Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Gluten-Free Path

Hey, I come from the Bread Basket of Canada-- some of the richest wheat-growing lands in the world (or that is what we were taught when I grew up).  My father's forefathers are said to have introduced a hardy, hard strain of wheat to North America, bringing it with them from the Ukraine when they refused to pick up arms for during the Bolshevic Revolution (they were German Mennonites).   It seems treasonous, almost, to who I am, who brought me up, that I would choose to eat without wheat.  I grew up on a wheat farm.  My father was a multi-generational wheat farmer. 


But then, I am also a different religion from my forebears, and I am vegan (and recently, pretty highly "raw" vegan) with a brother who runs 700 head of beef cattle.  I vote differently (I think) from my father and sometimes from my husband (yes, I know that's silly).

So, really, I guess, after all,  it isn't such a leap that I would also be exploring the idea of "getting rid of wheat" in my diet.  But how did that happen?

Well, before I thought too much about the idea of becoming "gluten-fee", I had heard about people with Celiac disease and sprue.  They have always been around.  In my younger years I probably got them mixed up-- the diseases I mean-- with cystic fibrosis.  Both of our children had some food allergies, and it was subsequently found that my husband and I did as well (surprise surprise).  But I didn't really consider giving up wheat because....

I ATE THE GOOD WHEAT STUFF... WHOLE WHEAT... WHEAT GERM... WHOLE GRAINS... etc.

I didn't eat white Wonderbread, rarely ate any kind of white processed stuff, never really got into wheaty cereals, and had sworn off donuts and the like after a career of their turning up heavily frosted and days-old in the group sessions I faciliated as a social worker (they came in in those hamper-type trunks once a week, pure cholesterol injections by the ton). 

When I retired I thought I would have time and interest in getting really really well and energetic again.  To facilitate this happening, we moved from the cold prairies where you really did need to eat a lot of cholesterol (apparently) to keep warm in the winter-- to Vancouver Island North where there are more, or at least as many,  health sages and "modalities" and alternatives as conventional health providers.   

But I didn't really get a whole lot better.  I didn't lose weight.  I didn't gain energy and re-gain my old vim and vitality. 

A couple of years ago a long-time friend (actually, we were pushed around in baby carriages together-- even our grandmothers were friends) casually mentioned how she had stopped eating gluten and lost 30 pounds in six months!  Wow, that was impressive.


Then a fellow in my Toast Masters' group (yes, brings up the idea of bread again, doesn't it?) told me that if he ate just a teeny-tiny little-weenie piece of birthday cake even, he would have to shoot out of the meeting and head for the heads.  I later heard how very restrictive his diet was.  He had a huge "gluten sensitivity". 

So, I did some very very superficial research, but I kept hearing about people who were "wheat sensitive", "gluten intolerant" and the like.  But it really wasn't until I heard a very clear-spoken naturopath talk about digestive issues and disorders like "leaky gut syndrome"-- and link them to gluten (and other high allergens)-- that I truly began to consider the advantages for me to give up eating foods with gluten content.  This wonderful naturopath is Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo -- I'll be referring to her quite a lot throughout these blogs.

So this is the start of my gluten-free journey... you're welcome to come along.  Please include your experiences and comments here... I would appreciate that very much!

(And hey, I promised jokes didn't I?  Go here for some corny gluten-free jokes)
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Disclaimer:This blog reflects my own personal beliefs about the health benefits of being gluten-free. I am not a Medical or Health Care professional and any information or products contained in this blog are not meant to replace your responsibility to consult with the appropriate health care provider about your own circumstances and concerns.

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