Or is that Gluten and Guns.
I know I’ve been skimpy on the blog posts lately; I just feel that unless I really have something to say, I shouldn’t waste our time. Today I thought I did have something to say. Then I heard about the DC shooting and thought, “how can I be blogging about bread when people are being shot and killed?” Then I thought about how people are being shot and killed every day; what makes today any different? Because it’s in the US and we’re still not used to that happening here on the scale that it has been the last several years?
I’m here with my blog post.
I wanted to talk about diet and health, specifically the diet and health experiences of my household. Up until Saturday, I had been gluten free for just over two years. That was when my naturopath told me I had Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which is an auto-immune disease triggered by gluten. At the time, I pretty much accepted that I would live out my life without ever eating bread again. Just in case, I held onto all of my baking cookbooks. In the back of my mind I had a hope that some day there would be a cure or discovery that would allow me to bake bread again.
Several months ago, I started seeing references to the GAPS diet all over the place, so I started doing some research. The GAPS diet is a gut healing eating program that includes lots of cultured, probiotic foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut, fresh fruits and vegetables, and healthy pastured meat and chicken. No grains of any sort are allowed; neither are potatoes or sweet potatoes, and the only sweetener allowed is honey. After generally one to two years on the program, one is supposed to be able to transition back to a diet that includes healthy grains, potatoes and uncultured dairy products. The claim is that it can heal food allergies and auto-immune diseases as well as a host of other ailments. We talked it over and decided to give it a try.
We started in February and it’s been really easy to stick to. We certainly never go hungry. It is a lot of work, as I have to create every single meal from scratch. There is no running out for take out on the nights I am too tired to cook. I cook anyway. It’s not a weight loss diet, yet both of us have lost a lot of weight. I’ve lost about 32 pounds since the beginning of the year, and Craig has lost a whopping 45 since February! I attribute the weight loss to the probiotics and also to the high amounts of omega 3s and low amounts of omega 6s we get, but that’s a different story that I won’t get into now. I’m here to talk about bread.
It’s early. It’s only been seven months on the diet. I didn’t want to wait. We’re going on this trip to Uganda soon, and stopping in Amsterdam on the way back. I didn’t want to have to explain a gluten free diet across a language barrier. And frankly, I want to eat a famous Dutch sandwich in Amsterdam. So I wanted to do a test and see what happened if I ate bread. I’ve been reading about how bread created properly, the old fashioned way with sourdough to start the digestive process, shouldn’t cause problems.
One of the things I missed most about bread was the ritual of baking it. I’m not a religious person; I find my spirituality in the cycles of nature. Baking bread was a spiritual practice for me; it contained the natural elements of air, water, fire, and earth. That is what I missed way more than eating it.
After a lot of reading and studying, I sent away for some special organic really truly 100% whole grain flour from California. I made my sourdough starter from scratch, using the yeasties in the air and on my hands and the wheat. I named her Zelda. She’s beautiful and bubbly, has a great personality. That first day, when I opened the flour sacks, I was scared! Was I doing the right thing? Was I killing myself? Am I crazy????
After a week, I baked bread. It was wonderful to touch that dough again, to feel it in my hands, to watch the alchemy of the elements come together to make food. Being unpracticed, I was worried about the quality of the final product, but it worked. The process of actually turning the starter into bread took an entire day. The night before, I soaked the flour, then on baking day the bread went through long hours of bulk fermenting and rising. I finally baked it at about 9 o’clock on Saturday night. After it came out of the oven I let it cool for awhile. Then we sat down at the table with the bread and lots of butter (that’s another things about this diet – it promotes the eating of large quantities of animal fats). That first bite! What hit me first was not so much the flavor but the texture. My teeth remembered the feel of biting into thick chewy crust. It was wonderful.
Now I’m still trying to decide if this is ok. As with many things, I think I was expecting something dramatic to happen. If it was a bad choice I would double over in pain. No. We’ve eaten a lot of that bread since Saturday night. I’ve really not had any digestive issues, although every slight twinge I feel in my gut I think it might be the bread. Over the past two years, whenever I would accidentally come into contact with gluten, I had very specific reactions. I had digestive upset and weirdly my ankles and fingers would swell. I also would feel groggy and lethargic. I have been feeling that off and on. I am a little foggy brained today. There are other things that could be attributed to, and it’s been happening off and on since the first day I opened the flour sacks. Which was also the first day we started our oral typhoid vaccine. My timing on this wasn’t well thought out. I think I will hide the flour deep in some plastic bags, put the starter to sleep, thoroughly cleanse my kitchen of all trace of flour and see what happens.
I’m curious, has anyone out there had any experience with eating gluten after being gluten free? With healing food allergies? I’d really love to hear from you and about your experiences.