My daily bread

The current men’s tennis number one, Novak Djokovic, is bordering on unbeatable this year.  The only Grand Slam he has lost is the French Open, winning the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open earlier this month.  Whilst Djokovic has always been a great player, there was something holding him back before this year.  He could be erratic, suffered from endless cramps and stomach bugs and whilst he was in the top 4 in the world (nothing to be sniffed at!) there was something preventing him from achieving his true potential.

And last year they worked out what that thing was.  Djokovic suffers from the auto-immune condition known as coeliac disease where the digestive system is unable to handle gluten, resulting in damage to the small intestine.  The treatment of it is incredibly simple- no medication, just stop eating foods that contain gluten.  The most obvious of these is wheat which is everywhere- not just in the obvious culprits of bread, pizza, pasta,cake and biscuits- but in hamburgers and sausages and a large proportion of processed foods as a thickener.  In addition, coeliac doesn’t just rule out wheat but also rye and barley and some people react to a similar protein in oats as well (although there is some debate over whether it is the protein in the oats or cross-contamination from other cereals being processed that causes the reaction).

The reason why this has become so important to me is that I have had problems with my stomach for years and both last year and this I have had stomach bugs which even though they haven’t been too bad have lasted for weeks, with consistent nausea and other issues.  As a bit of a Hail Mary, my GP tested me and lo and behold…  So I’ve spent the past two weeks cutting gluten out of my diet and whilst I don’t feel 100% better by a long shot, I feel sooooo much better than I did.

The only problem I’ve found is I’m used to things like proper bread and proper cake.  And I’m going to say it, gluten free bread is OK toasted but it’s pretty revolting on its own.  And the texture of gluten free cake is just wrong!!  I adore cake, cake is my world so you can imagine that this diagnosis has been very disappointing for me.  But I’ll work out how to make cake taste and feel right eventually.

Being diagnosed will never make me perform like Novak Djokovic but I’ll settle for some more energy and not feeling sick all the time!  And to be honest, I’m just glad to know what is going on.

Have you got any food intolerances?  And do you have any ways round the gluten issue or is it something you have never considered?

Until next time…

Average Josephine x

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7 thoughts on “My daily bread

  1. My girlfriend Rebecca is a coeliac as well, but she was diagnosed *really* early at 3 years old so she’s never had the issue you have of ‘missing’ wheat-based products. Some of the genius bread that’s available is pretty good, and the bread she makes from Juvela flour is very tasty (as are the pancakes from the same flour).

    Since I’m not coeliac but we often eat together, I’ve had to adjust a little bit to her pasta and so on, but it’s generally been fine. Non-wheat flours we use are gram flour and masa harina (used extensively in indian and mexican food respectively), and we end up doing a lot of home-cooking and baking, which is fine cause Rebecca enjoys all the faff associated with baking (me, I’m less enthusiastic about baking with the exception of the end result).

    It’ll take a while to get used to it, but in the long-term, you’ll feel tons better. I know Rebecca starts getting ill even after just a little bit of gluten (in porridge for example), while other coeliacs are able to eat at least a sandwich every couple of days and be fine. It’ll be about finding out your own limits I suppose, but there’s lots of resources out there to help.

    • I might need to pick her brain at some stage after a supremely tasteless dinner as we discovered that our soy sauce had frickin’ wheat in it!! I want to be able to bake properly and know that recipes will need a bit of adjusting so hopefully she’ll be able to point me in the right direction, or at least in the direction of decent books… I’ll be fine once I get myself sorted but it’s just going to take some adjusting. I’m hoping that I should be able to have the occasional bit but to be honest, I’m not too bothered. If it makes me feel as bad as I’ve felt over the past few weeks I’ll pass!!
      Hope you’re well and we should catch up soon x

  2. There’s a few places where you can pick up a litre of wheat free soy sauce in Birmingham, I’ll ask her where they are.

    The gluten-free girl site you posted up about it good, but the different kinds of flour you need is sometimes a little bit ridiculous. Normally, though, you can submit Juvela flour for regular flour and it’ll be fine.

    Things are fine with me ta, just manic with teaching just about to start. Defo should meet up for a coffee and I’ll bring Rebecca along with me so you can chat about the gluten-free lifestyle 🙂

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