15 years ago I went gluten free. I had been feeling very bloated after eating, my stomach was distended, my joints ached and I had never ending diarrhea. A naturopath I worked with suggested I stop eating gluten. I had no idea what gluten was but I would have tried just about anything. Within a week I was feeling good, no more bloating, stomach had flattened out, after a month, the joint pain was gone and no more diarrhea. Over the years it has been suggested I be tested for Celiac disease but the problem is you have to eat gluten for 6 weeks to 3 month (depending on which doctor you talk to). I am not willing to subject myself to that kind of pain so I will continue being ‘gluten intolerant’.
So I am feeling good but what the heck was there to eat? I basically cut out most carbs from my diet and ate rice cakes if I wanted a sandwich. Rice cakes DO NOT substitute bread. 15 years ago there was no such thing as the ‘gluten free’ aisle at the grocery store. Rice cakes came everywhere with me; back then I travelled a lot for work so they became my go to snack. Fast forward 15 years and I cannot even stand the smell of rice cakes!
To even dream of a trade show that was all about everything gluten free was not even in the realm of possibilities. This past weekend we did the Canadian Celiac Association Gluten Free market place trade show. The turnout was incredible! It seems each show gets bigger and bigger. Last fall we did the first ever Gluten Free Expo in Toronto; wall to wall people from opening to close, it was crazy busy all day. January was the GF Expo in Vancouver which saw people standing in line for over 3 hours to get in. It opened at 10am and by 5pm when it closed I had realised did not even have time to go to the bathroom all day! This weekend was pretty much the same thing. By 11am I had run out of samples and was off to the kitchen to bake some more. I returned at 12:30 with 400 more samples and they were gone by 4pm. I was so exhausted when I got home but it made me smile because for those newly diagnosed they really have a tremendous selection of products they can choose from. You could try a new thing every day and never have to eat a rice cake!
I always smile when talking to newly diagnosed folks, “I have no idea what I am going to eat!” is generally one of the first things they talk about. Hmmm try going gluten free 15 years ago! Today it is more like “it is completely overwhelming the choices I have!”. Part of me is glad, part of me is sad. Glad because of the choices we have, sad because a lot of the choices are very unhealthy and sad because something very wrong is going on with our food chain.
When my grandpa was a boy, wheat was a staple of his diet. My grandparents were poor, bread could be made cheap and last over a few days. No one heard of gluten issues. Today it is rare if you don’t know someone with a problem with gluten. So one hand we can rejoice in all the choices but on the other hand we should all be terribly alarmed as to why so many of us can’t eat gluten…that my friends is another blog!