It’s recently become apparent that my husband is gluten intolerant. He’s always been a bit “loose of bowel” shall we say (sorry if TMI!) but we thought that was just him. More recently we started noticing patterns of stomach troubles when we’d eaten something particularly wheat heavy (fajitas, pasta bakes) and I suggested it may be wheat related. A few other symptoms later and I started to read more into it. I became convinced he had coeliac disease.
He went to the doctor with his symptoms, and she immediately said he’d need to be tested for coeliac. He was keen to start cutting out gluten immediately. But all of the resources say you shouldn’t do that until you have a diagnosis. You need gluten in your diet in order for your body to react to it so you can get an accurate test result, as advised by Coeliac UK and all other health organisations.
The good news is, he isn’t coeliac
The bad news is that the nurse who gave him his results was completely dismissive of all the symptoms he has. She pretty much sent him on his way. He’s going to book a follow up appointment with a doctor to discuss further. Meanwhile, we have self-diagnosed him as having Non Coeliac Gluten Intolerance (NCGI). I know self diagnosis isn’t ideal, but it’s all we have right now. We’ve come to this conclusion because he’s cut gluten out completely and is already feeling heaps better. So there has to be something going on.
The thing about NCGI (and coeliac) is that it’s untreatable with medication. That means a diagnosis doesn’t really benefit you in any way. All you can do is cut gluten out of your diet.
There are two aspects to finding our you’re gluten intolerant
One is the practical side of things (cutting out gluten containing foods – more stuff than you would realise), and the other is the emotional side. The husband is, understandably, struggling somewhat. He keeps realising things he won’t be able to eat from this point forward and I guess, in a way, he’s in mourning. Food is a big part of our lives, as is eating out, so there’s a lot to think about.
Since this all started I’ve gone into research overdrive. I figure that the more information I have, the better I’m armed to deal with this for both of us. I do the food shopping and the cooking, so non gluten containing ingredients are my responsibility. While the husband is dealing with the emotional side of things, I can be the practical person working out what all of this means and – more importantly – how we’re going to face it with as little impact as possible. For people living together any kind of food intolerance is obviously going to impact both/all of them; both in and out of the home.
My advice if your husband is gluten intolerant
(Or your wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, housemate, mother, brother, sister – you get the idea) is to do your research. Find out as much as possible about gluten containing foods. Look for gluten free replacements where available. Most supermarkets will have a gluten free section in their dried, refrigerated and freezer sections. The choice is much much better than it used to be. Decide how you’re going to tackle it as a household. For example, we’ve both switched to GF bread, purely because I don’t eat a lot of bread anyway. It doesn’t make sense to have two types in the house and, more importantly, I don’t want to contaminate things like butter and the toaster with GF containing breadcrumbs.
I have pretty much deglutened (not a word, but you know what I mean) our house, just to avoid accidental consumption by the husband while he’s getting to grips with it all. Soups – a lunchtime staple for him – have been carefully checked to make sure they’re ok (many tinned soups contain wheat flour, so his daily choice has been severely curtailed). Condiments have been cleared out – if it’s got gluten in, it has no place in our cupboards. My supermarket shopping trips now consist of avidly reading labels for suitability (helpfully, all allergens are shown in bold in the ingredients list, so there’s no need to read every single thing in detail).
Personally I’m taking this as an opportunity to be more food aware…
…and also as a little bit of a challenge (that sounds like I’m getting enjoyment from it, which obviously I’m not). I’m determined that he won’t miss out on some of his favourites just because of the dreaded G. There’ll be things I’m going to cook from scratch where previously we may have bought pre-prepared or takeaway. While he comes to terms with it all, I’m on hand with a GF version wherever possible. It’s a learning curve, but we’re in it together.
I’d love to hear from you if your husband is gluten intolerant (or you, a loved one, etc!) Going forward I’ll be sharing my GF finds and tips with you as well.
Thanks, as always, for reading! x