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Confessions of an Accidental Glutadoodle

I thought I would try something new on my blog for the next several weeks while our family is on an elimination diet (hence my list of available ingredients has dwindled significantly and I’m feeling a bit like a stunned bird at the moment) and have my husband, Mike, become a regular contributor.

As I have shared before, we are a gluten-free family.  Three of us for known medical reasons and my husband made a personal choice to follow suit.  Mike will be sharing his perspective on being the husband and father of a gluten-free family, his encounters with others when given the chance to discuss the lifestyle, as well as some other odds and ends (he’s very witty and long-winded, so be sure to have your dictionary handy!).

My greatest hope is that Mike’s posts will spark a different type of conversation on this blog.  I know for myself that I can sometimes become so focused on the many complications that can accompany this lifestyle, I forget to consider how hard this must be at times for him as well.

These are his words (isn’t he cute?).

Hugs,

Heidi

Flashback to Heidi’s doctor’s office 5 1/2 years ago:

“Well, Heidi is obviously not absorbing her thyroid hormone replacement medication so I’m going to test her for celiac disease.”

“Celiac disease?  What’s that?”

“It’s a condition where gluten damages the villi of the small intestine, which can hinder the body’s ability to absorb nutrients and medications.”

“Ummm…what is gluten?”

And so began this strange journey almost six years ago.

These are the confessions of an Accidental Glutadoodle, or, “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Embrace the Gluten-Free Lifestyle.”

I love Wikipedia.  In fact, I live on Wikipedia.  I will admit, I did not really appreciate what Wikipedia had to say about celiac, gluten, and all that stuff when I did my first Wiki search on the subject.  What Wikipedia had to say about celiac disease was, essentially, that every single food that you have come to love and depend on for convenience and comfort is toxic to you.  Oh joy!  Let’s have a root canal!!! Yippee!

I’m pretty sure it was about the spring of 2005 when we received this news.  Our (my) life has been a little fuzzy since then (we’ve been through a lot).  But around that time, we discovered that my lovely wife could no longer have gluten.  So we set upon our local health food store and sparse internet retailers to magically conjure a plethora of alternatives at our doorstep.  We learned all about rice flour, teff, arrowroot, guar gum, xanthan gum, almond flour, etc. etc. etc.  Hey, let’s make some onion rings!!!  Scratch that…let’s make a deep fried onion ball with burnt flakes of something at the bottom of the deep fryer.

Okay….well, then let’s make some fried chicken!!  No…let’s make some burnt chicken with five flakes of toasted black rice flour attached to it and a big greasy ball of egg-drenched crusties at the bottom!!  Wait…that bag of rice flour costs HOW MUCH!!!

So then we will just focus on bread…if we can find a good bread (or bread recipe) then we will be okay.  Ummm…that bread costs how much?  $8.00?  For 12 slices?  It must be good.

Yeah…not.

During this transition phase, I adopted a simple rule.  I called it the Dog Rule.  What it meant is that if the dogs wouldn’t eat the latest gluten-free concoction, then I wouldn’t eat it either.  And yes, the dogs got VERY skinny during this period.  The gluten free “convenience” foods back then were not very appetizing to say the least.  And we had to get a second mortgage in order to afford the myriad substitute flours that were available for cooking and baking.  Not to mention the freezer to store the bulk orders.  Or the new kitchen gadgets and utensils.  Or the therapy sessions from going slowly insane.

At some point during this process, I basically put my foot down and refused to cooperate.  Oh sure, I cooperated on the outside, dutifully agreeing to every new product regardless (almost) of cost.  But I decided that the lifestyle was just too inconvenient and expensive for our family as a whole to adopt and that this would basically be Heidi’s cross to bear alone.  I was NOT giving up McDonalds!!

Real supportive of me, huh?  I don’t think my reaction to the whole process was out of the ordinary (I think it’s a “stages of grief” thing), but it sure wasn’t the smoothest move in the world.  I may as well have thrown myself on the floor and threatened to hold my breath until I turned blue.

To be fair, Heidi really didn’t want our kids to be “deprived” of all of the things that we had grown up with either.  Basically this means that we wanted them to be able to have Happy Meals, go get pizza with the baseball team, and be able to eat in the cafeteria with their friends.  We wanted to be sure that they “fit in” and didn’t feel isolated because they couldn’t eat the most un-nutritious food ever devised in the history of mankind.  We were able to go with that attitude for awhile, and then…

…Sam’s blood work pretty much shot that idea dead.

That was fall of 2008, and for those of you who weren’t following the news very much back then, that’s about the time that the entire global financial system was having a nuclear meltdown (I might opine on that at some point, but not right now…suffice it to say I make my living in the markets).  This was not exactly the ideal time for me to be thrown this particular curve-ball, because I was essentially ducking them every day (late to bed, up at 4 a.m. to see what else had happened while I was asleep…not a good time).  It was at this time that something started to slowly “click” in my brain and I announced that now that our son was diagnosed, we would all go gluten-free.  Again, a little late to the game on that call, but men are not known for being particularly sensitive on these issues; in fact, we can be downright oblivious and unaware of the relationship damage we cause because of that (sorry, honey…I’m still growing too).

Of course my main focus was on the cost of re-fitting our kitchen with new stuff so that we could be sure our house was completely gluten free.  This was not a great time to tell me that a massive amount of money was headed out the window.  I think that mentally I just curled up into a porcupine ball and started playing defense.  You just can’t appreciate the enormity of converting an entire home to the gluten-free life until you try it.  And it’s not so much what happens within your four walls, it’s trying to adapt to the outside world.

I’ll freely admit that I began to develop an “us versus them” attitude.  It worked for a while but I started to become extremely cynical (not good).  I had halted my own grieving process dead in its tracks.  I figured as long as I was writing checks to make navigation possible, then I was good (hey, that’s what good husbands and fathers do, right?).  Everywhere you turn, you begin to realize that the world is really just not built for your family; and what’s worst, the world really doesn’t seem to care.  Oh sure, no one wants to freely admit that they don’t want to accommodate your kids, I mean, that would seem a little shallow, wouldn’t it?  See what I mean about the cynicism?  I think it’s probably unavoidable.

In case you didn’t know, men and women process emotions in very different ways (aren’t I insightful?).  Our society has encouraged men to develop a stiff upper lip in the face of adversity and rewards stoicism and perseverance.  These qualities can be beneficial at times, but at other times they can really cause you to miss some pretty clear signs that all is not well.  I think men just naturally reflex into bulldozer mode, barreling along down the road of life trying to flatten everything in their path.  Flexibility is just not in our vocabulary (does any of this sound familiar, ladies?).

All you men out there, listen up: the bulldozer mentality is great when you are trying to get something done at work or capture a hill from the enemy, but it’s not the best way to confront the emotional issues that both you and your spouse will experience during the gluten-free transition.  Everyone will have different reactions to the whole thing, and as you come across seemingly impossible situations in the outside world (please note subconscious reference to feeling imprisoned), it will be necessary for both of you to continue to communicate in as open a way as possible.  Easier said than done, especially when one of you would rather be a porcupined up bulldozer.

If you’re not careful, the “us versus them” mentality will morph itself into “me versus everyone else” and this includes your spouse.  I’m not sure if this part of the process is avoidable or not…all I can say is just be aware that it may happen.  You start to lose your capacity for true joy because you feel run down and frustrated ALL THE TIME.  You begin to view everything as a massive hassle and expense, you begin to feel sorry for yourself and wallow in self-pity, and of course your pride forces you to become self-righteous.  You are constantly amped up fighting EVERYTHING because that’s just what you do, even though you really don’t know why and subconsciously know that you can’t win anyway.  Sisyphus becomes your mascot.

Needless to say, I struggled.  I still do.  But a funny thing happened when I decided to jettison the whole John Wayne outlook and speak to my inner self {insert sitar music and lovely bunny images here}.  I started (I emphasize STARTED, because I ain’t there yet) to slowly understand what my wife had gone through and what she was still dealing with.  And I think slowly but surely she is starting to believe that I am starting to believe that she can believe in me to be believably understanding (you’ll have to read that one a few times, but I just had to, sorry).

We started really digging into the whole “food” system, not just gluten-free.  We started to ask questions together and look for answers.  I would send her links from the office or  tell her about someone I encountered who asked for her blog address.  I began to learn how to be supportive when she felt exhausted, or how to say just the right thing when she was feeling blue.  Does that happen all the time?  Of course not.  Does the gluten-free lifestyle (including this blog) still place unique strains on our relationship?  Of course it does.  When you stop fighting and realize that you not only have to deal with all of the “normal” marriage/parenthood issues but also have an entirely different and unconventional set of obstacles to overcome, you can get down to the serious business of moving on with your life and begin to dream of something new.  Because that’s the real kicker as you go through this process (at least I have found): you can become so overwhelmed that you stop dreaming.  Your prior frame of reference is entirely ill-suited to your new reality, and if you don’t start adjusting your frame of reference your dreams are going to die.  If that happens, you can forget about joy, brother, because the rest of it just turns into one big chore (and your wife feels that way too, trust me).

And here is the thing that you just have to get through your thick bulldozer skull: this isn’t going to go away.  This is your condition, amigo, so stop fighting it and just let the damn boulder roll down the hill.  You have to understand that your ego is not going to like the fact that you can’t just fix this problem by making more money or buying her more stuff to deal with “her” issue.  It’s isolating enough for her; do yourself a favor and start being part of the solution.  You’ll feel better, healthier, less stressed, and you might even notice that your beautiful bride isn’t stressed out all of the time wondering if her food has been contaminated by yours.

In the weeks to come I’ll be sharing more about my journey through this crazy little mixed-up gluten free world.  At some point I will probably share a rather sobering post about being the father of gluten-free sons (because there is a lot of stuff you just don’t think about until someone hurls it at you).  You won’t get many food posts from me unless of course they are catastrophic “man-in-kitchen” failures for comic relief.  But I’ll be sharing my thoughts about food and agribusiness, navigating the world, funny/strange encounters with others, and other stuff like that.  And I try to maintain a sense of humor, but occasionally I will rant as well (oh yeah, I’m good at that).

GF Dad signing off for now…be well!

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Comments

  1. Sharon says:

    Wow this was so interesting for me. I was diagnosed a year ago and my husband is still in the "it's her problem I'm not giving up my way of life" phase. He refuses to allow a gluten free house because he wants the kids to grow up "normal". So right now it's me against them. It helped to read how he must be feeling about all of this from a male point of view. When you read a lot of these blogs about families who go gf they always lead you to believe that it was a simple transistion and it always makes me wonder if I have the only husband in the world who is having trouble with it. Thank you for your honesty. It gives me hope that he may someday come around. Until then I'll keep dodging the gluten messes the kids leave behind and hope my husband doesn't have any crumbs on his face when he kisses me.

    • GF Dad says:

      Sharon,

      It's definitely a marathon, not a sprint, getting the whole family to come around. I wonder, have your kids been tested yet? I think that would be a good first step for your husband to take given the clear hereditary link. The other compromise that you might try would be to see if everyone could agree to be gluten free at home (with the occasional pizza delivery) but then also be free to eat as they like when they are away from the house.

      Hang in there and good luck!

  2. Flo Makanai says:

    Heidi & Mike, I'm crying as I read that first post from Mike because it expresses so much of what we're going through since March 2010, when my husband and my 3 girls were diagnosed gluten, dairy, soy, egg, and much more, IgG intolerant…

    Having to stay on that path is SO hard sometimes, and the world around us so much does NOT want to take into consideration that some of us NEED to eat differently to be healthy…

    If my husband had not agreed to follow that path and to believe, deep inside him, that food may be THE medicine that cures, maybe I would not have found the energy to fight against "normality"…

    Oh how I wish there could be, near my house in France, some sort of associations where all the people like you and us could get support, sometimes…

    Thankfully, there is the Internet and great blogs (i.e. people) like Mike and you.

    THANK YOU, really. And Mike, keep posting, I need to read what you have to say about all that journey, and I'm positive I'm not the only one…

    • GF Dad says:

      Flo,

      Your husband obviously understands his and your childrens' situation. As hard as this lifestyle can be, I think the fact that all of you are doing this together will make it easier to cope with the difficulties that arise.

      This internet community is essential to keep up morale. As you said, we are all so spread out that the isolation can feel oppressive at time. How nice it is to know there are other families, however far away, who are going through the same thing.

      Take care.

  3. jenn says:

    Wow!………awesomely put!!!

    I don't think I need to say more

  4. jenn says:

    I just had to come back to say that we are gluten, dairy, egg, rice, oat, pineapple, mushroom, nut, and sugar FREE. That is my and my two little girlies allergies all piled up into one. I no longer cook four separate meals for dinnertime…

  5. Cindy says:

    Wow, that was amazing to read. Wonderfully honest – and Heidi's right – you're pretty funny too (:. I've always admired Heidi for her honesty and committment to her children and the celiac blog world by sharing her great recipes and information and now I have someone else to admire too. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, GF Dad!

    • GF Dad says:

      Hi Cindy,

      Thanks for your kind words. "Wonderfully honest"…I think that about sums it up. For me, there is really no need to mince words anymore; our lifestyle is really not negotiable, it just is what it is. The first step for me was internalizing that aspect, then the rest just fell into place.

  6. susan says:

    Awesome post…thanks for sharing your outlook on a GF life!

  7. Mike,

    When I see a post this long, I usually cringe and sneak away, but I figured I'd read a paragraph or two before making my exit. Especially with that "grab your dictionary" challenge Heidi threw out in her preamble. I love good words.

    This was a great post! Worth every word. Well written, insightful and sardonically funny (I can be a bit cynical as well). You have a future in blog writing if that financial-guy/boulder-roller thing doesn't work out.

    I could identify with many of your sentiments since we have a similar situation in our family. Long story, of which I'll spare you the details, but I'd like to throw in my two cents worth.

    Heidi's quirky genetic contribution (GF DNA) to your family gene pool is what will give you the opportunity (yes, you're the chosen ones) to shift from the standard American CRAP diet to a much healthier lifestyle. That genetic combo of hers is a gift. I'm also guessing you've deposited some GF genetic material into the familial gene mix as well. You may not realize it yet, but you're a lucky bunch. I'm thinking that DQ2, DQ8 and the other random anti-gluten threads that go into our hereditary cocktails actually marked for something brilliant, sustaining and positive back in the days before wheat came onto the scene. Don't feel bad that this is your destiny (I know it's not easy though), it will serve you well in the long run. None of us should be eating this funky stuff (gluten).

    Look how far you've already come in learning about the food industry, factory farming, nutrition and the low-grade food we Americans eat. You're taking responsibility for what you eat and how it impacts your health (and the health of your family). That's a good thing. There's really nothing more important. This country is a mess when it comes to nutrition. If you focus on whole foods (which are GF by default), you'll spend less money and you'll be far healthier in the long run. It's a transition though and you do have to do some foot stomping, hand wringing and grieving along the way. Or, boulder rolling in your case. And that "buy every flour, grain and kitchen utensil" syndrome is part of the process. Soon you'll realize how little you really need to thrive. It just takes time. And I know it's doubly hard with growing kids.

    You're a smart, willing-to-learn, and very caring man (and yes, Heidi-girl, he's also cute). The food you mention as being toxic to Heidi is also toxic to you, although it may take a different route to ill health. MacDonalds, processed food, Happy (now the cynic in me wants to rant) Meals, deep fried onion rings, school cafeteria food, Oreos, sugary cereals, etc. You shouldn't be eating that stuff, anyway.

    Now, step away from the bulldozer and join a CSA. =)

    Thanks, Mike. What a GREAT read. Looking forward to more from the GF dad.

    Melissa

    P.S. Sorry for the novella (especially after my intro).

    • I loved your novella Melissa, LOL!

      It's funny, educating ourselves on the food industry and all the "can't pronounce" ingredients in prepackaged foods has done more good for our for our emotional adjustment than 3 years of professional therapy, LOL! I am utterly fascinated by what we are learning, especially considering much of it is the exact opposite of what we were taught/led to believe about nutrition while we were growing up. Prior to learning these things, I would have been the mom who read the front of the package of the fruity cereal mentioned in your post and took the use of the word "wholesome" for exactly what it meant (they wouldn't lie would they? ;-) ).

      I loved how you said "we are some of the chosen ones," what a beautiful way to look at it!! Nearly 6 years after my diagnosis, I can no longer identify with the newly diagnosed girl I once was, feeling deprived of the Standard American Diet…we are LUCKY to have found ourselves on this path and I now look forward to waking up each day to my green smoothie and slowly but surely taking my health back. And yes, I have found that we could have done with a lot fewer kitchen gadgets than I now have…all I really need is my Vitamix, LOL!

      xo,
      Heidi

    • GF Dad says:

      Melissa,

      When I see a comment this long, I get all tingly excited knowing that what I wrote merits such a response (and I wouldn't call it a novella, maybe long form essay?!).

      I love all of your points, and we do (now) view our condition as a gift, but it wasn't always so.

      I remember a Jamie Oliver show I saw a few months ago where he went into a school cafeteria to try and improve the food. 3/8 of a cup of a wonderful bell pepper/onion medley didn't count as a serving of vegetables (had to be 1/2 cup), but a plate full of french fries with ketchup did count as a serving of veggies.

      System.upside.down.

  8. Tookie says:

    I was very proud of your husband. You are very lucky to have a husband that understands and I know it did not happen over night. (even though he had to give up his McDonalds).My husband is coming around little by little. My children little by little to, but they still like there favorites, I just have to start making there favorites Gluten_Free. I have done that in some things and they really like it. It just takes time. Thanks again Mike.

    • GF Dad says:

      You're welcome, Tookie.

      One thing that might help would be to show everyone how many great meals are still available that are naturally gluten-free. I know that when I talk with people about our diet (especially men) it helps to remind them that they can still have steak and potatoes, bacon and eggs and hashbrowns, etc. Not the best food in the world of course, but probably necessary for the transition phase.

      As long as everyone can agree to give up their dinner rolls and saltine crackers, could go a long way. And tell your husband for me, once I went gluten free and 1)cut out the empty bread carbs and 2)couldn't just hit the drive thru for a quick meal, I dropped 15 pounds right off my belly without lifting a finger.

  9. Karen says:

    Mike and Heidi,

    I was diagnosed in March 2010 and my 3 sons followed. We then got diagnosed with cow protein intolerance. It has been a roller coaster before and since. My older boys are also diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder and are mildly autistic. They are doing tons better now since going off gluten and dairy (cow) but still have our issues. My oldest son (6) just got suspended from school again for behavioral issues. I am wondering still if it is food again so I will be going on another elimination diet (that is how we do it because it is too disruptive for all of us to do it) because whatever I have problems with, the boys end up getting diagnosed with too. My husband is now gluten and mostly dairy free in the house. He still drinks regular milk while the rest of us drink almond milk. Other than that, we all eat the same stuff. I am afraid we may lose corn soon and this will really set the family on it's ear. I don't do soy either for the most part, but that is much easier to avoid than corn. Corn and dairy are in SO much more stuff than gluten. I am so tired of this but am feeling better (though I do have my ups and downs too which is why I am going on another elimination diet) and have lost a TON of weight…but more to go. My husband has been like you and so now I need to write to you what I intended in the first place…..THANK YOU for sharing your story. I cannot wait to read more. It is like listening to my husband (though he would never blog about all this stuff going on in our house!). Many blessings to you, Heidi and the boys.

    • GF Dad says:

      "I am afraid we may lose corn soon and this will really set the family on it’s ear."

      I don't know if you meant that as a pun, Karen, but it's hilarious.

      Sounds like your husband is a great guy. I can understand the milk compromise…it's not like it leaves crumbs in the toaster. I don't know if you've tried hazelnut milk yet, but let him know I now actually prefer it to cow's milk. I never drank much milk anyway, but it's very good with a bowl of cereal.

      And the only other thing I would say is that I know it can feel like once YOU get diagnosed, then the boys seem to get the same condition right after. I know Heidi still struggles with this being her "fault" sometimes. I try to remind her that half of the boys' DNA came from me, so clearly there is something in my chromosome as well. I'm sure your husband feels the same, but I think it's important that you remind yourself of this every so often as well.

      Take care.

      • Karen says:

        I did not mean the ear comment at first, but saw it and thought it was funny too and so I left it! I have never had hazelnut milk, but maybe I can get him to try it. Sounds yummy but also EXPENSIVE! I stay home with my boys and cannot get over how much we spend though I do a lot on amazon (thank God for subscribe and save!). We are going through behavioral issues right now with the older boys-I hope we do not have to cut out more food but if we do, at least I have another family to commiserate with!

    • Julia says:

      I have a friend that has son that is mildly autistic and they went gluten free and saw a big improvement, then went to a neurological development center and were told to follow a manganese free diet which has 3 different levels. They started with level 1 and are now up to level 3 which is the life style they stay at. This boy acts like a completely different child. He is not perfect but the improvements are AMAZING!!!! The whole family (as to not draw attention to their 9 year old son) followed the diet. Hope this helps!

    • Kadren says:

      Soy and chicken eggs are a HUGE behavior issue for our oldest daughter. Keep on with your detective work!!

  10. kelly says:

    lovelovelove to hear gf dad Mike's post. How awesome that you are on the same page now. Better late than never. Thanks to both of you for sharing your hearts. =0)

  11. You are both fabulous and funny writers with such a story. I see the beginnings of a book here.

    • GF Dad says:

      I love it! How's this for a title:

      "How To Bang Your Head Against the Wall for Three Years Before You Finally Get It"

  12. Lexie says:

    I am super impressed! Especially when we hear from the super hero papa bears. I am going to read this thoroughly when I have a quiet moment, but so far I am hooked. Looking forward to the GUEST POSTER'S thoughts in the coming weeks : )

    … told my husband to tune in, too!

    Lexie | Lexie's Kitchen

  13. Rhonda Budge says:

    Thank you Heidi and Mike. I'm going through the same thing. My husband refuses to give up the gluten, and we've had more than a few challenges as I try to Budge gluten from my life. After almost a year, he is getting better, but I had to laugh when the GI doc told him that he was testing him for Celiac as well. My husband's lip quivered. Turns out he was negative, but he's been a little more understanding since then. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

    • GF Dad says:

      Rhonda,

      It must be a cave-man thing left over from when we carried spears and swords and had to climb on boulders to chase our food. The male skull is definitely a full half inch thicker than the female (I can't prove that but I am convinced).

      It just takes longer for good ideas to seep through all the bone matter!!

  14. Tai says:

    Awesome post! My hubby doesn't "have" to be gf either, but he is because we are. I am so grateful to have a supportive spouse. He wasn't completely gf at first. Well at home he was, because I DEMANDED and gf home for Olive's sake. I just new a stray crumb would enter her mouth (hello 2 year olds put EVEYTHING in their mouths). It wasn't until we had our other two DNA tested and found out that they carried Celiac genes (from me) and gluten sensitive genes from another contributer (thanks dad!) that he went completly gf as well. Our dr. (at HealthNOW) said that it was likely that he was some what responsible for Olive having the disease…turns out Dr. Carrie was right!

    I agree with the above comments, we are so fortunate to know what we know. So many are living out there so sick and they have no clue why. We started a whole foods diet years before, in fact I would grind my own wheat berries to make flour (the irony!). I had a kitchen covered in flour at least once a week! YIKES! Now we try to eat the same as before but with out the gluten, still following a whole foods approach for the most part.

    I love these posts from Mike. I would love to sit and talk to you two in person. I have a feeling that would be a fun, and educational experience! -Tai (Sorry for any typos…running out the door!).

  15. Sheer awesomeness.

    Great insight, I think this can help us all who have non-glute-free-ers in the household. It can be a high wire balancing act for sure.

    Heidi as you know, I completely agree with Melissa in the sense that we are the chosen ones, but sometimes the idea of abandoning what you've always eaten can be a scary proposition, especially for our loved ones who don't "have" to make the change. (Although, IMO, we all have to make the change from the SAD, but that's a whole different post.)

    I say this after buying Pop Tarts for my husband, yes, he in convinced that the mixture of sugar, trans fat, and artificial coloring in Pop Tarts is the perfect mountain biking fuel. This is where I need to grow, and for now, I just smile and nod and buy the damn pop tarts ;)

    • GF Dad says:

      Thanks, Erin.

      When I was in high school, I would have a root beer soda and chocolate pop-tart before I went to work after school. Don't ask me why that combo, because I couldn't tell you.

  16. Courtney says:

    I loved having a different point of view on here! I think Mike's post will be a nice addition, especially because I am the non-Celiac spouse of a Celiac so I can relate to a lot of his experiences. I'm looking forward to the next post from him.

  17. Kat Bunker says:

    BRAVO !!!!!!!!!!!!!! excellent writing and insights into GF life and all that it touches !!! Love to read your side of things anytime !! In this blog, as I suspect in life, you two make a great team !!

  18. Jenny says:

    Awesome – thanks for posting this and Heidi thanks for letting him. I love hearing his point of view. I being gluten free shared some of his frustrations (as I'm sure many of us did) and Bryan can related to many of the points/frustrations here. Last night for example we went to a local bistro that has a gluten free menu, we've been there a few time with no issues. I ordered the pasta last night, however when I received my bowl I found a HUGE piece of meatball in it. I had to send it back (and I hated to do it because I was starving) and they made me a completely new bowl, with fresh sauce etc. and even gave us an amazing gf dessert on the house. But it gets to me sometimes when you go to a place with a gf menu and the staff hasn't been trained to understand cross contamination, and that a meatball contains gluten/wheat etc.

    Bryan is amazing about eating gluten free – he still eats gluten out side of the house and very carefully in the house. When we started talking about moving in I put my foot down and said, "I'm not making two meals, so either you learn to cook or you eat my gluten free food" He has yet to complain about anything I make.

    • GF Dad says:

      Sounds like he is on board, Jenny. I know that when Heidi started having to only cook one meal it lifted a huge burden from her.

  19. Lisa B says:

    This is fantastic. Thanks so much for the image of the "porcupined up bulldozer," I have definitely seen this before. I appreciate and applaud you for the depth and honesty that comes through here. Heidi, you are a lucky girl.

    I'm getting an idea, still ill-formed, needs refining… but the basic gist of it is this: The people who are at the forefront of pushing against the Standard American Diet are the ones who "have to" do it. The SAD and the Food Pyramid are such a powerful force, and so pervasive, that only those whose lives are threatened by it can muster the bravery and strength and resolve necessary for a battle this big. For a little while they battle alone, while others mock them for following "just another fad diet that doesn't work." (cue Sisyphus) But maybe this work starts to illuminate a bigger change, at least for some people. I think the people who've rejected the SAD because they "have to" will become the leaders, the beacon of hope, for those who wake up and realize that the SAD is killing them too. (For example, look at the overlap between the Gluten Free and the Primal-Paleo diet communities.) And how nice it is, when someone decides to give this wheat-free thing a try, and can't imagine what to cook for dinner tonight, that there's already a community of people sharing their recipes.

    I'm not trying to say something trite like, "If you build it, they will come." But there's another sense in which that's not trite at all.

    • GF Dad says:

      You're right, Lisa…Heidi is a lucky girl :)

      As the old saying goes, "Necessity is the mother of invention." I think as this lifestyle continues to find a larger audience, those families who have been forced into redesigning our diets will be in a great position to ease more people into it.

  20. Rebecca says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I was diagnosed with a serious gluten-intolerance 3 months ago, and am still in the transition phase. My husband is very supportive and helpful, but sometimes I feel incredibly alone, even now as my family is in the kitchen making spaghetti that I can't eat. It was so nice to read a man's perspective on this, and I applaud his conversion to gluten-free living in support of his wife. I don't know if having my husband and children go gluten free is the answer, but I am going to have him read this post. Thank you!

    • GF Dad says:

      It's not THE answer, Rebecca, but it certainly couldn't hurt. Consider the compromise position: gluten free at home, and everyone else can eat gluten outside of the house. There are so many great naturally gluten free meals to serve, it shouldn't be that difficult.

  21. Charity Ziegelman says:

    I for one so appreciate your commentary, and frankly the wittiness. I several times caught myself smiling at your response and the reality of the situation. I have a feeling I will be smiling at many more of your posts in the future. Please share with us your frustrations and humor. We could use it.

    Charity

  22. Susan says:

    Guys! Thank you so much for this post. Awesome to see the other side of it.

    In 2009, my son got really really sick, and a chiropractor told us to go on an elimination diet to see if it was food allergies. We found out it was gluten and milk. He wasn't even 2 yet. I was devastated when I found out how things would change. I had suspected gluten was the culprit of my son's eczema for a while, so I was trying to eliminate it, but we weren't strict about it. Until he got sick that is. He has been gluten free ever since August of 2009, and he is so healthy and has adjusted so well to it.

    For a while, we just thought of this diet as Ezra's issue, but at the same time, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. I was so upset at this, as I was only 28 years old. At this time, Ezra was starting to notice that he had different foods than Mom and Dad. So, I made the decision to go gluten free as well, and my life changed. I am now FIBROMYALGIA FREE. I introduced gluten back in to my diet because I was feeling better, (what an idiot, right?) and noticed immediately how awful I felt again. So, it's been ALMOST A YEAR that I have been completely gluten free, and I only recently decided to eliminate dairy and refined sugars from my diet, and the change is incredible. I can't even believe it. It has been so long since I have felt this good, if I ever did.

    My husband is still a gluten eating, milk drinking, and (sometimes) sugar eating man, but he supports us fully. However, he does have a hard time with costs, and my experimentations in the kitchen. I don't know if he'll ever go 100% gluten free, but so far it hasn't been too much of an issue.

    I have struggled very much with feeling as though it is my fault that Ezra has this issue. I have so much guilt attached to this. But I am working on improving that outlook. Also, I loved the comment on us being the "chosen ones" because I do feel it has given me a new life. I feel very lucky that I can't eat all the garbage that the FDA deems as food. My body has and continues to thank me for that.

    So, I'm glad to see this post. It has opened my eyes to what my husband might be feeling.

    Susan

    • GF Dad says:

      Susan,

      I often think it's a perspective/convenience issue. I mean, if one of my kids has bad eyesight because of my genes, the fix is pretty easy (eyeglasses followed by laser surgery some day). Or if their teeth are bad, just get some braces and be done with it. No one ever seems to feel guilty about those traits that are genetically passed along.

      But when it comes to food…look out!!

  23. Brenda Herbstman says:

    Thank you for being "real!" I've been GF for 10 years, and food choices are so much easier now. Every day it gets a little easier, and now with this blog, it's even fun!

    • GF Dad says:

      What on earth did you do 10 years ago, Brenda? I thought the alternatives tasted bad 5 years ago, I can't imagine what they tasted like 10 years ago!!

      • Brenda Herbstman says:

        All I can say is the Atkins diet was a life saver because it cut down on food servers looking at you like you had 3 heads when you asked for a burger without the bun. After Atkins started gaining popularity, servers would ask if I was on Atkins when I placed an order, no bread, and I would just say YES! It was so much easier than trying to explain what "gluten free" was.

        I do agree, the food alternatives these last few years have been awesome. I no longer feel like I am suffering anymore from gluten intolerance, now I can enjoy my food choices. This afternoon we're going out for fish n chips at a regular restaurant (their batter is corn based) and then to a gluten free bakery. That's what we call date night!!!

  24. Homa says:

    It truly takes a total and expensive shift to adjust what and how you eat. My daughter is allergic to wheat, oats, soy, corn, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, grapes, egg, and milk. We all cut those things a year ago now and my husband was supportive all the way. We were already vegetarians so being vegan without the above foods is hard (hooray for quinoa!). I was saying to my husband, "can you believe we've not eaten normally for a year now?" and he said "think about it this way, we've at three meals a day for a year, we're so lucky." He was right. It takes a LOT of adjusting and society and culture are wrapped up in food but the bottom line is that we do what we can for our families with what we have. Thanks for sharing!

  25. Lauren says:

    Wow! Our family is going through the same thing. My husband also has come on board and now we are all eating gluten-free. It is great to gather around our table and all eat the same foods. I think it is great that you are sharing this journey with your family, I look forward to your posts!

    Lauren

  26. Tia says:

    Another great post from GF Dad. It's really nice to hear you point of view. I am lucky because even though my husband doesn't need to be gf, he has always been a health nut with the craziest will power. So when I had to go gf, he just said, ok it's all out of here. He would still have his gluten outside of the home, but now he realizes he just feel better without it. But having the view is good so when I have readers who say how hard it is, it can make a bit more sense to me.

    Oh, I wish I could get my husband to write a guest post to tell it from his point of view. But considering his idea of writing an essay is to sentences, I don't think it's going to happen. Oh well.

    Heidi – I can see how you and your husband fit together. Both have a great sense of humor, which I believe you need to get through life well, let alone a gf, df, cf, etc. life. And, yes, he's cute, too.

    xoxo,

    Tia

    • GF Dad says:

      I was the same way Tia for a long time Tia…gluten-free at home but would eat whatever I wanted to at lunch. Started to notice how much better I felt on days when I would have a chef salad instead of a sandwich. After a couple of weeks, felt absolutely no desire to go back to gluten.

      It's hard being a businessman who needs to be able to eat out, especially at lunch, but it has become easier to just casually mention to my waiter that I need my caesar salad in a fresh bowl and my chicken breast in a fresh pan. No croutons of course!!

      Plus, it's a great icebreaker and conversation starter with my client or prospect. It immediately humanizes me to them and let's them see me as a husband and father with "real life" issues and not just another suit.

  27. Can I just say that you all are amazing? We have been wheat, corn, soy and milk free since last May for my son, and due to all of Heidi's posting I am going in for testing myself. I am still trying to get the family to understand why it is so important to pay attention to labeling and to not use the same butter knife for cutting up a glutenous waffle on the gluten free one. This post was heartfelt, and I am going to share it. :)

  28. Shelly says:

    Wow! Gf Dad as I read your post, I kept thinking this is my husband's thoughts, and I was reminded of our rocky road back to health (which we are still traveling). I have been gluten free for a year and a half and my daughter for 7 months. Along with the gluten, I am allergic to 28 foods and my daughter 23, and it's funny she an I are opposite on the things we allergic to, for example she is allergic to all citrus and I am allergic to all berries. So cooking, food, going out to eat, family get togethers, etc. bring nothing but frustration to this household. Dinners used to consist of three different meals, and for a long time my husband would just say, "don't worry about me, I will take care of my own food." This obviously would just push me over the edge as I was already frustrated trying to feed us all. I would rather him say let's figure it out together. In his defense his thought was that he was helping, by taking care of himself, but I always felt that I was on my own struggling to feed us. As time has went by it had became clear that accidental gluten ingestion for me was getting worse, it would put me in bed for days, sometimes a week, and then pretty fatigued for up to a month. This past November my husband decided he was going gluten free for us, as he could not stand to see us sick, he said it was not worth it to him. So we gutted our kitchen and put in all new cabinets and floors, and out went all gluten from our home. If anyone comes here to eat, we eat GF. And everyone washes their hands when they come in the door (I know this is a little obsessive, but I think I could just breathe gluten and I would become ill). He even eats gluten free away from home now as well. It's still a process and I am not sure we will ever get to the end, but at least the food tension our home is gone! Thanks for your honesty and for your post, I read it to my husband, and we laughed together through it, as it sounds like the biography of our lives. I so enjoy Heidi's posts as they are always honest and informative and I always can relate. And now we get the added bonus of your perspective, thanks again for putting yourself out there!

  29. Heidi says:

    Our experiences of becoming a gluten-free family are so similar! Like you, I feel better on this diet, though I would attribute that to eliminating dairy more than gluten.

    I just pored over Peter Menzel's new book (its his wife's as well) What I Eat, Around the World in 80 Diets. My kids looked through it, too. I highly recommend it as it showed in so many detailed pictures what people all around the world eat each day. This was so helpful for me to see as we try to think outside the box of American eating (though we have seen many options). It completely reinforced my mantra, "Its not a life-threatening disease, its a lifestyle-threatening disease." I can deal with that.

    Heidi

  30. Kristin says:

    Oh I LOVE this post! I am 58 days into my Gluten Free diet which has also left me almost completely health problem FREE for the first time in 13 years! I self-diagnosed myself and am now waiting for my result’s from Dr. Fine (thanks to your website:). I know no matter what the results show I will be GF for life based on the miraculous turn around in my health. My husband has been incredibly supportive in this as after two nights of me making 2 different meals he told me flat out to just make one; he and the kids would eat what I ate. Last night was the first time I heard a grumble out of him, which he did say in a joking way, he dunked a Triscuit cracker into my hummus just as I was walking up to have some hummus with corn tortilla chips. “I said oh man I can’t eat that now”, his response, “now this is getting complicatedJ” I know he was joking and in all fairness to him I have not dropped the full bomb about cross-contamination until I get my results back, I’ve only hinted about it. I can’t wait for him to read GF guy’s posts to help him realize that I am not going off the deep end when I buy a new toaster, throw out the wooden spoons and give away several bags full of foodJ I think this is fantastic that you are doing this to give feelings to both sides! WONDERFUL and I can’t thank you enough for this site. I needed to be tested but knew my local physician would be worthless! Your website and story with link’s to your findings single handedly has changed my life in the most positive way ever and for the time you both put into this site to provide this information I will forever be grateful!

  31. How did I miss this, you guys?? I go skiing for a few days and Mike becomes the GF Dad superstar overnight! This was written from such an awesome perspective, MIke! I think you have been so incredibly supportive and amazing to your family. As you started to embrace your lifestyle of dietary changes you did more than you can ever imagine for Heidi and her journey. She is such a lucky woman to have your unconditional love and support. And the two of you make for one funny, crack-up of a glutadoodle couple!!! Love you guys!!! Well-done. And, I am so with Wendy in that I see a book in your future, you two! ;)

    xo

    kim

  32. Hey Eddie (I mean Mike)-

    Loved your first post. It's so great to read a husband's perspective on the whole thing. I know my husband has gone through a lot of the same emotional "stages" and feelings, since my daughter & I started G-F diets over 3 years ago. 2/4 of us have Celiac and overall he has been so helpful, yet I know he's had mixed feelings since it all began. We both "mourned" not being able to enjoy our microbrew tastings that had come to be our regular thing for 18 years prior, also not being able to just spin into any random restaurant or bar for a beer and some food, things like that. We still miss that spontaneity but life goes on and we had to adjust and get past it. Anyhow, thanks again for sharing your perspective and I look forward to reading more from you and your wonderful wife!

  33. RaeAnn says:

    Thank you, thank you Mike for your outlook on this whole situation as a father. My son has ulcerative colitis and multiple food sensitivities, we found out about the food part about a year ago. He just turned 18 and gets so frustrated by it all. I consider it a godsend that I even came across Heidi's blogs this past December via my daughter. Heidi is an inspiration! I am grateful to the both of you for sharing. God bless you! :)
    RaeAnn

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Heidi Kelly and Brittany Angell. Brittany Angell said: RT @adventuresgfmom: New Blog Post Confessions of an Accidental Glutadoodle http://goo.gl/fb/Squ2S #gfdad #dad #family #glutenfree #kids […]

  2. […] want to say thanks to all of you for the many kind comments to my recent post.  In the weeks to come, I hope to post more thoughts of mine on all things […]

  3. […] I did it and it was worth all the pounding headaches, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde mood swings (though my husband may beg to differ) and the relentless […]

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