Eating gluten free has become a very popular thing lately and I wanted to share my story of why I am gluten free. There are benefits of eating gluten free even if you do not have an intolerance or an allergy, but in my case, it was not a preference. It is a very real, uncomfortable, painful, and severe intolerance.
Before I start, let me address some common questions:
(Q:) What is gluten?
(A:) A protein found in wheat, barley, and rye
(Q:) What is gluten sensitivity/intolerance?
(A:) A negative reaction to eating foods containing wheat, barley, and rye products. Symptoms may vary as gluten sensitivity covers a wide umbrella of diseases and conditions. These diseases and conditions include, but are not limited to:
- Celiac Disease
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Gastrointestinal Diseases
unexplained iron-deficiency anemia
bone or joint pain
bone loss or osteoporosis
depression or anxiety
tingling numbness in the hands and feet
seizures or migraines
missed menstrual periods
infertility or recurrent miscarriage
canker sores inside the mouth
an itchy skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis
It all started around December in 2012 for me. I had never had any allergies or any dietary restrictions before…
Then my body changed. Roughly 20 minutes (almost on the dot) after eating, I would run to the bathroom. I would be violently ill for hours. This included throwing up and diarrhea (many times both). After spending the rest of the day/night in the bathroom, the fight wasn’t over. I would have painful cramps, chills, was tired and weak, and would overall feel like I was instantly hit with flu-like symptoms. I would continue to feel that way for days sometimes. It was NOT fun! I have always been a petite girl, but because of these symptoms, I ended up losing a lot of weight and in a short period of time.
After dealing with these symptoms almost every day for months, I finally saw a specialist. They first put me on a restricted sugar diet. I was still allowed dairy and gluten products, but I continued to have these symptoms. Finally the doctor said I could continue a normal diet (with sugars — and these were healthy, natural sugars, found in carrots for example), but I would have to start a strict dairy and gluten free diet. (Turned out I was lactose intolerant too)
So, I tried a dairy and gluten free diet for a month and did not have a single symptom after eating. I then had blood tests and an ultrasound done, all of which resulted in negative results for celiac disease despite being anemic and my previous symptoms. The doctor said since I had responded so positively to the dairy/gluten free diet he feels confident that I am severely gluten intolerant (there is not test for gluten intolerance). If my blood work came back positive for Celiac Disease, in order for them to confirm it, I have to have gluten in my system and have another blood test done. The blood test is not very reliable, resulting in a high number of false-negative tests. With that said, even if the test comes back positive, a biopsy is then conducted to confirm the tests.
I have now been gluten free for three years and I feel great! I have found so many substitutes for recipes (don’t worry, I’ll share!)! I don’t miss anything gluten and my husband doesn’t even notice it’s not the real deal!
In the past three years I have been poisoned when we have gone out to eat. My intolerance is very sensitive to the point that any cross contamination will result in me getting violently ill again. I have to be VERY careful when I go out to eat. Most of the time that results in going to only a handful of restaurants that I know are safe. I usually go to restaurants that have their own gluten free area in the kitchen or have an extensive gluten sensitive menu and take the allergy very seriously. (Future blog post of GF restaurants).