In case you’re new, I’m allergic to wheat. It’s one of the many things that is wrong with me. I didn’t always have a food allergy, and here’s the short version about how it happened (and if you already know the back story or you don’t care, skip to the 3rd paragraph): About nine years ago I started getting sick. It started one October and I literally threw up almost every day until the following January. The only reason I didn’t puke seven days a week was because there were some days I was too sick to eat any food. I had to go to the hospital more times than I’d care to recall so I could be re-hydrated and given IV medications to stop the puke-a-thon. They’d send me home, tell me to stick to a bland diet and then the whole cycle would start over again once I ate a piece of bread, crackers, pretzels, or anything else made with wheat/flour. So after three months, an upper GI, CT scan, and a barrage of blood work and other rather unpleasant exams, no one ever mentioned the possibility that I could have developed a food allergy at age 23. Well, no one except my chiropractor, who was a bit alternative even for a chiropractor, and a lady my Mom worked with who had a similar experience.
So I cut all wheat products out of my diet and I stopped getting sick. It was like a God damn miracle. My initial intent was to slowly introduce wheat back into my diet and see what happened. I never made it that far though because I ended up eating food containing wheat by accident. I learned the hard way quite a few times about how foods are labeled such as “modified food starch” could contain wheat, and one of the worst was eating food that was labeled “gluten/wheat free” BUT also label as “made in a facility that processes wheat.” Basically that means that there could be cross contamination and as long as that’s on the label, it’s an eat at your own risk situation. Wheat is also in a number of foods you might not expect, or realize, like some soy sauces, seasonings, and let’s not even talk about beer/alcohol (it just depresses me). My point here is that I’ve basically become a label freak and read and analyze everything before I eat it. If I’m going to a restaurant that is a larger chain I go to their website, read about ingredients, and have even emailed with questions. If I was going to eat wheat and get sick on purpose I’d eat a whole pizza, drink a ton of beer, or enjoy a Cappriotti’s Italian sub with extra pickles.
So anyway, I’ve had two recent wheat accidents. One was at a Wendy’s where I ate some French Fries, which at some point used to be listed as gluten free on their website, but now either the fries themselves have changed or now they are just cooked in the same oil as other wheaty items like chicken nuggets. Either way, I love french fries, and Wendy’s fries were always my favorite, but now I can’t eat them. The last time I ate them I was super, super sick. Did I also mention that aside from puking, getting the cha-cha’s along with swelling in (ALL) my joints? So it’s real easy for me to determine when I have a stomach bug/food poisoning versus wheat poisoning.
Even though I already knew the answer, I called Wendy’s customer service to confirm their fries were now another item I could not eat. I told the customer service rep my story, and instead of saying, “sorry, the new fries do contain wheat and we’re so sorry you were sick for three days after eating them” she says, “Yep. The fries do have wheat. The good news is you can still eat our salads without the croutons.” That’s the good news? Seriously? I don’t know about any of you, but there is nothing appealing about eating a Wendy’s salad. If I wanted to eat something sure to give me diarrhea like their nasty lettuce, I’d just eat the fucking french fries. That was pretty much my response to her too.
Over the weekend I opened a letter from the Perdue company and found an enclosed check for $15.00. They sent this in response to an inquiry I made into their Perfect Portion individually wrapped chicken breasts with roasted garlic seasoning. The package said “gluten free” but the time I spent in the bathroom, and the very unpleasant things that happened in there (along with the joint pain), was a pretty big indication to me it was not gluten free as advertised. They sent me a very generic response to my initial inquiry about the cleanliness of their sites, how they feed, monitor and process the chickens which didn’t answer my question which was “are there other items that you process in your plant that contain wheat?” They actually called and left me a voicemail saying there was no chance of contamination because the plant was wiped clean at night and the gluten free products are always made first. I took that as there are wheat products in the plant, and as such there IS a chance of contamination. As far as the $15 check they sent, are they paying me back for the product or for the pain and suffering…or perhaps for the toilet paper I had to use? At least they didn’t suggest I eat a salad.
In other news, I’m losing weight still without the need to exercise. It’s probably in part to my occasional accidental wheat-purging and the fact that I’m reduced to eating foods like salad (thanks Wendy for the suggestion). Also because I haven’t had french fries in months which may be the cause of my bitchiness (not the cold weather as I initially thought). Sorry for the whining, I let myself indulge in a pity party every once in a while about my allergy. I know it could be worse, but to someone who loves food as much as I do, and someone who would love the simplicity of eating a fucking sandwich, it’s a bummer.
Oh, and just so you all don’t experience anything close to what I go through when I eat wheat, please don’t miss the Skippy Peanut Butter recall. It sounds shitty. Happy Monday!