A Gluten for Punishment

On Friday, I decided to make homemade pizza just as I used to before going on the elimination diet. I knew gluten bothered me, but while I am absolutely adamant about not eating eggs again anytime soon (nor baking with them), I just wanted to try gluten and wheat one.more.time.

The pizza was probably the best I’ve made in as far as I can remember. The dough came out perfect, the most amazing rise and flavor. The sauce was another homemade entity that was flavorful and delicious. The topping was just your basic mozzarella with seasonings. It was glorious and I savored every bite. The family enjoyed it, except for Crab. He never seems to like pizza much.

An hour later it began.

Joker Face

My face started to burn. My skin felt horrible. I couldn’t get the discomfort to stop. I looked like the Joker once more. My face, my underarm turned dry and red, my belly bloated. I felt sluggish and exhausted. Oh boy, this was going to be another long weekend. Why do I do this to myself?

I woke up exhausted on Saturday. I felt tired, my skin hurt. It wasn’t a good sign.

Here’s a sampling of what my face looked like after several creams on Saturday. It was painful and is still as I sit down to type this post. I have had to moisturize constantly and have tried to avoid using A&D ointment to get it to calm down. I cannot wait to flush this feeling out of my system.

Gluten eczema reaction on my face.

My goodness, it was only one slice of pizza and a small one at that. I know with gluten you either can or can’t have it. Looks like I’m a newly committed gluten-free being.

Goodbye Gluten

Goodbye fast food. Goodbye donuts. Goodbye, most foods or delicious brews at any party or outing. Goodbye ease of ordering Chinese take-out.

Wait a minute… all of that crap is unhealthy anyway. This actually might me feeling better and eat better than before. No more temptations, because this pain I’m feeling right now is not one you easily forget about.

I am debating seeing my doctor to get a blood test or go for further investigation into my food sensitivities. I fear, they are worse than I might expect. I have always thought I’ve had an issue absorbing certain vitamins, like B12 or D, and it turns out after much research that gluten sensitivity and intolerance can stand in the way of nutrient absorption.

Why now?

You might be wondering, why didn’t you feel this bad before when you ate gluten/wheat all the time?

Well, truth be told, I did feel horrible, but I thought that was normal. I thought between having two children who run around constantly, and getting older that I just had to accept this level of tiredness, eczema, and joint stiffness.

Not until I went on this ever so difficult elimination diet did I realize HOW much discomfort I was in that was related to what I was consuming. I never felt better three weeks into it. I had energy, my skin problems were gone, and everything felt right with the world. Even my winter depression subsided. I slept great.

The rollercoaster ride of testing threw me off. And after I was done, I decided to add back in a few foods, while testing certain ones specifically again for any reaction.

Now, you might wonder, could it have been the cheese on the pizza as an issue instead of the dough?

Gluten-Free Pizza

Well, to test that theory (and my notes from dairy testing did not prove an eczema reaction) I made a gluten-free pizza dough for lunch today, Sunday.

I made it the exact same way, swapping only the dough. Otherwise, the sauce and cheese were the same (well, I added leftover cheddar, too). I used a flax meal egg replacement to avoid the eggs. In the future, I’ll start making my own pizza dough flours, but this start was a dough from Bob’s Red Mill.

Two hours later, no reaction. I’m still reeling from the remnants of Friday’s reaction, but my skin is calming down and has not flared up. I would’ve noticed immediately if the pain came back. So far, nothing. I feel fine. No bloating. No itchiness.

You know what else… my entire family liked my gluten free pizza. The Monkey actually requested the leftovers for dinner. And the Crab at all of his pieces.

Side note: This weekend I picked up divided dinner plates as Monkey liked a set of plates we had before where his food didn’t touch. I like the idea of using divided plates for their meals, as it reminds me to make sure to include fruits and veggies with each meal, too!

Here’s a shot of their dinner plates:

Monkey & Crab’s dinner de jour.

Even Chris liked the gluten-free pizza and said he tasted no difference. Chris normally dislikes anything that might have a hint of “healthy” to it. Win all around and it’ll only get better from here!

This was my first time working with a gluten-free dough. It was very different from a wheat dough, but I already know some ways I’ll work with it better going forward. And I look forward to making homemade gluten free flours in the coming weeks.

Also this weekend, I tested out Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 gf flour blend in a recipe for blueberry muffins that I had used before with wheat flour. They came out great and Crab’s been eating them up! The bonus, I have no lethargy after eating baked goods that are gluten-free.

I never took the time to learn about gluten free foods until now. I realize, I could’ve consumed many more gluten free options on the elimination diet the past two months. Being ignorant to what gluten free meant made my life so much more difficult on the diet.

Now, I’ve been borrowing gluten-free cookbooks from the library, researching more online, and found a lot of great flour blends for baked goods. I’ve also asked myself, how much do I need baked goods in my weekly life anyway?

We usually have pizza only once per week. Other than that, maybe a baked muffin or cookie on the weekends. Gluten free is more expensive, but that just means we won’t eat it as often, which in the end, fruits and vegetables are our best bet. By making my own flour blends it’ll lower the costs a bit more.

Good thing my kiddos love fruits and vegetables. It’s not a huge shift for them. Luckily, I can still consume dairy products (aside from eggs which are pretty easy to substitute) and we can still enjoy chocolate together!

A Journey Begins

Gluten free is going to be a journey. There is a lot to learn and a lot to pay attention to in my future eating choices. I realize I may have to start bringing my own food or snacks out, but I’m okay with that. It’ll keep me eating healthier in the end, which means I’ll feel great all the time; not just some of the time.

More to come on my notes for testing foods and how I narrowed down the list from eight allergens to two I’ll be completely avoiding. Thank you for following along on my new journey!

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