[*The tl;dr version: some doctors believe your body could be mistaking thyroid tissue for gluten - since they're structurally similar - and so ends up attacking both. Give up gluten, and the attacks could stop, allowing your thyroid to heal.]
And since I've heard it can also help with panic - and I'm lactose-intolerant anyway - I decided to give up dairy, too. In for a penny, right?
Still, considering that every meal I eat usually has both dairy *and* gluten in it, this was a Big Deal.
And considering that I am not only terrible at cooking, but also hate doing it, this was a Really Really Big Deal.
So it's been almost a full week now, and I gotta say: This isn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be, and I am so relieved.
I've always equated going gluten-free with going low-carb, for some reason, or at least going awful- carb, with chemical-tasting fake breads and pastas and whatnot - and forget about all the baked-goods and desserts I love. So, the first thing John and I did - and yes, you WILL laugh at me over this - was find a good gluten-free chocolate chip cookie. Because PRIORITIES.
It only took 4 tries with 4 different brands to find an amazing, so-good-I'd-eat-'em-anyway, GF chocolate chip cookie. As soon as I took the first bite, I knew I could do this.
These are the cookies, by the way:
They sell them at Target.
(But I'm still open to recommendations for other brands.)
Next I had to find a proper milk substitute, since it's been the only thing I drink besides water for over 6 years. I already knew I liked sweetened Almond Milk well enough, so once I cut it half-and-half with water it was close enough to pass for my usual 2% milk. SUCCESS.
Next up, sandwich bread. I was dreading this, because the GF bread we've tried before was like crumbly cardboard: completely inedible. I lucked out when John brought home a loaf of All But Gluten, because once toasted, it tastes almost exactly like the white wheat we usually eat.
In fact, I've found this whole thing is a lot less daunting if I just start with what I already eat, and then find substitutions to make it work. I'm not quite as strict with the dairy as I am with gluten, though, so I'm ok with small amounts of whey or even cream in some items.
Some things are already gluten-free, of course, like our favorite burrito bowls over at Chipotle. Leave off the sour cream and cheese, and it's dairy-free, too. (I sub'd with some dairy-free sour cream, which tastes almost exactly the same as the real stuff, and some soy-based "cheddar cheese," which... does not. Ha! It's not too bad, though.)
Everyone keeps saying this is an amazing time to go gluten-free, and I gotta say, they're right. I was like a kid in a candy store once I found the GF aisle at Publix, eying all the stuff I can still eat, and I even found a local vegan bakery that has almost half its menu GF. Including cupcakes. Woot!
Restaurants have been surprisingly accommodating so far, and it's pretty easy to find GF menus on most websites. Which reminds me, quick side note:
This week we've been out at Universal a lot with visiting family, and I have to give major props to the staff at the Three Broomsticks, who I swear turned into culinary superheroes the second we uttered the words "gluten-free." I'd already done my homework online as to what I could eat, but John had a quick question about the ribs. Within seconds, the head chef himself was in front of us, smiling and offering to cook the ribs sans sauce (which has gluten in it) just for us. Then, the server plating our food insisted on replacing our order when she realized she hadn't put on fresh gloves before handling my GF plate.
I was so touched by how conscientious they all were, and more than that, how they didn't make a fuss or act like we were putting them out. I've been afraid of restaurant staff rolling their eyes or getting snippy with me, but so far, knock on wood, everyone's been great.
That said, it's a lot easier to eat gluten and dairy-free at home - or at least it's easier to eat well. (Because who wants a house salad for every meal?) So far John's made us this Rainbow Thai salad:
Which was awesome, though ours wasn't nearly as photogenic:
Plus we replaced the mango with mandarin oranges. Mmm.
We disagreed on the dressing, since John wanted more vinegar and I wanted more peanut butter, so in the end we split the recipe and doctored our own versions.
We've been eating the crackers for months now, so it was a pleasant surprise when I realized there's a big ol' "GLUTEN FREE" stamp on the bag. (Seriously, you must try them. Crunchy nutty goodness you'll be eating like potato chips!)
It's too soon to say if going gluten and dairy-free is helping my panic or thyroid issues, but I can at least tell you my stomach feels less awful. Since I usually have dairy every day, I'm used to being in almost constant GI distress - even when I remember the Lactaid. (This is how much I love milk, you guys.) Now my stomach is quieter, without its usual symphony of gastrointestinal whale song, and all the other bloaty-and-crampy stuff that goes with it.
Fingers crossed this is just the beginning, and in another few months I'll be one of those annoyingly perky GF converts, raving about all my renewed energy and new-found health benefits. ;)