Wednesday, August 18, 2010

holy gluten hangover!

Bread was my favorite food before I started following a paleo-style diet. In fact, the photo below is of a loaf of bread I baked myself, back in the day. But now, no more bread for me! Since cutting it out, I feel worlds better, and it's been pretty simple to keep not only bread, but products containing gluten, out of my home. However, outside of my house is a different story.

At first I was a bit skeptical that eating wheat would have any effect. I had been surprised by the intensity of the recommendations to avoid it, especially on the forums at Mark's Daily Apple and on the Paleolithic Solution podcasts with Robb Wolf and Andy Deas, where my favorite refrain is that if you're going to cheat, "for the love of god, don't let it be gluten."
     Then I cheated. With gluten. It was such a small amount that I didn't really think it would make a difference -- breading on a piece of fish. Plus, maybe everyone was exaggerating just a bit, right? I felt absolutely fine...until the next day.
     The next day was not a good day. I couldn't think straight and I was in a terrible mood. I couldn't seem to fully wake up. And it felt like I was coming down with the flu. At first, I figured I was just getting sick - there seemed no reason to connect it to dinner. Then a phrase popped into my head that I had heard before: "gluten hangover."
     A search turned up people with startlingly similar experiences, including the concept of a "second-day processor" explained here by a tour guide at Bob's Red Mill, a personal account by Vegan Girl, and a chorus of voices at the Celiac.com forum.
     I would have sworn before all of this that I didn't have a problem with gluten. Some day I will deliberately test it again, like Vegan Girl describes in her post, to double-check. But until then, this makes me wonder how many bad moods or bad days might have been caused by gluten all along. And in the meantime, my baking books are in the closet, getting ready to find a new home.

This post is part of the Real Food Wednesday blog carnival - check it out for links to whole-foods recipes, tips, and more.

74 comments:

Anita said...

Diana,
That is really interesting. My hubbie is doing a gluten-free diet atm, then testing to find out. He definitely seems much better without it- much healthier.
But, I do have a weak spot for sourdough bread. Is it true that 90% of the gluten is gone in sourdough?

Chandelle said...

Gluten hangover - what a perfect term! I can't have gluten and yet I crave it almost constantly. I eat it occasionally, always thinking that nothing will happen. I doubt my own reaction, fearing that I'm just a hypochondriac or something. But it goes like clockwork. Yesterday my daughter left half of her sandwich, so I finished it. Within minutes my throat was swollen and scratchy, then I started sweating and getting hot flashes, then I was outrageously irritable for an hour or so. Then the digestive stuff hit. Why can't I trust myself? Next day, I'm exhausted and my belly is swollen. This is crazy stuff! When I explain it like this, I wonder how I could ever doubt that I really have this problem.

Anita, I have a weakness for sourdough bread, and some people CAN handle it. Unfortunately, I'm not one of them. :(

Diana said...

Anita: Really glad to hear that your husband is doing well on the gluten-free diet! I absolutely love sourdough too. I came across some interesting recipe ideas, although I haven't tried them: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/416/gluten-free-sourdough-starter

Chandelle: Isn't it strange? I felt like a hypochondriac too. But - just like you said - it keeps happening... I have to say, too, I used to crave bread like crazy, and when I stopped eating it altogether, the cravings decreased quite a bit too.

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