Ditching Wheat

For breakfast, I love a fresh, fluffy biscuit or a nice, crumbly muffin. If you stop by here very often at all, you already know that I'll take a cookie with my coffee or for an afternoon snack with my tea any day. Few things make me swoon like a flaky pie crust. And a warm, crusty slice of bread with dinner? Don't even get me started.

And yet, about two weeks ago, after a pizza and breadsticks binge, I gave up wheat.


Because a few years ago, when I had surgery to remove a giant cyst from my ovary (which also resulted in the removal of my ovary, too), I learned that the cause of that darn cyst was endometriosis.

To make a long story short, once the cyst was gone, I was pain free for a while. But a few months later, all sorts of symptoms that I soon found out were related to endometriosis started cropping up. Then, I got pregnant, and for my entire pregnancy and most of the time I was nursing Little Man, I was once again symptom-free.

But now, in the past few months, my symptoms have come back full force. I'm not going to bore you with an explanation of endometriosis or the many symptoms it causes, but if you're so inclined, you can learn the basics.

Please note: I don't tell you this to make you worry about me or feel sorry for me or anything of the sort. Endometriosis is a chronic illness that affects a lot more women than you might realize. In fact, odds are you know more than one woman who has it, although it's not the sort of illness most women talk about openly. (Which is actually something I'm hoping to help change, by the way.)

Fortunately, although there is no cure for endo, there are a variety of ways to manage it. And one of the natural ways many women are able to keep symptoms somewhat in check is through diet.

Guess what's at the top of the list of foods to avoid if you have endo? Yep, you guessed it.


I'm not going into all the details on why here, but needless to say there is quite a bit of evidence—scientific and anecdotal—that for many women with endometriosis, eliminating wheat from their diet has a positive effect.

I'm not interested in trying the different drug therapies that are out there for endo, because most of them are only somewhat effective and come with some nasty side effects. (Uh, no thanks on the excess facial hair or starting menopause at age 30—although I know these treatments are very necessary for some women.) And I'm hoping to avoid having surgery again, although laparoscopy is often a woman's best chance at obtaining relief from endo.

So that leaves natural treatments, one of which is diet.

Perhaps giving up wheat will help. It's too early to really know for sure. Maybe it won't. But either way, it's worth a try.

I can tell you that if it doesn't seem to make a difference, I'll be back on the wheat train. I don't think wheat is something to deprive yourself of unless you have a medical reason to do so. An increasing number of people are hopping on the gluten-free bandwagon just because they've heard it makes you feel better or because celebrities do it. That's crazy. Sure, everyone should probably eat wheat in more moderation than most Americans do (the same with pretty much everything Americans eat). But to cut it out completely just because it's trendy is nuts—and it may even have unintended health implications.

Anyhow, random soap box again. I keep jumping up on those darn things.

For now, my goal is to make going wheat-free as easy as possible. I'm not going to be nuts about it. If I slip up a few times, it's not the end of the world. I'm going to be as low-maintenance about it as I can—skipping the items that contain wheat when eating out or at someone else's house, but not freaking out if I have to eat something with wheat on rare occasions. (Trust me, if you've seen me in need of a snack, you will understand that eating something with a bit of wheat is preferable to a hungry Julie.) I don't have celiac disease, in which case any exposure to wheat can be incredibly harmful. So a little wheat here and there, if absolutely necessary, won't be the end of the world.

Fortunately, it's a lot easier to skip wheat than it was even a few years ago when I first starting investigating natural endo treatments. (At that point, the thought of actually giving up wheat never even crossed my mind because I didn't see how I'd survive!) Now, there are fabulous blogs and books devoted to making incredibly delicious gluten-free meals and even baked goods to rival those with gluten. There are also some pretty darn good gluten-free breads, snacks, cereals, you name it available at many grocery stores.

I knew all of this well before my no-wheat diet began two weeks ago, because over the past few months an increasing number of gluten-free recipes and products have been sneaking into our house anyway. That's because there's a chance Little Man has a sensitivity to wheat, too.

I know, I know. Now you think I really am nuts. It's OK. This one is a bit more of a stretch. It isn't really grounded in any research or trials, like ditching wheat for endo is.

The thing with Little Man is totally different. You see, around the time he started eating solid foods beyond his introductory all-fruit or veggie purees, he developed one cold after another—and every single on turned into a sinus infection that required at least one, sometimes two, rounds of antibiotics. Within a week of clearing up one sinus infection, his runny nose would be back, and we'd start the cycle all over again.

I started to do some research, talked to some other moms, and heard of other kids that had similar issues. Eventually, in a few cases, it turned out wheat was a culprit. I was desperate for anything that would prevent our almost-monthly trips to the doctor's office and the pharmacy, so we took Little Man off wheat to see if it would help.

Since the wheat was finally out of Little Man's system, he hasn't had a sinus infection. Not a single one. He's had a few colds (but who hasn't this winter?). None of his recent colds has turned into a sinus infection like every single one used to.

Is wheat the culprit? Who knows for sure. It could be an environmental allergy or a seasonal allergy that's the problem. Kids can't really be tested for allergies until they're three (I guess their bodies don't really respond to the tests until around then), so it's going to be quite some time before we know for sure. But as long as he keeps doing well sans wheat, I'm not going to mess with what's working.

And so now, after I'm pretty sure no one is actually still reading, I get to the point of this long, rambling post. Which is this: I'm probably going to be trying all sorts of gluten-free recipes in the near future. And I'll probably post them here. But I promise not to turn this into a gluten-free cooking and baking blog. I promise to post lots of things you wheat-eating people will still like.

And if I do post gluten-free recipes? It will be because they're just plain good. And because they've gotten the ultimate endorsement from Conservative Hubby: either he liked them enough to eat them knowing they were gluten-free, or they were good enough he never realized they were gluten-free in the first place.

That's how you know a recipe really is fit for the masses, or at least a couple of loyal blog readers!

(I also promise not to really post about endo on this site at all, or only very rarely. I'll save all that info for my fellow endo sufferers over at this blog, which is a work in progress but the beginning of a bigger project I'm actually pretty excited about. I'm not expecting most of you will read it, but if you have endo or know someone who does, perhaps you'll be interested in checking it out.)

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