October 15, 2015

Gluten Free in Mexico

Hi again!

Back in February I was feeling a bit run down and depressed.  I had also gained some kilos over the holiday season and they weren't budging. I began to wonder if it had anything to do with my thyroid so I started researching a little online about Hashimoto's thyroiditis and ways to combat it besides using medicine.  One thing that kept popping up was the connection between gluten and a long list of auto-immune diseases, including Hashimoto's.  I spoke to my sister about it since she was diagnosed with gluten intolerance almost ten years back, and she started sending me specific articles with research linking gluten to Hashimoto's and other thyroid problems.  She'd been urging me for years to quit eating gluten but I never really gave it much thought until I started reading all the info.

Around the same time I ran into a friend who was doing a juice fast.  She talked me into doing one too. I still wasn't totally convinced about cutting out gluten but the juice fast helped eliminate it for a week anyway, since I could only have fruit and veggie juices.  After I finished the fast I stayed away from gluten for a second week until I acidentally got some.  I didn't realize that french fries could be cross contaminated with gluten in a fryer that also fries breaded products like chicken nuggets.  I had taken my kids to Carl's Jr to have a hamburger and I stole a fry. One fry.  My body started reacting almost immediately.  I got a rash on my neck and started feeling dizzy and then got a horrible migraine.  At that moment I knew I would never intentionally eat gluten again.

Its been a long and difficult process since February.  At times I have really hated not being able to eat pizza or tortas or any kind of bread, cookies or cake.  The list is very very long of things that have gluten in them.  I especially have to be careful with things like peanuts or chips or anything packaged, due to how they've been packaged and if there could've been products with gluten packaged nearby.   Mexico, at least in this region, has very few products that have the gluten-free symbol and also very few products that explain what possible allergens they may contain.

Little by little I've been figuring out what has gluten and what is safe.  I have seen the headaches diminish to almost zero.  I also know that when I've gotten some gluten by accident I will get a headache or rash.    I think the most difficult thing has been convincing my husband that this is really what is going on with me and I'm not being paranoid or exagerating the situation.  After eight months he finally doesn't suggest we go eat tortas or offer me a slice of pizza or invite me to eat pasta.  He finally gets it.  I told him, "You know me, you know that I love bread and pizza.  Would I really stop eating those things if I wasn't convinced they were harming me?"  He just laughs because he knows it's true.  The test to show a gluten intolerance or allergy is so hit and miss.  Even though I had an allergy test done, it didn't show up.  From what I've read, the only certain way to know is to eat about four slices of bread's worth of gluten a day for a month and then have an endoscopy to get a biopsy of the intestine.  I don't think I'll go that route.

So, I am gluten free now.  I can still have lots of yummy foods, thankfully and I think I'm finally past lamenting all the things I can't have.  Occasionally I will go to the expensive Mega and buy gluten free bread or pizza bases.  Well, I've really only bought bread and pizza bases once each.  They are super expensive and go bad very quickly.  Also, as my sister wisely advised me, "gluten free is never the same as gluten, just get used to it."

Well, I guess I will go have a tamal :)  Hope to post again soon!

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