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I think I’m turning Gluten Free

If you didn't sing the title of this blog to the tune of 80's classic "I think i'm turning Japanese" by The Vapours, then we can't be friends. I'm joking. Mostly.
Gluten Free is a pretty big buzz word these days and, having grown up with a Coeliac mum, and two aunts and various extended family members, from a young age, I’ve always been keenly aware of the impending possibility that some day I may get the dreaded news. Well that day has come.

As if I didn’t have enough issues trying to cope with IBD and various other issues already I now have to be one of those people who reads labels, double checks menus, and asks restaurant staff “exactly how is that prepared?” To try and avoid cross contamination. 
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One of the things I vowed during these early stages of my transition in to living a gluten free life, I am not going to be a complete nazi about things. Yes I’ll avoid binging on donuts and huge amounts of pasta and bread - I made that mistake once - but I gave myself a month and a bit to work through my cupboards and freezer, I vowed to try and restrict myself to only one minimal consumption of gluten per day as I do this.
I planned to take a trial and error stance to new foods and new ways of ordering, and I even prepared to do the exact opposite of every bit of advice and purposely eat my favourites things to say goodbye. I’m a foodie and the thought of “one last time” is much better than “never again”. I was treating it as a sort of aversion therapy as the more I realise how bad this stuff is for me due to actually feeling and recognising the effects, the less likely I am to crave them; and it worked because I very quickly binned all of the stuff I was going to "work through" as I couldn't be bothered knowingly making myself ill.
Image result for aint nobody got time for that gif

So what exactly is it that you're looking out for when you say "Gluten Free"? Well there's the obvious Big 3 grains: Wheat (all varieties), Barley, and Rye. Lesser known sources are 

Oats - often grown side by side with the other grains they are subject to contamination before or during harvesting but several gluten free varieties are available where the oats have been grown and processed entirely separate from the big 3. This also means that most Starbucks coffee is wiped off the menu since they introduced Oat Milk on to their menu and theres no guarantee of avoiding contamination unless you specifically state that you do not want your milk steamed

Malt -  OK, so Malt is a derivative from Barley but I never knew that before I started researching and now I'm mourning all my delicious Malteser products and Cereals. Another reason I mention it is that during a mega label reading session in Tesco I spotted some products using a processed form of Malt Vinegar which they cite as gluten free; I got all excited by this but my mum was her usual suspicious self, basically, you wont know until you try.
Soy - Soy sauce and some soya based products are bulked out with wheat - actually a ridiculous amount of food is bulked out with wheat once you start reading labels - but with the growth in popularity of asian food Soy sauce is used everywhere and not everyone realises it's bad. We're used Tamari sauce in our house, a non-wheat version of soy, but nowadays there are a few soy sauces actually labelled as gluten free and some restaurants and food producers have even started using gluten free soy sauce so they aren't excluding their coeliac customer base.
Mustard and White Pepper:  These two kind of made my head hurt a bit, so the theory is that when buying as single ingredients you should be able to see that flour has been used in the mix to prevent clumping - or the vinegar used to process the mustard may not be distilled - but when used as an ingredient they are not always highlighted as being a potential contaminate. So although that really handy bold type used in ingredients list may highlight wheat as an ingredient they may not always highlight mustard or white pepper even though they have been contaminated. And this is basically the same for most ready meals where their subingredients aren't fully detailed - i.e. sauces and flavourings. It was at this point I started to cry in the whole foods section of tesco.
Your Toaster and cooking utensils - It takes less than a single crumb to cause a gluten reaction, isn't that fun? So your shared toaster and crumby kitchen surfaces all have to go. Eating out is nightmare too; I’ve gone hungry at my beloved markets and fayres because even technically “gluten free” food is being dipped in the same fryers or lifted with the same tongs and BAM… Not Safe. In my head I imagine it as teeny little poisonous ants crawling all over my food. I mean it may only be one microscopic ant but fuck that shit if I’m going to eat it knowingly. And fuck you for offering it to me knowingly. 

I’ve become less forgiving in the weeks that it has taken me to write this post. Recently I had my first major set back and I don’t know whether it my body going in to shock from the extreme diet change or a general bug or a flare up of my IBD but I spent the entire week crippled with pain, I couldn’t lift my head, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t move. I had visions of ending up in hospital for weeks (which is what happened the last time I was this bad). Thankfully It passed. I’m not even sure that there is an aim to what I’m trying to say but basically I’m fed up and fucked off. 

But on the whole it’s going rather well. 






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