Over the past few months, I haven't been feeling like myself. I've been constantly tired, I put on a few pounds, feeling anxious and irritable most of the time. Suffering Restless Leg Syndrome at night... and pins and needles in my hands and feet during the day. Twitchy muscles. Warm sensations of the back of my calves. I have the occasional burst of heart palpitations, and my muscles get tired just from walking up a flight of stairs. I'm in my 30's, now's the time when I start falling apart, right? Wrong. It wasn't until I was researching my daughters dry skin and red bumps on the back of her arms, that I found the correlation between all of my symptoms. It turns out that her Keratosis Pilaris, or 'chicken skin' as it is often called, is the sign of a gluten sensitivity. As is EVERY OTHER SYMPTOM that I listed above- and then some. There are over 300 symptoms associated with gluten sensitivity, and most people do not connect the dots, because they are so broad ranged, and seemingly unrelated. One in 133 people in the US have gluten sensitivity, and 95% of people with Celiac's Disease go undiagnosed, even though 20-30 percent of the population carry the gene for it.
Have I lost your interest yet? I know... stats are boring. You know what else? I spent more than a decade as a bartender, scoffing at people who couldn't drink beer because they were allergic to wheat.
'How ridiculous. I've got a crybaby over there whining about gluten.", eye roll with other bartender. giggle giggle.
Well, yes, I am an ass. Here I am, after weeks of research and a trial gluten-fee diet to reflect on, telling you right now:
I FEEL SO MUCH BETTER.
I have not consumed Gluten in a week. Within 3 days, I had absolutely NO nerve issues (tingling, pins and needles, numbness, warm sensations), no Restless Leg, I woke up today feeling completely rested, AND (!!) I have dropped about 5 lbs in a week doing absolutely nothing. Turns out that weight I was worried about: was bloat from gluten.
SO HERE IS THE BAD PART:
Gluten is in pretty much everything. Like everything. Even your shampoo and lipstick. Being Gluten-Free takes some diligence, I have learned the hard way this week. Last night I literally stood under the snack cabinet gazing up at the Oreo's, feeling pissed off. I ate ice cream instead, but I was still mad. These irrational feelings of anger over not getting a cookie, I take as part of the detox. Gluten is addicting. Anyone who can't go a day without bread (like the old me) probably knows this to be true. So I am kind of grouchy. It takes 3-6 months of NO CHEATING to get the Gluten out of your system and heal properly.
So I may be a grump for a bit. This too shall pass, and all that wisdom.
The reason gluten is so dangerous, is that it attacks your intestines, even if you don't have a full blown allergy. This intestinal damage makes it impossible for you to absorb nutrients properly, hence the fatigue and feeling terrible. Gliadin is the protein portion of gluten, and also very closely resembles that of the thyroid. It is so similar, in fact, that your immune system begins to attack your thyroid, in the same way it battles the gluten in your system. How gross is that?!
I was hesitant to blog about gluten intolerance, because honestly, until I had a reason to negate it from my diet, I truly thought it was nonsense. This was because I was uninformed, and really couldn't care less. I can tell you first hand now: Gluten is gross, and I will never go back. After pouring over gluten free blogs, and making Pinterest boards for all of the things that I love (English muffins, pizza crust, bread...), I am full blown all about it. I went grocery shopping, and realized that when I opened my eyes, I found a gluten-free version of almost everything. I ordered everything I couldn't find in the store on Amazon. Simple.
So, I'm off to live my Gluten-Free life, but I urge you- if you have any of these symptoms; give gluten-free living a try!
- Abdominal Distention
- Abdominal Pain and Cramping
- Alternating Bouts of Diarrhea and Constipation
- Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
- Back pain
- Bone Density Loss
- Borborygmi (stomach rumbling)
- Brittle Nails
- Canker sores or mouth ulcers
- Stunted Growth and Failure to Thrive
- Dental Enamel Defects
- Depression, Anxiety and Irritability
- Dry Hair
- Malodorous Flatulence
- Malodorous Stools
- Gluten Ataxia
- Grayish Stools
- Hair Loss (Alopecia)
- Headaches and Migraines
- Joint pain
- Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
- Lactose intolerance
- Numbness or tingling in the patient’s hands and feet
- Peripheral Neuropathy (including either a tingling or sensation of swelling your toes and fingers)
- Teeth and Gum Problems
- Vitamin and Mineral deficiencies
- Unexplained Weight loss
I will be posting recipes on TCE's Test Kitchen page if anyone is interested in doing a gluten detox but still wants to enjoy their favorite foods.