I’ve had a frustrating and depressing week. I have been sick since last Saturday with symptoms that I would absolutely blame on gluten (bloating, gas, diarrhea, fatigue, stomach cramping) – yet as far as I know I didn’t eat anything containing gluten. At least not in the Canadian regulations of less than 20 parts per million (ppm). I am self-diagnosing myself with a few possible issues:
- Just because it says “gluten free” doesn’t mean it is “celiac safe”. Perhaps I am one of those lucky celiacs that reacts with less than 20 ppm – the M&Ms chicken fingers that I ate were not necessarily ‘gluten free’ certified and I didn’t check to see if they were made in a gluten-free facility. My next step here is to actually contact the company – I’ll let you know what I find out when I do.
- Perhaps I am also corn sensitive, or just sensitive to other grains in general. When I made those delicious corn tortillas I noticed they upset my stomach and questioned corn early on, but assumed I was just still healing and didn’t think too much of it. But after I got sick this week I re-read the M&Ms chicken fingers package, and looked at a lot of the ingredients on the gluten-free products I’ve been eating – there’s a LOT of corn in everything. Where there is no wheat, there is corn. And multiple different variations of it. Corn syrup, corn flour, corn starch – and I even learned that xanthan gum is made from corn. Did I not mention reacting to xanthan gum previously?! (I really do need to ask the bakery that made all those delicious treats whether or not they actually use xanthan gum before I start blaming that…)
- I’m allergic to something else OR there is something else wrong with me. Time to go back to the doctor. 😦
One of the big lessons that I’ve learned throughout this glutening episode is what to do when I’ve been glutened. Fate lead to me this great blog article on 5 things to do when you’ve been glutened which reminded me it’s ok to slow down when my body says so (even though I’m sick of it). It also reminded me that, although when I am feeling well food is my medicine and eating nutritious small meals frequently is my best treatment for staying well, that is not necessarily what I should continue to do when I’m not well. The first few days of feeling sick I kept trying to eat the same. My theory then was to keep my energy up, push out the bad symptoms by filling myself with healthy vitamins. But I just kept feeling awful! So the article, and Dr. Mom (my mom is a retired nurse and I turn to her frequently to help sort through my symptoms and triggers), reminded me that when my guts are inflamed and reacting they need to rest! So after a few days of trying to eat like normal and running to the bathroom soon after and writhing in pain from stomach cramps, I knew it was time to try something else. I didn’t want to go back into starvation mode, but I did switch back to a mainly BRAT based diet – gluten free chicken broth, gluten free toast (in moderation), bananas, and eventually some simple chicken and cucumber. I find for me these are the least reactive foods when I’m not feeling well.
Yesterday I still wasn’t feeling so well, but I’m trying to balance the upset-stomach and the hunger-pains by getting enough calories. So I made a quick, homemade, chicken soup.
I threw some rice into the microwave to cook (Yes, in the microwave! It works every time – basmati rice, water as directed on the package, and in the microwave on medium-high heat for 15-20 minutes. Once you figure out what works for the rice and microwave you have, it is fail-proof every time.)
Then I picked out a few vegetables from the fridge, a few stalks of asparagus and a carrot and threw it in a pot with some gluten-free chicken broth and let it boil away while the rice cooked. I chopped up some cooked chicken breast which is a staple in my fridge and threw it in. When the rice was ready I put a scoop of rice into a bowl and poured the soup over. It was light and easy on my stomach. I ate one bowl, and an hour later, ate another. This will be a go-to for future gluten-ings and stomach upsets.
Chicken & Rice Soup (serves 2)
Printable: Chicken Rice Soup
3 stalks asparagus, chopped into bite-size pieces
1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped into bite-size pieces
(or any other vegetables you have in the fridge – I’m sure broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, mushrooms, celery… anything would work. Use what is easy on your stomach when not feeling well!)
1/2-1 cooked chicken breast, chopped into bite-size pieces
2-3 cups gluten-free chicken broth
1/4-1/2 cup cooked rice per bowl
Prepare vegetables and chop chicken and place in a small to medium pot on medium high heat. Add broth so that everything is covered and bring to a simmer. Add more broth as you like. (When I don’t feel well I like more broth. When I feel better I like a hearty, chunky soup with less broth.) Simmer until the vegetables are cooked through.
Add a large scoop of rice to a bowl and pour the soup over top. Enjoy!