Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Confession

I am a little embarrassed to admit this but...

I have been going wheat free for the past week.

That was a little anti-climactic, right? But I feel a little silly following what has become a trendy diet, especially since one of my best friends and my niece have celiac disease and therefore go gluten-free without the luxury of going back on the wheat when the experiment is over.

Despite my aversion to any diet that requires eliminating a food group, I decided to give this a shot - not for my waistline, for my knees. A friend in my book group eliminated wheat and sugar as part of a "cleanse" as she called it. She found that she felt so much better generally. Specifically, she found that her tennis elbow was greatly improved. It turns out that some people are particularly sensitive to the inflammatory effects of eating wheat products which can exacerbate joint pain. (No, there is no hard research on this, just lots of anecdotal evidence proliferating the webosphere.) Obviously, my friend's relief of her elbow pain could also be correlated to the more traditional treatments she had been using, but the post-gluten improvement was significant nonetheless.

Having suffered from knee pain with no obvious structural cause and no significant improvement after lots of physical therapy and cortisone injections, I decided to give it a try. I am so desperate that giving up wheat seems like a small trade off when I consider the possibility that I could both go for a run and walk down the stairs the next day.

 I actually find that I don't miss wheat all that much yet. The biggest difference is that eliminating wheat also eliminates a ton of the snack foods my kids regularly eat. No more nibbles on animal crackers, teddy grahams, Cherrios which is all to the good. Since the vast majority of processed food products contain wheat, a gluten free diet tends to lead you back to more wholesome foods.

Last night I cooked Trader Joe's brown rice fusilli pasta and mixed it with sauteed onion, red pepper, asparagus, baby spinach, chunks of fresh mozzarella and lots of olive oil. Did the noodles taste like "normal" pasta? No. But they were pretty much indistinguishable from wheat noodles. It was a delicious dinner that didn't leave me feeling deprived at all.

(Dave is along for the ride, though he has a pretty big loophole in the name of beer consumption.)

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