Let me start by saying that I am not a physician. Not even close. But I can say that for almost 37 years I struggled with food, digestion and the feeling it left me. I have a great relationship with food. I love it and I love to try new things BUT gluten and I were never meant to be friends and that epiphany hit roughly two years ago when I grew tired of the bloat, the gas, the bathroom issues and the overall appearance of looking like I was in my second trimester 24/7.
Sexy? Not at all!
People ask me if I have ever seen a doctor about it. The answer: yes. I have a gluten intolerance which is a fancy word for allergy. Here's what you experience with a gluten intolerance and by the way, it's usually self-diagnosed because you know when your body is acting funny. Common sense. There's no magic wand that a physician will wave over your body. It all begins with eliminating foods and then adding them back into your diet slowly over time. That's when the alarm bells went off for me.
Symptoms can include bloating, diarrhea, abdominal pain, tiredness, and skin rashes.
People may experience:
Pain areas: in the abdomen or joints
Gastrointestinal: bloating, diarrhea, fat in stool, heartburn, nausea, or flatulence
Also common: anxiety, cramping, fatigue, mouth ulcer, skin rash, or weight loss
I used to experience an indescribable pain in my abdomen daily. My husband would joke with me that it was just gas but it wasn't. I know the difference and no individual should suffer that much after eating pizza or flour tortillas.
I know their is a lot of hype around it being a fictitious condition and righteously so. There are manufactured trends that people attach themselves to. But, I also think we've become more educated and never thought to diagnose issues we experienced as a child to something more real. As an adult I became more in tune with my body; especially after having children and that's when I realized that something wasn't right. Crazy things were happening. Shoot, I could even predict when I was ovulating! It's amazing what child birth does for your mind + body connection. I digress...
So what is gluten? Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. An intolerance can lead to much bigger things, too. Luckily I do not have celiac disease but that is essentially a very severe form of gluten intolerance. Celiac is an autoimmune disease that affects about 1% of the population and may lead to damage in the digestive system.
Okay, so how did I know I had an intolerance? There are 14 symptoms that I experienced on the regular. They aren't pretty but this is informative and it might help one of you out:
- Extreme bloating: I have to watch everything I eat by the minute. I experience this so easily.
- Diarrhea and constipation: Not going to delve into this but so much yes!
- Abdominal pain: Always.
- Headaches: Sometimes for 3-4 days consecutively
- Fatigue: I could literally pass out from exhaustion if I eat gluten.
- Skin Problems: I have psoriasis on several parts of my body.
- Unexplained weight loss
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Autoimmune disorders
- Joint and muscle pain: One of the reasons I work out so much.
- Leg or arm numbness: I experience this daily; especially when I work on my computer.
- Brain fog
Okay! So now you have the skinny. But what do I eat? Well, this topic could have many different layers but for starters, I eat a lot of corn products, veggies, nuts, tons of protein and fruit. I read labels like a mad woman, too. Recipes...there are gobs and food manufacturers are certainly concentrating on more gluten free skus in their offerings which is great! Even our local pizza joint has a gluten free pizza that is positively delicious. But, I have to be my own vigilante or I become a dysfunctional workmate, momma and wife.
To kick off this little health topic, I've linked some of my favorite carb-y, gluten free pantry staples for your review. I've personally tested them all and I found them on Amazon. I order specific things that I can't find anywhere else from there on the regular. When it comes to grocery shopping, I usually commit to about three stores. My husband does the Mariano's run while I hit up Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. Is it a pain? Yes but the real pain comes to play when I eat poorly.
Side note: I cut out dairy from my diet as well because it causes a whole other host of issues. I am also here to tell you that is possible to enjoy food and cut out all of the above!
Check out some of my faves here and let me know if you're interested in hearing about some gluten free recipes. It's a way of life and I don't force it on my family but I have found that there are many dishes that they enjoy as much as I do!
Questions - send 'em my way!