Posted by Rob, Brand Manager of Community Activation
Have you ever found a solution to a problem, only to realize that solution didn’t make you happy? A few weeks ago I was reading a magazine when the following line jumped out at me: “Do you suffer from fatigue, stomach cramps, and aching joints? Intolerance to wheat gluten might be to blame.” The reason why it jumped out at me was that my answer to that question was “yes, yes, and yes.”
Before I worked at Tom’s of Maine, I had experienced very little exposure to the issue of gluten intolerance. I have a friend who has Celiac Disease, and through her I learned that gluten is a protein that is found in wheat. Avoiding gluten is extremely important for individuals who are coping with Celiac Disease, and while gluten is found in the obvious wheat products, it’s in many unexpected sources as well – including some personal care products. Most of Tom’s of Maine products are gluten free, and we frequently get questions about our gluten free mouthwash and gluten free toothpaste. With my symptoms it seemed more likely that I was intolerant to gluten than facing Celiac Disease. Not wanting to self-diagnose, I went to the doctor. His advice was that for people with my severity of symptoms the best thing to do was to try and avoid gluten for a period of time to see if the symptoms subsided.
So why is that a problem? Three of my favorite consumables in the world are bread, pasta, and beer (not necessarily in that order) and in their traditional forms, each of these items has wheat gluten in them. Avoiding gluten meant either giving these products up, or finding a gluten-free alternative. Then there was the long term issue – what if I discover I AM intolerant to gluten? Does that mean giving up these foods forever?
I’ve been following my diet for about two weeks now, and I think my symptoms are subsiding. My experience with gluten-free foods has been mixed, to say the least. The bread I’ve found makes decent toast, but I’m not really seeing it as the foundation for a delicious sandwich. The gluten-free pasta I tried was terrible, with a strange gummy texture. I haven’t tried any gluten-free beers yet, and am a little afraid of what I’ll find.
I’m thankful for my good health, and have a deepened respect for people who deal with severe intolerance to gluten. But I’m also at a crossroad, and looking for help. Does my discovery mean a future of mediocre substitutes for my favorite foods? For those of you who have adapted to a gluten-free life, I’d love to hear from you. What are your favorite products? What resources do you use?
And most importantly, is there any such thing as a good gluten-free beer?