October 6, 2010

A New Direction

I'm not sure what's the best way to share big news on a blog, so here goes: In July I was diagnosed with celiac disease.

Of course there are two ways of looking at this. As someone who revels in all types of food, loves to cook and bake, and adores eating out in restaurants, I could see this as a major handicap. Or I could see it as a challenge. I feel lucky that I know how to cook and I already take time to do it each day. I'm happy that I've already tried my hand at gluten-free baking. I'm grateful that I was diagnosed at a time when there is more information and awareness out there about celiac disease than ever before, when I can go to most mainstream grocery stores and buy gluten-free granola bars, waffles, bread and cereal. Most of all, I'm happy to have my health back.

I was shocked when my family doctor told me back in May that he thought I probably had celiac disease. Of course, I had been getting sporadic stomach aches since I was about fourteen, but no other doctor had ever suggested this could be the cause. I thought I had already ruled out a gluten intolerance after my cleanse in 2009. My first thought was relief that it wasn't something more serious, that I wouldn't have to take any medication or have surgery. But then I began to feel despair. What about eating in restaurants? What about continuing my restaurant reviews? What about being a food writer? It all seemed impossible.

But the despair didn't last long. In the two months between my blood test and the confirmation of my illness, I had time to realize this was actually good news. Yes, I had a serious disease, but unlike most I could completely cure myself just by what I ate. What freedom! I knew it would be a challenge, but I was determined to feel better. I also resolved to continue writing about food in my job at CBC and here on this blog. Who knew where this new direction could take me?

I have now been eating gluten-free for nearly three months. Although my health isn't entirely on track, I do feel a lot better. And I'm still discovering what I can eat every day - I'm sure I'll be learning for the rest of my life. There is so much to explore and experiment with. The food we eat at home still tastes fantastic, and I've recently started my adventures in gluten-free baking, which I hope to write about soon. The internet is awash in gluten-free websites and blogs (for a few of my favourites so far, see my new GF blogroll). The amount of information out there is astounding. I can't imagine having celiac disease even ten years ago, let alone 30 years ago. It must have felt like such a struggle. Today, it is getting easier and easier.

Here is just one recent example: J's brother and his wife are planning a dinner at The Melting Pot, a fondue restaurant in Edmonton, for next month. "I'll have to call them and see if they have gluten-free options," I told J. "They probably don't". He berated me for being too pessimistic and handed me the phone. Sure enough, the friendly woman at the restaurant informed me they have an entirely gluten-free menu. Every one of their fondues can be made gluten-free.

So this is our new adventure, and I plan on writing about it as much as possible. Fist up, travels in Europe. Then we'll get back to home cooking. Although this blog will now be entirely gluten-free, I'm not planning on changing the name. I might add some kind of GF sub-title, but I'm not sure yet. The main ingredient of The Little Red Kitchen hasn't changed: personal stories about cooking and eating real food that tastes fantastic.

These photos are all from our travels in Europe, and they are making me hungry! I'll be back with stories from our trip soon.


Marfa said...

I think it may be a blessing...seems like we (as a society) use too much highly processed wheat. There are so many other wonderful grains out there, to diversify our diet. I love quinoa, barley, oats, and went to an East African restaurant, where they use teff...went to look for it...and Bob's Red Mill sells it...but it's SO expensive. SO I won't be experimenting with that in any recipes soon...

The Celiac Husband said...

Maybe not a blessing, but for sure a relief to be diagnosed correctly.

Edmonton has it licked when it comes to GF options. The big Kinnickinnick, Ed's, Ben's Meats, The Cafe in St. Albert and many more.

Home cooking is not a challenge, I even make Wiener Schnitzel, Goulash, Chicken McNuggets, all GF.

Laurel said...

I was so exciting to read this entry! I have read your blog for a while now and am going through exactly the same thing. I look forward to reading your recipes even more now :)

Bianca said...

Perhaps a blessing in disguise; just think of all the new discoveries you are going to make!
I look forward to following your journey!