Becoming a GFE (Gluten Free Eater)...

Becoming a GFE (Gluten Free Eater)...
Sharon Matten - The GFE (Gluten Free Eater)

It was the best of times.  It was the worst of times.  I was incredibly happy and euphoric.  I was incredibly ill an hour later.  For those of you that are confirmed GFE’s (Gluten Free Eaters) I’m sure you know what I’m all about. I’ll start from somewhere near the beginning. 

Important Note:  This story, is what I experienced a few years ago. Medical science is always coming up with new discoveries.   I am not a doctor and I do not play one on TV, so please contact your own physician for the latest and greatest medical information as it applies to you!  If you have new and verified information please feel free to share it in the comments!  Thanks!!!

Phase 1: A while back I suspected that I had either a gluten intolerance or possibly even Celiac disease.  I had many of the standard symptoms – fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain, fuzzy brain, and an extremely bloated belly.  I basically looked 8 months pregnant (I wasn’t) and was very close to giving birth to my very own bouncing baby loaf of bread.  So…I did the logical thing and went off gluten.  Magically, my health (and figure) started to improve.  I’ve been a GFE ever since. Until…

Phase 2:  I finally decided that I really should find out how severe my gluten intolerance actually was.  I went to a very well respected Celiac doctor at the University of Chicago Medical Center (yay Chicago!) and took a blood test to determine if I had the genetic markers for Celiac disease.  It turns out that if the blood test comes back negative, Celiac disease is ruled out.  It’s a genetic type thing and if you don’t have the genes you can’t have Celiac disease.   However, if your test results come back positive it means nothing.  That’s right.  It’s completely indecisive.  You can have the marker and not have Celiac.  Around 30% of the population actually has the genetic marker, most of those don’t develop Celiac disease.  News for me.  Of course, I had the marker.  Sigh.  So then…

Phase 3: My doctor and I decided it was a good idea to find out whether I actually had Celiac disease.  So, I went back on Gluten!  The only way to make sure that a  biopsy taken via an endoscopy comes out with a positive Celiac sample is to go back on gluten for 8 weeks.  You have to ensure that you mess yourself up enough that a biopsy can conclusively determine if you have Celiac disease. I’m sure that if you’re a GFE the thought of eating soft, squishy, no-nutritional-value white bread, glutenous cookies and pastries, real pizza with wheat based fluffy, chewy and crispy crust, is just a little bit of heaven.  Until it’s not.

For those of us with a severe gluten intolerance or Celiac disease, going back on gluten is a real mixed blessing. There is the visceral reaction that comes with biting into a freshly made Dunkin Donuts Donut, or my very own home baked Challah on Friday night.  You can hear the angels singing…until they’re not.  There is a cost for indulging (ok, so I only had to eat the equivalent of 2 slices of bread a day.  HA! Seriously, it’s like letting a kid loose in a candy store).   Almost exactly one hour after my gluten indulgence fest, the symptoms kicked in like clockwork.  Sigh.  It was the best of times.  It was the worst of times.

So, cutting to the chase, we determined that I do not have Celiac Disease but I dohave a nicely sized gluten intolerance.  15 pounds and lots of stomach pain later I’m back off of gluten.  So happy.  So sad.

Thus began my GFE saga.  After writing for several newspapers, magazines, websites including my very own, and working as a pastry chef, life changed and made doing any of those jobs the way I had been, much more complicated.  If you can’t beat ’em join ’em.

I’ve spent a significant amount of time working on gluten free recipes, searching out cool and delicious gluten free products, investigating fabulous tools to make prep easier, and checking out restaurants for gluten free menu items all over the world.  I’d like to share my experience and experiences with you, and encourage you to share your thoughts, recipes and experiences with me and my readers.

Welcome to , where living life as a GFE is really living life.

I look forward to hearing from you!

All the best,


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