Always one to try anything to prove my half-baked theories right, I’m part of a self-governed, self devised and self assessed experiment with my diet. Not a diet in the usual sense of the word; I’m not drastically limiting my calorie intake or fastidiously watching every tiny morsel that passes my lips, but more of a trial to see if certain foods (in this case wheat flour) are aggravating my stomach and so my whole digestive system. I know it might seem like I’m jumping on the gluten/wheat free bandwagon that seems to be the “thing” these days but after having some serious chats with a very good friend of mine who happens to be an NHS Dietician and also a Coeliac, I’m more aware of the effects of a wheat/gluten intolerance. I’m not labelling myself a Coeliac – I’ve not had any tests or investigations and I’m certainly not experiencing any of the signs that The Food Whisperer would experience if she ate anything with gluten in. I am however having certain signs that my digestive system is not happy after eating wheat products.
Apologies for those with a weak constitution or those eating your meals (if you are, I’d advise finishing before you carry on reading), but this is the place where I am frank about lots of areas of my life – digestive discomfort is no different. For as long as I can remember, I have been farty. I don’t remember ever being able to burp and to this day, I cannot burp even when I have major indigestion and really would love to be able to burp and release the pressure. The very rare occasion it does happen is quite distressing and it makes me feel quite sick. Maybe this is psychosomatic, who knows. Frankly, I don’t care…but when it comes to excess gas, I am not a stranger to wind.
I maintain that there is nothing as funny as farting (try sitting on a tile floor and farting – I dare you not to laugh) and I refuse to trust anyone who cannot have at least a small chuckle when a fart happens. Small children find them hilarious, old people really don’t care enough to be bothered by them and everyone in the middle does it – even the Queen. Hard to imagine I know, but hers do not come pre-wrapped in ermine. Likewise, everyone has to poo. Again, small children when going through the potty/toilet training stage find poo fascinating – as do their doting parents who end up having whole discussions about the poo of their child with their partners, friends, health care providers. I know of at least one chap who relishes having a small child as it means he can freely discuss poo – whether he is a scatologist remains to be seen.
Returning from the poo segway, I’ve been noticing that when I eat certain food, I get increasingly farty and this is in combination with a swollen stomach, indigestion, cramps, frequent and hasty exits to the loo among other signs. If I was eating bread or wheat based foods at lunch, I would be incredibly sleepy after lunch and then within a few hours I’d be blowing up a storm…never a great thing in an open plan office with my boss sat next to me. There have been times that during a meeting my stomach has been making some incredible noises. Noises that sound like a small, snarling animal is trapped in a blanket followed by an ominous gurgling. I’ve driven home with my buttons on my jeans undone because of the bloating and pain and only just made it home before a serious intestinal “accident”. This, as I’m sure you agree, is no way to live and so I decided to do a little experiment.
As of today, I’m cutting out all processed flour products to see whether my stomach feels better and whether this makes me any less windy. This includes my absolute favourites, bread and pasta. I would live on pasta if I was allowed and now, I have to give it up to see whether I feel any better. The things I am stopping are: bread (white and brown), pizza, pasta, wheat flour in sauces (no cheese sauce), crackers, biscuits, cakes made with wheat flour, pastries, any breaded meals (I love a chicken Kiev 😦 ), pastry etc. As I’ve been writing this The Boy has thrown a well-timed and very valid spanner in the works: he will have to be wheat/gluten free at home too as he does most of the cooking and as he rightly pointed out, he is not about to start cooking 2 meals instead of one for the pair of us. This experiment will affect him too when he is at home…something I really didn’t think about.
So, with tonight’s wheat free meal done and enough for a lunch tomorrow, the experiment rolls on. I’m under no illusion that this is not an easy or quick fix. One of the side effects will be less emergency cake fixes at 3pm at work and the bonus is fewer empty calories. The other will be using my imagination to replace the wheat with wheat free. I’m not having to be super careful and eliminate the cross contamination that coeliacs have to remember but I’m hoping that my experiment yields some results that I can work with and maintain. The best outcome I can hope for is a happier tummy and a slightly less farty house because as funny as they are, this level of discomfort is anything but a laugh.