Saturday, September 19, 2009

Gluten Free Journey

I was recently at a luncheon where we got started talking about how I began eating gluten free, so I thought it would be fun to write it out on the blog.

In 2002, I had been going to a chiropractor for awhile to eliminate back pain and some terrible headaches. After many treatments, the headaches still persisted. In addition to regular headaches, I had some major migraines that put me totally out of commission as well as nausea and dizziness. My chiropractor suggested that perhaps it was a food allergy causing the headaches because my back alignment seemed to be fine.

She suggested that I start taking out various types of food one at a time to see if the culprit could be identified and thought I should start with wheat or sugar.

I decided to start with wheat. Literally, within days of not eating anything with wheat in it, I was a new woman--no stomach ache, no headaches. It seems so hard to believe that one ingredient can wreak so much havoc in one individual and how quickly things turned around. I feel like I should be on that show Mystery Diagnosis. I hoped that my physical well-being would improve but was not prepared for how much the change also impacted my emotional well-being. It is hard to explain, but I felt like a huge curtain had been pulled back--I could breathe freely and simply was just happier.

Thinking back, I remember having headaches on a regular basis as far back as junior high. By college, I was taking Tylenol every day just to get through the day. No wonder when I drank beer or whiskey did I get so violently ill!

Initially after making the change, I lost quite a bit of weight. Although some of this weight loss was related to figuring out my new diet, most of it, I think, was my body finding its equilibrium.

It is seven years later, and I still maintain a wheat-free diet. Actually, I abstain from gluten ingredients all together just to be on the safe side since I was never tested for celiac disease.

People often ask if it is difficult to eat gluten free. Absolutely not, and it gets easier every year. Yes, in the beginning I spent a lot of time reading labels, but vegetables, proteins, and fruits are naturally gluten free. If I want processed foods like pasta, breads, and cookies, I can make them myself or buy them. Even my regular grocery store in a smallish Virginia city carries a large selection of gluten-free foods. I'm so glad this is a health issue that can be solved without medicine or other medical intervention.

So far, LM does not exhibit signs of having a problem, as he eats a mix of foods with and without gluten. I definitely keep an eye on it and will know what to do if he starts showing signs, so he won't have to suffer like I have.

Photo: from the University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture

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