05 January 2011

Day One: Gluten Free Diet

So, anyone who knows me probably knows that I'm not feeling well a lot. Sure, I get a regular run-of-the-mill cold or flu now and again, but most of the time when I'm sick it's a general malaise and/or stomach and digestive issues. And headaches, ugh. I'm frequently missing events, meetings, and gatherings because I'm not feeling up to it. About a year ago, I went to the doctor and had a run of tests, all of which were inconclusive. I was getting frustrated with having all this problems, the most prominent being a persistent and nagging pain in my left side just under my ribs, and when my doctor suggested, I kid you not, that I might be suffering from anxiety and hypochondria, let's just say, I never went back.

Hypochondria? Was she kidding me? I HATE being sick, I HATE going to see a doctor, and, in general, I'm pretty healthy. For me to be going to a doctor regularly and having all these tests done told me that I must have something wrong, because the number of doctor's visits I had in that 6 month period was definitely more visits that I'd had over the course of the previous 6 years. I started thinking about all the med-school students who had been my dorm mates at YSU, the ones who'd partied all hours of the night, puked all over the bathrooms, and squeaked by in their classes, and I thought, you know what, there are probably just as many, if not more, bad doctors out there as there are good ones. My doctor was a very nice person, I suppose, but I just don't think she was a good doctor.

Am I saying that I'm smarter than my doctor? No, not exactly, but I also don't think that the answer to every problem is a prescription, which is what my doctor when I was a teenager seemed to think. He never told me what was wrong with me, just wrote a prescription for antibiotics every single visit. I stopped going to see him, too, except when I needed a note to excuse an absence from work. My most recent doctor insisted my problem was heartburn. Yeah, I know that that feels like lady, and this wasn't it. And, if a patient has a persistent complaint about abdominal problems, and only abdominal problems, why wouldn't you investigate all possible causes before accusing said patient of making it up? Grr. The only time we talked about my diet was when she gave me a diagram of a plate showing proportions of food, because, you know, if I'm overweight, I'm obviously stuffing my face full of Big Macs all day long. (I'm not.) When I suggested that the weight gain might be a symptom, she laughed. Really.

So, I'm still having problems, have been having issues for a good two years, possibly longer. I've altered my diet in different ways, trying to find a possible food source for my issues, but one thing I haven't tried, until now, was a gluten-free diet. I think I figured that if I was gluten intolerant, I'd have figured it out by now. But then I started researching gluten intolerance, and I realized that many people who are diagnosed with gluten intolerance, gluten allergies or celiac disease frequently have a 10 year period of suffering through it before getting a diagnosis. TEN YEARS!

I'd looked at the symptoms of gluten intolerance before and some of them fit, many, really, except one noticeable one: unexplained weight loss. Yup, that doesn't fit me. If anything, I'm the exact opposite: I've gained much too much weight in the past few years. It doesn't seem to matter what or how little I eat, every time I step on the scale, the numbers go up. So I figured no way could I be gluten intolerant. Last month, I decided to research again and found a number of sites listing weight gain as a symptom of gluten sensitivity. Hmm. Combine that will everything else and there's a good chance that's my problem. And since I eat a lot of whole grains and pasta, if I am gluten sensitive, I've been basically poisoning myself every time I eat. Yikes!

So, since gluten free diets also have benefits for people with autism, like my fabulous boyfriend, Nick, who has Asperger's, we are both trying out a gluten-free diet for the next month. We tried vegan and that didn't really work out, but I'm committed to really being a stickler about gluten-free, because I know if I am gluten sensitive, even the smallest amount of gluten will give me symptoms. So I bought a bunch of gluten-free pastas, made from corn, quinoa, and brown rice, plus an assortment of gluten-free flour so I can try making my own bread and other things.

Also, I'm planning on using a lot of recipes from Appetite for Reduction, the newest cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskovitz, since a lot of them are already gluten-free, and I made a meal plan for the first week so I don't have to have a mini-panic attack like I did last night when we got home from driving 10 hours. I was hungry and I didn't know what I could or couldn't eat yet. I ended up finishing my non-gluten-free sandwich from lunchtime and promising to start fresh today using the meal plan I made.

Wish me luck! Any one have any favorite gluten free resources or recipes they want to share?

1 comment:

  1. Good luck! We tried Gluten Free for several months, and still try to reduce the amount of gluten we eat. Here's a couple sites I like to get recipes from:

    http://glutenfreegirl.com/ - ooh, she's been working on cookies!
    http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/ - she cooks Gluten-free, so all the recipes can be made GF!

    My SIL made delicious sandy sugar/shortbread cookies from Whole Foods GF flour blend, too.


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