Wheat-Free.org is run by wheat allergic and wheat eating people, and in 2006 we relocated from the UK to the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, Canada, where we now experiment with wheat free recipes while looking out of the window at the snowcapped mountains.
Helen, the owner of Wheat-Free.org was originally diagnosed with a wheat allergy in 1997 after suffering with food poisoning in France caused by eating seafood that had obviously gone bad.
"Having motorcycled around France with food poisoning I can tell you it's no fun. Motorcycle leathers that zip together around the waist also compound the misery and worry of being caught in an unpleasant situation, and with a lack of public conveniences and restaurant washrooms that seemingly are cleaned once a year, it wasn't really ideal.
"I can pinpoint the exact meal that was the problem, we stopped one evening at a pizza parlour not far from the campsite. It didn't look the most hygienic of eating places, however our travelling companions wanted pizza, so pizza it had to be.
"The pizzas were served and looked disgusting, but we were all hungry. My pizza came out with prawns, mussels, and whole squid on it, whole squid on a pizza... yeeeuk! Being English obviously didn't help as the service was lousy as well.
"Having eaten only half the pizzas we left—rapidly. 24 hours later I had raging food poisoning and an already miserable holiday—due to the bickering travelling companions we had—was even more miserable.
"The problems with wheat started slowly after that, once I was recovered from the food poisoning I noticed that after eating pasta and pizza I needed to visit the bathroom immediately after eating. But bread, biscuits, cakes etc didn't have an effect. Then it started to get a problem with large-ish quantities of bread e.g. 2 slices in a sandwich.
"Then I became more sensitive to biscuits and smaller quantities, but pasta and pizza were always the most devastating to my body, leaving me in the toilet for 30 minutes with such severe diarrhoea I would feel dizzy and weak afterwards. Other side effects were bloating, stomach pains, body/joint pain, stiff hands every morning on waking, headaches, mood swings, and general poor health.
"Finally I went to my doctor, who surprisingly listened to my theory that wheat was the cause of all these problems. He sent me to the hospital to check it out. But the appointment was so far in the future that I withdrew wheat from my diet beforehand and kept a food diary—which I took with me to the hospital. The hospital had no doubt that wheat was the culprit, and it wasn't just a wheat intolerance, because trying to reintroduce even a small amount back into my diet, after being wheat free for several weeks, caused such devastating side effects there was no argument that I could never eat wheat again. A full blown reaction would occur within seconds of even a crumb of wheat passing my lips.
"Having been sent off by the hospital with a scrappy photocopied sheet telling me to avoid bread, pasta, cakes, biscuits etc, and to eat rice cakes in their place I was left to try to live a healthy wheat free life without any help or support. It was tough, there was so little wheat free information or products about that to start with it was extremely distressing, and being a food lover I thought that the world had ended. But I persevered in finding the information I needed to eat healthily—without missing out—and Wheat-Free.org was born.
"However in 2007 skin prick tests confirmed it wasn't an actual wheat allergy, but an unidentifiable auto-immune problem (read more) and celiac disease testing also produced a negative (read more), but you need to be eating gluten prior to the test for it to show any results, and of course if you can't tolerate even a speck of wheat it's not going to work. And after eating wheat the reaction would be so severe I wouldn't be in a fit state for the sedation. I was sent away with a probable 'false negative' according to the specialist."
At Wheat-Free.org we believe that if we understand the issues that wheat allergic and wheat intolerant people suffer, then we can highlight those issues and make it easier for people newly diagnosed and panicking, or people that have been suffering a long time and just want to know that there is a resource out there for them to refer to, to get new ideas, ask questions, offer their own suggestions, etc.
Being diagnosed with a wheat allergy or intolerance is distressing and the above illustrates that we know what it is, we know how difficult it is, and we know that this site makes a difference to people in the same position.
We hope you find the site useful.