Yes, that is right. I seem to have developed a wheat allergy at the age of 29. Maybe some of you know I just turned 30 last month, and I didn’t actually figure out it was wheat until about a week ago, but the allergy has been developing for the past few months now.
Let me back up. A few months ago, I started using Triamcinalon, a medium-level steroid cream on my son. Sometime thereafter I noticed that I would often get itchy right before bed in a small area, like my calf or lower back or wherever it was. For a while I thought it was that I was reacting to the medication. Maybe if I got some gloves to use while I put it on, I would be better. But I never got the gloves, and I only itched for a few minutes in the evening, so I wasn’t very motivated to do anything about it.
But gradually it got worse. I started being mildly itchy during the day, and the itchy spells in the evening became more intense and widespread. I would find myself scratching off and on for half an hour while trying to go to sleep. I also had pretty much figured out that it wasn’t the Triamcinalon, because some nights he didn’t need it, and some nights Daddy put it on, and yet I was still itchy. But I wasn’t always as itchy to the same degree every night–it would vary somewhat.
I didn’t want to admit it, so I ignored it for a while, but finally it started getting too much to ignore. I was breaking out with these little bumps wherever I was itchy, and when I scratched, it would raise welts and even get hot sometimes (though that only lasted for a few minutes and disappeared as the itch died away). Finally I decided I must be allergic to something. I suspected sugar at first (I have a gargantuan sweet tooth–which is shrinking, by the way), but I still itched even when I completely avoided it. So I figured it couldn’t be that. My next suspect was wheat.
Now, you must understand something about our diet. We don’t have the typical American diet by any means. We can go anywhere from 1-3 days without eating wheat for breakfast or lunch. We don’t eat bread with every meal. In fact, bread usually only gets eaten for sandwiches or as toast for supper. And since I don’t eat supper, there were days I didn’t eat wheat at all. So I started paying attention to how much I itched every evening, and taking note of whether I had had wheat that day or not.
And I definitely noticed a pattern. The days I didn’t get any wheat I itched very little. The night I itched the worst was the day that I had biscuits for breakfast and cornbread (with wheat flour) for lunch. And thus I diagnosed my wheat allergy. Or sensitivity, or whatever it is.
So things are going to be different around here. I’m not cutting wheat out 100% just yet–with my son’s allergies and everything I’m trying to do, that just isn’t something I am ready to do yet. But like I said, we already have many wheat-free days. So I’m going to take one recipe at a time and figure out how to substitute either the recipe or the wheat in it. Last night I took my souffle recipe and used oats instead of breadcrumbs. It turned out okay, except I think I need to increase the salt slightly, or add something else, since oats have less flavor than breadcrumbs. The texture was good, though.
I am also doing an experiment with kamut, and soon will try spelt. They are both related to wheat, but some people with a wheat allergy can eat them. So today I made cornbread (we eat it every week here!), and used freshly ground kamut flour in it. They didn’t raise quite as high as they would have with pastry flour (what I usually use), but they tasted just as good. I have also made it with barley flour, but I wanted to test the kamut. I have also made biscuits with 100% kamut flour, and they turned out beautifully. I haven’t had any wheat since Saturday, and I have been less itchy every night. If I get more itchy tonight, I’ll know I can’t eat kamut either. If I don’t, then maybe I can use it in place of wheat in some things. If not, I know I can make that recipe with barley flour (my mom does it that way), so at least I will be able to continue to make this family favorite!
I got a bread machine recipe for spelt bread, and I can get spelt flour at the grocery store. So I am going to try spelt soon. If I can handle kamut and spelt, I don’t think I’ll even miss wheat. If I can’t… well, then I guess I’ll have to get more creative!
Have you ever had an allergy show up in your adulthood? Please tell me about it! I would love to know how you dealt with it, how you adjusted. And check back soon for the results of today’s kamut test!