G-Free and Christmas Trees

First and foremost, Merry Christmas! My, how I love this time of year. While it can be expensive and busy and cold (err, rainy this year), the fun of giving gifts makes it all worth it.

Oh, and the food. THE. FOOD. I’ve been in this almond bark-induced coma for the better part of three weeks now and I’m perfectly content staying subdued until after the New Year.

I’m also notorious for turning the littlest activities into “annual traditions” and the holidays are no exception; starting with hot cocoa (brimming with marshmallows, of course) as we decorate the tree and belt out tunes from the *NYSNC Christmas album, followed by the nightly “25 Days of Christmas” flick on ABC Family.

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Then there’s the annual pilgrimage to the mall that Jared enjoys for all of four minutes until we can’t find a parking spot. But it always seems that before we know it, it’s Christmas week and we’ve managed to collect a tree full of perfect presents and are ready to get on with the real festivities! Activities on the docket this week, and every year, include: a home-cooked seafood dinner, grabbing a Shiner Cheer at a local watering hole on Christmas Eve night and sharing a family-sized popcorn over an afternoon matinee on Christmas Day. (Diets hibernate in December, obviously.)

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This year, I had planned on a bit of a new “tradition:” serving up a gluten-free menu. (By the way, a big THANK YOU to everyone who has asked about how the diet was going, passed along blogs and recipe ideas and even made a special batch of g-free cookies. You’re so great.)

Starting in October, I followed a fairly stringent diet for six weeks (and loosely for another two) but, truth be told, I didn’t notice much difference. As much as I wanted to convince myself that headaches had subsided and my hives were at bay, there was no denying that I still wasn’t feeling well, and it showed. The rashes still came on nearly instantly after so much as a bite of salad, dessert or even coffee with a non-g-free creamer.

In a last-ditch effort to determine (or rule out) a gluten sensitivity, I made a return trip to a new allergy doctor and had my blood tested for every possibility I could come up with, or at least those I had self-diagnosed myself with via WebMD.

The verdict? Negatives, across the board. The nurse even went so far as saying the test came back “highly negative” for a gluten allergy. “Highly negative?” Oh, what’s that? Some salt? Would you like to throw that on my wound? Sure, go right ahead. 

One would think I would call ‘er quits by now, but I have plans to see a gastrointestinal doctor early next month. Although my symptoms are largely non-tummy-related, I’m told those folks are specialists in determining food allergies and I’m up for about anything at this point.

I’ll keep you posted on the results, but in the meantime I wanted to share a few tidbits I learned along the way in my short journey navigating a gluten-free diet:

  1. Stick with your fruits and veggies. If you’re considering a gluten-free diet in an effort to drop a couple lbs, I’d personally recommend sticking to the whole “everything in moderation” philosophy. Through my experience, many gluten-free foods had more grams sugar, and therefore more carbs, than their counterparts. This seemed to be especially true of beers and at one point, I mistakenly glanced at the nutrition facts of my Smith & Forge Hard Cider to discover I was casually sipping away 220 calories per can. Not cool for tailgate season, to say the least. #Buzzkill
  2. Substitutions aren’t hard. If you’ve been diagnosed with a gluten allergy or sensitivity sometime in the last five years or so, your odds of survival (OK, more like finding a decent spaghetti), are looking pretty good. Barilla pasta is great and usually sneaks under Jared’s detection radar. Same goes for baking supplies, condiments, dressings and snacks. But alas, there’s an exception to every rule. For gluten sufferers, it’s corn tortillas. I just don’t get it. Tortilla chips are good. Taco shells are good. What’s the disconnect here?!
  3. And finally, do what makes you feel good. I knew this going in, but being turned down, yet again, is a bit of a motivator to get to the bottom of the issue. So it’s likely not gluten…ruling something out has me one step closer to figuring out what makes my body feel and perform its best.

In the meantime, I have every intention of eating cinnamon rolls and eggbake and all my favorite tastes (and traditions!) of the holiday season.

Cheers to a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!







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