Thursday, December 9, 2010

Gluten Mishaps, Part 3

Gluten Mishaps
Part 3

Going gluten-free stirs up three areas of challenge: Hospitality, Restaurants, and Self-Sabotage. 

Do-able?  Yes indeed, and deliciously liberating, but let’s be real---a big step for your own and for your family’s well-being---Here we go, first broad brushstrokes, then family systems and case histories:

Hospitality of family and friends: 

So, you’ve told everyone you’ve gone gluten-free. You feel fab; you’re nearing ideal weight; you have never felt so good. You share the good news, to the point of being obnoxious!

Nor have you enjoyed such mental clarity before, and there’s the rub. You may be rocking the boat of old friendships, even your marriage, and the we-don’t-talk-about-that mine field of family systems.  

“Sit down, sit down, sit down, sit down. Sit down; you’re rocking the boat.”

Lots of hospitality is just warm-hearted. But then, there's pushy---If getting you to eat gluten can turn you back into your old self, gluten may happen in the hospitality venue.


1)   “But, I made this birthday cake for you special. It’s your favorite.” (Tears may well.) “Just a bite? That can’t hurt?”

2)   “You think you can come in here and disrupt the kitchen demanding weird foods just for you? Where do you get off? Grow up. The world doesn’t revolve around you, and this family certainly doesn’t.”

3)  A host tries to serve you gluten again and again, as you repeatedly,  politely refuse. Till you finally give in and push it around the plate. Till you nibble a bit just for courtesy’s sake. The host or hostess will feel gratified for that moment, but no one can do your gluten crash for you. It’s private and may be protracted.


Fast food eateries are guaranteed gluten-disaster-zones. It may take a few gluten crashes to realize that hardly any restaurants safely accommodate the gluten-intolerant population. That will likely change, as it’s a lucrative market share, but in the interim, caveat emptor

Please see Gluten Can-Do, Part 2 for “Egregious Examples” of Restaurant pratfalls:

Doing Yourself in, aka Self-Sabotage:

Eating (or drinking) gluten, and going into a gluten crash can feel like a sudden burst of energy. It can even be addictive. In fact, it’s a jolt to the adrenals, which respond by gushing the stress hormone, cortisol. Histamine reaction-headache may also ramp up.

After agitation, comes malabsorption---a drop in energy will likely follow the faux-energy of the adrenal-jolt---with possible depression, possible remorse, relapse of gluten-related medical conditions and candida mental fog.

What does malabsorption actually mean? It means, the body not absorbing the nutrients it needs for serene functioning: Not absorbing the energy-powering B-Vites, calming minerals, essential fatty acids, Vitamins A,D,E.  Big stuff, and the bod is not happy thus deprived.

Pavarotti sings, "Laugh, clown" 
in Pagliacci
Enrico Caruso in that role

Gluten-malabsorption can cause pretty ruthless self-absorption.  

On what?  On getting needs met. The malabsorption joke being---there’s never enough!

Enough what? Enough nummies, enough possessions to feel buffered and safe, enough acclaim, enough money, enough love. 

In gluten crash dis-equilibrium, sudden poor judgment can impact your future.

A Gluten Crash may feel like the perfect time to: 

1) Tell off your boss and quit your job, without having lined up Plan B.
2) Break a commitment, not show up, not take the final, nor bother to explain.     

3) Suggest to your spouse that you’re fed up, and heading to Cancun.

 4)  You may imagine any behavior at that time to be justified and long over-due.

Gluten can, thus, be “used” when feeling overwhelmed, as a sort of oblique blow to self or others:

1) Heavy date coming up?  Eat gluten, and behave like a jerk.

2) Big test?  Eat gluten, and become too agitated to sleep or concentrate. 

3) Leaving on a trip, which makes you uneasy?  Eat gluten, and misplace car keys, tickets, forget vital papers, or just blow it off. 

Case Histories:

These make for hard reading. Please feel free to skip the heavy stuff, and just enjoy becoming gluten-free with the great recipes in Part 2. Mishaps do happen, however. Check back to this section when feeling upbeat and robust.

Fertility: I once worked with a couple who ostensibly wanted children. Translation: The husband did, very much so. The wife, however, was ambivalent. Poignant sabotage followed.

She was adored by her husband and enjoyed being the one and only focus of his devotion. Their jobs also gave them summers free for international travel. She was concerned that resort stays would have to end, with the expense of children and the business of diapers.

So?  Her biological clock was ticking away. When they decided to try to conceive, it had to be IVF, the costly and not altogether benign in-vitro-fertilization. I saw them through three IVF’s. Three.

What happened? Her husband helped with the hormone shots, much fussing and pampering. She conceived. Eureka. Each of those three times, as the pregnancy advanced, she ate gluten, inadvertently or otherwise; went into inflammatory process, and miscarried.

Last I knew, their insurance company had refused to fund another $10k+ procedure.

Child with Auto-Immune Disease: Please see Part 1 in this series for the ways in which gluten reaction can trigger auto-immune diseases:
In this child's case, she suffered from Crohn's Disease---the intestines can become so damaged by the body attacking itself, that the intestines may have to be surgically removed. The person is then fitted with an external plastic pouch into which feces empty.

The child's whole family came for the consult, and the whole family had presenting symptoms of gluten-intolerance. It's easier to go gluten-free if the family does so; they were willing. The little girl, age 9, carried adult manner of knowing pain, was listless, easily tired.

She was being medically treated with anti-inflammatory drugs. Questions about her diet had not been posed. The family had been eating gluten at every meal.

Changing her food over to non-gluten grains, the child became, well, a child: rosy-cheeked, pain-free, giggly and playful. Her parents, however, had come from pretty stressful gluten-intolerant families of their own. Odd behavior can continue to emanate from hard childhoods.

The little girl went to a friend's birthday party. She was sent off without any gluten-free treats of her own, a basic no-no. Naturally, she phoned home and asked if she could eat some of the wheat flour birthday cake. Her mother said, yes.

I heard about this when a mutual friend alerted me---the child had been in the ICU for ten days, in Crohn's Disease reaction to the gluten eaten.

Trust Fund Baby: This client had difficulty in going gluten-free, as she ate NO meals at home. She easily spent $2-3,000/mo. on restaurant meals. Why? She deserved it, that’s why, and her rich and neglectful family could pay for it from here to eternity. Bought-meals were a sort of bitter shadow-boxing with the family which had not nurtured.

The maitre de filled in, more or less, and the spa attendants, and the plastic surgeon.

Surgeries the Many: In fact some food allergy clients undergo surgery after surgery in an effort to grow more beautiful, more perfect, remove pain parts, and feel intensely nurtured by medical health care professionals. 

The “never-enoughness” of nutrient malabsorption can actually foster medical symptoms and emergencies. No sh*t, Sherlock. If we’re talking liposuction and face lifts, eventually the bod just looks abused and scarred. Think: Michael Jackson. 

I had one client married to a very wealthy man, a bank VP. She got back at him with costly shopping sprees and many plastic surgeries (during which she experienced the “mercy” of anaesthesia.) Hot shot hubby was a pedophile of his own children, and on “business trips” to Thailand. Troubled wife did not want to give up her lavish life style. 

Botox and face lifts had made her facial skin so rigid she could barely move her mouth to speak. She was severely gluten-intolerant and went on bulimic binges when overwhelmed with her disaster of a nuclear family.

Gluten-Intolerant People Tend to Partner. Why?

1)      Gluten-intolerant folks simply understand one another. As individuals, they may have been shunned as weird, quirky, out-of-the-box thinkers; maybe somewhat dyslexic, maybe accident-prone. (Very tempting to insert George W. Bush quotes and pratfall photos here.) 

2)      They may feel drawn to one another by a commonality of pain, of having both come from dysfunctional, perhaps alcoholic, family systems.

3)      As gluten can affect thyroid function, here’s an interesting pattern of partnering: Those with over-stimulated thyroid function tend to be high-spirited, maybe co-dependent, and may mate/join with lower thyroid function, aka Depressives… Pumping up leaky bicycle tires and pretending that everything’s FINE.

4)      Another, less benign, partnering: Gluten inflammation can cause agitation/anger, rage-aholic behavior. In Chinese medicine, it’s called “excess liver chi.” Many gluten-intolerant families may be structured as control freak abuser and browbeaten victim(s.) This being a flavor which perpetuates down the generations and can breed mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse.

    Those endeavoring to break that curse or pattern have 12-step options, and often enter service professions, having dealt with emotional emergencies since childhood, e.g., ER personnel, crisis hot line, counseling, pastoral work, social services, etc.

Coming up for air, here’s the deal: The clarity in going gluten-free changes patterns, some of them very old, some inter-generational. Some old alliances may not change with you. 

There are helpers along the way, 12-step, and just synchronicity and grace. It’s a journey worth doing, a marvelous adventure, like-minds and warm hearts.  

You get your life back. 

The Obligatory Disclaimer: 
Public service info offered at this site should in no way be construed as medical advice. For any health concerns, see your health care professional.

Note to Readers:   
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1 comment:

  1. Useful colleague input; thanks to meg-abear:

    Not to be taken lightly. I've seen it first hand cause seizures in one person and deterioration of the spine in another (osteoporosis.)

    In both cases when gluten was removed from the diet the symptoms disappeared within 10 days.

    The havoc gluten can cause is often creeps up on you and not a doctor in a million will diagnosis it right (if it doesn't present in gastro-related symptoms).


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