Back in 2013 my life was flipped upside down with all the health issues occurring for both my 2-year-old son, as well as myself.
My “minor” health issues continued to stock pile on top of each other, like a house of cards just waiting for it all to fall apart. It was one of the scariest moments in my life to hear that I had a mass in my body. (It’s as close to cancer as I ever want to get.) Yet, as I now look back, I see it as one of my biggest blessings. (Click here to learn my story.)
When “the sh*t hit the fan”, I decided to take action and make the madness stop! I started making changes with what I was eating, but also to do more movement like yoga. (Keep in mind, I was also suffering from severe anxiety and degenerated discs in my spine.)
Honestly, even though I was taking action, I was completely lost and totally winging it!
I didn’t have a “go to” person to guide me, and the internet wasn’t like it is now, where I could find support easily. Yet, I had a friend suggest that I join MyFitnessPal. Those strangers became “my people”.
Around that time, I began reading books like “The Zone” (by Dr. Barry Spears) and learning how I could help my body heal and get strong again. In that time, I became a sponge and read all I could. I was also watching documentaries like crazy. (Click here to see my blog on documentaries).
In all my research, I stumbled upon the “Elimination Diet”, which means you remove all of the top inflammatory foods from your diet for 6 weeks, then reintroduce each one (one at a time) to monitor how your body responds. If you have a negative reaction, you can determine which food may be causing trouble for your body to process. I read that many people who were having symptoms like mine also had great success finding the cause using this method. I needed to try!
Yet, to do this elimination diet, I was going to have to do it alone. I had to come up with a plan to be able to eat for the next couple months without: gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, and corn. The key thing… my husband always supported me, and I was the primary cook of the house, so he had to follow along either way. (LOL!)
I remember feeling so empowered and I really wanted to see how my body would respond. I wanted answers… FINALLY!
Week 1 was H.A.R.D. I realized how deep my eating habits were… but I was very determined.
Week 2 I started to feel more energetic and less sluggish. It was crazy to start feeling better already. (Keep in mind, I was journaling how I was feeling throughout.)
Then week 3 kicked in…
I was really feeling good at this point. I knew I had 3 more weeks to go though. I understood that a total of 6 weeks would allow time that would give the body enough time to completely rid itself of any inflammation from these foods. So, in essence, when you reintroduce them, it’s becoming more “foreign” to the body. If the body accepts it, then you will be ok. If not, your body will give you signs that it’s not happy (i.e. bloated, nausea, stomach aches, headaches, join pain, etc).
Then this happened…
I didn’t account for my lack of knowledge where gluten was “hidden” in food. One night at the end of week 3 I was asked to join my husband and his boss for dinner at a high-end steak restaurant.
I ordered the almond crusted steak medallions.
I thought, “Oh I can eat these! They are just covered in in almonds.” – LOL… not exactly.
I began to eat them. About 20 minutes later, my stomach began to hurt with terrible aches and I was getting bloated and gassy. It came on so quickly. I didn’t want to say anything though. Yet, I became terribly uncomfortable! Lots of abdominal pain.
By the grace of God I was able to get through dinner with a smile, despite the pain and discomfort.
Once I got home, I had to go to the bathroom. Then I went right to bed. I did NOT feel well at all! I was borderline nauseous and just felt awful. My body was freaking out and my digestion was screaming! It lasted for nearly 3 days!! (Did I think I may have had food poisoning? Yep, but the symptoms were different.)
I realized that “crusted” anything contained bread crumbs as well.
(Enter FACEPALM here. Ugh.)
Since this time, I have had other encounters with gluten and had similar reactions.
I also educated myself on HOW gluten can impact the human digestive system, WHY it impacts some of us, and WHERE it can be hidden in foods. I also found quick treatments for times where I may have unknowingly ingested some gluten. (Ex: GlutenEase, Digize essential oil, ginger (or tea), and activated charcoal.)
One of my favorite books to help guide me in removing gluten was called: The G-Free Diet, by Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Her story of undiagnosed celiac disease was crazy! All of the information and guidance in the book gave me SO much insight! I finally felt armed so I could easily live a life without gluten.
Back in 2013 there wasn’t as much awareness surrounding gluten intolerance or celiac disease. There weren’t many convenient food options either. I had to navigate a whole new way of eating, which included finding GF flours to make food with. (Yes, I even made homemade bread. Yum!) I also learned that without gluten, the GF doughs are sticky and you have to learn tricks to handle it (i.e. oil on hands, etc)
People often ask me if I miss things like cake, cookies, donuts, bread, pancakes, etc.
For me, there is no food worth eating when I know how sick I will feel afterwards. It’s not worth it. I’d rather make (or buy) an alternative that I can enjoy without the discomfort.
Plus, many of my health issues stopped soon after I made this change. My acid reflux dramatically reduced, my migraines nearly stopped and my bloated tummy (which I thought was normal for many years) nearly stopped.
After this, I finally started to feel in control of my body and health.
Lastly, I’d also like to make one more book recommendation… Wheat Belly by William Davis. If you want to learn more about gluten, it’s history in our diet and how it became an enemy of our digestion.