February 13, 2014 9.19 am This story is over 117 months old

Gluten free and me

Learning curve: Sam Pidoux explains how being diagnosed with a wheat intolerance helped her learn to love food and cooking again.

From a very young age I have been fascinated by the taste, smell and colour of food. I love food, it is that simple. I love cooking with ingredients and making something from essentially nothing. Eight years ago, I lost my passion for food, but over the years I slowly managed to learn how to live without wheat and find a way to enjoy food my way.

Never in a million years was I expecting to be told that wheat, a main ingredient in lots of staples, was the cause of me feeling the way that I did. I don’t want to go into the in and out of what happens when I eat wheat, but some of the not so traumatic symptoms for me are crippling cramps and bloating. The reality sank in as I learnt to live without wheat, I might have started to feel better, but what I found quite hard was falling out of love with my passion, food.

For the first time in my life I was having to think twice about what I ate and what food contained, something for years that I had taken for granted. Food shopping became a nightmare as it took me three times as long to do a weekly shop. I spent most of my hours in the supermarket reading ingredient labels and browsing the shelves for alternatives.

I remember one afternoon leaving the supermarket in despair and in tears as I was so fed up of reading labels. I could not understand why so many foods and ingredients contained wheat. Now I know that it is used as a bulking agent – it can be a cheaper alternative than using better quality ingredients.

Having fallen out of love with food and thinking that I would never be able to eat soft fluffy cakes and pizza again, I packed away all of my cook books and sulked. It felt like I was destined to eat boring fruit, veg, meat and fish for the rest of my life.

My taste buds were aching to eat something that was going to excite them, but I was worried and scared that if I did something a bit different to my chicken salad I would become poorly. I was enjoying feeling much better, and for the first time in a long time my body was not fighting with the food that I put into it.

After a couple of years of this heart ache I found myself watching — well, I was addicted — to food programmes. My attitude to start with was one of jealousy as I watched chefs and TV cooks make some beautiful dishes. But over time, my jealousy subsided and instead my mind was racing with creative ideas on how to make these dishes gluten and wheat free.

I soon realised that I should not be afraid of experimenting with food and different ingredients, but I was being given an opportunity to re-educate myself about food. I now share my passion for gluten free food with others, and I love showing them that it is possible to create some of your favourite wheat based treats in a gluten-free way.

Sam Pidoux shares gluten free recipes regularly on her blog.

Sam Pidoux is a multi-award winning journalist and part-time lecturer at the University of Lincoln. Her passion for baking was nurtured by her grandma and since being diagnosed with a wheat intolerance in 2007, Sam loves experimenting in the kitchen and creating delicious gluten-free savoury dishes and cakes.