One year ago this week, we abruptly embarked upon our gluten free journey. I had just returned home from a wonderful weekend conference on mothering and my kids and hubby had planned a pancake feast. Mind you, this was with freshly ground whole grains from the many pails of wheat berries stored in my son's closet, boys don't need closet space, right? Immediately following dinner, both my daughter and I had miserable stomach aches. We had eaten this meal probably hundreds of times and never felt like this. It turns out that the ever so seemingly healthy buttermilk that my husband had purchased contained corn starch...in buttermilk?! A year later, with a glucoamylase deficiency for our daughter under our belt, it all makes sense.
In light of the fact that my child lacks the enzyme to properly digest starches, it pains me to know that we spent most of the year "gluten free" which is code for starch, starch and more starch. Now despite the fact that most gluten free prepared foods and recipes you make yourself are filled with a variety of starches, she did improve immensely by eliminating wheat, as did I. However, there were still symptoms that were not fully resolved which caused much second guessing and questioning over if we were doing the right thing. By fall, we were getting gluten 2-3 times a week, still minor, but her health began to plummet and my pain returned.
One year later, I have a new level of confidence and am working to change our vocabulary. We are not on a "diet." This is a lifestyle and we will remain wheat free as a family. Why? Well, 3 our of 5 of us seem to have issues with starch. While the other two of us will not be undergoing invasive testing to be certain, it is likely that we have the deficiency, though maybe not as severe. And secondly, 5 out of 5 of us feel better, have more energy and don't need to snack all of the time when we don't eat wheat.
In my frenzy of trying to figure out what eating starch free looks like, I came across a book that has cleared up so many of my lingering questions from the previous year of wheat elimination. If I could stand on my head and sing in order to convince everyone to read this book, I would!! Actually, I recommend the audio version. I am not sure my ADD self would have made it through some of the more technical parts. The book is called Wheat Belly and is written by a cardiologist, William Davis, MD. He discusses how wheat today has been hybridized so intensely, that it genetically looks nothing like the wheat that our parents or grandparents were eating prior to the 1970s. The research he ties together gave me all of the courage I needed to walk by the bakery at the grocery store and scoff. We read his book after we had been gluten free for nearly a year and 100% grain free for 6 weeks. Much of what he discusses in the book is exactly what we had personally witnessed in our family!
Check out Dr. Davis' blog and get a glimpse at what he has to say in the book by listening to this podcast. Thanks to Dr. Davis, it looks like my son will be getting his closet back. Prior to reading his book, I hoped that we might be able to tolerate soaked or fermented wheat. However, now that I fully understand why our wheat elimination a year ago brought so much success so quickly, the future of freshly baked bread is looking grim.