When Dr. Botts asked me to go gluten free and I argued (who wouldn't!), he said that we could confirm the recommendation with a special test. And because I really wanted to be SURE and not jut guess that I needed to eat gluten free, I asked him to go ahead and order the test.

Of course, while we were waiting for the test results, I also noticed that I was feeling better and losing weight. Naturally those were nice side-effects of being gluten free and eating healthy.

So I was dismayed to get the results of the newest test. Not only did it confirm that I was "allergic" (aka sensitive) to gluten - but it also said I could not have

  • milk or milk products (milk, butter, cheese, yogurt)
  • milk chocolate (although I could have dark chocolate)
  • yeast

Good grief! I have loved milk all my life! I've never worried about weak bones because I drank so much milk. And here he was telling me I could never have milk again!

And chocolate! What woman do you know who would willingly give up chocolate! This was unbearable.

And finally yeast. Of course I had given up bread with the gluten, but now I had to face yeast. And guess what - one of my favorite comfort foods since starting the wellness program contains yeast! Yep - turns out you cannot make a pretzel without yeast. So now my pretzels were out, too.

For the third time (first with detox, then with gluten free), I had to take the time to re-read every label of every item I picked up at the grocery store. Not only was I looking for yeast, but for milk solids, whey, milk proteins, and a host of other names they give milk in disguise!

Beware - many of the gluten free products contain milk or yeast. So if you have to add an allergy to your list of foods to avoid, you must re-read everything. Never assume that it's not there. Even on bulk food items (the ones in the bins that you scoop out), you have to read every label - twice! In fact, I've gotten into the habit of taking a picture of the label of everything I scoop, then have Bob read it when I get it home. And yes, he's found some hidden items that I "conveniently" missed in the excitement of a potentially yummy item. So double-check as needed.

About grief: I was able to handle the gluten free diagnosis fairly calmly. But dairy and yeast really hit hard. I could see my life flash before my eyes - nothing fixed with butter, no butter on potatoes or vegetables, no pastries with butter. I couldn't imagine eating at a truly first class restaurant that didn't use butter. And cheese - how can you cook without cheese? You need it in lasagne, on top of multiple dishes, grated on tacos.  I broke down in tears, right there in the office.

In fact, I continued to cry for several days as I grieved for what I was giving up. The fact that I was making my body healthier and extending my life didn't matter. After all, if life didn't include butter and cheese, was it worth living? Would I be happier just eating it and enjoying every day as long as I lived?

Eventually, I worked through it. It took about a week. Even then, I sometimes catch myself resenting the fact that my body doesn't like what I like.

However, over time I've also found that I rarely miss milk, butter, or cheese. I'm pleasantly surprised. Yes, it would be easier to cook following the recipes as written, but I've found several substitutes.

Just know that if you are asked to give up some foods, it's okay to grieve. It may take time to come to terms with it. But it's worth it in the long run. Be patient with yourself - you're going to be fine!



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