Disclaimer: I have not been diagnosed with celiac disease, and I am not a medical professional. Please consult a doctor before making any changes to your current diet or if you have any medically related concerns.
I am very fortunate. I’ve never been very sick, never broken a bone, or had severe allergies, I don’t have asthma or high cholesterol…I’ve never even had a cavity. I’ve always been an incredibly healthy person. An incredibly healthy person who would occasionally suffer from ridiculously sharp stomach pains, rashes, fainting spells, and these crazy tingling sensations. Not so bad, right?
In August of 2010, I got into a car accident. My car was totaled, I had to go to physical therapy for my neck and back for 6 months, but other than that, I walked away okay. Six days after my accident my stomach pains became so unbearable that I was admitted to the hospital. I’m talking straight to triage, no waiting room, and then straight up for testing. But the doctors never found anything. Weird.
These periods became more frequent, stalled for a little while, then started coming back full force last year. I spent the entire car ride home from Savannah last September curled up in the back seat of our car. I initially thought I drank too many cosmos or ate too much fried food, but a week later I didn’t feel any better. After getting sick in the middle of brunch with my grandma, she suggested I start considering eliminating certain food groups (specifically gluten and/or dairy) to see if I saw a change for the better.
No way in hell was I giving up bread or pasta or bagels…or BEER. Nope, not me.
But the more I started researching gluten intolerance, the more dots in my head started connecting. I completely cut out gluten for about a month and felt a hundred times better….time for a diagnosis, right?
When I went to a gastroenterologist, I was told, that in order to test my blood, I needed to go back on a gluten diet. I suffered (with plenty of bagels) for two weeks, until my blood work came back inconclusive. Frustrating. Chances are I didn’t consume enough gluten, but because I had dangerously low B12 (a nutrient that possibly I wasn’t absorbing due to stomach damage), an endoscopy was recommended. I continued to consume gluten, not thinking much of my diet while on our cruise, and came home to results that were still inconclusive.
Ultimately, I decided to go based on how I felt. While eating gluten for close to a month, I felt bloated, fatigued, anxious, and saw my rashes make a comeback. All of these symptoms are at bay when on a gluten free diet. It wasn’t something I understood fully, though I knew it was the right thing for me.
My job recently hosted a lecture on living gluten free, and that’s where things started making sense to me…
What is Gluten
- Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. It gives elasticity to dough, helps it rise, and gives a chewy texture.
Celiac vs. Intolerance
- Celiac disease is a genetic, autoimmune disease in which your cells attack your body, specifically your intestinal villi. It can often cause skin rashes, stomach discomfort, IBS, baldness, anxiety, miscarriages, tingling sensations…the list goes on and on.
- Gluten intolerance/sensitivity is more like a food allergy…same symptoms without the harm to the intestines or the celiac gene.
- Either one can be brought out by some sort of trauma (duh…suddenly made sense!)
Things to Avoid
- Anything containing wheat, barley, or rye
- Oats that are not certified gluten free (due to cross contamination)
- Soy sauce
- Certain medications
- French fries (often breaded in flour)
- Food colorings
- Dried fruit
- Herbal teas
- Any foods containing “natural and/or artificial flavoring”
Personally, I do not buy certified gluten free oats, and things like granola that “may be processed in a facility” using wheat don’t seem to bother me. On the other hand, I know many people who are incredibly sensitive to these things, and I consider myself lucky that I don’t have to take extreme caution. I have grown weary of buying anything with natural/artificial flavoring, and I prefer to stick to real food with minimal ingredients anyway.
The more I avoid gluten, the better I feel and the healthier I’ve been eating. My anxiety is at bay, digestive system is regulated, fainting spells and rashes are completely gone…plus I’ve found that I haven’t missed gluten product too much. But trust me, hard cider and gluten free bagels/pasta helps!
Share your gluten free story with me!