The Gluten Experiments: Part 2
Last week I talked about trying out some gluten, just to see what would happen: The Gluten Experiments Part 1. Results were inconclusive, to say the least. So I put a lot of thought into how I could test my gluten reaction without being super-conscious of the whole thing.
I came up with the idea of planting gluten in one of a number of identical dishes, which I would eat each night for dinner. Which one would it be? Would I be able to tell based on my reaction alone?
I enlisted my girlfriend’s help on this one. She made a big pot of chili, and I instructed her to pack the leftovers into three identical glass jars. Then she was to plant gluten in one of those jars, marking it with some secret sign so she could reveal at the end of the experiment which one it was. She was also to plant decoy GF substances in the gluten free jars, so that I wouldn’t automatically know that the one that tasted different was the gluteny one.
She went into the kitchen and got to work. Then she came out after a minute.
Her: There isn’t enough chili for three jars.
Me: Fine. Just do two.
She went back inside, then came out after another minute.
Her: We don’t have a lot of gluten in the house.
Me: It doesn’t matter what kind it is. Just use something.
After a few minutes, I was presented with two identical jars of chili, one with a white lid, the other gold, and the next day, after a very pleasant kayaking trip on the river, I popped a jar and began the experiment I like to call:
Chili With a Hint of Muffin Mix
Day 1—The White Jar
I ate, unable to detect any crunchiness or wheatiness that would give it all away, and went to bed, dreaming all night long that my arm was hurting because I’d been glutened. I woke up, and indeed my left arm did ache very noticably, and my right arm did too. How much gluten did she put in that jar?!
Then I remembered that I had been kayaking the night before. Gluten wasn’t the only cause of arm-ache in the world. Still, I couldn’t shake the conviction that I’d eaten gluten. I believed I could sense a different flavor of ache in my left arm, a gluteny one. But my conviction wavered when I went about my business and the ‘gluteny ache’ promptly disappeared.
Day 2—The Gold One
Well, this one did taste a bit funny. It was far sweeter than chili was meant to be. But since I was 75% convinced that the glutening had happened the day before, I guessed that my girlfriend had put something strong-tasting in here to throw me off the scent.
I went to bed and woke up with arms that had recovered from their kayaking adventure. But what was that in my left arm? A tiny hint of ache? Maybe? From kayaking? From gluten? Probably from gluten, I decided. But then again, when I stopped concentrating on my arm, this hint of ache disappeared too.
I really couldn’t figure it out. Which one had contained the gluten? Was it a trick? Had there been gluten in both? Or neither? I called my girlfriend and before she revealed the answer, she asked me to guess.
Me: The white one. Or the gold one. Or both. I really don’t know. I can’t say.
Her: It was the gold one, I put a spoonful of blueberry muffin mix in it, but without the blueberries. It was the only gluten I could find. And I put some corn flour in the first one.
Well, I’ve learned one way to make super sweet tasting chili, but have I learned anything else? I’ve mulled it over, and my conclusion is this. If an allergy causes neuropathy so mild I can’t reliably detect it, it really ain’t that much of an allergy. Why am I going to such lengths to avoid gluten? It’s a lot of expense and bother to live a life that’s strictly gluten free. Is worth it at this point?
I think it’s time for me to start getting a lot bolder with these gluten experiments. Stay tuned, I feel there’s going to be a <gasp> sandwich in my future…