Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: gluten free

Never normal, always a freak

Reading Ask A Manager, there’s a call for simple potluck dishes. Homemade, not bought. I sigh because I know what is coming. I love reading about food and different recipes, but I make a bet with myself how many of them I would be able to eat. I have an odd list of things that I can’t eat. Gluten and dairy, which aren’t that weird, but it’s difficult to find dishes that are both gluten and dairy-free. Add to that cauliflower, onion and garlic, and cilantro.

Side Note about the cilantro: I realized many years ago that I hated cilantro. I didn’t know why, but it tasted like shit to me. Not like literal shit, but something unpleasant. Any time I mentioned it to anyone, they could not believe that I did not like it.

When the NYT article about cilantro came out, I felt vindicated. Before that, my mom dismissed my feelings about cilantro, saying I must be imagining it. Imagining what, I don’t know. The bad taste? Not liking it? No idea. But she shook her head every time I mentioned not liking it. When I showed her the NYT article, she exclaimed, “Oh, so it is a thing!”

That’s her in a nutshell. Me plainly stating my displeasure with cilantro was waved aside and dismissed. An article by NYT is taken as sacrosanct. At any rate, she never bugged me about cilantro again. It gets tiring, though, all the people who just can’t understand why someone would not like cilantro.

This is how I feel in general about all the things I’m allergic  to. I rarely mention it because the list is long and boring. But, I get a bit impatient when people express incredulity about what people are allergic to/don’t like what they like. There was a thread on AAM about what to give your employees for Christmas (or any other gift-giving occasions). Some people mentioned that it’s best to just give money because of all the things people are allergic to/can’t have. One person said dismissively that those people could just give away the thing or throw it away.

But some people are allergic to being in the same room as something. Peanuts is a big example of that. I am violently allergic to poinsettias (which I found out in a very memorable way). So getting rid of something I’m allergic to could include a violent reaction.

And, more to the point, why the fuck not give money? Everyone loves money! If the point is to make the employees feel valued, then giving them something that they are allergic to/cannot use will not accomplish that goal. I don’t know how this is even a question. And it’s discouraging that once again, people are like, “Fuck the people with allergies. Who cares about them?”

AAM is a blog with very liberal readers, mostly women, and they’re always trying to be aware of diversity. This is a good thing, but the above comment (from a man, btw), shows that there are still areas in which they’re weak–and this is one of them. So many people were dismissive of allergies or more benignly, don’t think anything of it. Not that they should. It’s really not on anyone but the allergic person (or they’re family).

But it’s alienating.


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Constant craving…for pizza

Several years ago, Ian and I had a pizza with sauerkraut, sour cream, and German sausage. I’m sure there was more on it, but that’s what I remember. It was thick crust and gooey with melted cheese. This was before I went gluten-free, dairy-free, obviously, but it was still a lot for my poor system. Even popping a Lactaid couldn’t completely mitigate the damage, but it was worth it. It’s possibly the best pizza I’ve had in my life, and I think about it wistfully now and again.

It was an autumn special, probably around Oktoberfest. I think we had mozzarella sticks with it because in for a penny, in for a bloody pound. This is my nature–if I’m going to go at something, I’m going to go all-in. If I was going to be sick from eating the pizza, why not add mozz sticks on top? Wait. I think it’s garlic cheese bread we had, not mozzarella sticks. Much of the same, really. We stuffed ourselves past the point of satiation and still had plenty to bring home.

I think that was one of the last proper eat-out pizzas I’ve had. Real pizzas, I mean. I’m OK with being GF/DF for the most part because there are so many good substitutes. It’s not like twenty years ago, which is the last time I did this kind of thing. Back then, it was for bronchial issues. I gave up gluten, dairy, and sugar–and the substitutes were slim pickings. Most everything was made of arrowroot and tapioca pudding. The ‘bread’ was horrid and nearly inedible. Oh, and the dairy substitute was soy, which I don’t like. It was a sad and sorry time for me, but now, it’s easy to find GF/DF foods that tastes good.

Back then, it was also me sitting there gloomily trying to convince myself that Tofutti sour cream was a decent substitute for the real thing. When I was able to wrap my mind around the idea that they weren’t going to taste like what they purported to be, I actually had an easier time accepting them for what they were. It didn’t mean I liked them, but I didn’t rage over it, either.

Now, it’s an embarrassment of riches. There are plenty of good subs that taste as good if not better than the original. Bread, noodles, yogurt, ice cream, milk, and more. The one thing that I have yet to find, however, is a really good GF/DF pizza. I’m eating a Daiya one right now (“meat” lovers, I think). While it’s ok, it’s just not the real thing. The crust is thin and bland. The cheese is ok. Which is weird because Daiya’s fake cheese is one of the best in the biz. But in this case, it’s just not up for the job. Probably because it’s just mozz, which is not my fave, anyway, and a rather bland cheese. I put olives on it, which helps minimally.

The last time I went DF/GF/SF (sugar-free), I lasted four months before I started dreaming, literally, of pasta and pizza. Not at the same time, but it was very disconcerting, regardless. When I told  my therapist about it, she told me to go ahead and eat some pasta and/or pizza. I did and never looked back.


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Changing my diet meaningfully

I’ve been gluten-free (GF) , dairy-free (DF) for four years or so. I did it for health reasons. I ‘ve always been lactose-intolerant (I’m Asian) and it’s gotten worse as I’ve gotten older. I used to be able to pop a Lactaid pill and be fine with eating dairy. Right around my forties, that stopped working for me. It took me a few years, but I finally decided that the negative results of eating dairy was not worth the pleasure of said eating. I also realized that I was having a negative reaction to eating gluten. I cut both out at the same time and felt much better.

There have been great strides made in the making of dairy-free and/or gluten-free foodstuff in the past ten years or so. I was gluten-free/dairy-free/sugar-free once twenty-five years ago or so for bronchial reasons. All the substitute foods seemed to be made out of arrowroot or tapioca, neither of which was tasty. I suffered for four months and started literally dreaming of pizza and lasagna. Nowadays, there are some very tasty substitutes, some that I like even better than the real thing. Such as Earth Balance’s vegan butter. And Green Valley’s line of lactose-free products. Katz has a great dessert line, including Twinkie and Hostess Cupcakes copies.

Before I ended up in the hospital, I was slowly cutting down on meat products for ethical reasons. I got it down to one serving a day, mostly chicken. Being already GF/DF, I don’t eat any dairy, anyway. So that was a leg up in the right direction, to mix my metaphors. I was pretty proud of myself for cutting down to one serving a day–that was down from two to three a day. That was how I grew up, by the way, with eating lots of meat. Making the jump from one serving a day to none, however, was just a mental block for me. But I was getting there. I was confident I would make it.

Oh hey. In looking up vegetarian/vegan songs, I came across one that I would never have thought was on the list. I’ll Stand By You by The Pretenders. Chrissie Hynde is a vegan and wrote the song in solidarity with animals. That’s pretty cool.


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The confirmation of what I already knew

Three years ago in May, I gave up dairy and gluten at the same time. I knew I had lactose-intolerance to a certain degree that was getting worse as I aged. I suspected I also had a reaction to gluten, but I didn’t want to/didn’t have the energy to get it tested. Instead, I cut out gluten and never looked back. A year or so later, I mentioned to my new doctor that I would like to be tested for gluten intolerance. She said that I’d have to start eating gluten again. Which, I mean, yes, that makes sense, but my immediate reaction was to flinch at the thought of poisoning myself. Yes, that’s how I viewed it. Why would I intentionally put something into my body that I knew was bad for me? For the reassurance that it was, indeed, bad for me? No, thank you. I might as well just keep on keeping on with my gluten-free life.

There has been a lot of ink wasted about people who claim to be gluten-intolerant but aren’t. There is a lot of discussion about gluten sensitivity vs wheat allergy vs FODMAP issues, ad nauseam. I  know I don’t have Celiac’s and I would never claim to have it. I also have done the Low FODMAP diet/test, and I found out a few things that are triggers. But, in general, I was comfortable with saying I was GF/DF and getting on with my life. Sure, it’s annoying to read/hear people (including actual doctors) pooh-poohing my actual life experience, but you know, it is what it is.

Why am I rambling about this? First, because I can. But more importantly because of something that happened last night. I decided to make shakshuka (poached eggs in spicy sauce/stew) the lazy way (pre-made shakshuka sauce) over macaroni. This has been my thing of making an easy shakshuka and pairing it with different carb sources. Anyway, It was delicious. Then, my stomach started cramping hard, and I had to race to the bathroom in a reaction I was much too intimate and familiar with. I hadn’t had one in almost a year, but I knew it when it happened. I spent the next half hour on the toilet, and then I was going to the bathroom once every hour or two for the next six hours. Up to half an hour at a time. My stomach was bloated and sore, and let’s just say my innards were enflamed. Not just my innards, if you know what I’m saying. I had so much diarrhea, it was ridiculous. But, also, constipation. It’s fun to have both, let me tell you.

Six hours. Six fucking hours. I had the symptoms upon waking up (and another unpleasant trip to the bathroom), and sixteen hours later, there are some lingering side effects.

I started thinking about why this happened. I assumed it was the shakshuka sauce because it has onion and garlic in it, and I have mild sensitivities to both of those (stronger to garlic). However, I had used it before and didn’t have this reaction. On a hunch, I checked the macaroni box. It was the regular one which meant gluten. Lots of gluten. So much gluten. All the gluten. I didn’t notice when I used it last night, and this made way more fucking sense. I am doing food delivery currently, and I ordered the wrong one. I didn’t look at the box closely before using it. It’s my complete bad, and I’m paying for it.


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Food map? FODMAP it is! *Sigh*

I’ve been aware of the FODMAP elimination diet for years, but I’ve always shied away from it because it’s really damn restrictive. I’ve already eliminated gluten, dairy, and caffeine, which is the reason I don’t want to do the damn diet. I feel as if I’ve given up so much, and I don’t want to give up more. But, my symptoms are getting worse, and it’s exhausting to have to deal with the aftereffects. In looking over the lists of what you can and can’t eat on this elimination diet, I found out that cauliflower is high FODMAP, which might explain the terrible reaction to the Cauliflower Bezule I had while I was in Philly.

IT WAS STILL WORTH IT!

The problem is that I don’t cook. I tend to eat a lot of prepared food, processed and otherwise. Many of the items on the high list are in many processed foods including onion and garlic. Let me give you several other items on the ‘do not eat’ list, particularly ones I like to eat. Mushrooms, peaches, watermelon, apples, beans and lentils, gluten and dairy (already given up), cashews, honey and other sweeteners, and alcohol. The last isn’t a problem for me. This is but the tip of the restricted list, and I get tired just looking at it.

Giving up dairy and gluten wasn’t fun, but it wasn’t hard. There were plenty of substitutes, and I rarely miss it. Yes, I do occasionally want a dumpling or cheese, but it’s not something that has a negative impact on my life. This, on the other hand, is an ordeal. Right now, I’m big into hummus. Chickpeas are medium FODMAP and garlic are high FODMAP. I love potatoes, which are low FODMAP, but can be irritable, nonetheless. Thankfully, citrus fruits are low FODMAP, which is good because I eat an orange a day.

I just read an article about how you should think about what you can have, not what you can’t. There’s plenty! You can have salmon and green beans and potatoes, for example! Actually, that sounds delicious. The problem is that I don’t cook. I will have to cook. These two things are mutually exclusive, and I don’t know how to reconcile it.

My nose is burning. It’s hurting like hell. My head is softly thumping, but it’s not migraine levels. Yet. I stopped drinking the cold coffee I bought, and that seems to have done the trick. I might check it by drinking some of the coffee because, science.

I really am not feeling blogging this week, so I’ll end this hear. I’ll leave you with yet another Oxventure. Actually, it’s the first of three episodes, and Andy Farrant who plays the rogue pirate, Corazon de Ballena (nee de Leon, kind of) has to pretend to be a young paladin named Chauncey. His voice and manners as he pretends to be Chauncey had me in tears. I earmarked where it all started in the video below. There is also a lot of homoerotic tension in the quest as well, which is delightful.

Sliding doors and my digestive system

I was reading advice to a woman getting married (on the open weekend thread on Ask A Manager) on how she could keep the costs of the wedding down. Putting aside the fact that I don’t get weddings, no, wait. Let me briefly explain what I mean. I understand the desire to bond and to declare that bond to the world (in theory. I actually don’t understand that, either, but that’s just me. I know it’s me), but I do not understand the stressing over it for a year ahead of time. Well, I understand from a psychological standpoint. It’s what the wedding represents, the start of a new life together, yadda yadda. It’s also the Wedding Industry Complex that has a vested interest in making sure brides (and let’s be clear, it’s aimed at the women) feel inadequate unless they buy all the latest and the greatest useless wedding shit.

Anyway, one gem of advice was, “Booze, food, and music. That’s all guests care about.” While this may be true for most people, it’s not for me. Or rather, let’s break it down word by word. Music is nice, but it’s background for me. Food is important, but it’s difficult to find something to feed me. Dairy free is easy to find. Gluten free, also easy to find. gluten free, dairy free? Yeah, no. As for booze, I don’t drink. At all. It was just a throwaway line on the thread, but it really struck me because I’m tired of being a freak.

I feel weird for mentioning to people that I have dietary restrictions, like I need to apologize for being so difficult. I don’t make a fuss when there’s no food I can eat, and I make sure to bring Kind bars when I’m going to be stuck somewhere that may not be able to feed me.

Side note: I am incredibly lucky for two reasons. One, I don’t have to worry about where my next meal is coming from. I can pay for meal delivery if I want or get takeout every day if I so choose. I know this is a privilege, and I don’t take it for granted. The second thing is that there are so many tasty substitutes these days that didn’t exist when I first tried going gluten free, dairy free, sugar free two decades ago. Back then, all the substitutes are made of tapioca and arrowroot. Now, they can be made of anything and everything. There’s a hamburger bun substitute made by Canyon Bakehouse that is fucking fantastic and is my current obsession.

Side note to the side note: Went out with my brother and my nephews for Chinese buffet last night (of course), and I like to joke that when I go out to eat I look like half-vegetarian and half-keto/Atkins. The two things I know I can eat without much problem–veggies and meat. I did eat some octopus that had some kind of breading on it, though. That was a mistake. Since I’ve come home from Philly, my digestive system has been even shittier than usual–no pun intended. I had a gluten-free/dairy-free burrito that I’ve had before, and I spent the next hour in the bathroom. Then on and off for the rest of the night. Was it the burrito? Hell if I know.


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