Monday, January 18, 2010

G-Free Is The Way For Me!

I was diagnosed with Celiac when I was a baby, in fact when Coreena and I were both diagnosed is the first time it was "for sure" that we are identical twins. (They didn't know before because our placentas were fused together, they were unable to determine if they were one that was splitting or two that had fused) For most of our lives though, we ate whatever we wanted. In fact we craved things with wheat and other grains; Wheat Thins, breads, crackers, rolls, biscuits, cereals, burritos, etc.

When I was 15 I went through some major emotional trauma of my own doing. I started displaying symptoms but we didn't know what the cause was. My joints would hurt and throb, I had intestinal issues, headaches, I was blacking out at times, a lot of scary things. I never went to a doctor for it (my whole family tends to avoid doctors if at all possible) and we just figured it would go away and tentatively self-diagnosed as lupus.

Yet life continued on, I kept my grades up in school, continued my social life and my symptoms would come and go. I got the job at The Wildlife Safari and was the healthiest I've ever been in my life, yet my stomach was still a bit distended and my muscles somewhat weak. Almost everyday I had a sandwhich for lunch, either a burger from the restaurant or one I brought from home. Towards the end of my experience at the Safari my body began telling me it couldn't do it anymore, the muscle pain was getting unbearable and I was feeling awful. I thought it was from pushing myself too much.

At 18 I was going to get a new guide dog puppy since I was finally in a position to do so. Then I blacked out a couple times. We decided it'd be better to wait until after I got diagnosed and on a treatment for my blackouts so as to prevent possible harm to myself and/or the puppy.

At the beginning of 2008 I began feeling worse, constant headaches, stomachaches and fatigue, but I had too much going on in my life to pay much notice to it. It wasn't much worse than it had been, was it? Alex and I pressed on with our relationship and wedding plans, him knowing full well that I had a possible autoimmune disease. In April I came down with an unidentified infection. The infection looked like strep but wasn't, they have no idea what it was,or where all it was in my body. I was on an antibiotic four times a day for a couple weeks. Shortly thereafter my symptoms got worse and I started gaining weight.

From our wedding in August '08 to January '09 I gained 30-40 pounds, inexplicably. The nurse practitioner was concerned I had hypothyroidism and ordered a blood test to check my thyroid hormone levels. It was all we could do to pay for that stupid blood test that said everything was normal. Due to the degree of my symptoms I was told I needed to go see a doctor, there was no way we could afford it unfortunately.

My symptoms got worse and worse. Riding the two hours to Salem for puppy class was torture on my joints and the days left me so fatigued I could sleep for days afterwards.

In November of last year my symptoms got worse. I left work early a couple days due to flu-like symptoms and subsequently missed 5 weeks of work due to stomach cramps, fatigue, sore joints/tendons/muscles, intestinal upset, depression and anxiety.

I thought it was likely a lupus flair, and it could have been. Then my mom mentioned, once again, that it could be Celiac Disease. This time I took her seriously and did research. I cut out bread from my diet and noodles yet I was still quite ignorant. I got yogurt covered pretzels and licorice, I was eating yogurt for breakfast, cottage cheese with fruit for lunch and some sort of meat and side dish for dinner.

My main meals were fine (well, the yogurt could have been an issue) it was the snacks that were killing me. I missed nearly a week of work again from eating my pretzels and licorice. (Licorice is flavored with gluten) Saturday I got smart, quit putting off the inevitable and decided to get more informed. I bought this book

Going G-free is so much harder than it sounds. Gluten is the protein in grains, so anything with grains in it, is out. (Grains included are Wheat, Barley and Rye) Gluten is used to thicken things, bind things, bake things. Most things will be obvious, or at least tell you, that they have wheat in them. Yet grains have many names and are in many ingredients. It gets very depressing to see all that you can't have, so I try and focus on what I can.

I love chips, they're my downfall. I can still have my salt saturated potatoe chips, corn chips and tortilla chips. I can have all types of meat (unless it's breaded), fruits, vegetables, dairy products (for the most part), things made with corn (corn tortillas which I'm getting used to, corn bread, corn flakes etc), popcorn, soups (without noodles), and potatoes. Thankfully there are many more G-Free things available for purchase now than there were years ago, currently I have G-Free noodles and bread in my house.

We live in a small town and I have yet to visit the health food stores, but in the short time I've been going G-Free I've had a good experience. Of course there have been slip-ups, I ate Mentos Saturday night, they hare made with wheat syrup or something of the sort. I was on the couch a half hour later suffering from stomach cramps and wanting to vomit. The G-free bread I got is made with White Rice Flour and is absolutely, one hundred percent, disgusting! I was so excited to be able to have a sandwich after a few weeks not eating bread and couldn't wait to eat it. First bite I wanted to gag. It was like eating chalk dust, no kidding. I managed to eat most of it, but threw the last couple bites away (after eating the cheese, chicken and pickle off it). I can't bring myself to throw the 5 dollar loaf of bread away just yet, but I'm getting close.

Going G-Free is a difficult, long and somewhat depressing process. You go in a store and 90% of the things in that store you can't eat without getting sick. Gluten is in everything. Things that don't have gluten could be contaminated with gluten, which will still make you sick.

It's worth it though, after a successful day of steering clear of gluten yesterday I feel better today than I have in months, possibly more than a year. I'd like to share my journey of living G-Free with all of you, so this blog will be dual-purpose, a G-Free living/Puppy Raising blog. (The roles will I'm sure reverse when I get a pup /grin/)

G-Free living isn't just good for those with Celiac Disease or Gluten sensitivity on any level. G-Free diets have been shown (yet are still being studied) to help lessen the effects of ADD/ADHD, austism, autoimmune disease symptoms and the forming of autoimmune diseased and cancers. Alex is going to try going G-free with me, it's a great weight loss/maintenance lifestyle. It's not a short-term change, either. I'll have to be G-Free for the rest of my life. It will be hard to begin with to change the way I view food, before I ate what tasted good, but I'm beginning to think first of what is good for me, then what I think tastes good /wink/

Time to go make a delicious G-Free lunch!

Want more information? Visit

1 comment:

  1. Are you near a Whole Foods? They have a lot of gluten-free products in the store. I think Fred Meyers does too.