Dear Diary, I stopped dreaming of bagels today.

Dear Diary, I stopped dreaming about bagels today. It has been the first time in months that I have dreamed and not binged on bread or crackers or something filled with gluten. I don’t know of this means that I’ve come to grips with my new reality, but I kind of hope so. It is getting kind of old having dreams of stuffing my face with Red Vines and then waking up and not being able to eat them. I kind of have to take this as a brief moment of hope. I think I can get through this.

 

As you can see from my fake diary entry, it took me about 4-5 months to get past the food dreams. I’m not 100% past them, as my fake past self wanted to believe. I still have food dreams. In fact I had a dream this last weekend where I was being forced fed crackers. I woke up wondering if I could get glutened from a dream it was so crazy and real.

Well, you can’t get glutened from a dream. And dream analysis is not even one of the hard sciences, but it can give us a tiny imperfect glimpse inside our heads dealing with the crazy stress of a lifestyle change. Eating something imaxresdefaultn a dream supposedly takes it from
being something that is other than us and turns it into something that is us.  This can also mean that you’re accepting a change or an idea.

So those dreams about eating soft fluffy warm French bread at a table of the restaurant or stuffing your face with doughnuts, well that’s just processing. I can’t really say much more than that. The dreams and stuff and normal. Your processing, but they’ll stop.

Now, pardon me while I vent some of my ID watching some Rick and Morty…

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The food of our people is not cheap.

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In our local supermarket, the gluten free section is in the same aisle as the ethnic foods. It’s right there beside the Asian and Hispanic food. When they put it in the aside (along with the big sign saying gluten free) my husband made the joke about it “being the food of my people.” It’s kind of a funny statement, but there’s some truth to it. See, living gluten free and the gluten free community are a subculture.

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary online, a sub-culture is:

an ethnic, regional, economic, or social group exhibiting characteristic patterns of behavior sufficient to distinguish it from others within an embracing culture or society <a criminal subculture>

As citizens of the world we are all part of larger cultures and smaller subcultures. You can consider it like states being a part of the United States of America. Each state has is own individual identity and yet as a whole, they make up America. Each state is a subculture as a part of the greater US culture. But you can drill that down even more. every city is a subculture within their individual state. No one can really mistake someone who is part of Austin as someone from Dallas, but they’re all still considered Texans. Each city could be considered their own subculture. And you can still take that down to the different neighborhoods within each subculture. There’s a difference between the boroughs of Queen and Brooklyn. Seems pretty simple right?

Now lets take a look at in the perspective of people. This is me. As a culture I am an American. As you can see from the picture I am Caucasian, very Caucasian, like ecru, and 20160620_175708that is my ethnic group. I am thoroughly middle class, even though I don’t like to admit it, so that would be my  economic group. This is where we get into more specifics about me. As you can see I have some ridiculously awesome hair (sort of like a magical unicorn or mermaid) and might assume that I belong to a counter culture like punks or emos, but I just like the way I look with blue and green hair and think it makes me look like an anime character. I also read a lot of comic books, manga, and play video games, so I really fit into the Geek subculture. I also enjoy crocheting and cross stitching, so I’m totally part of the Crafter subculture.  And, of course, as long as you have been reading along every week, you know that I’m part of the Gluten Free subculture.

Sure gluten free is kind of one of these smaller subcutlures, but everyone who is eating gluten free for actual medical reason, which for the rest of the post we’ll call them the Celitariat (because we totally need a better name than we’ve gotten so far.) The Celitariat have to deal with the outfall of the Glutarchs (those who choose to eat gluten free for either social or fad diet reasons) who order gluten free and then get a regular beer, because they can. They have to deal with the same issue when eating out or trying to order in a restaurant. They also have to deal with the super expensive processed foods OR make everything from scratch (and no body has time for that.) For the Celitariat is totally a social group (and anyone who has seen the forum section of celiac.com or gone to a gluten free support group knows that) and it’s an economic group because we all suffer from the same price problems.

Anyone who has looked at the food in the gluten free section or looked at a gluten free product has seen that they are more expensive. Let’s take a look at some comparables:

steel cut oates

Bob’s Red Mill, a staple in the modern world, and something that should become a staple in your gluten free kitchen. They make some of the most readily available gluten free flout, and I’m pretty sure it’s the first gluten free flour that everyone uses. They also have some of the most accessible gluten free oatmeal. Now, lets look at the prices of these. On the left we have regular steel cut oats (the best kind of oats). The regular steel cut oats in a 24 oz package is $3.19. It’s not unreasonable, but more than you would ever pay for that cardboard tubes. Now, the same size bag of gluten free steel cut oats is $6.29, almost twice the cost.

There is a reason for this with oats at least. Oats should be gluten free, and yet they’re not. Apparently, it’s very common for barley and wheat to make it into oat fields, so you’re Quaker Oats actually has wheat in it, kind of like hot dogs have rats in them. It’s something that no one actually discusses but it part of the reality of the world. The seeds from the wheat fields and barley fields just get into the oat fields. Gluten free oat farmers need to go through and pull out of these of the field. There’s a lot of extra labor there, so I can understand why gluten free oats cost more, but almost twice the cost…that just seems…yeah

Pizza

This is probably one of the cheaper versions of the gluten free frozen pizza (and pretty much the only way anyone in the Celitariat could possibly get pizza without making their own. And if you look at this, without really looking at it, you’re going “HEY THE GLUTEN FREE OPTION IS CHEAPER!” Yeah, don’t get too excited. The gluten free pizza is literally less than a quarter of the size of the gluten one. Actually it’s almost one fifth the size….one fifth….and only one dollar cheaper.

The estimated cost increase for a gluten free diet is about one third more than the cost of a gluten filled diet. That’s a strange burden that the Celitariat have to bear. But there’s some relief in the form of math…or your CPA hating you forever. Celiacs get tax deductions for eating gluten free. Sure it’s just off of the difference between gluten foods and gluten free foods. But you can also get reimbursed for driving to your favorite gluten free bakery or store, and the cost of buys gluten free foods online. You have to spend at least 10% of your adjusted gross income with all of your medical expenses, so if you just got diagnosed KEEP YOUR RECEIPTS. Between you doctor visits and endoscopy, you could make it this year, but you might never get the chance again. Everyone else…be glad that you have good health…?

People will be okay with you being a human being.

Shortly after I got my celiac diagnosis, I wanted to form a community somewhere in the US where the entire town banned gluten. Just no gluten at all. No wheat or beer or barley or rye. All of the restaurants would only serve gluten free food, and they would all have gluten free take out. The supermarkets would only have gluten free food. Everyone that you worked around would only be gluten free. It would be a paradise.

There’s a problem with that, though. That’s not how the world works, and you can’t make it work that way. We can’t separate ourselves from all of the people who aren’t like us, that just doesn’t make sense. Sure, we’re be safe in our own little holes surrounded by people who ate the same as us, but the rest of the world is still out there.

Just because you can’t see something or hear something, doesn’t make it not exist. Life doesn’t work like ostriches, you can’t bury your head in the sand and hope that the rest of the world just ignores you. You’re big, fluffy butt is still out there, everyone can see it and they’re just looking at you like. “WTW? Why do you have your head in the ground. I totally can still see you.” There is no real way to hide from anything in this world, because you’re still a part of it. Others will look at you, look at a whole group of you, and try to figure out what is wrong with you.

When you surround yourself with only people who think or live the same way as you, close your ears to the rest and sing “la la la I can’t hear you”, you can’t tell when your life stinks. Tim Gunn has a saying, “When you first enter into the monkey house, you think, ‘Oh my god this place stinks!’ And then after you’re there for 20 minutes you think, ‘it’s not so bad’ and after you’re there for an hour it doesn’t smell at all. And anyone entering the monkey house freshly thinks, ‘this stinks!’” Living with your fingers in your ears or your head underground is just like living in the monkey house. You have no challenge. No strife. Nothing that will improve your mind or change your world.

This is how we get extremists. This is how we get terrorists. This is own incidents like the one in Orlando this weekend happen. We get so mired in our own beliefs and thoughts that we forget that there are other view points in the world. And somehow those people who are “the other” stop being people. They are nothing more than representations of everything wrong in the world, and when people stop being people to you is when the trouble starts. You will have no qualm with killing an alien or a zombie, they’re not people anymore. The same goes with an entire nightclub of people who happen to have been born with the genetic predisposition to be different from you. They aren’t people anymore.

Surrounding yourself with people who agree with you all of the time is how you become Donald Trump. It’s a delusion, a happy pretty sparkly world where everyone thinks like you. You get so lost in your own stink that you don’t realize that you’ve turned an entire race or religion or any other group into something sub-human. You live in a magical realm where no one eats gluten within 30 yards of you and there’s no traffic and everyone has a pony. And everyone things exactly like you forever and ever. We turn it what we know into a safe space, and everything else in the world is dangerous. Again, that’s not how the world works.

The world works with everyone together sharing idea and love. It works on strife and having your beliefs challenged. It works on realizing that the people you despise have children and parents and plans and dreams too. It works when you realize that there is no one out there that is wanting to hurt you, and forgiving them if they do without you realizing it. It works when we think about how our actions and decisions will effect other people, and apologizing if we hurt them.  It works when you realize that not everyone is going to be like you. And then respecting all that.

Everyone has their burden. Everyone has their problems. What makes us good humans is empathizing with those problems, sharing those burdens, and helping each other out.

Personally, I like to think that I’m a good human. So I’ll live in this world with everyone else. I’ll share my burdens and help support others. I’ll listen to problems and realize that mine might not be all so bad. And I’ll live side by side with those who might cause me pain because that is what is means to be a human being.

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Gluten Free Drinking, 2 posts for the price of one!

It has been hot in Seattle, and not just a warm spring hot, but 80’s and 90’s HOT. Of course my family was in Seattle this weekend, so instead of finding a cool corner of my house and hiding from the sun, like any normal person, we were out and about in the city doing touristy things. So, I know I promised 2 posts last week, and didn’t deliver. I didn’t even make a post yesterday, but that’s because I am going to give you 2 posts tonight, in one SUPER POST! IKR…I’m excited too.

So, here we go….

Life can continue, there is good gluten free beer

When it gets really hot, there is nothing like an ice cold beer, and yes celiacs can have an ice cold hard cider or a margarita, but there’s nothing more American than grilling and a beer. Gluten free beer is a thing, and there is some really good gluten free beer. There is even some gluten free beer that are as good (or better) than some traditional beers.

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A lot of people talk about the types of gluten free beers, and there’s one that produces micro brew style beer and the other that produces domestic style beer. I may be over simplifying it, but a lot of the alternative grain beers do taste a bit more rounded and like a micro brew than those that process the gluten out. That comes from the science of the process to break the gluten down in brewing process. Breaking down the proteins make beer less rounded and clearer. There are some brands that bridge this comparison (Coors Peak, I’m looking at you) but they are the exception and not the rule.

Well, first off, let’s look at the breaking down of the gliadin in beer. Gliadin is a protein in gluten that, when in breaks down in our intestines, makes us sick. It’s such a pretty sounding word, like sometime that you would name a good witch of Oz and yet soooo evil. 68743090Now, if it’s not breaking down in our intestines, well it’s supposed to be safe. This is the basis of some of the drugs that are being developed  (like Bioline’s BL-7010) because keeping the gliadin out of our tummy’s might just be the best thing to keep celiac’s from getting sick. Kind of amazing right. Gluten Free beers like Omission where they “brew the gluten out” work on this theory. There is this magic chemical called Brewers Clarex that can be added to beers and break down the proteins, including the gliadin. This DOES cause some problems in a specific population of celiacs, who react to part of gliadin, because if you break “glia” and “din” into two pieces and you as a celiac react to “glia”, well it’s still there. You’re still getting sick.

I will say, I have tried Omission, and I didn’t get sick. I can’t promise you won’t. They do their best to keep you safe, but they can’t really assure that you won’t get sick. They can put gluten free on the label, because they test their products and it comes back as less then 20 milligram of gliadin per gram of beer. So they meet the FDA standards, but that doesn’t mean that it’s safe for all celiacs.

The other thing that Brewer Clarex does is it “clears” the beer. This means that all of the beers that are being brewed and put through the Clarex process it takes out all of the meaty goodness that you get from a Guinness or any other Stout. You can’t put a dark beer through a Clarex process (at least not from my research, if I’m wrong, please point me to the evidence.) So, beers that are getting their gluten processed out are going to be the lighter beers: lagers, IPAs, Pale Ales, ect…Personally, I’m not a light beer drinker, but some people like it. If you like it, and don’t react to the separate parts of gliadin, then beers that process out their gluten might be the beers for you. There’s a lot of brands that do this, including some big brewers like Portland Widmere (Omission) or Colorado’s Fat Tire.

Me, I like a beer so thick that I’m eating it. I like Red Ales and Stouts and the really dark beers. To find the kind of stuff that I like, I need to find those beers that use alternate grains. These will be sold in 20 oz bottles in the back of your local Bevmo, or in a specialty beer shop. My personal favorite brand is a local Seattle brewer, Ghostfish, founded by 3 guys who are medically gluten free (2 have NCGS and 1 has Celiac) and wanted good beer. Some of my non-gluten free friends enjoy Ghostfish as much as some of their glutened beers, because it’s just that good. Plus, if you go their tasting room in Seattle’s Sodo neighborhood, you can get their Watchstander Stout mixed with Stumptown nitro brewed coffee.

I can’t….I just can’t even with it right now.

If you don’t have Ghostfish in your area, there’s a lot of other brands that are using alternative grains, like Coors Peak, which is a rice beer. There’s so many of this kind of beer that you probably have seem some of these in your supermarket. Honestly, these are as diverse as the blends that are used to make gluten free breads. The only thing you can do it try them. Try as many of them as you want. Find one that you love, and then consume it (because by buying the beer, only then can we get it spread far and wide.)

So, there’s gluten free beer, enough different types of gluten free beers that you can try them all., and do. Try them all. Take this summer and buy some gluten free beer. Drink it in your backyard with your feet in a wading pool. Drink it when someone is is grilling some burgers with gluten free buns. Just drink some! Because trying these things is the only way that there will continue to be good gluten free beers, demand means there will be supply. So, it’s your duty to the rest of us to drink some gluten free beer. You’re just doing your part to improve the community.

Vodka: not just potatoes anymore.

vodka salad

Yes, I’m finally getting to the gluten free Vodka, or really the glutened vodka. So lets start this with a disclaimer. According to the FDA, alcohol should be distilled enough that the gluten is “processed out of it.” This means that celiacs should be able to drink all sorts of booze and not worry about it. In fact, here’s the FDA’s actual language:

Since proper distillation is capable of removing all proteins, including gluten, it would be considered as a “process to remove gluten.”  Thus, an ingredient that is derived from a gluten containing grain that has been properly distilled would be allowed to be used in a food bearing the “gluten-free” claim since the ingredient would meet the requirements of [the gluten free labeling rules].

Now, any of us who have gotten glutened from whiskey or bourbon or even vodka know that this isn’t 100% true. This might mean that most vodka distillers do not use proper distillation techniques, or maybe the FDA is not as strict on their regulation of this. Then again, most of these alcohols don’t claim to be gluten free, and that might be the problem. They really only fall under the testing and regulations IF they claim to be gluten free.

But vodka, oh vodka, it seems to be the vague nature of vodka that makes it so full of mystery. Vodka isn’t just made from potatoes or grains anymore, it can be made from things like wood chips or petrol (yeah that’s gross.) Most of the “top” vodka brands are make from wheat or rye, and not potatoes like everyone seems to think. Maybe this is just a urban legend, the thought that vodka has to be made from potatoes, but wheat and rye are both traditional vodka making too (along with molasses.) Is one superior to another? I have no idea. That’s a job for someone who knows way more about alcohol than I do, but I can say I have had a reaction from drinking Ketel One vodka.

I’d been drinking Ketel One for years, it was my preferred vodka brand. I have had a hangover from it, and it usually only lasts a few hours and after some water and some protein, I’m good to go. I do not have the 3 days of gluten sickness that I got from just that one shot of Ketel One that I had. Ketel One is a grain vodka, but I didn’t know it at the time. In fact I was on day 2 of gluten before I even looked into it. I didn’t have anything else new that night, and even the mixers were things on my 100% safe list (Reed’s ginger beer and a lime). AND when I mixed the same things with rum, I had no problems. This is as scientific as I can get with this without risking my intestines again.

There is suggestions that a gluten reaction from vodka might be psychosomatic, because distilling is the process of converting the liquid in the mash mixture into steam and then allowing it condense back into a liquid in a new still chamber. This can (and is) done several times for good vodkas. Gluten shouldn’t be able to survive this, because there is no transfer of proteins through the steam, and yet there’s been reports across the board of celiacs having reactions from grain vodkas, so it’s probably just best to avoid it. It makes it harder to get drunk, but really it means you’re not drinking swill from the bargain basement (less chance of drinking some of those plastic vodkas).

Vodka’s will put what they’re distilled from on the bottles, so if you’re in a3890816_fadbc3c90010708595ad18f1542512f5 liquor store, just read the bottles. There’s some cheaper and pretty good corn and potato vodkas out there. One of the most popular brands in America today, Tito’s, is a corn vodka from Texas.

If you’re out and about and wanting a drink well I suggest getting some Kracken rum. Rum is always made out of sugar, and Kracken is a particularly good spiced rum. But if you really want some vodka, Titos is a good one to ask for. It’s not as expensive as trying to track down a Chopin potato vodka. It’s pretty widely available at this point in time, and so it’s pretty safe to ask if a bar has it. If not, Kracken, always ask for Kracken.