“Let them eat toast,” I imagine my mother saying to her twin toddlers who often requested the warm, crispy bread with a generous coating of butter (and possibly a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar). I like to think my childhood toast consumption was a combination of my fascination with The Brave Little Toaster and a genuine love of bread. I never stopped eating toast, and any and all forms of wheat-based carbohydrates.
That is until a few months ago, when my allergist discovered that I have a slight wheat allergy. I was floored. How was I going to consume copious amounts of bread and cupcakes and spaghetti carbonara? It was quite a sad realization that my diet would be drastically changing. I was skeptical, though. How could taking wheat out of my diet help me? After all, I had been eating bread since I was a toddler.
Since going wheat-free, I have seen positive changes. I have lost about 10 pounds, felt more energized than I have in years, and experienced mostly clear skin for the first time since I was 15. So, it’s been worth it. I have also suffered from IBS for many years, and my symptoms have almost fully subsided.
I’m not going to lie–it’s hard to not eat wheat products. Wheat is part of our culture and history. Wheat products make up the ingredients to birthday cakes and cookies and all of those special treats that define holidays and special occasions. I know for myself, that many desserts and foods that have wheat in them–my grandmother’s yeast rolls and pecan tarts, and the homemade birthday cakes she made for me–are nostalgic, and knowing that I’m not going to consume those anymore is a strange grief. In the end though, it’s just food, and comes down to doing what is best for your body and being thoughtful about your own health.
My allergy is not anaphylactic, and I’m not allergic to gluten, so I have more options and I don’t have to worry about cross-contamination. It’s actually been fun to explore new wheat-free options. I’ve found several baked goods, like Udis bread products (yay toast!) and Trader Joe’s gluten-free blueberry muffins, that are delicious. Udis also makes a pretty tasty gluten-free pizza.
Also, when it comes to restaurants, there are almost always gluten-free and wheat-free options. Go for the grilled meats and vegetable sides, but avoid many sauces, because sauces tend to have thickeners like flour. If you are unsure, ask your waiter. If you are wheat-free or a non-celiac gluten-free, don’t limit yourself to the gluten-free menu. It tends to exclude anything that could possibly have touched a wheat or gluten-containing product. Many items that are not gluten-free are actually wheat-free, like farro, barley, oats, and spelt (which is debated), so be open to the regular menu if you are wheat-free.
Being wheat free is a challenge, but it is completely possible and beneficial. If you find out you need to avoid wheat, don’t fret–just be ready to think outside of the box to do what is best for your body, and eat all of the [wheat-free] toast that you want to.