Sunday, December 30, 2007

Connect the dots

As I have said to Trillian a couple times in the past few days, there has been a part of me that wished the gluten-free diet wouldn't work, that we could just call it quits and go back to eating all our usual old stuff. It would certainly be easier. Wouldn't solve anything, but everything would be easier.

But I can't ignore that there's been a difference. After years of being a low weight for his height, Scooter has been gaining weight. He's filling out and I can no longer count his ribs easily. If his gut is anything like mine, he must be feeling better too.

To add to all of this, Trillian was doing some research today that further supports at least the "gluten-free" part of the gfcf diet. Our internet research takes us to information on celiac disease, and Trillian found that there are some potential connections between some odd health issues I've long had and gluten.

The most interesting one is paresthesia. My extremities fall asleep very easily. Like I cross my legs and get pins and needles in my foot and lower leg within minutes. I cannot do anything above my head for more than about a minute at a time. Almost four years ago, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, though I only barely fit the criteria based on tender points. The neurologist, however, felt that my paresthesia was much more severe than would make sense, given the level of my other symptoms. I had various scans, even allowed them to stick pins in me and run electrical currents through my body to see if there was anything impeding my nerve impulses. Absolutely no reason was found. No explanation. Just figure out how to live with it.

Turns out that there are people with celiac disease whose symptoms include paresthesia. So I'm waiting to see if this gets better if I stick to the gluten-free diet for several months. And then maybe that will be one way Scooter doesn't have to take after his mother.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Getting back to the kitchen

Wow, the Kitchen's gotten a bit dusty. This combination of moving and the holidays has meant a lot of time away from the stove, seeking out allowable restaurant foods and meals at relatives' homes.

Since Trillian and Scooter got to her parents', he's been pretty much wheat-free. We have not been quite as successful on the casein front. I discovered when I got here that the rice cheese they've been using may be lactose-free, but it has casein specially added. Unfortunately, there's very little available out here without casein, and the casein-free cheese just doesn't melt well, regardless of what the packaging insists.

I did a pretty good job of eating gluten-free while I was on my own, but gave in to temptation my last week and got a delicious wood-fired pizza from the cafe near us. The crust bakes up wonderfully, with those little bubbles around the edge and a thin bottom. My favorite version adds cheese, mushrooms, and truffle oil on top. Definitely not on my diet, but I couldn't help myself. And then had all the proof I needed that I should not be eating any wheat and should probably avoid dairy too.

For Christmas, Trillian and I received a bread-maker from her parents. The idea is that it will be dedicated to gluten-free baking. The Bob's Red Mill bread mix that we use can be baked up in it, and I'll soon be experimenting with regular recipes that I adjust for gluten-free flours.

In Scooter's case, we're still generally looking for substitutions. This is part of why we're allowing the cheese with casein right now--he'll eat grilled cheese sandwiches on the special bread we bake up. We haven't found an acceptable chicken nugget yet (I've got the next candidate baking right now). We're also searching for burritos and pasta that he'll eat. He had started wolfing them down at preschool. The burritos had been a favorite for a long time, though he has never liked the version we make at home, even when he was still getting wheat and dairy and even though we followed the cook's directions.

For me, this has been an experience of re-envisioning what I eat. I am not so enamored of the available breads or other baked goods that I've made a direct substitution. Instead, I am eating differently. With the leftover ham and turkey (from two holiday dinners), I've been eating the meat on its own, not in sandwiches. I've had acorn squash and baked sweet potatoes in the place of the usual casseroles; despite those casseroles calling to me (the sweet potatoes are beyond decadent!), I have found the more basic versions quite satisfying. Instead of holiday cookies--and boy are there good ones here--I've focused on the candy canes and dark chocolate. OK, so I plan on cutting way back on the sugar once the holidays are truly past.

Once we're settled into our new house, I'll be making a few more changes and experimenting more. In the meantime, I'm going to try to share some of the recipes I've been enjoying.