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Going Gluten Free by Sia Huff

Sia_Huff_croppedAbout six months ago my hairdresser suggested my skin problems might be due to gluten. That’s right, not the dermatologist I’ve seen for the last nine years, but the woman who cuts my hair. I’d talked to her, off and on, about chopping my hair super short. Finally, she asked me why I didn’t pull the trigger. The answer – normally I do everything I can to hide my hands, including not wearing rings, bracelets or nail polish. You see my palms would crack and bleed, layers of skin would peel away. It looked like a chemical burn and was both painful and embarrassing.

My initial reaction of going gluten free was complete horror. Not gluten too! The dietary restrictions in our household are crazy. Low fat for my hubby, low fat and low salt for my son, my dad was a diabetic. Not another forbidden food group and cooking two or more meals. Dinner’s tough enough.

Plus, I’d have to give up some of my favorite foods, including family Greek specialties. Breads, pasta, crackers, cereals, pretzels, bakedgoingglutenfreegoods were now on the no-no list. Good-bye wheat, rye, barley and malt. Little did I understand that so many other foods would come off my okay list too. Anything pre-packaged, salad dressings, lunch meats (except Boar’s Head), soup broth. The biggest surprise – soy sauce. You’d think soy sauce is made from soy, but no. Look at the ingredients, wheat is at the top. So no more Chinese, no to most Mexican, no to most Italian, no to most fast food. The learning curve was steep.

After several months and several mistakes, one thing came to light. I started feeling better. My hands healed. Issues I associated with aging, started to resolve themselves.

It was time to test the theory. Pizza is one of my all time favorites and now taboo. The gluten free variety holds little appeal. So when the craving became intense, I devoured two slices. Just two, I promise. Within 12 hours, my hands started to itch. They turned red and my skin dried and peeled. I didn’t consume any more gluten, but the damage was done. My hands continued to get worse.

For me, there’s no longer a question. Gluten is poison to my body. A lifestyle change is essential for my good health. I must embrace new recipes and different ways to cook.

Thank God most chocolate’s gluten free and okay to eat. Look out Hershey’s Kisses.

So how about you? Do you have any food allergies? Or do you know of anyone else who’s gluten intolerant?

 

Carol Burnside / Annie Rayburn - February 20, 2014 - 1:37 am

I don’t know of any food allergies I have. My son’s girlfriend has gluten allergies and Darcy (former PFHTer) does as well. Restaurants seem to be more savvy about making allowances for food allergies and dietary lifestyles these days. So that’s a plus, right?

Mary Preston - February 20, 2014 - 3:18 am

My daughter is on a strict Gluten Free diet for her health. I cook everything from scratch. Not that big a deal because that’s how I have always cooked.

For packaged foods like cereal, pasta etc, our local supermarket has a fantastic selection.

My daughter is a choc-a-holic, so I emailed companies for a list of their Gluten Free products, or looked on their sites.

Most products now are labelled clearly. That helps a lot.

Marilyn Baron - February 20, 2014 - 7:57 am

Sia,

My hands get bad every winter. I never thought it would or might be gluten related. But they just react to cold weather and when I go down to Florida or spring comes it goes away.

Sia Huff - February 20, 2014 - 8:57 am

Some restaurants are savvy – some don’t have a clue. Things are getting better but I must be aware & prepared. There have been times when I had areaction when I ordered GF.

Tamara LeBlanc - February 20, 2014 - 9:24 am

Unfortunately I have NO food allergies. I say unfortunately because that means I can eat everything and anything and I always do…and in huge quantities. So as I’m getting older, its harder and harder to stay in shape. When I’m 80 I’ll probably weigh about 800 pounds :)

I have a friend who is Gluten free and she’s a terrific baker. She makes brownies and cupcakes and all sorts of things gluten free and she uses honey instead of sugar. She should open a bakery.
Sorry about your hands, but glad to hear you’ve discovered a cure…no matter how trying it must be to stick to a diet like that.
Keep it up!!!
Tamara

Sia Huff - February 20, 2014 - 1:13 pm

Hi Mary,
I’m learning that cooking by scratch is the smartest way to go. It’s time consuming but worth it. I’ve found Chex cereal & Barilla GF pasta. Labeling in the US is supposed to improve the summer – 2014. I’m hoping it gets easier.
Thanks for commenting.

Sia Huff - February 20, 2014 - 1:36 pm

Hi Marilyn,
Winter is always a difficult on skin. There are some great moisturizers on the market. I’ve tried quite a few. I glad your hands get better in the spring.

Sia Huff - February 20, 2014 - 1:45 pm

Hi Tamara,
Lol – I consider it a blessing that you have no allergies. You’ve normally been active, that’s why you have a healthy appetite.
I’d love to talk to your friend. Baking relaxes me – I’d like to learn some tips for baking GF.
Thanks for the encouragement. And thanks for commenting. :)

Sally - February 20, 2014 - 3:04 pm

My husband recently discovered he has a gluten intolerance. I’ll concur that I feel better myself when I cut it out–I never thought about the cracking on my palms, though. It’s kinda a pain, but thanks to things like gluten free bisquick, we managed to keep at least one traditional recipe: sausage balls. Quinoa pasta is a good substitute, but you can’t overcook it. Oh! And there are some gluten free pizzas that are actually good. This new place called Peace Love Pizza makes an incredible one–the kids didn’t even realize it was gluten free.

Good luck. I keep thinking I should get more serious about the gluten, but I’ve already had to cut out most dairy. I’m beginning to think I need to win the lottery and get a personal chef to handle it!

Connie Gillam - February 20, 2014 - 4:00 pm

Sia-

Glad you find the cause of your health issues.

I’m lactose intolerant and take tablets before consuming diary. I don’t digest foods with high fat content well, so I stay away from those.
Since I started Weight Watchers and started cooking my meals (to control additives), I feel much better. Sugar is a probable for me too, so I’ve cut down drastically on those items. (not always successful). LOL

Anna Doll - February 20, 2014 - 9:40 pm

I have been gluten-free for several months and I feel SO MUCH BETTER. During that time, I also found out I have low-thyroid, so gluten-free is also suggested. Since I started thyroid replacement, I’ve been able to lose some of the weight I’d gained and couldn’t take off. I try to eat “clean.” No cans, only frozen/fresh fruits and vegetables, no sugar, no salt (unless I add it…sea salt…) And you can use organic tamari instead of soy sauce…even better!

When I retire (sometime in the next 10 years…lol…) I’m going to learn how to bake gluten-free. It’s a science!

Sia Huff - February 20, 2014 - 9:45 pm

Hi Sally (waving). Sorry for your hubby, but its good to understand. I haven’t seen GF bisquick. I’ll need to find it. Thanks :) I’ll have to Google Peace love pizza too. I miss pizza.
Cutting out gluten has been an adjustment. I can’t imagine both gluten & dairy. Good luck to you as well.
Your personal chef is coming – once you hit the bestseller list. Before then maybe we could go in halfizies.
Thanks for sharing your tips.

Sia Huff - February 20, 2014 - 9:53 pm

Hi Connie,
I’m thankful I finally understand what’s happening with my body. Controlling additives is smart. There are so many issues associated with them.
Good for you taking charge of both the lactose intolerance & high fat. The one thing that keeps popping up is cooking healthy at home. Glad WW is working for you.

Sia Huff - February 20, 2014 - 10:09 pm

Hi Anna, (waving)
I’m glad you found out about your thyroid. And so happy you’re feeling much better! Eating clean is a fairly new movement. The same as going to the local farmers & butcher in the old days. I just need to go back to what I was taught as a young girl.
Thanks for sharing your success.

Pam Asberry - February 21, 2014 - 7:09 am

Sia, I am so impressed! I know you are grateful to have found relief, even though it has been challenging. Like Anna, I have an under active thyroid but didn’t know GF was recommended. I think I need to do some research of my own!

Susan Carlisle - February 21, 2014 - 7:03 pm

Sia,
I’m glad you have found some relief. I need to make some major lifestyle changes and I’m going to use your example as a pattern.

Sandra Elzie - February 22, 2014 - 9:07 am

Hi Sia
Glad you found a remedy…even tho not one you obviously wanted to hear. As I’ve gotten older, I find that I can’t tolerate high fat items…particularly things fried…french fries, bacon, sausage, ect. Since I can live okay w/o those items, it hasn’t been too hard, but every once in a while I give in…and pay the price.

Maxine - February 23, 2014 - 9:18 pm

Sia, I am so glad you found the problem. I have a friend who has a daughter that has to go gluten free. She said she was glad to see so many more things than there used to be on the shelves of stores. Best of luck to you. I do notice more things gluten free since you said you were.

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