A little background, I've never been 'allergic' to many things. I HATE fish, so I could always pretend that I am allergic so I don't have to eat it...but in all honesty I'm not 'allergic' to gluten either...just severely intolerant. Yes, there is a difference, although after a lot of reading, I've learned that if you don't attend to your intolerance it can become Celiacs, which is the actual allergy. If I accidentally eat gluten I know right away. I hate to be graphic, but before I even knew what gluten-free was, I was living the part of Dumb&Dumber when Harry is responding to the overload of X-Lax in his system...and add in that I'm holding the bucket and vomiting all at the same time when ever I ate basically anything. Oh yes...it was ugly. Gluten was also effecting my hormones...causing a whole different level of horror in my body. Bloated constantly and a forever period, jeepers...I don't know how I was still alive!? LOL Ironically though I was not anemic, although by the amount and frequency I can't believe I wasn't. I also couldn't lose weight for the life of me. I was always moody and struggled with anger. I was a M.E.S.S.
In 2009 I went to see homeopathic doctor...and yes, she's an actual doctor. She did a few tests on me, but upon hearing all my ailments told me to go off of dairy, gluten, and processed sugar. Because of my IBS I rarely ate dairy anyway so that was already crossed off the list. I hadn't even heard of gluten nor did I know what that meant...no grains...so no white or wheat flour. No bread. No pasta. No fun. I thought, no big deal, I don't eat that much bread anyway. I had no idea how much bread or gluten that I ate until I couldn't eat it! ITS EVEN IN CANDY!? UGH...seriously. I went off it for 10 days and didn't notice anything necessarily different...so I tried a little experiment and at one of the Pillsbury Crescent rolls. OH MY DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN. I hadn't been so sick and such a FREAK in a LONG TIME. I was so thankful that my hubby was home because I could not control my anger. It was so scary, I had no idea that a FOOD...A STUPID GRAIN could have so much control over my body...my brain for crying out loud!? I was in and out of the bathroom ALL day and I have no idea how anyone could poop that much. It was HORRIBLE. I was a firm believer right after that day that I NEVER wanted to eat gluten EVER.AGAIN. However I learned some really valuable facts. Did you know that it actually takes your body 90-120 days to recycle all of your blood? Yep, and so if you go off of something, while you may see things change or results (like I did), you won't actually see the major results until all of your blood recycles and there isn't anymore gluten in your cells! This was amazing to me. Which is why, if you go 'off' something and are only off it for 3 or 4 weeks it won't make all that much difference or you try something for 3-4 weeks and see no results, this is why. You haven't given your body enough time because its still in your blood. Until its all out and your blood has recycled your body can't respond...it has to 'reboot' in a way. SO that became my new goal...go off gluten for 90 days because I WANTED to see the results of what it would do for my body.
(I want to say as a side note: going off gluten doesn't cure anything and I'm in no way saying that if you go off gluten you will be better or healed...I just know that it absolutely healed my body of the major issues that I was having. And it didn't actually cure everything in my body either. I still ended up having a hysterectomy 3 years after going off gluten. BUT I absolutely know that had I not gone off gluten I wouldn't be where I am now. Now that I know what it feels like to FEEL GOOD...I NEVER want to go back. Even when I break down and eat a few cinnamon twists from Taco Bell...I pay for it dearly and am reminded FAST why I went off gluten. Its simply not worth it for me.)
I mean if you look at it this way, a doctor will tell you after surgery not to expect to feel better or have energy for at least 6 weeks! It takes your body that long to heal even from the most minor surgeries. I have had MANY surgeries...3 knee surgeries, spinal fusion, 3 kids...just to name a few and so I can say from experience that this is true...I'm exhausted for AT LEAST 6 weeks, and in all actuality its a full 6 MONTHS before I really notice that I feel somewhat normal. Take into account that its not just the surgically effected area that your body is healing right...its also having to do overtime with your liver and kidneys from that heavy-duty drugs that the doctors pumped through your body just to put you to sleep...all of it...takes time. I'm not knocking using drugs for surgeries either...I fully appreciate them...hey, without them I NEVER could have had my spinal fusion...and let me tell you morphine was the little brother to what they sent through my IV. My poor body has been through the ringer...as I know everyone else has as well. So naturally if the food I'm eating is just causing more disruption its all making it very difficult for my body to even function properly.
I know when something is wrong in my body simply because I've learned to listen to it. Yeah yeah, fine that might sound a little crazy, but its true. So how could I have expected to see big results after just a few weeks of changing something when I've probably had this gluten intolerance since I was much younger? That is YEARS of my body trying to heal itself on top of surgeries and stress and everything else that creates havoc in my body. I'm just like the rest of you...we live in an instant gratification world...I want it NOW...in fact, I wanted it YESTERDAY...but with the human body it just doesn't work that way!? I have tried so many diets and loseweight pills...none of it worked for me, so I can say that yes, I got caught up in that mentality that if I didn't see instant results I gave up on it. Now, if I had stayed with any of them I don't know if they may have eventually worked...but I truly believe that its the gluten that was causing my body its complete inability to heal or function normally. In fact, I didn't see results to my physical body outside until 6 months later when I went to try on jeans. I used to be a 9/10 or size 32/32. I'm only 5'3...but when I was trying on jeans and realized that I didn't even unbutton the 32s to put them on, I about screamed...or maybe I did...LOL It was AWESOME...I had no idea. I mean I knew my belts were having to help me out, but I had no idea that I was shrinking like this. I eventually stopped at a size 26/32 and a 27/32!!!!!!!! Or a 4/6. THAT IS A WHOLE 4 SIZES!?!?!?!?!? Keep in mind though, I haven't actually lost WEIGHT...I just lost INCHES.
How is it that I lost inches but not weight? Well my intestines were SO inflamed from the gluten that ANYTHING that could even cause irritation to a system was doing it times 10. I didn't really have IBS...not in the sense that that was just it and deal with it. It made me angry with the doctor that diagnosed me because not once did they suggest a dietary change...it was the flippant, 'sorry...you will always have this.' WHAT!? NO! I refuse to believe that and I will prove you wrong...which I have done...and will continue to do so. ANYWAY... gluten has these little fibers that when you eat them they break up and the fibers will essentially 'lay down' on the walls of your intestinal tract and build up...that causes your intestines to become irritated and unable to even absorb properly. So what happens with something that becomes irritated? It gets inflamed and basically infected...so anything I ate was irritating it...I'd drink coffee and I'd have to be by a bathroom within MOMENTS of drinking it. Yes, that fast. It'd run right through me. I'm sorry to be graphic or gross, but that is how it feels and if you have lived it, ITS HUMILIATING and awful. My intestines were so inflamed that it was making me THAT bloated. My intestines aren't perfect now, but obviously since I've lost 4 inches I'm doing something right by them! LOL And just because I have given up gluten doesn't mean I don't still struggle with self image or weight. Going gluten-free doesn't mean going fat free!!! Jeepers, a lot of the recipes I use has TONS of butter in them!!!! I'm totally a butter lover, but it was really surprising to me that it will call for so much! (I will be posting some of my favorite recipes for dessert pizza, lasagna, and other meals that we enjoy)
I've been gluten free for 3 1/2 years now. I still steer clear of it. I don't know that I will ever go back to eating it. As I said above, I'm healthier than I've ever been. In perfect health? No way...I don't think I'll ever be because I don't believe that exists...but I do FEEL GOOD. I feel better when I'm consistent with my exercise regime, but with an infant, that has gone by the wayside...for now. I'm slowly getting back into it. I can eat anything I want now...as long as it doesn't have gluten. I'm no longer off dairy, but I'm pretty picky with what I do eat. I still eat pizza, lasagna, spaghetti, pasta dishes, cake, even bread occasionally...but all of it is GLUTEN FREE. I think even just 5 years ago it used to be something only a few people ate...and they were the fanatics that didn't eat gluten, or the Celiacs...but did you know that just 10 years ago gluten intolerance or Celiacs only effected 1 in 100 people? Now its 1 in TEN people suffer from a gluten intolerance. THAT BLOWS MY MIND. There are so many options that we have now! I have the most AMAZING cookbook that my brother got me for my birthday and everything I've made so far has been DELICIOUS. I remember when I first began tasting gluten free stuff it was all NASTY. It tasted thick and dry...or just gross. I do miss regular bread...but not in a way that I crave it...just in the way that I'd miss a childhood friend...like when I walk past a bread store that has fresh french bread...oh mouth watering...but again, its not worth it to me to even taste it. The consequences are absolutely horrific for me still. I miss the easiness of making a sandwich quickly and running out the door. I miss the convenience of going to a restaurant and ordering whatever...most places have a very limited and sucky GF menu. But you will learn to improvise and what you can have.
I think the most frustrating part is that people who don't understand how extreme my body reacts are incredibly insensitive to my complete self sacrifice of making this decision! Does someone honestly think I ENJOY being gluten free? HECK NO!? Its a pain in the butt!!!! I CHOOSE to eat things that I KNOW won't make me sick...I choose to eat things that will help me function...I HAVE to function and I need to be stable minded...I have 4 children for crying out loud, I don't have the luxury of choosing anything different. SO those of you have made this very difficult life-changing decision, I applaud you. It was the hardest and the best decision I have ever made regarding my health. You are not alone and there are so many AFFORDABLE options out there. Get used to having to take time to make yourself something different than your family if you choose that...my entire family is gluten free except for lunchtime sandwiches and the Friday family night when my kids get Little Cesar's pizza...and I just have to make my own pizza or confession: I order in from Ambrosia's Asian Bistro since their egg rolls are gluten free and they have AWESOME pad Thai noodles, which are rice. You will be surprised to learn that a lot of Thai places are laced with gluten free entrees!!! They make a lot of plates with rice noodles. Now, clarification...I can still eat rice; brown, white, or wild, and therefore eat the noodles made from them.
Anyway I'll jump off my soapbox now and get a few posts off with some of my favorite recipes. I hope to be an encouragement to those of you in the Gluten free boat...its not as bad as you may think. If you are about to jump in the boat, but are nervous to do so...think about it this way...when you were little you were afraid of the dark because you couldn't see what was in the room with you, right? Well if you are just beginning to look into it and are afraid of what you are about to get into, its only scary because you are in the dark. Let those of us who have been rowing this boat awhile shed some light into that darkness. Its not as expensive nor hard as you think. Its just an adjustment!