Oh how I wish we were the best of friends. The pastries, the pizza, the pasta, the bread, Lord have mercy, the bread. I want to have a relationship with these foods like no other relationship I have had before. Sorry, Brian but you get me.
I don’t want to linger on this discussion because I made a decision many years ago that my life will not be defined by whether or not I eat gluten. But I do think it’s an important topic for those who care to understand how I manage my food allergy.
Let me take you back to our first pilgrimage in 2017 on the Camino Frances in Spain. I ate zero gluten the entire trip and, with regards to food, I was miserable. I hated missing out, I hated have to explain my food allergy to every sweet person trying to give food to a hungry pilgrim, but most of all I hated being defined by my food allergy.
In 2019 when we walked part of the Camino France and all of the Camino Portuguese, I decided food allergy be dammed, I am eating whatever I want. LOL My body said, “Oh you want to play that game, let me show you who’s really in charge.” Guess what? It’s not the mind, it’s the stomach. I paid a hefty price on that pilgrimage. I had breathing issues, anxiety, and the horrific, constant wheat belly. When I eat gluten, my belly protrudes and makes me look very round in the middle until is processes through my body at a snails pace as it impacts my breathing. I didn’t want to believe the gluten was to blame, denial was much easier to manage.
Fast forward to when we decided to go on another pilgrimage. I spent the year working with my doctor to ensure my heart and lungs were functioning well (since I developed breathing issues). I got a colonoscopy where my doctor did two different tests for celiac disease. He confirmed that I do not have celiac disease. Well, there’s a win!
I went to my allergy doctor, we decided to go ahead with a food allergy test. Guess what? Dang it, it was confirmed that I am allergic to wheat. Not the, “you will go into anaphylactic shock,” type of allergy but one step down, a moderate allergy. I already knew that but my mind needed the confirmation. Now what? I am going to Italy! I am eating the pasta! Ughh!! But I will not let my food allergy define me.
I did some research and found a gluten relief pill to help ease the pain my body goes through to process wheat. Click here to see what I use.* It’s not a perfect system, but as long as I take it before I eat wheat, my body processes it a bit faster. I still have a bit of breathing issue and my belly still protrudes some but it helps the wheat process faster.
On pilgrimage, the greatest problem is that we are at the mercy of those who are providing food for us. Some places we stay only have bread and coffee for breakfast as that is typical for Italians. I am not going to hike on coffee alone. See my blog, “I’m Hungry and I Don’t Want to Talk About It.” Therefore, I avoid gluten when I can, I take the preventative pill and eat it when I have to do so.
Life is a delicate balance of choices whether you have a food allergy or not. Sometimes we eat too much, drink too much, and that’s just life. My allergy will not define me, it’s just part of the consideration when I make choices. I can feel a life lesson in there, can you?
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