In spite of a lack of sleep, I prepared to spend the day at my laptop preparing client programmes and dispensing remedies. Having woken too early, I felt irritable. Tasks took me twice as long because of brain fog – a common symptom of gluten intolerance. Many people are unaware that progressive memory loss and declining cognition may be linked to the fires of autoimmunity which can eventually progress to neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s. But this couldn’t be happening after half a slice of bread, could it?
I decided that the organic sourdough I had had on Day One may not be representative of modern gluten, so instead I ate a third of a slice of Duchy Original organic brown bread. Remembering my cravings for Mother’s Pride white, or rather grey, sliced bread and Fray Bentos Steak & Kidney Puddings heated in their aluminium tins during my pregnancies thirty years ago when anything green made me gag, this organic sliced loaf looked as if it might reignite the warm feelings associated with eating bread in my distant past, which had not been met by the healthier Danish sourdough with which I had begun my recent gluten journey.
But again, I was to be disappointed. The bread seemed heavy and bland with a foam-like texture not dissimilar to how I imagine it would be to eat a damp, memory foam mattress. I tried to liven it up with some soft goat’s cheese and raw butter. But I was really surprised at how dull these foods tasted compared to my colourful, crunchy, refreshing raw diet with its abundance of different flavours and textures.
It reminded me of giving up smoking. In my Twenties, I had puffed away like everyone else and my social life was experienced through a haze a cigarette smoke. I had two yellow fingers to prove it and my clothes and hair stank of smoke. But that didn’t matter because everyone else was the same. Parties – and as a nurse at Bart’s I went to many with medical students who not only smoked like chimneys but drank ethanol (one per cent proof and used to embalm the diseased organs in the Morbid Anatomy Museum) – we were accustomed to existing in a permanent fog which began around waist height, and lingered well into the next day.
When I later worked in television everyone smoked and the control room or editing suit was so befugged that you felt as if you had a sixty-a-day habit even if you were a non-smoker. The only respite was when you were on location and got to spend the day outside.
But as every reformed smoker knows, cigarettes undergo a process that transforms them from highly desirable to revolting. And there is no one more vociferous about smoking than an ex-smoker. Was the same process at play when coming off unnatural foods? Did your taste buds too undergo changes after having become accustomed to real food? I had, after all, gone from salivating over my husband’s pizza on a Saturday night to being repulsed by its junk-foody odour. Is it a bit like acquiring a taste for designer clothes or good literature?
But back to Day Two. Irritable and befuddled, I didn’t have a bowel movement until late in the afternoon which, having been used to three or four a day on my grain-free diet, was a bit disconcerting. I also felt chilly about half an hour after eating the suspect foods – a common sign that something has provoked a stress response, and my heartrate increased. Changes in heartrate are used in Coca Pulse Testing to help identify a negative autonomic response.
But the worst symptom for me was that I felt fat. Weight is rapidly lost over the first few days when coming off wheat due to loss of fluid. The body will hold on to fluid in an attempt to dilute the offending substance. Having enjoyed freedom from the tyranny of daily weighing and yearly dieting on my raw diet, this was an unpleasant and worrying symptom. Oh God, I don’t want to go back to the sensation of tight jeans on my thighs, being restricted to wearing concealing clothes and the general feeling of sluggish self-loathing that accompanies it.
Let’s get these 10 days over with – and fast (pun intended)!