Here is a picture of my son, holding a pizza box. Yes, that was a pizza.
And there’s a picture of Cleo the horrible kitten sitting in the empty pizza box eating the scraps of meat. She likes to sit in/on things that are inappropriate to sit in/on. Like warm skillets sitting on the stove. Cassarole dishes waiting for the input of cassarole. Warm dishwashers as I’m trying to unload the dishes. Something about warmth and her little tushie — it’s very concerning.
But this is a story about gluten, not horrible kittens. You might notice that this pizza box is huge. It’s actually called the Giganta and is made at Monetti’s in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. The boxes, pizza pans, and even the wood-fired oven are custom-made for the restaurant to accommodate this big-ass pizza. The owner had the pans and boxes made exactly wide enough to go through a standard front door, but that’s with some finagelling. My 13-year-old son, being suddenly way taller than me, which is very annoying when I’m trying to yell at him and have to look up, was given the task of fitting it carefully through the in-law’s doorway on Superbowl Sunday. It just fit.
It was fun eating a pizza that was as wide as the dining room table, then topping it off with two brownies.
And then the gluten hit.
I’ve had stomach problems and joint pain my whole life. Recently I looked up “gluten sensitivity” on the internet because of issues my daughter was having with her stomach. It didn’t sound like her issues. But it sounded exactly like mine, even down to the stomach issues, joint pain, headaches, dizziness, fatique, and weakness. Other symptoms include depression, irritability, memory and concentration problems, numbness, balance issues, hives, nasal congestion, nausea, malnutrition, and even infertility.
According to the article, “Clues to Gluten Sensitivity” in the Wall Street Journal online magazine (online.wsj.com), “The incidence of celiac disease is rising sharply—and not just due to greater awareness. Tests comparing old blood samples to recent ones show the rate has increased four-fold in the last 50 years, to at least 1 in 133 Americans. It’s also being diagnosed in people as old as 70 who have eaten gluten safely all their lives.”
Is that not scary?
The article quotes Joseph A. Murray, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., who says, “People aren’t born with this. Something triggers it and with this dramatic rise in all ages, it must be something pervasive in the environment.” One possible culprit the article suggests is agricultural changes to wheat that have boosted its protein content.
So I had to leave during the second quarter of the Superbowl and go home to put on sweat pants. I was so bloated, I had to sleep with a heating pad to sooth the pain in my back and stomach as the gas worked its way through my muscles. It seems that since I’ve cut out a lot of the gluten in my diet, I can’t tolerate it nearly as well.
I’ve had joint pain my whole life. My mom thought it was cute when I was two or so and I told her I had an “arm ache in my tummy.” But the sad thing is, I was already more acquainted with joint pain than tummy aches at that age. I don’t know if the gluten had anything to do with that, but I know since I’ve cut out a lot of the gluten in my diet, my joints don’t hurt as much. I’ve still got the old-age aches and pains we all get as we age, but the random pains in my elbows, knees, and hands are better.
Far be it from me to diagnose anyone, but no one diagnosed me but me, so my advice is, if you have any of the symptoms above, check out gluten sensitivity on the web. There are a lot of gluten-free products available now, from Chex cereal to Hanover pretzels to Minski’s pizza, and I can’t tell much of a difference. I have yet to find a good gluten-free bread, but maybe it’s coming. In the meantime, I will carefully plan when to eat a little gluten. And I will never again eat homemade waffles, Giganta pizza, and brownies in the same day!