This is what I came home with after a trip to Wegman's GF aisle this weekend: wheat substitutes.
So, after a three-year battle with what I thought was just a mean combo of severe stomach aches and migraines (and constant forgetfulness), I finally realized that the cause must be gluten.
It’s funny how I’ve been hearing more about GF (gluten free) this and that—popping up on restaurant menus and chit chat more than ever—like a pink Cadillac now that I’ve discovered that I have a gluten sensitivity. I used to seriously poke fun of how certain people take up these silly diet “fads.” However, this GF lifestyle is probably here to stay. After just three days of eating without gluten in my food, I already feel much more energetic, awake, happy, productive, and concentrated. So far, I’ve had no waves of stomach pains and headaches.
I’m not sure if I have had this sensitivity or allergy to gluten since birth. I just know that after moving out of my parent’s house (where we had rice almost everyday instead of bread), my body started feeling different. After getting married, I also completely switched from eating white bread to wheat and had it all the time. So then, I’d have these serious digestive problems where my stomach would expand to the size of a 27-week pregnant woman once in a while, and it would hurt so bad. It wouldn’t go away for hours. I couldn’t release gas even when I tried without taking some kind of anti-acid medication, so I carried Tums in my purse everywhere I went. There was a time when my stomach felt like it was being pierced as I laid on the floor crying and immobilized and thought I was going to die. I’ve also had two occasions in the past two or three months where my head spun and everything got blurry for a few seconds.
Along with the rest of these symptoms, I’ve also had an unexplained back injury where I had to stay in bed and be induced to sleep for three whole days doing nothing except eat. I literally couldn’t bend more than an inch without hurting myself, and the most powerful painkillers didn’t do much to help. I’m not sure if these recent events were at all related to wheat, but I sure have had a significant increase in my intake of wheat products these past three years.
After going on GF Web sites and learning more about celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, I learned that the intake of wheat for gluten-sensitive individuals is very harmful in both the short and the long term. The problems I was experiencing could’ve been slowly making my body more and more malnourished, and in turn making my back bone and muscles weaker. Continuing to eat wheat products could result in infertility, so I really hope that my old diet before going GF hasn’t done any serious damage.
I’m not completely sure yet whether it was truly wheat that was causing my digestive problems, but I sure feel better now without gluten. If my problems persist after two weeks of a GF diet trial, I’ll have to go back on gluten and see a doctor to get a test. It’ll be interesting this year going on our family vacation where a lot of my in-law family members have some kind of food allergy—I’ll fit right in!
As one of our GF friends said, “I eat what makes me feel good, and I don’t eat food that makes me feel bad.” Simple enough.
My husband has been a trooper and decided to join with me on the GF diet as much as he can. A GF diet is said in some journals and articles to have beneficial effects on weight and energy even for those who aren’t celiacs. We think this might be true, so he’s giving it a try. Some interesting things have been happening, though, since he started. He has been very fatigued and has gotten headaches and everything. We were worried at first that this might be a sign that he wasn’t getting the right nutrients or something, but upon further research (googling), we found many accounts of people who had had similar fatigue and pains. Here is something very important to note for those of you who are considering trying this dietary option: When you start a gluten-free diet, you are actually going to go through a sort of withdrawal. I’m not being very technical here, so I don’t want to misspeak, but I’ve read that it actually also might be caused by the adjustments your body is making to the way it digests. My husband says it feels like he’s gone running, but without all of the muscle pains from the run. So, it’s almost like you’re building up lactic acid or when you’re getting the runner’s “second wind,” because you don’t have all the same gooey carb stores that wheat normally gives you. So, in essence, your body is switching to a more fat-burning metabolism. That’s a good thing! Just a little extra note that my husband asked me to include.