The Slow Dawning of a Terrible Truth

Somewhere around the time of my last post, a little voice started piping up every time I ate something baked. I wasn't sure what it was trying to tell me, so faint was the chirping. Anyway, I didn't want to hear it and that was that.

I was growing less and less comfortable with the refined nature of food, especially gluten free offerings - so much starch and sugar. Even the gluten free items for sale in the health food shop were mostly comprised of potato starch, tapioca and white rice - horribly high GI and nutritionally devoid. So I did everything I could to wean us all off the sweet things we constantly craved to comfort and fill our tender bellies. As I baked and concocted, I was lovingly recording all these successes and failures for a baking book, a healthy gluten free baking book - it was going to be great! I knew so much about the alternative grains that contained no gluten and were brimming with nutrition and flavour. There was nothing else on the market like my book and I was so excited. I just loved to be in the steamy kitchen measuring and mixing, offering up my efforts to the magical alchemy of the oven.

Still, instead of rising each day full of life and hope, I was getting sicker. The joi de vie I should have felt was paper thin. My skin was so dry it peeled off my cheeks in sheets and numerous checks for head lice revealed that my itchy head was not caused by bugs. My bloated stomach ached and cramped and seemed to grow more sensitive daily, to everything I ate - gluten free or not. I was either visiting the toilet all day or wishing I could go. I kept getting colds and stomach bugs and anything else that floated in on the ether. Anxious, tearful, lacking in energy, and constantly craving for something sweet or carb laden - it was all wrong and I just didn't understand why. Why me? Here was I, a homeopath! I felt like a complete fraud. Physician, heal thyself.

I couldn't understand what I was doing wrong. Everything I baked sprang from a desire to make something full of goodness; bread rolls made with freshly ground sunflower seed meal and malty teff flour; some dark and moist chocolate and date fairy cakes for an Easter show, not a grain of refined sugar came near them and yet they were light, rich, and the kids cookie monstered them in seconds. I was even experimenting with raw chocolate and mesquite, creating bars of chocolate that were as deeply flavoured as a fine wine. I knew this stuff was great, but every time I ate it, I felt just awful.

One night I lay awake again, restlessly thoughtful in the deep quiet of the house. Listening to the slow in and out breaths of my sleeping family, that voice in my head started to sound as clear as a bell. It felt overwhelming, as these things do in the middle of the night. Tears streamed out of my unblinking eyes as I tried to put the pieces of this tricky puzzle together. Mourning the loss of all that work, that knowledge about grains, my chance to write a fantastic book that would change celiac's lives, my raison d'etre. I didn't like what that voice telling me one bit, but clarity felt like such a relief.

My nocturnal conclusion was that I had developed leaky gut syndrome somehow. Maybe it was the result of four stressful years swimming with our heads just above water, maybe it was damage I did some years ago when I lived entirely on coffee, cigarettes and biscotti during a period of intense stress? It could have been caused by candida, or parasites, or maybe it was just always there and this increase in baking activity had bought it to a head? All I really knew for sure was that I needed to cut out everything I wasn't digesting and allow my system to calm down long enough for it to start healing itself and stop letting proteins into my bloodstream to wreak havoc with an immune system on high alert for intruders.

You may have heard of the Specific Carbohydrate diet? I had read about it a while ago and dismissed it as one of those crazy fads for people who don't know how to eat properly. I'm no fan of the Atkins Diet and thought that low carb plans were unhealthy because they restricted a lot of the vegetables that are essential for good nutrition. But I did remember something about undigested carbohydrates causing leaky gut syndrome, so I swallowed my preconceptions and bought the book - Breaking the Vicious Cycle, by Elaine Gottschall. I read the book from cover to cover and this time, although I balked at the terms (some foods are illegal and others are legal!), it made sense when I applied it to myself - it was the carbs that were causing the problem. I prepared to clear out the cupboards and start again.

So this is it, the beginning of a new path for now. Of course I'm still gong to cook, I'm still going to bake - in fact I made some muffins this morning with a very ripe banana and some nut meal. The pages may change a little, but you are welcome to hang in here with me and see what turns up on the journey. I'm creative, I won't let restrictions hold me back from making food that is full of colour, life and flavour - it just won't be full of carbohydrates anymore.

As a gesture of respect and appreciation for all the support you have given me this far on my journey I would like to offer a gluten free flour lottery to one lucky UK resident: the contents of my lovingly curated flour collection boxed up and posted to one lucky recipient who can use them freely to bake some fantastic stuff. In the box will be: Sorghum flour, dark and light teff, arrowroot, tapioca starch, sweet potato flour, millet flour, various bean flours, rice flour, polenta and probably a few other bits that I don't remember! All you need to do is leave a comment saying that you would like the flour and I will pick a name out of a hat at the end of March and send you the flour. Don't put your address or email up - I'll contact you and we can sort it out that way. I know it will go to a good home!

Wish me luck! I'll be back soon with my new bag. I already feel a tiny bit better just knowing that you are there ready to cheer me on when I need it. Somehow that title up at the top of the page seems strangely prescient don't you think? Straight Into Bed Cakefree and Dried.....

Naomi x x x