Thursday, March 1

food journey and gluten intolerance

I've decide its about time I get a little more personal and share why I post gluten free recipes and my personal quest for health and restoration after a lifetime of "issues" related to my stomach. Its more of a novel than a blog post but I think I can sum up the majority of my journey in hopes someone else will find they too may have food sensitivities and finally find answers for "irritable bowl syndrome" or "sensitive stomachs" like many of us sufferers have been told.

Beginnings- As a young girl I was never cold or flu sick, but had a sensitive stomach or sour stomach as my grandmother called it. This really meant I would eat and feel sick and most of the time have diarrhea. After eating I would sometimes have acid reflux as doctors told my parents (this at the age of 10). One entire school year in fourth grade I would have dry heaves everyday after school lunch(fun stuff). After several examinations my first diagnosis was lactose intolerant. Perfect, easy enough just remove dairy from my diet. I had never actually liked dairy anyway, including ice cream only because it made me feel so horrible with stomach cramps after eating it. However, problems continued and my over all health started to slowly decline for the next two years. I had dark circles under my eyes along with being very small and underweight. I could barely eat and when I did my body would try rejecting my attempts. This is when shit really hit the fan for my parents. The doctors ran every test known to man and probed every part of my digestive system. "Yep, there's problems, but we don't know why" would be the final sentiment. So they called it irritable bowl syndrome and gave me pills to take along with family therapy just in case I was making it all up. I only wish that last part was true, how easy things would be. They also ordered allergy testing as a last ditch effort. Surprisingly the tests came back with answers. Basically my entire body was inflamed and tested positive to every item on the test (in hind sight this should have been a major warning flag).

Middle- Life continued on with allergy shots and stomach medication that 80 year olds take after the muscles in there digestive systems weaken. My diet was horrible for a teenager, and my parents did a great job at dinner time but the rest of the day was mostly white and processed not to mention at least three diet sodas a day. I kind of stayed away from dairy meaning I didn't drink milk, (not the same). I would have waves of time when my stomach would be acting up as I called it and the lower digestive issue became a daily norm. Eat and plan on knowing where the nearest bathroom was. College life did not contribute to my health along with horrible eating and drinking hard alcohol. I found out after one beer that I could never drink beer do to the fact it did not agree with my stomach. No big deal, I could deal with worse. After hiding it as long as possible with a boyfriend I would have to explain emergency bathroom trips and nights spent curled up in pain. All day nausea and avoided embarrassing moments (I just wouldn't leave the house) started to become an issue. It really started to affect my adult life with the more responsibilty I was given like work life. It was always the same but didn't affect anyone else before but was not as easy to hide. I decided to find another specialist in my mid 20's to see if anything else had changed or gotten worse. Nope, pretty much the same but now I need to take two more pills including an anti-spasmatic and other serious meds. That made 5 pills and really no resolve. Fast forward through the first part of my marriage until I found out I was pregnant, which was a game changer.

End-My medications where not safe to take while pregnant. What was I going to do? How was I suppose to eat? How would I deal with my issues with a baby, like if I always had to find a bathroom or couldn't get out of bed that day. It just wasn't going to work. I starting reading and found "healthier recipes" and lifestyles for preggers mamas. It was common sense but so different than what I was used to. I read more and found out about the slow food movement. Interesting but not quite my own philosophy yet (too expensive and impractical was my sentiment). Fast forward through another pregnancy and two years without medication. Hmm, seemed it made no difference to take or not take the pills. More healthy recipes and a whole different way of thinking of food started to happen. Could what I was eating make me feel sick? Stuff other people eat all the time? Food education took hold when my babies stared to eat solids and my eating habits were drastically changing, but this whole embarrassing issue still prevailed. I cut out soda, I baked my own bread to avoid chemicals and conditioners, we ate all organic and local, better, much better, but still the issue did not go away. In fact I had lost so much weight I could not afford to lose any more. Just at the same time my brother had a random blood test done for celiacs disease. He too had a sour stomach. His test was positive. Weird, no one ever mentioned that gluten could be my enemy, just take another pill.

I am celebrating one year gluten free and the healthiest I have ever been since as long as I can actually remember. Gluten was removed from my diet along with refined and artificial sugar, alcohol, preservatives, dyes, and artificial flavoring and soda . My issue was resolved a month after starting. I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop, like it was too good to be true. But it didn't. I feel to do this is an all or nothing procedure. Even a little gluten is not acceptable for those with issue. My system is still very sensitive in fact so much so now If I have hidden gluten, my mouth has small sores as soon a I take the bite. I probably have always been gluten sensitive and the allergies along with many other things should have been an indicator.
I eat for health and as difficult and sometimes expensive as it is, I will never go back to living the way I was before. I cannot wait to celebrate 5 years healthy and more.

I recommend reading as much as anyone can about natural health and feeding our bodies, especially young developing ones. Here are a few good resources:

Wheat belly
The Gluten Connection
http://www.celiac.org/
Real Food what to eat and why

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