Hi, my name is Carol and I am a holistic nutritionist in NYC. This is me in my kitchen in my apartment in Manhattan.
I became gluten free over 5 years ago. Before I realized I needed to give up gluten, I was sick for almost two years. I went to many doctors and no one could figure out what was wrong with me. This was before the gluten-free craze hit. I eventually realized on my own that I needed to give up gluten.
It was definitely something in the back of my mind for a long time, being in the field I’m in, I kind of had a good idea that gluten wasn’t good for me, but it was a really difficult thing to admit – the fact that gluten could be making me sick. To give up bread, pasta, cookies. This felt like a nightmare. I feared going out on dates, ordering in restaurants. I just didn’t know how I was going to do it. And so I pretended, for a long time, that it wasn’t gluten that was making me sick.
I gave it up for a day or two, here and there, and didn’t feel any different, or better, and so I convinced myself that it was something else that was making me ill.
It was my aunt’s celiac diagnosis that finally propelled me into giving it up once and for all. I remember being on the phone with her, and hearing the story of what happened and how she found out (severe stomach pain, a hospital visit), and since celiac runs in families, it was like lightning struck me. I just knew, at that moment, that I did have to finally give it up.
And so I did it. After that phone call. Two and a half weeks later I was healed. It was truly astounding to me. I went to a specialist who wanted to biopsy my intestine. I refused. But don’t you want to eat gluten again? He exclaimed. Of course I did! But I didn’t need his biopsy to tell me that it was gluten that was making me sick. For the record, my blood test came back negative for celiac. But when I ate gluten I was ill. And when I didn’t eat it I was healthy. So no, I didn’t need a doctor’s test to tell me whether I could eat gluten or not. I already knew.
It may sound like a miracle. A little over 2 weeks without gluten healed 2 years of being ill. It truly felt like a miracle. And to this day it still amazes me. I almost can’t believe something so simple as gluten made me so ill for such a long time.Once I realized it was gluten that had been making me sick, I didn’t eat it again for two years. I was strict about it; careful too, and super cautious in restaurants. To be honest, I was afraid to try it again.
And then one day, I just ate it. And I was fine. I wish I could remember the time, or circumstance. But I don’t. I imagine I was in a restaurant and took a bite of something that I knew had some breading or flour. But one bite didn’t make me sick.
When I met my husband I was into about a year and a half of being strictly gluten free. On our third date he offered to cook me dinner. He texted and asked if couscous was ok. I told him no, but that I could eat quinoa instead. This didn’t phase him at all. He didn’t ask me a million questions, he didn’t say anything about it. He just made me the quinoa (which he had never made before).
Being gluten free at this time was a little out there. It wasn’t as mainstream as it is now. So it wasn’t always easy for me. Going out to restaurants, explaining to waiters what gluten was and what I couldn’t eat. Doing it on dates or with friends, or on double dates(!) could be a nightmare. Often it felt like a scene. The waiter would have to go into the kitchen, come back and tell me what I could or couldn’t order. I felt like people were staring at me, judging me, and I was often asked a million questions. Or worse, people said, that sucks, as they bit into a nice fresh piece of homemade bread (NYC restaurants have amazing bread). It was awful. When people wanted to order things to share for the table, it became an embarrassing nightmare for me. Pizza parties at friends houses, birthday cakes, forget it. I so often felt like the odd-man-out, as they say.
So back to my husband. Who made me the quinoa, didn’t ask any questions, didn’t blink an eye. Didn’t really care. Just one of the plethora of reasons why it was so easy, and remains easy, to love him.
Continue the good habit
I continue to be gluten free, but not as strict as I was for those first two years when not a speck of gluten dust crossed my lips. I came to learn what I can and cannot eat. For example I can’t drink beer. But I have found a fantastic brand of gluten free beer that I love. I can have bread at a restaurant, a piece or two, but then I won’t eat bread again for weeks, maybe months. There is a farmers market near me and there is a wonderful stand that has homemade bread. They use heirloom wheat, which they grind fresh, and then they ferment the bread. This, wonderfully(!) doesn’t bother me. They tell me that they have many celiac customers.
When I go out to eat I no longer make waiters crazy. First, because it seems that every other person here in NYC is gluten free, and so pretty much anything you order can be made without gluten. Waiters now understand what you mean when you ask if something is gluten free. But second, I know what, and how, to order. I know what to look for, and I know what to ask. Instead of saying, does this have gluten?, I may inquire instead, does this have any flour or breadcrumbs?
My husband and I recently took a trip to France. It was wonderful! But not entirely easy for us to eat or order. My husband is also mostly gluten free. He’s like me and can’t drink beer. He can only handle bread sometimes and in small amounts. Suffice it to say, when we got home, we were both happy to be back to my gluten free cooking.
No Gluten in Cooking
At home, I never cook with gluten. I make gluten free dinner for my husband and I every night. Cooking dinner is an anomaly here in NYC. Most of our friends order delivery. Every night. I am not kidding! People who live in NYC order delivery. Every night. There, I said it again. I know, it’s unbelievable!
I cook mostly vegetables for dinner. We also like tofu, tempeh, beans, brown rice, quinoa, millet. I make things interesting. Tacos, asian stir-fries, spicy-mexican. My husband Dave makes the best avocado nori rolls with brown rice. I taught him how, and he’s better than me now. Dave loves my macro plate (brown rice, beans, steamed greens, another steamed vegetable, seaweed, and a super rich tahini dressing). How I met a man who loves a macro plate is beyond me. I can only say I’m blessed.
I hope my recipes help you too to live a healthier and happier life. Going gluten free has certainly changed my life for the better! If you would like to learn even more about me, you can visit the website for my holistic counseling services where I help people to eat well and feel better GetHealthyWithCarol (and if you want to email me, all of my info is on this site).
And yes, I take all my new clients off gluten! They can go back on it later if they want, but most don’t 🙂
Lastly, some gratuitous family dog photos. I just can’t help myself!