You can read part 1 here...
Tristan's birth was perfect, but that's a story for a different time! When Tristan was about 10 months old, I started getting desperate to find something to help me feel better. Gluten intolerance had been mentioned to me a couple of times in the past, but I was in total denial about it. I didn't want to have to make such a drastic, permanent change to my diet! I always pushed that thought to the back of my head and didn't do any research about it at all. But in January of this year, I read an excellent article in Experience Life magazine about gluten intolerance. It explained everything for me in a way that I had never heard before. I never knew that so many people have a gluten intolerance(they estimate at least 30% of Americans), and that most of them don't even know it! I never knew that gluten intolerance could be linked to depression, auto immune disease, cancer, and many other things. I really started thinking about giving gluten free life a try. I was still hesitant though- it seemed like such a big change. I thought I'd give myself several months to read up on it and really learn about what I was getting into and prepare myself. I think the Lord had other plans for me though, because just about that time my issues started getting really bad. I was in a lot of pain, I was miserable, and I could barely leave the house. I had to do something.
I decided to just jump in head first. I spent a couple of late nights on the computer reading everything I could find about going gluten free. I made out an entire meal plan for a week- breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. It shocked me when I realized that with the way I was currently eating, I was having gluten at every single meal! This was going to be a tough transition! So I got my meal plan in hand, did my grocery shopping, and celebrated my last night of gluten with a piece of ganache-glazed chocolate cake from Carrabbas. My plan was to eat gluten free for a week, and then eat a piece of bread to see if I had a reaction.
The first couple of gluten free days were interesting. My stomach felt calmer than usual. I didn't have any blood in my stool. But I wasn't convinced yet that I had a sensitivity. It was so hard for me to stick to the diet at first that I almost gave up after just 2 or 3 days! Thad talked me into at least finishing out the week that I had planned. I never got around to eating that piece of bread that I was planning on though! About 5 days into eating gluten free, I stopped at Carrabbas to get some dinner after a very crazy day out with the kids. (Seeing a theme? Thad worked at Carrabba's at the time.) Carrabbas has a gluten free menu, which is great. But on this night, the restaurant had just gotten a new kitchen staff that didn't quite know what they were doing yet. They forgot to leave the grill baste(which has gluten) off of my chicken. I was exhausted and starving by that point, and decided to just eat it and see what happened. Within an hour or two, I got really bad diarrhea- and blood. I was pretty sick that night. I knew then that I truly did have a gluten intolerance. I've been gluten free ever since- going on 7 months now!
Going gluten free was hard at first, but honestly not as hard as I thought it would be. For me, planning was the key, quite literally. Since I was nursing, it was especially important for me to have something to eat every couple of hours! But when you're gluten free, it's a lot harder to rely on convenience foods. If you're out doing errands for longer than you expected, you can't just grab a quick burger! If it's been a totally crazy day, you can't just throw together spaghetti and call it dinner. (Although now I know that you can, with rice noodles.) So for the first month or two, I meticulously planned everything, down to every single snack. I had to.
But now that I've been gluten free for 7 months, I've gotten the hang of things. My fridge and pantry are stocked with gluten free snacks that I can grab if I need to. I know what the portable snacks I can take with me are(Larabars!). I've got my go-to dinners that everyone in the family loves. And I know which restaurants I can stop at in an emergency.
It was hard to have to cut out so many staples of my diet, all at once. Gluten is in so many yummy things! But I really tried to make it a positive experience. Instead of thinking about what I couldn't eat anymore, I focused on all of the good foods that I still could eat. And really- those first couple of weeks were kind of fun! I was trying so many new recipes, and new foods that I hadn't tried before or used in a while, and almost all of it was delicious! I also tried to use the gluten free shift as an opportunity to change my diet in other healthy ways. I figured if I was making a big change anyway, why not go all out!? I'm trying to make as much food as I can from real, whole ingredients. I do buy some packaged gluten free things, but I try to leave those for treats, and regularly eat the things that are naturally gluten free.