My hopes with sharing my story is that it might be able to help YOU. You might be able to relate and see yourself in my story. With that said, here is why I went gluten free…
I went completely gluten free about 4 years ago. My reason for doing so was in desperation. Before that I had continued to feel a little worse year after year and then after I had my first baby, it got a lot worse. I had so many different symptoms that it was easiest to just describe it as “I feel like crap”. My body ached. I remember asking my husband “is this normal to feel like this all the time?”…in my 20s?? I felt like I was 80! I was so tired all the time. I would wake up, have my coffee and feel great until about 10 am, then I just desperately wanted to nap. Even just going to Walmart on a Saturday would drain my energy. I had acne that was worse than when I was a teen. My head felt foggy. I was so bloated…and gassy. I was fine during most of the day but by the evening my stomach hurt and I looked like I was 6 months pregnant. On top of that I now had a baby that I needed to keep up with. I felt like I NEEDED to be at the top of my game just to have the energy to be able to take care of her. So finally I had had enough. My doctor did the basic blood work as well as testing for H. Pylori and Parasites but all came back normal. I actually was a little disappointed to hear from the nurse on the phone that “everything looks good”. I said “well, what do I do next?…I don’t feel good!” There wasn’t much else they could do so I decided I would try to figure it out myself. I started following the blogs of Nutritionists and Functional Medicine Practitioners and listening to tons of podcasts. Many of them actually had similar stories but were able to get better. The recurring theme seemed to be uncovering hidden food intolerances and eliminating them from their diet. Gluten was the biggest one. So I googled elimination diet and got set to start. I had already given up dairy a little prior to that since my baby was colicky and I wondered if the dairy proteins were bothering her from my breast milk.
I was so excited to that there was a possible solution to my problem that the strict 3 week diet didn’t seem so bad. I remember reading that many people felt amazing after just 3-4 days. That wasn’t really my experience though. I did start to notice slight improvements in all my symptoms, except for the bloating and gas. But when it came time to re-introduce gluten to test how I’d react after being off of it, I noticed one main symptom. I didn’t notice it till about the second day but all of a sudden that day my head felt so foggy. It was so foggy I couldn’t think clearly. We had plans to move to Niverville and I needed to call a contractor about a house for sale and I felt like I couldn’t even do that. *This is the really tricky part with food intolerance; the fact that the symptoms are delayed. It might be hours after consuming it or it could be up to about 2 days later that symptoms appear. Whereas an allergy, you notice often with first bite – it’s easier to associate the food with the symptom. This is why the elimination diet with a slow re-introduction/testing phase is so important. I also want to note that everyone can experience sensitivities completely different. My biggest symptom with reintorducing gluten was brain fog. Yours might be a sore stomach, diarrhea, moodiness, or a skin breakout, for example.
So, after that I kept gluten out of my diet (except for re-testing purposes). I also checked for intolerances through bloodwork from a Naturopathic Doctor which confirmed the gluten intolerance. It’s funny how even though I had such a reaction, I questioned it until I got the bloodwork results..then it seemed real. The elimination diet is actually recommended as the most accurate way to test for intolerances however, so I recommend doing that first if you suspect one. The test is nice confirmation though.
I didn’t notice dramatic changes in my health right away (like some do) but it was months after that I stopped to realize just how good I felt since before changing my diet. It was a slow improvement but over time it became a huge improvement…in all areas. My skin got better (even with ditching the benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid face washes I used to use), my body no longer aches, I could go for a run and be able to run for more than a block without exhaustion, breathlessness and extremely itchy legs (anyone else get that after exercise??). And most importantly I did’t feel like I needed to nap all the time! I was really able to enjoy my days with my little girl now!
I have a soft spot in my heart for mom’s with young children who are feeling like I did just a few years ago, those who “just feel like crap” but don’t really know why. It’s such a tough spot to be in because there are so many different symptoms and they don’t just appear suddenly. You don’t really notice how bad it is because it’s a slow progression. It often isn’t until you have a baby that you notice how much you NEED to feel good. And that stress on the body of pregnancy, childbirth and having a new baby often intensifies all those symptoms. That, along with the solution often being so unclear. And the fact that regular doctors don’t do test for intolerance. So you continue to go by just feeling that way and trying to tough it out. You may not have the same symptoms I did as it can show up differently in every one, but it might be that you “just feel like crap” and don’t know why. If that’s the case I highly recommend you start with an elimination diet. I want you to know you don’t have to feel that way! You deserve to have energy and to feel good. This time with your baby, your toddler, your child is such a precious time, you don’t want to waste it being sick and tired.
I want to be the guide for you that I wish I had five years ago. I didn’t know where to start and when I did I survived on mostly larabars and smoothies in the beginning, since I didn’t really know what else to eat. I now have so many new go-to recipes and I don’t feel deprived at all. I actually feel like I have more freedom as the intense cravings are gone. I’m able to eat what nourishes me instead of attempting to fight off the cravings all day long (sensitivities often cause cravings). And I don’t miss gluten…actually feeling good is way better than a piece of pizza and that is my motivating factor now. Side note: you can still have the occasional pizza (healthy, gluten free pizza). Stay with me and I will show you how 🙂
There were some other factors in getting better but cutting out food intolerances seemed to make the biggest impact and is a great place to start. For my bloating and gas I had to take it a step further before seeing improvement. Temporarily going on a low FODMAP diet worked really well for me. The improvement was huge and was immediate. I will share with you my protocol for that in another post.*
Most of my symptoms you couldn’t see on the outside except for acne and some skin conditions.
I’d say this picture represent how I felt pretty well. Tired, puffy, and foggy!
I remember for my daughter’s first birthday party I had a huge embarrassing zit on my forehead. It was actually way worse than it looks here.
Other weird skin things would pop up – notice the “thing” under my right eye.
And this I think resulted from was a combo of stress and diet.
Now Some Afters…
Feeling more energized now than I did in my teens!
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