Friday, August 29, 2008

My rocky relationship (with Walmart)

Yes, I've been dealing with a serious love/hate relationship with Walmart for awhile now.

The first time I brought home some random Walmart brand item and it said to me those two beautiful words...

Gluten Free

in big, bold white letters on the label, it was love at first sight. I vowed to shop there forever, even though I object to Walmart taking over the world (or at least the retail world).

But then I tried doing my grocery shopping Walmart for real. After all, it is the only place on my way home from work. And it is supposedly "Super". It had the potential to be my saving grace as I'm rushing home from another 10-11 hour day.

Sure, they do a great job of labeling their generic Walmart brand items. Being the cheapskate that I am, I love being able to buy the off-brand with the confidence that my swiss cheese does not contain gluten. Or my frozen fruit. Or my peanut butter. Or especially my pizza sauce.

BUT (you knew this was coming eventually, right?)
There is no GF bread to toast with the cheese. No Enjoy Life bagels to slather the peanut butter on. (And yes, I like to dangle my participles). No pizza crust to slather with the GF sauce. I've pretty much gotten used to an existence without GF replacement products. I never have been much of a sandwich eater. There are certain products, however, that are worth the extra time, money, and effort to add to my GF repertoire. More on that some other time.

It would just be nice if I could get them at the same store as everything else. The other chain grocery stores in my area at least have a meager GF section. Way to go, Meijer and Kroger. Some Nut Thins, Mrs. Leeper's (a new and exciting discovery), a thin assortment of pastas, selected Enjoy Life products, they are at least trying. Some even carry the kinnikinnick pizza crusts for the low price of an arm and a leg.

Grocery shopping falls pretty far down the list after a long day at work. I'm sure you can relate. We get by for as looooooong as possible before going to the store. I get tired of making individual lists for individual stores and individual trips.

Meal planning is complicated enough, shopping has been improving over the last year. Walmart needs to put that second foot firmly on the bandwagon and start carrying some allergy-friendly products.

Maybe then, Walmart will actually take over the world.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

My, how things change.

I've only been diagnosed for a little over a year. What a year it has been! So much research, trial and error, and watching things change for the gluten-free community- usually in a good way.

The percentage of people with dumbfounded looks on their faces when I say that I can't eat gluten has decreased. Availability of gluten-free replacement products (more on that some other time) has definitely improved. Labeling has finally started becoming decipherable for the most part. Things are getting better, my friend.

I read a journal article the other day on anxiety and depression in the Celiac patient. The article found that the anxiety symptoms typically resolve with a GF diet, but that some of the depression usually lingers. No kidding. Almost anyone would be depressed from time to time when you have to constantly evaluate, re-evaluate, and pray about every bite that enters your mouth. Granted, things look up when you start to feel better, but it still has its moments of regret, envy, and just plain annoyance.

I'm finding less and less reasons to be annoyed as I investigate my GF options for products, restaurants, bakeries.... One of which, revealing my general location in the world, I visited for the first time today. Even though it is nowhere near being close enough to me to be convenient, I had been planning my trip for awhile now. It seems too good to be true, and then there it is: Gluten-Free Heaven. Well, that's not really the name, but it could be. Seriously, you have to check it out if you ever get the chance. Anybody else have something similar in their area??

I had choices of what I wanted to indulge in. Brownie? Cookie? Bread? (Of course, I went for all three...) I ate something that someone else made. It was absolutely delicious. There was no evaluation, no envy of anyone else but myself, and annoyance wasn't even on the radar screen.

It was a beautiful day. Funny how food can do that!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Distillation is not my friend.

I mentioned before that I can be wrong. And boy, have I been.

One glaring example- distilled vinegar and alcohol.

Being the internet-savvy Celiac that I am, that most of us have to be in this day and age, I find a lot of information. I'm sure you do too. Isn't it nice that all sources are always in perfect agreement as to what is safe for you to eat and what isn't?

On a side note- are you really going to trust what sexychick69 tells you on that obscure message board?!

Don't trust everything you read. Even from a reputable source. Many places say that gluten reactions from distilled vinegar or distilled alcohol (ex. vanilla extract, some liquors) can't be possible because the gluten molecule is too large to make it through the distillation process. Makes sense, right?

I preached that one myself for awhile. All the while, still being sick and being consistently poisoned. I finally made a connection when I would notice a gluten reaction every Saturday for a few weeks. I cut out the Friday night cocktail- no reaction. Hmmm... what was that about distilled vodka being perfectly safe for all Celiacs?

I also made my own version of Easy Mac. Except without the mac, using instant rice. And with a lot less Easy, too. To spice it up, I added a splash of my favorite taco sauce with unidentified distilled vinegar in it. As much as I loved my cheesy, spicy Easy Rice for lunch, I always knew there was something wrong with it. Should've listened to my guts' loud protests...

Take home message: try things for yourself. Don't think that something can't make you sick just because someone else says it's impossible. Logically, yes- gluten shouldn't be able to get into distilled products. I took enough chemistry to know that.

But I've noticed fewer reactions when I'm careful to avoid vinegar and alcohol products of questionable origin. I think it's been a significant key to my slow but steady recovery.

Now if only I hadn't put that hot sauce on my dinner...

I'll name names later. (Frank, you've got it coming, buddy!)

Welcome All Celiacs!

I hope you feel welcome at my new blog, Sarcastic Celiac. If you're visiting here, you probably know as well as I do that the gluten-free "lifestyle" (to be politically correct) isn't always a bed of roses. Definitely more to it than meets the eye.

That's where this blog comes in. Real experiences from a real person who is really trying to be real. A place for tips and tricks, myth debunk-ification (yes, that's now a word), and maybe some humor?!

Note: sometimes it's hard to find humor in gluten. (Yesterday, I didn't find it so humorous on my way to the Ladies' Room). BUT I'll try to keep things on the lighter side.

A little about me: you already know that I'm female. Unless you think that I like to spy in the Ladies' Room like Dwight Schrute... Moving on...

I've been diagnosed by tTG antibody and EGD with biopsy for over a year now. Doesn't mean it's gotten easier per se, but I've sure learned a lot along the way.

I have degrees in pharmacy and chemistry. Therefore, I sometimes know what I'm talking about when it comes to medical jargon, research, etc. from my own experiences and in trying to educate others (doing presentations and writing articles related to Celiac and other intolerances). However, I might be wrong sometimes- more on this later.

Comments are welcome, but screened. No overtly mean people. Granted, the internet is hardly the place for my sarcasm... I anticipate a few misunderstandings... so get out that uncontaminated salt shaker of yours- you might need a few grains along the way.