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Gluten Free, Low Carb, And Struggling To Maintain My Life

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Hello Everyone,

 

I am struggling and need any and all encouragement.  

 

I have been eating strictly gluten free for just over 6 months now.  I live overseas and am not able to get tested for celiacs disease in the hospitals here, but after some huge medical bills revealing B12 and iron deficiency anemia, along with ALL of the GI symptoms associated with celiacs, I gave up gluten and have seen a huge improvement.  My anemia is gone, and my stomach is no longer puffed or running on a cycle through all the other digestive problems that are associated with the disease.  Given that I live abroad, I have extremely limited access to gluten-free prepackaged foods, so I eat meat, eggs, safe yogurt, safe nuts, fruit, and a lot of vegetables.  I am chained to my kitchen.  And my kitchen doesn't even have an oven. In the beginning I was eating rice and potatoes as well, but type 2 diabetes runs in my family and my blood sugar levels were slightly higher than normal, so I cut way down on carbohydrate-rich foods. It took a while for my digestive system to adjust to the intense amounts of fiber without carbohydrates, but I think I've finally found a balance.  Except for this past week, my fiance and I have made huge efforts to hit the gym consistently.  We both work full time.  And we are both exhausted.

 

I don't know how to cut down on my burden, but I know keeping all of this up is too much for me.  Cooking everything completely from scratch, without an oven and only two stove top burners... Working full time... Trying to workout consistently to help stave off diabetes... I haven't owned a TV in years, so it's not like I can cut out anything like that.  I feel like I need to keep up everything I have going to maintain my health, but I just can't seem to find time to relax and it's damaging my mental health and my relationship with my fiance.

 

He is extremely supportive.  We live together and have a gluten free household.  He's even gone gluten-free out of the house for the past week now so we can still sneak a kiss or two without him having to brush his teeth.  More than that, he helped me lug around a portable gas burner so I could cook stir fries for myself while we vacationed recently.  I bitterly miss actual vacations, though, where I don't have to carry around a kitchen.  One where I don't have to wash, cut, and cook all of my vegetables and clean dishes constantly.  A beach kitchen was a nice change of scenery, but I still couldn't get out of this ridiculous self pity for all the extra steps I have to take.  

 

I am grieving the loss of convenience, the loss of spontaneity, the loss of the joy of the yummy food I used to delight in.  I feel heavy guilt that my fiance has to undergo such a lifestyle change with me, as we met before I became gluten-free and used to enjoy so much spontaneity and many food adventures.  But now, even a day hike is tough because of all the extra prep and trying to bring things that won't spoil outside of a refrigerator.

 

I am craving rest and relaxation and space.  But realistically, it's not plausible.

 

And in my own wallowing and struggles, I haven't taken much time to consider how hard it is for my fiance.  But it has all bubbled to the surface twice now where he's near a breaking point and says "he loves me, but..."  

 

I know he loves me.  He shows it in his actions in more ways than I can list.  He is so supportive.  But I just don't know if I can give him the life, the partnership that I once could.  It seems like things could never be the way they were when we first fell in love.  I feel like I'm in survival mode and hardly have any warmth to shower him with.  More than the burden of food prep, I know that my distant behavior is hurting my relationship the most.  I hope someday, back in America, things will be more convenient and easy... but I don't know.  I don't trust restaurants with gluten free meal options because of cross contamination.  I seem to be very sensitive to even trace amounts of gluten.  I feel overwhelmed.  I am definitely still grieving for my change of lifestyle.  And I'm scared for our future.  

 

For those of you who went through a lifestyle change related depression, how do you get through it?  How do you let go of the life you thought you should have and embrace the new life that's waiting for you? I feel no excitement for what's to come.  Cutting out so many foods.  Cutting out social engagements.  It's so tough to be social as everyone just goes out for dinner or a beer and I can't without bringing my own.  I feel like my decisions are all motivated by fear.  Fear of gluten, stomachaches, anemia, diabetes, etc.  I don't want to feel like I'm just treading water for today and dreading tomorrow.  I don't want to lose my fiance.  I didn't realize how hard it was on him.  I didn't realize celiacs would affect so much more than meal time.  It just seems to be getting harder with time. 

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I am laughing a little as I read your post because it is as if I wrote it myself! The only difference is that I have an oven :) . I also live overseas. I also have NO access to gluten free packaged foods. In fact, I am sitting in a hotel right now on a weekend trip with my mini portable kitchen with me! So, I get all that you wrote. I have been gluten free 2 years this month. The last time I got sick was a year ago after eating in a restaurant. Since then I no longer eat out. I have ONE sushi place that I have been to and that is the only place I go to (with my own tamari gluten free sauce).

 

I cook all my meals every day. Most often I just saute in the fry pan. My best advice is to keep it simple and make double dinners so you can take it for lunch the next day. While I started off being very "OMG, I can't eat anything!" I now feel like I have a very healthy diet. Breakfast is 2 eggs with vegetables, lunch is some protein with vegetables, dinner the same. I HIGHLY recommend you follow some Paleo eating FB pages or blogs. The recipes are delicious and usually gluten free/low/no carb. I recently found Nom Nom Paleo. I haven't tried any recipes yet but they all look good. Try to find sauces you can make or spices you can add. I find that makes my food much more fun. Chicken is chicken but I can change it up with sauce (butter, gluten-free soy sauce, and sake is a great sauce!). 

 

Does it get easier? Eventually. More convenient? Not really. But this is our lives now so we have to make it work! :rolleyes:

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Hi Journey and Welcome!

 

I know what you're going through is a common story around here - so know that you're not alone.  I don't mean this to sound harsh... but just as a dose of reality.  I grew up on a farm.  I've been cooking all of my meals from scratch my entire life.  I moved to an urban, over-populated area and I honestly never understood how anyone can say they never cook - or hardly ever cook.  I mean... what do you eat if you don't cook?  Look at the bright side... you don't have access to pre-packaged, processed crap that will eventually make you sick - gluten or not.  Whole foods are much, much healthier and if you keep meals simple you're talking about an hour or two tops out of your day.  You'd spend almost that much time getting to a restaurant, waiting to be seated, waiting for the waitress, waiting for your food, and then traveling back home.  Use the time in the kitchen to catch up with the fiancé over a glass of wine. 

 

I know you're struggling right now because it has been a lifestyle change... but I firmly believe that is a change for the better.  It may be uncomfortable at first but once you get into the swing of it, it will become the new comfort zone and will seem second-nature to you.  AND... you'll be feeling better and looking better and be in better health to boot!

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I agree with all that has been said here. I'm in a different position. Although I do have an oven, I am a lousy cook who really hates to cook. So when I do, I make very large batches and freeze the leftovers in idividual servings. Two burners, a microwave, and a crock pot will get you just about anything you want to make.

 

What I do is cook on Sundays. I make enough to last all week. I may cook chicken with rice (in your case maybe it'll be chicken with broccoli) using sage for spice. You could do this in the crock pot. I also cook ground bison, sometimes with Italian spices, other times with other spices. Everything except what I am eating today goes into the freezer. When I leave for work I take two packages out of the freezer and they thaw during the day. At lunchtime I throw one into a bowl and microwave it. Same at suppertime.

 

I make gluten-free pancakes and freeze them too. That takes care of breakfast. And you know what? It only takes a couple (or less) hours on a Sunday to prep, cook, and clean up the mess. The rest of my (only) day off is free to do what ever I want.

 

I went into this kicking and screaming, but I have learned to adapt. Sure, it's a pain when my friends meet at a restaurant, but with my meals already cooked and ready to microwave, it's not hard to eat before I go, meet my friends and enjoy their company, and still feel like I have a life.

 

You will get used to it and after a while it won't seem like a big deal. Your fiance is supportive which is good. It's a big adjustment for you both, but think about how easy it is compared to living with being sick all the time.

 

Check out the recipe section and the what's for breakfast/lunch/dinner threads for more ideas, and if there's something you've been craving that you can't figure out how to cook with the lack of an oven and limited options at the grocery store, ask. There are at least a couple of fabulous cooks here who can help you learn to make just about anything. :)

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It's okay to mourn the loss of spontaneity along with experiencing frustration and depression over all the foods you are unable to eat.  You changed your diet drastically over a short period of time...use all the suggestions folks have provided and then simply give it time.  

 

Most days it is really much easier to eat simply...but there are times where it is still frustrating...I've been at it for a very long time and find the days I feel good it really isn't an issue because I am able to be active and the days I feel like crap the limited diet is extremely irritating.

 

Traveling becomes easier with time...I used to bring camp stove, toaster oven or crock pot even on short trips...now I pre-make stir fry and other meals, freeze and defrost as needed...on a recent trip we did have a microwave, but two different waiters asked if I needed my meal heated while dining out with hubs...I'm sure I could have asked any of the places we visited to heat my meal, but I didn't need to as I had warmed it in my room and used an insulated lunch bag to transport.  I would still pack a mini kitchen if the trip is over three days to have some fresh meals on extended travel.

 

Wishing you more good days, then bad :) 

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LIke you, I am fast drawing the conclusion that eating out isn't worth it in terms of cross-contamination.  So I try to suggest to friends that we meet for coffee instead of lunch, wherever possible and try to think of the money I am saving!

 

Do you take vitamin B12 supplements as even though your levels may now be normal, they may still be on the low side of normal?  You might find that this helps you feel more energetic and some people find that it really helps with anxiety/depression/stress etc. 

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Thank you so much to everyone who commented.  I appreciate all of your suggestions and encouragements a ton.  I have to say, just having people to bounce ideas off of is a wonderful relief.  Part of what makes it so hard is constantly having to explain celiac disease to people and defending why I am such a "picky eater." Being a difficult dinner guest has been hard on me.  

 

At first, I always tried to have a delicious meal on hand to make up for what I was missing out on.  But all of the extra time making detailed recipes caused me to resent the amount of preparation I had to do.  Finding a balance between the two will be helpful.  Also, I will be back in the States in a couple of months, and am seriously considering keeping a camping stove in the trunk of my car, along with a small cooler ready to be packed, just in case.  

 

It's a relief to hear that it's normal to be so upset by it all.  I felt weak and was starting to lose respect for myself for having such a hard time with it all.  But acknowledging that it's about more than just food, along with reading through some of this forum, has helped me be more compassionate on myself.  

 

Once again, thank you to everyone.  I welcome any other suggestions and thoughts that are out there, as well.

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Do you have a full sized fridge with a freezer?  Not sure how rustic you are over there across the big wide blue.  I have been doing the same as Bart recently because I work during the day and have a small break before evening rehearsals.  I'm cooking everything on Sunday or Saturday and freezing.  But I realize that won't work if you're limited in the freezer department.

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Bartfull's statement

"I went into this kicking and screaming,"

made me smile and giggle abit. Many of ( well actually :P  all of) my early post here in the forums I described my self as " stomping my feet and pouting " :lol:

 

 

 

 

I have found that ( for me) pre planning and  a freezer are essential. 

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Hi Journey,

 

You may find your mood improving over time as you heal your gut.  Since celiac can impair our ability to absorb nutrients it can affect our entire body.  As you stay gluten-free longer and longer your antibodie levels should decrease and your gut heal.  Then you can absorb the vitamins and minerals from your food that your body needs for energy and healing.  Having all the minerals and vits your body needs can help your mind work better too.  It is all kind of tied together ya know. :)

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The advice and support from others is fantastic!

 

I can add a few things regarding the relationship front. My boyfriend and I were together a year prior to my diagnosis. I went through all the typical grieving stages that you are going through. The anger, sadness, why me, this just sucks, denial (twice!!). But he weathered the storm with me and was supportive the whole way through. He is gluten free in the house with me. I felt like I was a burden, like I was being inconsiderate to his needs (I have a blog post on this actually). But he in all honesty said he could not care less about the gluten free lifestyle change. He is not upset to give it up in the house. He wants me to be healthy.

 

I was angry, depressed, mood swings galore! I was a she-beast! But it doesn't last forever. Your gut starts to heal, your brain starts to get the chemicals it needs to regulate and your mood can  and will level out. Don't give up hope on him. Chances are he hasn't even thought about bailing. He is just learning to cope with it just as you are. Have open communication and let him know how you feel.

 

I liked the idea that someone else had above.. The time you save not waiting for food at a restaurant and traveling is time spent in the kitchen or at the table bonding. That very thing happens all the time in my house. After work, we both cook dinner together (I do the majority but he helps with some chopping and opening cans and such!) and chat about our day. Then we sit down and enjoy our meal and end up talking for another hour or so after we eat just talking and sharing. The Celiac diagnosis for me strengthened our bond. There are others on this board that have the same experience. But if he does bail - then you don't want him by your side anyway. Your health and happiness is important, hon. If he makes you feel guilty for your health then he's not someone to have around. But don't put emotions or feelings into his head/mouth that he may not have. Give him more credit.

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