Saturday, July 31, 2010

Another gluten-free gal

I just started gluten-free living in HK about a month ago. Luckily, I found most of the key information on geoexpat about living a gluten free life in HK.

Here is a thread where you can find details of restaurants, grocery shops, etc in HK.

I'll try to summarise everyone's recommendation here in the next few entries.

More background info about me
To tell you more about myself. I grew up in Hong Kong, but had later gone abroad to study and work for over 10 years. Within 1 year of moving back to Hong Kong, I found that I have wheat/gluten intolerance/allergy!

How I found out about the allergy?
A few months ago I started getting dermatitis (rashes?) on my face, and they strated to spread to my neck and shoulder. It got so itchy! I tried differnt medicines from my very nice family doctor (HK Sanatorium Central Clinic). I went to a dermotologist. They gave me different kind medicine and steroid cream or other ointment. The condition got better sometimes and worse most of the times. I kept telling people about my allergy (not like I can hide it as it was literally written all over my face). Luckily I got a referral to naturopath in Hong Kong (Dr. Graeme Bradshaw), who recommended me to get a allergy blood test. I got suggestions for the South China Allergy Test for IgE (immediate/allergy) and York Test York Test for IgG (delayed/intolerance) but ended up doing the US biotek test for both IgG and IgE reaction to food. The result showed that I am allergic to Wheat/Gluten (穀膠過敏), plus a few other things.

According to various people including Aileen on geoexpat, you need specific tests to see if you have just gluten allergy or gluten intolerance or celiac disease: "They should order at least three tests: Total IgA; IgA antitissue transglutaminase (tTG); and IgA antiendomysial antibody immunofluorescence (EMA). If you're already on a GF diet, the results may not be conclusive. If the tests indicate celiac disease, they should do an intestinal biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. If you are diagnosed with celiac disease they may do other blood tests to look for various deficiencies." I haven't gotten around to do this... So I'm not sure if I have celiac disease.

First baby step to recovery
I was doing 3 things at the same time: quit gluten, take prescribed natural remedies, take greens+.

I heard that there is no real recovery if you get celiac disease. I duno if mine is celiac disease (so far I assumed it is), but my naturopath prescribed vitamin B complex, some fish oil, and some other natural remedies to me.

At the same time I was taking the natural remedies, I also got Greens+ daily detox from Canada. I was on this (and the natural remedies) for about a week, and then my rashes receded! Since Greens+ tasted pretty nasty and since my rashes receded, I stopped taking it for about a week. Within days my rashes came back! Since then, I believed Greens+ do me good and has been taking it for over a month now. Well I still have rashes on my shoulder and my neck, but at least not on my face.

That's the baby step to my smooth skin. I duno how well my digestive system is recovering right now. But I'm feeling better and more energetic than before. I heard people talking about sickening stomach and bloating - I think I felt them before and less so now. =)

So this is who I am =) I'm no doctor or specialist. So please don't quote me on any of those terms or tests... You can find a lot more information on other specialist websites, which I'm still exploring. But feel free to correct me or share your experience.

Why this blog
As I said, there is so limited information on gluten free living in Hong Kong. I was really glad to find the geoexpat forum when I first got the allergy - it felt like finding a stream of water in a desert; felt like I was not alone; and it felt like living gluten-free in Hong Kong is not impossible afterall.... Too bad most information about Gluten free in HK is in English and almost nothing in Chinese! I wish my Chinese typing is better (faster) so that I could share with even more people...

In the mean time, I'm hoping through this website I can share my discovery in my gluten-free exploration in HK and raise awareness amongst my small circle of friends and relatives. I live and work on the Island side so my entries will be focused on the Island side of HK.

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