Living Gluten Free
Going gluten free seems to be a trend today for many but it’s my reality and life saver. Although I don’t have Celiac Disease, where the gluten protein (found in rye, wheat, and barley) causes devastating effects on the body, gluten sill wreaks havoc on my digestive system and causes severe inflammation and joint pain. Getting out of the bed in the morning is a struggle due to pain and extreme fatigue. Since I’ve gone gluten free about four years ago, my stomach no longer aches nor do I have the dull pain that resided in my lower back all day.
I remember going to see several Gastroenterologists and describing an aching stomach and an aching low back. They would look at me, chuckle, and remind me where I was. I knew the pain was related but not until years later did another doctor explain that females tend to have more back pain with stomach discomfort due to our anatomy and hormonal differences. When I finally went gluten and diary free, the constant dull back ache subsided. I still have intermittent back pain due to two herniated discs located in my lower back between the ll4 and l5 vertebrae diagnosed about 10 years ago (another story).
One year the stomach pain was so excruciating, I could barely walk. I was hospitalized in 2002 for five days with no diagnosis. I entered my doctor’s office with piercing pain and was immediately hospitalized. At the hospital I was asked about my meal the night before to find the culprit. I had my favorite Fettuccine Alfredo with Grilled Chicken and Broccoli. After running numerous tests and not being able to figure out what was wrong, I was told not to eat broccoli anymore. Really? I now get the gluten free version minus the broccoli as a treat on occasion. Thank God for Penne gluten free pasta and lactaid supplements. I also take HCl Betaine to help with digestion. I pop pills all day long (for that post click here).
Years of doctor visits, countless tests including lactose intolerance and Celiac Disease and no diagnosis. All negative, how could that be? One doctor later explained that although I didn’t test positive for gluten and diary intolerance, I could still have a sensitivity. He told me to try a gluten free and diary free diet. I swear it was the hardest thing ever. I enjoyed burgers with buns and gluten is in everything. Read the back of labels to see. I once bought beef jerky only to find out mid bite that it had gluten in it after inadvertently looking at the wrapper. How, it was ALL meat? So, I relapsed a couple of times. Then over time, I got better and so did the stores with the Gluten-Free sections. I’ve got it down to a science now and don’t have to spend much time reading labels. I must admit, the holidays are hard. Sometimes I buy myself a gluten free cake or cookies. I’ve learned that Betty Crocker’s gluten free chocolate chip cookies (my favorite) and yellow cake (another favorite) taste good and allow me to enjoy a dessert on occasion.
Thankfully, I don’t have a big sweet tooth. I’ve been gluten free since the fall of 2012. On occasion, Thanksgiving or Christmas I cheat and by cheating I mean eating a tiny piece of sweet potato pie. When I do, I take HCl Betaine a digestive enzyme and usually am okay if I only do it once or twice that day. I always have my enzymes with me and will take them before I have an occasional bite. An occasional hiccup is not life threatening because I don’t have Celiac Disease but if I try to enjoy too many gluten or diary enriched foods, my body responds with pain. My joints ache. Hence, I stick to my diet. I buy gluten free Udi’s bread, gluten free pizza by Fresca or Trader Joe’s brand, oats, gluten free crackers by Trader Joe’s. My store of choice is Trader Joe’s and the staff is super helpful. I buy gluten free pasta, pancakes, goat cheese, almond and rice milk. My cabinets are all gluten free. For more on gluten free living click here. Living gluten free is my lifestyle now and like muscle memory: I don’t even have to think about it.