Austin Gluten-Free Story: Part 5
Welcome Rachelle King, of Blinded by The Bite ,and one of the brilliant minds behind The Lunch Deal. I hope you all are enjoying this series called Austin gluten-free story. We have one more blogger to go, after Rachelle!
Having worked as a Project Engineer/Coordinator & Assistant Project Manager in the commercial and high-end residential construction field for 15+ years, I was constantly moving around the US, which created a lifestyle of dining out for most meals. I grew up in a traditional German, Italian, Greek family, where food was always the focus of our daily lives. We did everything as a family around food. This is where my passion for all things food came from and where I learned to cook from my mom and grandmother.
My Journey to a Gluten-Free Lifestyle
I had grown up playing sports all of my life, was always very active and physically fit. After college, I participated in a woman’s soccer league and worked out on a regular basis and was always able to eat whatever I wanted. I didn’t have any issues early on, which would have indicated I had an intolerance to wheat or gluten. Don’t get me wrong, if I had too much Alfredo sauce, it would give me a run for my money; but my parents raised me on wheat pasta, wheat and whole grain breads. There wasn’t a meal where some form of bread or pasta wasn’t served – Please we are a family of Germans, Italians and Greeks, you just don’t do that!
In February 2005, I had relocated to Santa Monica, CA to work for a small boutique Design-Build High End Residential Contractor with the hopes of settling down in one area, as I had been moving around the country for the last 10 years and wanted to get my life on a regular routine on all fronts. In May 2005 through January 2008, while working for the firm in Santa Monica, I was hit eight times in my car (got to love Los Angeles traffic-NOT). Major medical issues ensued from the multiple car accidents; ranging from a back surgery, epidural shots every 6-8 weeks in my spine for 3 years, major weight gain, and also a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. I felt like my body was failing me and it was a very difficult five years, as having been in excellent health all of my life prior to the accidents.
I worked with Dr. Stuart L Silverman, MD, a Rheumatologist and Internal Medicine Specialist, who was one of the three doctors that wrote the medical protocol for Fibromyalgia. Dr. SIlverman enrolled me in the physical therapy program at Cedar Sinai Hospital in Beverly Hills that specialized in treating such patients. I completed the program, armed with how to manage my Fibromyalgia.
I decided to take a career opportunity in San Francisco, where I would not have to drive any longer. I thought for my health and mental sanity it was the best choice. Plus, San Francisco is a food haven (or should I say heaven), that I was more than pleased to be going too. The job I took was on a $1.7 billion dollar hospital that required a 70+ house work week, and thus I was eating all of my meals out.
I noticed that I was having issues all of a sudden with almost anything I was eating, be it Vietnamese, Italian, Sushi, French, to your run of the mill burritos and burgers. I was getting increasingly sick and had pretty much lost all strength in my upper body. I just figured it was my Fibromyalgia rearing its ugly head (with Fibromyalgia you have to learn to pace yourself- Hard, wait no almost impossible for an A-type personality). I went into see the new Rheumatologist, Dr. Nancy Carteron, whom I had established myself with in San Francisco. I explained to her I couldn’t lift a glass of milk, was getting sick from almost everything I was eating and generally was not feeling well. She knew my health history and decided to run some blood work, but said to me she was sure it was Celiac Disease. She also advised that when you have one autoimmune disease, you will typically have another two; as they typically come in threes. Low and behold she was right and Dr. Carteron armed me with the knowledge I needed to start living a gluten-free lifestyle.
A few weeks later I relocated here to Austin, Texas to take some time off from working and to get my health in better shape. With Whole Foods being located here in Austin, I knew this would be a good place to start my shopping research. Their staff is knowledgeable and they have a great link on their website which provides a list of gluten-free items. I decided I was not going to freak out about having to make the adjustments in my eating, it was about becoming healthy again. I also researched the internet for products and found the transition relatively easy.
While I still struggle today, as in not leaving enough time to prepare foods for myself at home and/or if I have a moment of weakness while dining out (yes, there was one during the recent Cupcake Smackdown 2010). I keep Kind Bar Snacks in my purse and a few at my desk for those moments of when I am jones-ing for something sweet. I also try and plan out my meals during the week and I do keep a food journal. It is extra work, but it also really helps if your exposed to cross-contamination when dining out. Most importantly, you have to remember when you go off a gluten-free diet when you have Celiac, it can have long-term effects and cause permanent damage. Take the time to make the right choices and know that it is ultimately your health on the line.
- Kind Snack Bars
- Pamela’s Products
- Deboles Gluten-Free Pasta
- Schar Gluten-Free Products
- The Gluten-Free Mall
Rachelle’s Favorite Gluten-Free Food Bloggers:
- ATX Gluten-Free (Jessica Meyer)
- Gluten Girl in Austin (Sarah Graham)
- A Gluten-Free Day
- Wheat Free and Meat Free
Thanks again Rachelle for stopping by ATX Gluten-Free to share your story. Stay tuned for the last blogger in this series tomorrow!