Gluten Free Adjustment

I kicked gluten out of my house about 4 months ago. It still shows up on occasion (like at Thanksgiving, for a big shared meal), but other than that, I’ve been gluten free. Or at least, I’ve stopped BUYING anything with gluten in it.

I’ve not always been super good at not EATING anything with gluten. Sometimes it’s things I don’t even think about, like making pound cake for a friend and licking the spoon, only to have horrendous stomach trouble for the rest of the day. Other times I start eating something – like fried mozzarella sticks – only to realize halfway through the first one that it’s been breaded and fried. (And then have horrendous stomach trouble for the rest of the day, and sometimes the next two days as well.) Or, at the beginning, deciding I didn’t give a flying f-sharp and eating a cupcake (only go have horrendous… well, you know).

This last week I decided, since I’d been doing so well, to try a normal beer and see if I was ok. I’m not sure why I thought I would be, as beer is fermented barley mash, and barley contains gluten, but I love beer… so I tried.  Been sick for two days too. No more beer for me, unless it’s sorghum beer.

I’ve found that I don’t really crave a lot of things I thought I’d miss, like pasta (easy enough to make rice or rice pasta instead) or breakfast cereal (GF oatmeal woo!), or even cookies, which make up pretty easily with gluten free flours. And after getting really sick from most of those things, I find they’ve lost a lot of their appeal.

Bread, however, I can’t get away from. I love bread. I spent years getting good at making yeast breads.

And now I’m having to really think about this whole food allergy thing, and how I will never be able to eat those breads again.

Which is kind of huge.

I’ve had some decent gluten free breads too. They’re just not the same as wheat bread. They taste good; they have good texture… but they are different. And anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.

When I started out this GF thing, it was all an experiment, a sort of side strategy to help with my joint pain and with my tummy troubles that my arthritis doctor said I should do for 3 months to see if it’d help. While I didn’t think it’d do much, I figured I’d at least try. I got past the freak out pretty quickly (about a week of freaking out, really), but it was always “I can do this for 3 months”. Even when I felt better, when I was finally having a normal relationship with my digestion* for the first time in my adult life, it was still “I can do this for 3 months”.

But it’s been three months, and I’m still doing it. And if my little beer experiment means much of anything, I’m going to still be doing it three months from now. And the three months after that.

I know I have it easy, that 10 years ago there was almost no support for people who couldn’t process wheat, barley, rye, and spelt. On the other hand, there’s a big perception that gluten intolerance is the latest fad diet**, and so many restaurants don’t take it seriously. Heck, for awhile I didn’t even take it seriously.

Three months later and I definitely take it seriously. I know what I can eat at restaurants (Asian and Mexican foods are my staples for eating out), and I know I have to plan in advance if I’m going to be able to eat on my lunch break and not have to eat noodle soup every day from the local Vietnamese place. I know where I can shop in the grocery store and what parts of the store I don’t even have to visit anymore.

As much as I’ve learned, though, I’m still feeling like I’m adjusting to a totally new way of food. After all, “never” is kind of a long time to think about.

*For the record, it’s really nice not to have to plan my errands around which stores I visit after eating, and whether they have bathrooms I can tolerate.
**It’s a fad diet I kind of understand. For a lot of people giving up Gluten means giving up all processed foods and eating more fresh vegetables and lean protein – a change that would make just about anyone feel better if they’ve been eating a lot of processed junk. That said, there’s a difference between “feeling better” and the kind of gastric distress someone with an actual gluten intolerance (or a systemic histamine allergic reaction type allergy) will have.

Getting over a haircut

So last Wednesday I went in to get my hair trimmed for the holidays, hoping to have an inch or so trimmed off the ends and the front shaped up around my face.

I sat down in the chair and asked for a 2” trim. The hairdresser cut the back of my hair, and then turned me around to look at it. I said “Wow… that looks short…” and she held up a piece of hair that was close to 5 inches long and said “well, I just took two inches off!”

I let her finish my haircut, but told her I was not entirely sure what to think about the length, that it was way shorter than I’d expected. She kept stating that she’d only taken 2 inches off the ends.

I got home and realized I wasn’t mistaken. My hair is just about to the top of my shoulderblades when it’s dry. It was about to my bra strap just after getting it cut in September. I’m pretty sure I didn’t magically lose a bunch of hair between then, and in fact it should’ve been about an inch longer when I went in to cut it.

The proof, as they say, is in the pictures.

This is my hair immediately after having it cut in September:

Note that in this picture my hair is a fuzzy mess, because my stylist is a clueless noob that doesn’t know how to properly dry curly hair, and thinks teasing it with her fingers while aiming a diffuser at it is going to result in something other than looking like a deranged lion.

This is my hair after having it cut last week (and having styled it myself):

Now, I suppose with long hair it was only a matter of time before some stylist got the idea that she should just cut my hair to a length SHE thought was OK. And I did not actually pick up a ruler and say “I want THIS MUCH cut off, and no more, and if you cut more I’m not paying for my haircut” (which I’ve been told to do by other long haired women who attempt to get their hair cut by stylists instead of doing it themselves).

Everyone at work loves my hair, which is hard for me to swallow because while it does look “cute” (and it does frame my face nicely, and the curls are more stable) I can’t do any updos with it beyond a ponytail anymore. It doesn’t even really go into a bun, so I can’t use hair sticks, or hair forks, or any of my octopus clips.

This length makes it look much thicker, and the curls spring up a lot more, which I like… but it means doing my hair regularly instead of being able to take a shower before bed, sleep on it, and just pull it back into a sleek updo with pretty hair sticks the next day. Drying my hair takes about 20 minutes if I use a diffuser/blow dryer (and several hours if I let it dry on its own, in which case it tends to not curl as well, and likes to stick to my head like plaster).

My mom thinks this is a “more adult” length for my hair (she never liked it when it was long, and kept suggesting I cut it). SSH thinks it looks healthier and otherwise doesn’t have much of an opinion, though he does like the curls.

I just can’t get over how drastic it feels. It was less of a shock to go from tailbone length to mid back than it was to go from mid back to shoulder.