So for those of you who know me really well, you know how much I love good food! I guess you could say I’m a self proclaimed “foodie”. My husband Carl and I like to try new places to eat. Carl has created a list that he keeps in his phone of places he wants us to try. Our friends often call on us when they are planning a date night and want a yummy place to eat.
Now, let me tell y’all what happened to me about 2 years ago! I still can’t believe it myself…
I guess it was Summer of 2018. I’m starting to get used to the daily IV infusions, when I began to experience some issues with my digestive system. Right after I would eat, I would begin to experience some discomfort, however it was inconsistent so I didn’t really pay too much attention to it. As the days and weeks went on, I began to notice pain in my stomach that at times hurt so bad that I would double over in agony. My joints would begin to hurt, first in my left shoulder, then it would progress all over my body. It was so strange, and I could not understand what was causing the pain. A few times I would become nauseous and begin to vomit until whatever I ate was out of my system. This went on for months until I mentioned it to my doctor who would run a series of tests to try to figure out what was going on. A few days went by and the phone rang. The doctor asks me if I had ever heard of Gluten. I said yes, and asked what that had to do with me. He said, “Well your test results are back and you cannot have Gluten”. Say what???? He started talking to me about Celiac Disease and then asked if I’d always had issues with food causing me pain. In that moment I couldn’t think of anything, I was still in shock by what I was hearing. Honestly, the only thing on my mind was bread and how this news was going to impact my love for it. I mean bread is one of my favorite things and now that was gone…at least that’s what I was thinking in this moment.
Fast forward one day when talking with one of my college friends, she reminded me how I would get so tired and not feel well after a meal. I would always complain of my shoulder joints hurting, feeling sick and needing to lay down. Then I spoke with my dad who shared that he and my mom had a hard time finding formula for me because I had a hard time with it. In 1972, my parents didn’t know what Gluten was (I guess my pediatrician didn’t either-Ha!). So, it was concluded that I’ve had this issue with Gluten my entire life, but the Lyme Disease triggered it in such a way that I could no longer tolerate it, even in small amounts.
Nowadays, whenever I eat even a very small amount of Gluten, I begin to feel extremely sick and my small intestine tightens up and my body is flooded with intense pain and inflammation. The only thing that helps is for me to bring up whatever I’ve eaten and even then I still feel the side effects for about a week. I hate dining out now because I feel like I am interrogating the server to make sure there is no Gluten or cross-contamination. You might be wondering what cross-contamination is. To put it as simply as I can, it’s when you have food that does not contain Gluten and cook it (or use the same utensils ) on the same surface, skillet etc as you would food that does contain Gluten, that creates cross-contamination. For me, I am so sensitive to Gluten that even the slightest error will cause a huge issue for me so I have to be careful. Many restaurants will tell you their food is Gluten-Free, but there’s so much cross-contamination going on in the kitchen that the Gluten Free food is no longer Gluten Free. It’s hard to explain…
I would love to see a lot more education about Gluten/Celiac Disease in the restaurant industry. More needs to be done for restaurant owners, chefs, and their staff , to better understand the risks. Additionally, to understand how to properly prepare Gluten Free options and more importantly, how to eliminate cross-contamination. I do see some progress, and there are quite a few places to eat here in the Austin, TX area that understand and do it right. I feel safe at the places that know what I mean when I mention cross-contamination or have a protocol in place when someone requests GF options. Here are a few of my favorite places (in no particular order) that have many options and/or have a protocol in place to avoid cross-contamination:
These days, during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are cooking most of our meals at home, but one day I hope to enjoy a few of these places again. Until then, off to the kitchen we go!
Until next time,
If you know of a great place to get Gluten Free options in the Austin, TX area, please comment on this post or shoot me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Me eating a GF Red Velvet & Chocolate Chip Cupcake made by our daughter, Dee, owner of Dee’s Sweets & Treats!