Why Gluten-Free? It is often asked by many people … the simple answer is food allergies.
In 2013, I discovered that I had a gluten allergy. It was evident that I had a food allergy, but my food allergy was undiagnosed for 41 years. As a young girl, I would have incredible pain after eating, which followed into adulthood. Doctors would tell my mother my pains were “all in my head” or that I had a “sensitive stomach.” After eating, I would get pains throughout my stomach area that would make me feel like a serrated knife was traveling through my gut—followed by horrible stomach cramps that would lead to explosive diarrhea as well as uncontrolled bowls.
At age nineteen, I was diagnosed with asthma as well as hypothyroidism, causing my digestive issues. Later, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) became my diagnosis, which was wrong. Watch what I eat and manage my stress. In my early thirty’s a car accident revealed a diagnosis of diverticulitis (holes or pockets in my intestines). However, the doctors did say it did not look like normal diverticulitis but similar. People with celiac disease (aka allergic to gluten) have holes in their intestines.
This is me in Spring 2010.
My health kept getting progressively worse. For my entire life, my joints hurt, all-over muscle pain, and a feeling of being nauseated. I had no energy, well, as I generally felt miserable all the time. I was getting chronic yeast infections in my epidermis (skin), allergic conjunctivitis (allergy-related pink eye), constant asthma attacks, and bladder infections for what seemed like three weeks of hell every month. For the longest time, my doctor couldn’t figure out what was causing the problem.
This is the allergic conjunctivitis that started out occasionally and before giving up gluten, was weekly.
Reasons for going Gluten-Free – My Health
There are several reasons why I went gluten-free. End of 2012, I was evaluated for Lupus (negative). The deciding factor for me was in February of 2013 when I tested for lymphoma (negative). Then I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
In April 2013, my pain was so bad that I couldn’t move – sitting, standing, lying, walking, anything hurt. It was the worst it had ever been. With a fibromyalgia diagnosis, I did research online, which said to go gluten-free with my diet. For about two years, my doctor tried to get me to go gluten-free. I thought it was a fad diet. So, I didn’t do it. I always wanted a doctor that would listen to me and my symptoms and had that in Dr. John Stuart. I failed because I didn’t listen to him. Mainly because of how previous doctors had treated me, I just thought he’d be no different, boy. Was I wrong!
Eating right for my blood type
Four years before this, I had gone on a change to eat right for my blood type. I should not eat wheat for my blood type – avoid it at all costs, is what it said. I started looking into lifestyle changes to manage the pain for my fibromyalgia, and it kept coming back to gluten-free. I started researching gluten-free diets – it mirrored the Eat Right for My Blood Type diet. Eating right for my blood type made me think that it could not be just a coincidence.
So, giving up gluten, I had nothing to lose, so I tried it. On day three, my joint pain was gone. By day five, my muscle pain was gone. A week later, on day ten, I was ready to walk around the mall. Walking around the mall was something I hadn’t wanted to do in over a decade. Able to sleep at night. I could breathe better. I didn’t realize how foggy my brain was, but that was gone. Headaches were just gone.
Pain when eating
I had pain when I ate, like a serrated knife going through my gut about 20 minutes after eating. I would get bad stomach cramps. Would have diarrhea, which most of the time was uncontrollable – like when you have food poisoning uncontrollable.
I would complain about this as a child, and my mother took me to the doctor, but they did nothing. They told her I was a hypochondriac and to ignore it, so she did. By the time I was in high school, I had become a meal skipper. Being hungry was better for me than having the pain of eating. It’s a bad sign when hunger pains are the better of pain than what you feel when you eat food. Three (3) days into being gluten-free, all these symptoms were gone. I didn’t have pain when I ate or had
Have Epstein-Barr, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Poly-cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), and Endometriosis. All of these are either autoimmune diseases or affect my immune system. They also affect infertility, among other things. The further I dug into a gluten allergy, I found that eating gluten when allergic can trigger Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Recent studies have found that the body can’t differentiate between the gluten cell and the thyroid cell. Food allergies are a dire and dangerous situation.
The change in me …
In May 2013, I went to my primary care, Dr. John Stuart. He had never seen me in such good health. He asked what I was doing. I told him, gave up gluten, finally. He smiled so big because he just knew it was the core of my issues. We reviewed all my symptoms – gone. We studied my medical history. We talked about how allergies don’t always have to send you into anaphylaxis. It is more dangerous this way because of the long-term damage that can happen to your body internally when left undiagnosed. He offered for me to go back to eating gluten for a minimum of 30 days so we could run the proper blood work if I wanted. He was confident through the elimination diet that I was allergic. I did not opt to eat gluten to do more blood work. He was ok with that.
In June 2013, I went back to the rheumatologist who asked me what I was doing differently. She said I was a completely different person than I had been. I told her I gave up gluten. She examined me. She told me I didn’t even have to come back because I had no signs/symptoms of fibromyalgia.
I went to see my endocrinologist. For the first time in 20 years, my thyroid medication was up to 250 mcg daily but reduced. There had even been talks of removing my thyroid gland. Not now.
I suffered from a vitamin D deficiency. The body does not retain vitamin D. After going gluten-free, it started to maintain that. The doctor said that a vitamin D deficiency was typical due to the gluten allergy.
Gluten’s not what I eat anymore!
For years doctors could not figure out what was wrong with me. What you put into your body is vital to your quality of life. I will never go back to eating gluten. There are moments that it’s more complicated than others. Since being gluten-free, I’ve lost one hundred pounds, and that is without exercising. My weight loss has to do with how the body works with nutrition and a food allergy – it won’t work for everyone. Quality of life is entirely different.
Had gluten exposure because it happens. Mother has been there for that. The first time it happened, she looked at me with tear-filled eyes apologizing. She told me she didn’t know, and the doctors didn’t think there was a problem. I told her I don’t think anyone knew or understood allergies don’t always have the same result in people. Now, if I’m exposed, she asks what I need to get through it and helps me. We then try to figure out what I had that was the issue to avoid it in the future.
Some people use this as a rapid weight loss program – it is not. Some people don’t believe that this is a “real” allergy. It’s just as natural as a nut, shellfish, or antibiotic allergy. I’m happy I don’t have to live the rest of my life the way it was.
Food allergies are real …
Food allergies are genuine and can vary from person to person. They are frustrating for all involved. Imagine being hungry, but you can’t eat what everyone else is or where everyone else stops for fear of losing control of your bowels. Imagine trying to prepare food for a loved one, and you do so with something they are allergic to and cause them pain and suffering.
Education and talking about these genuine and severe allergies are the only way to become educated. If you have a loved one who suffers from a food allergy, show you care by asking them how you can help them prepare foods properly. No one has fun when they are sick, having an allergic reaction, or in pain.
So, I’ve decided to share how I went gluten-free and how I’ve made this work for me. If you are struggling or have any questions – please email me.
UPDATE: Now allergic to Eggs & Dairy as well as Gluten.