Monday, March 9, 2015

Going Gluten Free to Fight Allergies

People often suggest that I abstain from wheat and gluten to improve my asthma, eczema, and allergies.  I hear this from talking to people in-person and on social media.  And you know what?  Why the heck not?  I've got nothing to lose, and it's fun to experiment and see what works for allergies.  Starting yesterday, this week I'm taking the plunge.  This week I will be gluten free!

Some motivating factors involved with my decision: high pollen counts, terrible eczema, and bad asthma.  I am super allergic to alder pollen and the current warm weather has got the alder pollen count super high.  And that is making me super miserable.  Wednesday through Friday, the skin on my hands broke out in horrible looking eczema.  I'm using Flovent and Flonase like crazy.  I'm using my rescue inhaler more often than I should.  My eyes and face itch.   My head's foggy, and my sinuses feel like sore rocks behind my cheeks.   I just took half a Bendryl.  It's not even 4 in the afternoon.  Benadryl stopped making me drowsy years ago.  Mostly because I've been eating it like Tic-Tacs since I was 3 years old.  The allergy life.  Damn pollen.  

This weekend, I am pleased to report that despite my horrible allergies, I went hiking through an alder forest!  I hiked 2.7 miles up 1350 feet to check out beautiful Lake 22.  All last week I have been guzzling probiotics and eating lots of healthy fruits and veggies.  I have been using my steroid inhalers religiously every day.  And at the top of the trail, looking out over the pretty lake, with ice floating in it, I ate half a bagel.  A wheat bagel.  Later I felt sick and got the runs.  And that got me thinking, maybe I should take a break from wheat/gluten for a little while.  

I believe it is healthy to switch up your diet.  I was eating wheat/gluten several times a day, and I was wondering if this could be adversely impacting my allergies.  Going gluten free feels very stylish and fashionable.  I feel very trendy and pleased with myself.  I even feel slightly less bloated.  Last night to prepare for my gluten free week, I bought a brown rice bread loaf at Trader Joe's.  

I'm not going totally overboard.  I'm still planning to eat soy sauce and crackers that have been made in a facility that also makes wheat.  But I'm cutting out wheat bread, pasta, and baked goods.  I will allow small amounts of wheat.

Yesterday's day one gluten free menu:  Breakfast: scrambled eggs with cheese.  Snack:  2 mandarin oranges.  Dinner: 1 medium size bowl of Pho.  I was very tired last night and went to sleep at 9:30 PM.  I never do that but my allergies were bad, so I hit the hay early like an elderly person.  

I woke up at 6:30 AM today, and did my meditation practice.  I noticed my eczema was bad on my neck and forehead.  It hurt.  It was burning.  I put topical steroid cream on the afflicted parts of my skin.  

Day two's gluten free menu:  Breakfast: 1.5 peices of rice bread with butter, 2 oz cashews, and 1 apple.  The rice bread has the consistency of a sponge.  It's like eating a sponge.  With butter.  I microwaved it for 30 seconds and the consistency is slightly improved.  And it's got a rice flavor.  I'm not sure I like it, but it's definitely gluten free! 

 Lunch:  leftover beef jerkey and potato chips from the hike and a cup of tomato soup.    

Around 3 PM I decide I need a snack.  I go to Trader Joe's and buy some mandarin oranges, and then I buy some asparagus to eat later.  I also buy a box of Trader Joe's "Soft-Baked Snickerdoodles -Peanut, Tree-Nut, and Wheat free."  I eat a couple of cookies.  They were delicious.  Light.  Fluffy.  So good.  I eat another cookie.  I am in heaven.  There is a party in my mouth.  I end up eating the entire box.  Hmmm.  Not my best choice of the day.  At least there were only 12 cookies in the box.  I eat a carrot and feel somewhat healthier.  

Well, so far so good.  Will I make it an entire week?  Will I send my allergies into remission?  Will I experience improvement in my eczema?  Will I drive my loved ones insane with my new self-imposed dietary restrictions?  Will I be even more ridiculously inconvenienced than I currently am? Okay, obviously the answers to the last two questions are yes.  I hope this experience will increase my compassion for people with wheat/gluten allergies.  I'll be blogging with an update in a few days.  Stay tuned!

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