The Trouble With Bread And A Wheat Intolerance

February 21, 2014

A few weeks ago I had an epiphany. This is slightly concerning to me because three times in the last month I have looked my mum in the eye and said “Mother, I have had an epiphany” and what if we only get a limited amount of epiphanies in life? I feel like I might be using up all of mine on thoughts to do with my lovelife and carbohydrates. I should probably be saving them up for the times I think about World Debt and the problems with Justin Bieber.

Anyway, I had this epiphany. It followed a week that I have not been completely comfortable with, a week of my meals being 20 unhealthy/80 paleo instead of 80/20. I’d been a bit naughty and used the excuse of a few meals out, some special occasions and a couple of dinner parties to go wild in the evenings with the bread, pizza and brownies. And boy, have I felt it. I’ve been sluggish, bloated, tired and spotty. I’ve felt low and have lacked energy. But it’s a vicious cycle: the more I’ve felt lazy and tired the less I’ve wanted to cook and the more carbs I’ve craved. ARGH.

On the day of the epiphany at the lunchtime pre-school run I picked up a loaf of granary bread. Not for me, for the kids to have with the soup we were having for lunch (the most incredible vegan Carrot and Coconut soup… and I don’t even like to eat soup! Recipe coming soon). But because I can resist many things but not the temptation of carbohydrates when they’re in my house I buttered up a couple of pieces of that delicious delicious granary goodness for me to have with my own lunch. I gave myself a mental slap on the hand for doing it, and another one for not having baked the bread myself, but figured it was still pretty healthy after my breakfast of grapes and banana. And it was brown, after all. Much more healthy than a slab of white bread.

Pork Belly pizza

Pizza Express’s epic pork belly pizza… am still dreaming about this.

But then about 40 minutes after lunch – BOOM! Like a brick wall, the fatigue hit. It was a literal slap in the face, coming after a brilliant night’s sleep and a day of working and being active. My eyes and limbs were heavy and I felt so very sleepy, it was awful. If I could have crawled into bed for a nap I would have but instead I Netflix’ed some Pixar and sat on the sofa with the kids.

And this is when it hit me. This post-lunch slump that I’ve always accepted as being part and parcel of being a busy mum, and before that having a demanding full time job, it is because of the WHEAT. I already knew that wheat made me uncomfortably bloated, but this tiredness that I’ve always assumed was a natural slump in my daily body clock, it’s because of what I’m eating for lunch.

(PS: by this point I was so bloated that I had to undo the button of my jeans. Bloody bloating)

I have always been a pretty tired person. I’ve always napped or enjoyed a lie-in at every opportunity and it’s been a great big pain in my wheat-filled arse. I’ve felt lazy at times, frustrated with the fact that my body doesn’t perform like some others, annoyed that it seemed to require so much sleep. Even now with the children sleeping til 7am I often have to take a nap in the middle of the day. I’ve assumed this has just been me, but now I’m wondering if this is simply down to the damned wheat?

I peeled myself off the sofa to do a bit of research and low and behold, chronic fatigue is a symptom of a gluten intolerance. It’s in black and white and you can read more about it here, here and here. I scoured every bit of information I could find and rejoiced: I can’t tell you how liberating this information is, it could explain so much. Falling asleep in afternoon meetings, having to take a nap in my car at work. Not being able to cope with young babies because I’m SO. FREAKING. TIRED. It’s my bloody diet!

For dinner I made the kids toad in the hole and thought it was only fair to carry out a bit of an experiment: I tried one of their Yorkshire puddings to see the effect it had on me. It happened again. Like clockwork the bloating and the fatigue followed, though as it was the end of the day it seemed a little less noticeable.

Chocolate brownies

I feel a little bit mad with myself. If I’d have known that I was intolerant to gluten 5, even 3 years ago, my life could have been completely different. I have wasted so much time asleep after eating meals, it’s like I’m going to be given the gift of an extra two hours every day. I’m also mad that under no circumstances will I be letting myself eat gluten in the middle of the day because golly gosh do I miss bread. Buttery toast with marmite, crusty bread with a big slick of butter. French stick dipped in brie. No more – I’m back to green juices at breakfast and big ol’ carb-free salads for lunch.

But as much as I miss bread I miss the part of my life that carries on without me when I’m napping after lunch.

NB: I’m in no way a dietician or nutritionist and I will be referring to the professionals when it comes to checking my diet is sustainable and healthy. Paleo 4 life, etc. 

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  • Reply Anya from Older Single Mum and The Healer February 21, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    Wheat intolerance is actually far more common than people realise. People think tiredness and bloating is normal – when it’s not, it’s common. So glad you’ve had your epiphany. Another one to watch is dairy products. Tons of gluten free bread out there – or you can make your own obvs – and I give the pasta to my kids without them noticing the difference. Heaven only knows what you’ll now be capable of with another two hours to achieve stuff though! :)

  • Reply Honest Mum February 21, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    I hear this and suffer the same. Like you I follow low carb/paleo most of the time but enjoy odd treat guilt free day a week usually where I eat as I like. Wheat is definitely not my friend though, nor is it my Mum’s. As soon as I eat it, I get a blocked nose, feel bloated and lethargic. It doesn’t mean I will never eat wheat but I generally stay away from it. Spelt flour bread is a lot better for me and great for baking occasional treat.

    A lot of brown bread is dyed refined white bread anyway-saying that eve granary hates me! I could never live in France!

  • Reply Mammasaurus February 21, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    A few months ago when I went on a random fortnight of only eating fruit and veg I found I had soooo much more energy so I can totally see how this might be the case. I’m going to try cutting out wheat shizzle next week and see if it makes a difference!

  • Reply Esther Summers February 21, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    This is so me!!!! I have the exact same reaction to wheat too and I’m trying desperately to follow a paleo style, gluten free diet. But it’s so hard to give up the carbs as they are totally addictive. On the other hand I’m fed up of the awful fatigue I constantly suffer and the bloating, sinus congestion and brain fog. So I’m going cold turkey I don’t think I can do any in between. Loving all the Paleo updates and your Pinterest board, it serves as good inspiration.

  • Reply MrsB February 21, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    I love these kinds of epiphanies! For me the bloating & fatigue comes mostly from sugar, but considering that most baked goods have loads of sugar in them (even bread) I stay away from bread (most of the time).

  • Reply Katie Albury February 22, 2014 at 11:55 am

    Welcome to the Gluten Free Club…it’s great…sometimes…ok not all the time. Like on my Honeymoon to Mexico, they forgot to order me a GF meal so I survived a ten hour flight on four side salads! I’ve been telling my friends for years how they should ditch the gluten based carb demons as it’s not only healthier for you, but it does give you so much more energy and stops that horrid bloating. I even had a 20 minute chat with shoppers down the GF aisle yesterday in Asda, discussing the positives of cutting gluten out of our diets. Gluten free is definitely the way forward- unless you get addicted to Waitrose’s Gluten Free Blonde Millionaires- then you’re in trouble.
    I’ve done a few GF posts/features on my blog if you’re ever looking for tips and food alternatives!

    Katie x

  • Reply Izzie Anderton February 22, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    Yay to having that epiphany! It’s never made any sense that after only a day of eating lots of fruit & veg I have so much more energy and conversely a day crammed with carbs leaves me feeling sleepy! But whatever works is all good!

  • Reply Katy Beale February 23, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    Have you tried much gluten free off-the-shelf stuff? I’m wondering if gluten free bread might curb the occasional NEED SOME TOAST cravings.

    It’s sooo easy to slip into marmite on toast when you are at home, isn’t it? I find having a a veg box is good as I feel like we absolutely must eat it all or it’s a waste of money!

  • Reply Beauty Button February 23, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    I completely agree – well I think I do….I need to seriously overhaul my diet. I am 35, and although I (try to) eat healthily, I am aware that I don’t do enough by far….I’m noticing tiredness, no energy, etc getting worse – which I am putting down to diet and getting older (can’t get away with it anymore). I’ve been following your paleo info but not sure I can go hardcore…

  • Reply Zoe February 24, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    Although I am lucky enough to not be wheat intolerant – I think! – I have been so inspired by the lifestyle changes you are making and writing about at the moment. So much so I am off to join a gym today. I hope I enjoy it even a bit as much as you do. So thank you for pulling me out of my winter fug and giving me a kick up the bum!

  • Reply Tanya (Bump2Basics) February 27, 2014 at 8:24 am

    Embrace the epiphanies and hope you feel better for this latest one! And while I can’t claim to be a paleo girl through and through, I have to say that your posts related to this topic have inspired some paleo style cooking in my house and I’ve really enjoyed it.

    There’s a tag for you over at mine too :)

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