that I actually like them.

As I started cooking and baking gluten-free at home, I realized that I needed actual recipe books, not just stuff off the Internet. Do not get me wrong. I do like the gluten-free recipe blogs and recipe websites, but there is just something about a recipe book that I craved

The first book I bought was 1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes by Carol Fenster. I really like the variety of recipes, the tips, and the general information about gluten-free kitchens. More recently, I heard a radio show talking about the America’s Test Kitchen’s new release called How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook. I knew I had to have it, and boy am I glad I bought it. Between these two recipe books, I have all I need to bake or cook any food I want. The best thing about the America’s Test Kitchen book is it also has good suggestions for products like store-bought pastas, flours, breads, and the like. These two books have really made my gluten-free life better.

It has not been easy. I have to be the one who has to really be concerned about what I eat and where I eat. I have to be that person in a restaurant who asks for a gluten-free menu or asks about all the foods. I have to be that lady in the supermarket reading all of the labels on all of the foods. I have to make sure that others know I am gluten-free so that I do not get a sneak gluten attack. I have to be diligent because my health demands it. Now, that does not mean that I have been 100 percent successful. In fact, I know I have been glutened a couple of times, but day in and day out, I live a strict gluten-free lifestyle, and I know it is absolutely the best choice for me.

Despite the frustrations, learning curve, and explanations, it has been worth it. I feel better. I feel good. In this last year, I have had more energy than I have ever had. I have only had three major migraines. I have had less anxiety than ever. And those are the non-testable outcomes. My tests have all been better than ever. Yes, deciding to live a gluten-free lifestyle has definitely been worth all the hassle and label reading.

Living gluten free has been, well, trying. It has taken much research, planning, and explanation. But I am really glad I did it. I will continue to do it. And I will continue to inform others of the experiences, knowledge, and lessons I learn as I stay on my gluten-free road. For me, gluten-free is the only way to be.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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About 

Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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