Going Gluten-Free

So I’ve been doing a lot of reading recently on the connections between IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome, something I was diagnosed with 15 years ago–quite a feat of a disease for a nine-year-old to even have to think about undertaking managing, let alone actually doing it) and lactose-intolerance, gluten-intolerance, and thyroid disease. A couple of my other friends with digestive disease have been recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease, and it got me wondering if maybe I suffer from it as well.

Considering the already-diagnosed IBS and confirmed thyroid problems, along with other symptoms, I’ve become rather convinced that I do have Celiac, and as of early Saturday morning, I decided to give living not only mostly-free of insoluble fiber for my IBS but also moderately lactose-free (I don’t seem to have trouble with it, but considering the fact that I actually like soy milk, substituting it where it’s easy didn’t seem like much of a sacrifice–hell, I’m actually thinking I like my mochas better with soy!) and completely gluten-free a shot, at least for a few weeks to see how I feel. As soon as I get my health insurance sorted out, I’m going to bring up getting tested for Celiac at my first visit to a doctor, and until then, I’ll just monitor digestive health on my own. Seeing as it’s something I’ve been doing for a decade-and-a-half now, it’s almost second nature to me, sadly.

I’m sure some of you are already thinking, “GLUTEN-FREE?!?! WHAT THE HELL IS THIS BAKED-GOODS-FIEND GOING TO EAT AND BLOG ABOUT NOW?!?! HOW WILL SHE EVEN LIVE WITHOUT SUCH THINGS AS BROWNIES AND COOKIES AND CUPCAKES?!?!” Well, those were some of my first thoughts upon making this decision as well.

It’s proving to be quite a task after even only two days of efforts to make my diet completely devoid of wheat, rye, barley, and spelt. Well, not that spelt was that much of an issue, but you get the idea. For instance, on my way home from seeing a movie today, I decided I was in the mood for soup for dinner, and you’d think that would be a reasonably easy task, even gluten-free. Oh, no. No no no. Let me tell you, of the selection of soups available in my local market, only two–TWO–were Celiac-safe. TWO! Obviously, the ones with barley and noodles were out-of-the-question, but that still left plenty to chose from, right? Wrong. If they didn’t have barley or noodles, almost all featured wheat in some form or another, most often wheat flour used to thicken the soup. So I officially get to chose from two soups now when I decide I’ve got a sudden craving for soup. Joy.

Unfortunately, I’ve become even less of a cook since moving here to San Francisco. Actually, even since working at the bakery, where it was so easy to just walk to a case or basket and take what I felt like eating at the time. I’ve really become embroiled in the habit of deciding what I feel like eating spontaneously and not planning at all. So grocery shopping has become impossible to do long-term–when I get hungry and know I won’t be eating out, I just walk down to the market and get what I feel like eating. If I even attempt to do some mass grocery-shopping, I wind up walking aimlessly through the store unable to pick anything to buy since I don’t feel like eating any of it at the time and can’t possibly know if I’d be in the mood for something using it in the near future. And seeing as things that I would need to make so many of the dishes I ate on a regular basis pre-gluten-free come in larger quantities that would bear the burden of needing to be used repeatedly, this is going to be a frustrating process for me. And even when I did a lot of cooking at home, I have never been much of a leftovers person. Whatever I didn’t finish, I left for my suitemates/housemates/family to eat when I cooked something.

So I figured maybe it would be a good idea to use this blog as an outlet for my new lifestyle–both of frustrations and pleasures. Right now, I’d love if anyone reading this has some advice to offer me: gluten-free recipes geared towards single-servings, sources for gluten-free products that come in small quantities, etc. If only it wasn’t just myself I had to feed, since I have managed to find dozens and dozens of resources for gluten-free recipes and products, they’re just all geared towards the larger quantities that the vast majority of people find useful and not the single-servings that I’d find useful.

I keep tea, coffee, and sweetener in my pantry. Bottled water and soda in my fridge. About the only other things I ever keep around the house are a few canned goods–tuna, mushrooms, maybe beans–and some frozen veggies. Anything else I buy on-the-spot to be used and consumed immediately. Help?

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