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Thread: Gluten allergy

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    kahnli's Avatar
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    I just discovered that I may have a problem with gluten. I'm an executive chef and am tasting various things throughout the day. I'm a little stressed over this. How am I supposed to sample my fresh bread. Even better, what about my beer after work? Oh dear lord, I'm a southerner and how can I live without biscuits and skillet gravy?
    I try to snack at work and everything I pick up has gluten in it... this is impossible.
    Sturgeon's Law:
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    http://terraforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=102021

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    It's overwhelming at first, but you eventually get used to it. There are plenty of resources online, including many livejournal communities (with surprisingly little drama for LJ). One such community deals with recipes that are gluten free, and i suspect you'd both enjoy that and be able to offer many helpful tips.

    One thing: it's important to know if you're allergic to gluten, or have coeliac disease. In the case of the former, it's just an allergy, and you can 'cheat' if you're willing to deal with some short term discomfort. If it's the latter, it's an auto-immune disorder, and 'cheating' will lead to serious health problems down the line (and I mean serious like 'bowel cancer' serious).

    My fiancee has coeliac, and at first she was overwhelmed and disappointed too, but she's since gotten over that and is managing quite nicely. In fact, better than nicely: now that she knows what to eat and what not to eat, she's in good health for the first time in a long while.

    Mokele
    \"With malleus aforethought, mammals got an earful of their ancestor's jaw.\"
    --J. Burns, on the evolution of auditory ossicles.

  3. #3
    Moderator Schmoderator Fluorescent fluorite, England PlantAKiss's Avatar
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    How odd...talk to Tamlin. He just recently discovered the same thing. He is having a hard time with this. It IS very difficult not to ingest gluten...its in things you wouldn't even think of. You have to read labels VERY carefully. And a lot of products don't list gluten specifically...it might be in a flavoring or thickener.

    There are many celiacs out there so it would be nice if the govt would require gluten to be labeled on ALL products. But you even have to be careful about non-gluten food that has been processed through machinery that also processes gluten foods.

    Its even recommended that you get your own pots, pans and utensils and keep them separate from other people you might be living with.

    There is a good gluten-free pancake mix you can use to make some dessert type things as well as pancakes. And there's rice flour and other non-gluten products. Yeah...I know...its not the same but it will not make you sick.

    There is a good website and a forum ...I believe its celiac.com. There are recipes there and all kinds of support.

    Mokele is right...its nothing to mess around with. It can destroy the villii in your small intestines and lead to intestinal cancer. They usually like to take a biopsy to see if there is damage already. It can also cause dermititis herpetiformis...a skin problem (itching).

    I'm really sorry to hear that but there are thousands of people successfully living with this every day. Hang in there!



    "Fox terriers are born with about four times as much original sin in them as other dogs." - Jerome K. Jerome

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    Ahhh my poor friend, I can relate. Yes, I am having a hard time with it and I try to be religious with my avoidance of gluten containing products. Even a small amount of it makes life hell on earth for weeks. Do you have Dermatitis Herptiformis?...some celiacs do, some don't. If you have the blisters and itch, I can recommend Methyl silicate to relieve the burning.....this is the stuff that smells like wintergreen that athletes use for muscle strains. Specialists have disavowed that I have DH, but my body knows better. I look like I fell in a vat of acid after a particularly unsuccessful knife fight. Feels like it too.

    I am on a maintainence dosage of prednisone daily, along with Oscal to offset the bone thinning caused by long term use of the steroid. I have a cortisone cream with aquaphor and erythromycin that is a godsend...if you have the rash you might ask your Dr. about this. I have to apply it 6 x day, head to foot. I also use Hydrocortisone valerate a very powerful steroid cream for the tough spots. I take Allegra 3 times a day, valium and atarax. Without the meds I would probably end up in the hospital. This isn't like hayfever. I am always sick now and probably never will bget better.

    As for the beer and ale I was a conniseur! I will never be able to have any again, and it hurts very much. I tried the experiment and suffered for 3 weeks for it. I seem to be most sensitive to the barley malt used. I have since been cultivating a taste for highland Scotch Whiskey, but it just isn't the same. Nothing will ever be the same again. Beware of other beverages like Segrams Coolers....they are flavored beer as i learned the hard way. You gotta read the labels EVERY TIME before you open the package. Never assume that anything is OK because it is made of rice or whatever....

    I have heard that it takes decades to heal from the damage the gluten has caused from lifelong use. The DH reaction can happen 15 years after being gluten free. Oh joy.

    Food items must now list clearly any possible allergy issues on the packaging, so this helps BUT there are a lot of side issues....non wheat flours are often milled in the same plants where wheat is milled, so there is always the possibility of contamination. I have found the "Gluten Free" products are not completely reliable, especially flour products. They even use gluten in hair care products! Even not "cheating" I still have the DH reaction, and have no way of knowing what or why.

    For me, the worst is no restuarant food, no fast food. You want to eat, you cook it yourself every meal. As a Chef, this is probably not too hard for you, but for me it is a PIA to go out with friends and watch them happily dine while I have a cup of tea, and not be able to grab a burger or sandwich as needed. I am sick of cooking, losing weight....

    I wish I could be more encouraging. I don't think most celiacs go through what I am experiencing and I probably have other issue that contribute to my endless misery. There is no respite for me, and I hope your case is easier. I'll be thinking of you. If you need a shoulder to cry on, my number is 315 342 4139, call me anytime and I'll give you a list of what I can eat without problems. Hang in there.
    "Grow More, Share More"

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    kahnli's Avatar
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    thanks Tamlin, I felt so alone in this...
    I feel like it's karma... chef's aren't known for being the kindest people and customers come in and want to change your art into something that you feel is a disgrace. Today I made banana bread and couldn't have a fresh warm slab. Very seldom do I have a meal. I just shove things in my face throughout the day and now I have to stop and think.
    there are so many frustations that I want to vent... forgive me if I seem scatter brained...
    My elbows break out in an itchy mess almost weekly (just my elbows). I always feel tired and drink about a pot of coffee to wake my self up --sometimes I'll put on the second pot.
    I spent my first day without gluten yesterday and felt awake, aware and focused. maybe it's psycosomatic.
    My hands are in flour EVERYDAY and I feel like this is going to ruin my career. How am I supposed to know the quality of my food.
    Wheat is so ingrained (Get it? inGRAINed) in our society that (and I'm just learning) it's impossible to get away from. I'm rethinking all my dishes at work now and wondering if I can pull off a gluten free menu.

    upside... I love bourbon and at least I can still have that.

    anyhoo, it's friday and it was a late night and I'm rambling.

    thanks again Tamlin and I hope to share progress in this horrible condition.
    Sturgeon's Law:
    "Nothing is always absolutely so".

    http://terraforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=102021

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    herenorthere's Avatar
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    I am really sorry you have to face this, but people have to adapt to many things and I know or know of others who are dealing with the same situation. We ship rice noodles and bean thread to my mother because our neighborhood is full of Asian markets and she can only choose from the pathetic selection at superdupermarkets.

    Our food tradition is wheat-based, but plenty of others aren't and they are something to explore. Your going in the right direction by thinking of becoming a gluten-free cook or at least adding gluten-free options. Maybe that wouldn't be a recipe for success in a lightly populated place, but there's probably quite a bit of demand in your area. Even if they don't need it, plenty of people there look for something different.

    As for beer, I recently saw "gluten-free" on a label at a Whole Foods store. It was rice and I forget what other grain (sorghum?) but I don't linger in there and didn't stop long enough to look more closely. As Marie Antoinette could have also said: the peasants can't drink beer, let them drink wine.
    Bruce in CT

    Madness is something rare in individuals but in groups, parties, peoples, ages it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche

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    herenorthere's Avatar
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    As for the gluten-free beer, it's New Grist, by Lakefront Brewery - http://www.newgrist.com/.
    Bruce in CT

    Madness is something rare in individuals but in groups, parties, peoples, ages it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche

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    Hah! The definition of beer and ale is very precise, it's made from barley malt...can haved some rice in it but not much, so whatever this stuff is, it ain't beer.

    Ahhh yes, the elbows are the worst. The methyl salilicate burns like the bejeezus when applied, but it will kill the itch for awhile. I rinse my arms in HOT water about 6 times a day to get the irritating gunk off my skin. I have been ordered not to scratch, but obviously the Dr's have no idea of how impossible this is. I buy 3 tubes of Lanacaine max strength a week for the times when I just can't take another min. of it. LAsts about 30 mins, but hey, I'll take it. For deeper pocks and lesions zinc ointment helps them heal.

    As to feeling tired, it doesn't go away for me ever. I spent 6 months essentially bedridden. They wanted me to take antidepressants but I'll be golddanged if I do....I have every right in the world to feel depressed!

    It is ironic that you of all people would get hit with this....sorta like Beethovan going deaf. Be sure you wash your hands and learn to keep them out of your mouth. Try not to breathe the flour dust...in fact get someone else to do those stages of the prep. It seems very small amounts trigger a reaction as large as eating a hunk o bread.

    Here, Rudy's is celebrating their 60 year anniversary. I about lived there in summer for their Fish Hots...a part of my life since I can first remember life....and now I will never have another. Some things like cake and cookies I can live without, but I just about cry over no Rudy's. Or pizza. I was always a bread man too, and an accomplished baker of the same.

    Now I hate to go grocery shopping, and it puts me in a foul mood. I can't even ask at the Thai resturant here if they use any wheat....they dont have enough English to understand the question. Anyone out there speak Thai? Generally, Thai food is ok...I eat a lot of Pad Thai. It's a break from rice grains. I'm constantly hungry too.

    When you make your rice, toast the grain first until light brown, it really improves the flavor....but here I am teaching my grandmother how to suck eggs, you probably already know being a Chef and all.

    You also want to avoid iodized salt since the iodine also figures into the DH reaction. Because of this, corn chips and potato chips are out for me too unless I make them myself and frankly I AM SICK OF COOKING!!!

    One of my biggest problems is I can't find any safe flavorings for the stir frys. I tried making some garlic chili butter but it flopped. I need something like the sauce used in General Tsao's chicken. Maybe you can experiment along these lines and share the results with me? I don't mind rice, but without the sauces it all gets pretty boring. I've fallen back on cheeses and fruit, but the increased dairy isn't all that good for the system either.

    Oh, you're certainly not alone...this affects about one in 126 people. Lucky us. It may not show up until later in life, after the damage has been done. There is also a genetic predisposition, so if you have kids they should be made aware.

    Ya never know what you had until it's gone. Food is more than diet....it's comfort and friends and new experiences.



    "Grow More, Share More"

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