Hope your weekend is going well. I’ve spent it working, studying, shopping and doing a fair share of research …
As many of you saw when I posted a couple days ago, I have been engrossed in some new r eading material.
The G-Free Diet by Elisabeth Hasslebeck, co-host of The View.
Elisabeth was healthy for most of her childhood and adolescence, but when a trip to Central America in college caused her to obtain a bacterial infection, her health changed. Even after the infection had cleared, Elisabeth was riddled with intense stomach pain and bouts of unexplained fatigue, with seemingly no sure. She saw doctor after doctor, each doctor concluding an inaccurate diagnosis of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). Defeated and still wracked by pain, Elisabeth became a contestant on Survivor: The Australian Outback, and it was only there, underweight and starving, that Elisabeth’s health problems subsided. Coming home from the show, she was determined to find the cure that the Australian Outback gave her for her illness. As she quickly began including foods back in her diet, the pain returned, and she began to do research. Seven years ago Elisabeth self-diagnosed herself with Celiac Disease, an autoimmune disorder caused by an intolerance to gluten- the protein found in wheat, barley and rye. It took some time to finally find a doctor that would confirm her diagnosis, and she did and has been on a gluten-free, and pain-free diet for over seven years.
What does this have to do with me, Kristin, the pasta-and-bread loving future chef?
For years I have experienced an array of stomach problems. Everything from gas, bloating, pain/pressure to unexplained diarrhea and constipation (Sorry if it’s TMI, but it’s true!). I have had multiple tests done, including an ultrasound, and even an endoscopy to come up with a diagnosis. My doctor is sympathetic, but has yet to come up with an answer. At first I thought I was lactose intolerant, so I cut out dairy. Realizing my stomach problems did not go away, I slowly began to include it back in my diet. Then this summer, I realized I had a mild intolerance to soy. Funny, because I was a vegetarian for years and soy was a staple in my diet. I can still include small amounts of soy (limited to a couple servings of meatless meatballs or tofu a week) with no problem but the majority of soy has been cut from my diet. Still, my stomach problems have not gone away. I have suspected grains as a culprit for some time now. But me, cut out bread, pasta, couscous, and my beloved Saturday-morning bagels? No way!
I knew I didn’t have Celiac disease. My best friend’s father has it, and by the way Elisabeth describes her symptoms I knew my condition was not that severe. I read Coutrney, The Hungry Yogini ’s story about how she recently went gluten-free and feels much better. I stumbled upon Daphne Oz’s article at Oprah.com. I began researching some, and discovered the symptoms of gluten sensitivity. Which were very close to those of celiac disease, but less severe. GI problems were on the list, so were a slew of other symptoms including fatigue … could this be an explanation for my constant tiredness, even with a full 8 hours of sleep? I became more curious.
I discovered that Gluten Sensitivity Enteropathy is a term for a group of types of gluten sensitivties. It is not highly recognized in the medical community because there is no definitive test aside from an elimination diet and “open challenge” reintroduction of foods. However many people who self-diagnose are “cured” as soon as they commit to a gluten free lifestyle.
I decided to start listening to my body. For the past week I have been keeping a detailed journal of my bouts of stomach trouble and fatigue. The link to all of them? They occured between 20 and 30 minutes after consuming products containing gluten.
What is gluten, exactly and where is it found?
Gluten is the protein found in wheat, rye and barley- this includes products derived from wheat including wheat bran, bulgur, couscous, pasta, farina, graham and more. Oats are naturally gluten free, but many commercial brands are contaminated with wheat flour.
What products don’t contain gluten?
Corn, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, rice, as well as vegetables, meats in their natural form, fruits, nuts, seeds, eggs and dairy are all gluten free. Products that contain gluten do not have to be labeled, and “wheat-free” does not necessarily mean gluten free.
What does this mean?
It means I have a journey ahead of me! As I mentioned I have been studying my diet for the past week or so, and I decided that I want to try a gluten-free diet to see if my symptoms subside. After a week on a gluten-free diet I’ll re-assess, and if I feel like I need to, I’ll begin including gluten-containing products back in my diet if I feel I can. If not, I promise I will be coming up with lots of interesting gluten-free meals!!
This doesn’t change a lot in the way that I eat. I will be eating a gluten free diet 90% of the time, but I’m not allergic to gluten, so I can intake small amounts with some consequence, but nothing damaging. So in times I do decide to take in gluten, I’ll know what kind of symptoms I will be faced with. Chances are I won’t be doing that very often! I’ll be eating just how I normally eat, replacing my normal bread, wraps, oats, cereal and pasta with gluten free varieties, such as these I bought when I went to Whole Foods today!
It should be an interesting adventure!
Think you have a gluten sensitivity? Check out these pages for more info: