Same goes for having to eat out. Eating out at a restaurant used to be a great pleasure for me, but now it is a nightmare. The only restaurants where I haven’t gotten sick every time I go are the dedicated ones and there aren’t that many around. Oddly enough I have pretty good success at Boston Pizza if I ask them not to cut the pizza and keep it super plain. The dough is shipped in from elsewhere and is kept in the cooler where they prepare the whole thing. So most times it works out for me, but of course, not all the time. Many places I’ve gone to that advertise gluten free bread or pasta options or special menus still get me sick. I’m just too sensitive. When I travel for work to small towns it gets worse. Sometimes the hotels don’t have refrigerators or kitchenettes for me so I eat out even more.*
This weekend is the first weekend in literally 2 months that I’ve been home. I’ve been travelling to Victoria, Vancouver, and other such places every weekend. When I go to Victoria I hit up Origin bakery for gluten free sandwiches for lunch and scones or muffins for breakfast and then only have to worry about dinner, but even that doesn’t work all the time. Even though I’m trying to lean towards grain free, when I travel it’s too much to figure out for me so I just stick with gluten free. But some days or weeks even that seems too much.
Today is the first day in several weeks I haven’t been bloated. I’ve been strict. No eating out, no food made by anyone else, no trying some new product that isn’t tried and true, and only eating simple foods … like a whole lot of salads. The combination of travelling on weekends and getting sick from foods that I thought were safe over and over again these past weeks has been frustrating. It’s not for the lack of trying, but for me, my symptoms last 2-4 days after bad contamination. By the time I might be starting to feel better, something else gets me. I sometimes long for being one of those people who say they aren’t that sensitive. Yet on the other I know what is getting me sick and can avoid it, while others may be consuming it unaware.
A long time ago I read another blogger who posted pictures of her before and after a gluten attack. It helped me in so many ways … knowing that I wasn’t the only one struggling with this issue and knowing that a gluten free blogger that is well in the know can still get glutened. For a long time I’ve been meaning to do the same thing. But it’s hard; you know … willingly having your picture taken when you feel like an elephant. So it’s been a while in the making but below is my photo. The one that shows how big my stomach really gets. The photo on the left is how far I can push my stomach out on a good clean healthy day. The photo on the right is what gluten does to me and why I where so many baggy shirts when I go to eat out at a restaurant! The bloating is of course only one of many symptoms, but it’s the one I try to hide the most. Not many girls want to look like they are 4-5 months pregnant every time they eat.
I’ve been told that seeing the difference helps those who do not suffer, understand why it is so vitally important not to eat gluten. So to help your friends/family understand and to help you not feel so alone I’ve posted this image for you.
Left: Normal distance I can push my stomach out on a good day.Right: What gluten does to my stomach ... ouch!
P.S. My boyfriend forced me to smile in the second (right) picture. I certainly didn’t feel like smiling at the time!
* A co-worker taught me a new trick though. If you have to stay at a hotel with no fridge and can’t take a cooler on a plane with you, then bring several Ziploc bags and fill them with ice from the hotel ice machine. Works like a charm! Just make sure to refresh the ice on a regular basis.