Welcome to my new Eating & Drinking page. A little background on my relationship with food before I get too far:
When I was in my teens and twenties I had nice skin and a hop in my step. Fast-forward to my thirties, where life hit overdrive (a move to the west coast, then back to the east coast, a marriage, two kids under four, a new house, that whole economic crash thing). You get the picture. At some point I just started to feel, well, yucky. I was run down. my skin was red, blotchy and bumpy. I felt puffy and my lower back and the bottoms of my feet chronically hurt. In a word, I was a mess. My coping skills were, how shall we put this delicately, dwindling.
For three or four years I managed to keep all of my proverbial balls in the air. I had two small children, a marriage, a fast-paced career in Manhattan and, like most moms, my health took a back seat. I dealt. I managed. I ignored.
Finally--and I can't remember why--I called a doctor. I went in and had my first full-scale physical exam since who knows when. We sat across from each other and talked (do yourself a favor and find a doctor who sits and talks).
Her: "How are you?"
Me: "Well, since you're asking..." It was like she gently turned a spigot and the words burst forth. A lot of them.
Then she listened (do yourself a favor and get a doctor who listens). After I went through my long list of concerns, her first question caught me completely off guard: "Have you ever tried giving up wheat?"
You see, my body was sending me a big, blinking, neon sign of a message message. It had probably been sending me subtle messages my whole life, but when it needs to, your body has a way of making you pay attention. You see, the human body (especially our female child-bearing bodies) are amazing machines. They can handle a lot. But give them too much and they start to break down and something has got to give. In my case, stress, pregnancy and huge life changes in quick succession took its toll. It was telling me that it was done fighting for me on its own. We needed to work together on this one.
So, armed with nothing more than kind words, a pep talk and some great reference material, I headed home. The next day I gave up wheat. My goal: one week. Within 5 days my skin cleared up. Within the first month I was sleeping better and I felt better. That puffy, sluggy feeling? Gone. I looked better. I felt better.
Just to be clear: I have not been officially diagnosed with celiac disease. That requires a biopsy of the small intestine. No pun intended, but after just a few wheat free days, I knew in my gut that wheat and I were not meant to be. My blood test revealed that I was deficient in things like Vitamin D and B12. My body just wasn't running properly. It was sad and tired. Now we're sympatico. We listen to each other. We're partners.
As for missing all that wheat I used to eat---not a bit. A funny thing happened: I'm more into food than ever. The void that wheat-free left in my life made room for a new culinary sense of adventure that's more "me" anyways. I'd rather eat a tomato from my garden with a fresh purse of burrata cheese than, say, a frozen pizza. Walnuts dipped in fresh, local honey with a sliver of Maytag is a much more interesting snack than a handful of those orange goldfish my kids love.
And by the way, If, one day I find myself sitting at a small patisserie in Paris and am offered a piece of fresh, warm baguette, I'm going there. After All, when every bite matters, why not make it worthwhile, don't you agree? Bon appetit.