It's my birthday and our family tradition of Chinese food and cake looms before me. I can't eat either because I'm gluten-free.
Change the tradition you say? Well, that wouldn't be fair to my identical twin, who isn't on the gluten-free bandwagon yet. It also wouldn't be fair to our significant others and all our kids who also aren't gluten-free.
For those of you who don't know exactly what gluten-free means. It's having to go without an undigestible protein called gluten, which is found in wheat. Gluten helps flour rise and you can find it in many baked and processed foods. Gluten is also included in many other condiments and foods that contain wheat.
More and more folks have become gluten sensitive or intolerant because of bio-engineered wheat. The changes in wheat to produce more yield over the years have resulted in a couple of molecules to be moved around, especially one protein called gliadin which doesn't absorb through many folks small intestines, causing inflammation and other trouble in the gut.
I became gluten-free because of an Autoimmune Disease called Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. Everytime I so much as taste gluten, antibodies rush in to attack my thyroid for months. Additionally I'm left feeling like I'm drugged. I become sluggish, bloated and enjoy the bonus effects of dry skin, brittle nails and every other nasty thyroid-related symptom you can think of. As a bonus, I have to deal with a leaky gut that doesn't allow me to absorb nutrients like iron. Gluten is a red-light food for me.
According to Dr. Datis Kharrazian, 90% of people with hypothyroidism have Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune hypothyroid condition, whereby the immune system attacks thyroid tissue. Therefore, to cure thyroid disease, or any autoimmune condition, you have to get to the source of the imbalance; focusing on suppression of symptoms with medication is simply barking up the wrong tree. (mindbodygreen.com)
Hashimotos patients aren't the only one's who have to avoid gluten. Celiacs, Alzheimers patients and those with Autism, ADD and ADHD need to avoid gluten as well. Over 100 million Americans, that's 1/3 of the U.S. population, have to manage these dietary needs.
Despite the ill effects, deciding to go gluten-free was not an easy choice for me. My passion has always been food. In cooking school I was the most enthusiastic of all my classmates. But I suspect all that good eating and enthusiasm is how I got to where I am today.
I know now, from own healing and my studies in Holistic Nutrition and Natural Healing, that eating the wrong foods usually begins to catch up with us in our forties. In the spirit of celebrating another wonderful year and maintaining Stellar Health, I've come up with a 7 creative ways to have (and enjoy) a Gluten-Free Birthday (especially if you're invited to someone elses home.)
- Don't be a party pooper and expect everyone to be gluten-free ready for you. That's just not reality. You have to take control of your situation and not be the person who's all down because they can't eat this or that. Raise your head up and own that shit. Have fun in spite of it and be the life of the party! You're positive attitude will be contagious.
- Celebrate thy self! - Find a gluten free bakery and buy a cupcake or better yet make your own gluten-free cake or cupcakes and bring them for everyone to try. There are plenty of wonderful cookbooks.
- Find out what's being served beforehand - If you're not celebrating at home and the masses want the usual fast-food fare of chinese food, pizza or pasta eat before you show up so you won't be hungry.
- If someone is cooking for you, let them know you're gluten-free beforehand. If your dietary restrictions are too overwhelming for them, offer up some suggestions of what you could eat otherwise try my side-dish method. I find when I eat at someone's house I become a side-dish girl. I find that many of the side dishes offered are gluten free so I grab a few vegetable sides, some mashed potatoes plus some salad and is seems to hold me over quite well.
- Pick up some Sushi. I'm sure no one would mind if you showed up at your own birthday celebration with some sushi rolls. Buy some extra and share them!
- Bring a tub of ice cream or pudding and eat that instead of cake. (Just be sure to check the label to ensure it's gluten-free or make it yourself.
- Change the focus off of your diet. Who says birthday's have to be centered around food? Take the focus off food by bringing a board game like Pokeno, or Scrabble that everyone can partake in. Games are a fun distraction and they're 100% gluten-free.
Whatever you do, make the best of your day. Avoid standing up for your gluten-freeness. Less supportive people will try to guilt you into tasting a piece of cake for good luck. They may minimimize your condition. Politely stand your ground. Don't buckle under the pressure, unless they're offering ice-cream cake which is ... you guess it -- gluten-free! .
Your gluten-freeness may require a little extra work but it's far better than ending your birthday with discomfort and long lasting symptoms.
Now go forth and party and have a most Happy Birthday!