Johan's out of town on business this week, so I decided, heck, why not make life extra hard and use the opportunity presented by his absence to give up wheat? I've been wanting to take on this little experiment for a while because I've been feeling chronically, anemically tired, and feeling just generally unwell off and on for, oh... forever. I mentioned this to my regular doctor and I get the feeling she thinks I'm borderline crazy (or a full-fledged hypochondriac) to think it could be diet-related. But I also know from experience seeing a naturopath, and from friends who have gone down that path, that one of the first things they suggest when a patient comes in with the sort of general malaise that afflicts me is to cut out wheat. Oh, and sugar, and caffeine. But I figure, why not just start with wheat and see where that leaves me?
So here I am, on my fourth day of wheat-freeness (third, actually, if you count the stale hot dog bun and beer I cheated with on the first day--so NOT worth it in case you were wondering). I feel no better. But it's still early. What I do feel is a little like someone who is giving up some other, more "serious" vice, like smoking, drinking, or hard drugs. I stare at the cookies I'm handing to the kids and wonder if my will power alone can get me through the moment, or if I will break down and then scarf down half a dozen when they're not looking. It's unbelievable, really.
I'm guessing that, regardless of whether or not I'm actually gluten-intolerant (or have a gluten sensitivity), I WILL be feeling better because, along with cutting out the wheat, I'm also cutting a lot of the crap that goes with wheat out of my diet. I had no idea just how many foods containing wheat I was putting into my body every day. I ate wheat at every meal. And for just about every snack. And I feed my kids even more wheat than I consume myself. It seems a little... unnatural.
At the moment I'm doing double duty preparing meals and snacks. The kids still get the standard: bread, pasta, crackers, muffins, cookies. I get none of that. Their meals are easy compared to mine. Buttered bread and sliced fruit for breakfast, for me a bowl of oatmeal with yogurt, fruit and nuts. English muffins and eggs for them, and huevos rancheros for me. The other night, they ate tortellini with bacon, peas and cheese, while I filled up on beans and rice. I keep telling myself that in Mexico I ate beans every day for weeks at a time, and I liked it. Still, I'm going to need to expand my repertoire soon.
It feels a little indulgent, being a short order cook for myself. Of course it will do my energy level no good in the long run to keep this up, but for now it's kind of fun.
On day two, feeling more curious than deprived, I made a loaf of gluten free ricotta potato bread in our bread machine. It was seriously vile-wet, spongey, with a strong aroma of glue. And the kicker was that I had to buy about $35 worth of ingredients to make something that ended up in the compost bin. It turned out to be more of a failed chemistry experiment than an exercise in baking. But practice makes perfect. Soon I'll work up the courage to try again. Or I won't. Who needs bread, anyway?
ME. Oh, really, I do. And cookies, and scones, and muffins, and those lovely buttery pastries they make at the bakery down the street. Deep down, I'm hoping that I won't feel immensely better after this little experiment, because a wheat-free life is immensely more complicated. I'll have to be very conscious of every morsel of food that passes my lips. And that sounds exhausting. But the idea of being (even more) purposeful about what I eat also feels a little freeing. Of course I can take that lesson with me either way.
I'll let you know how it goes.
Nell Pickerell, also known as Harry Livingston
11 hours ago