Becoming Gluten-Free

Written by Shani

Topics: Introduction

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celiac diseaseThis may be a bit long, but if you’ve been on this same journey, I want you to know that I understand what you’re going through or what you’ve been through.

So Here’s my story:

We were on vacation in Roatan and the lady sitting at the table next to us was trying to order her burrito without the flour tortilla – for those of you who have to do this on a regular basis you know what a hassle this can be – especially in a foreign country!  Well, curiosity got the best of me and I just had to ask.  Gluten allergies were the culprit.  Gluten – what?  I had no idea what that even was then!  She started describing her symptoms and I felt like she was describing me – tired all the time, “crashing” after eating, perpetual stomach aches, puffiness – well you know the story!  I decided that I had better look into this when I got home – I was still on vacation and it could wait :o).

Once I was home, I started doing research on the internet – gluten-free, celiac disease (coelic’s disease, if you don’t live in the US) – a lot of the symptoms described me!  I figured I had nothing to lose by testing out this theory and cutting out wheat, oats, barley, rye, etc.  It didn’t seem like such a big deal until I realized that everything I ate contained these gluten free celiacingredients.  I panicked.  I had no idea what I was going to eat!  Once I went through the list of the foods that I ate on a regular basis, I realized that I was in big trouble – everything had gluten in it.  The onion bagels for breakfast – no way!  The frozen meals that I heated up for lunch had pasta, gravy, or soy sauce.  The quick dinners that I had gotten used to eating like corn dogs, frozen burritos, and chicken nuggets were making me crash!  Beer and pizza, crackers and cheese, barbeque chicken sandwiches, all were knocked off the list.  I actually cried because I had no idea what I could actually eat.

The results…

Well I cut out the gluten and the first couple of days I thought – wow, I feel pretty good – am I imaging this.  The next couple of days, Todd looked at me and said I just thought your eyes were naturally puffy like that, but I guess not!  No more puffiness.  Well part of me was excited, I figured it out, the other part of me was really scared about having to live like this forever.

Celiac Disease?

I never got tested for Celiac Disease.  I figured, what was the point, I already knew that gluten made me sick and the only treatment for Celiac Disease is to cut it out.  So that’s what I did, I cut out all the gluten, and have continued to do so!  Do I still get sick occasionally? – yes, but overall I’m a much happier, healthier person.  Eating out is a hassle, but…

celiac diseaseFortunately, Todd loves to cook.  AND, there are a lot more places, like Trader Joe’s now that are labeling their foods as gluten free.  So this is why we started this blog, to help you enjoy being gluten-free and to realize that you can still eat really well – even without gluten!

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I would love to hear your story, please share it in the comments below…

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7 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Ash says:

    I’ve been gluten free for 5 years now and I feel great! I have Celiac’s disease and am so thankful I have been diagnosed….If you haven’t already spoken to a MD about getting tested, I’d highly suggest doing so…knowing that I am a true celiac helps me urge others to get tested. Sounds like you could make a big difference in people’s lives also!

    • Shani says:

      Thanks for stopping by! I’ve read that in order to get tested I would have to start eating gluten again and that’s just not worth feeling totally miserable again! Have you heard of alternative means of testing?

  2. Gail says:

    I recently found out I was gluten intolerant. I think I’ve always had an allergy to wheat, but since gluten free was not around when I was younger I thought they were just random stomach aches. Coming home from school my grandpa always made bread and butter for snack. My mom loves bread too, so it was always around the house. I would go to school and have terrible gas and I’d have to use the bathroom always at the wrong time, like when I was out shopping. In my high school years I would sometimes wake up in the middle of the night with stomach aches and would attribute it to my period symptoms. It didn’t happen a lot, but when it did come up I had a special routine down to make the pain go away. Wake up, use the bathroom, drink tea, put hot water bottle on stomach. Growing up I noticed that I was gaining at least 10 -20 pounds every year, so I was always over weight and always known as the chubby girl. This past year my stomach aches have gotten worse. I am now in my 30’s and noticed that I have a harder time going to the bathroom. I then developed symptoms like shortness of breath, occasional itching on my legs, severe bloating and gas, constipation, and sweet cravings after every meal. I went camping with relatives one weekend last year in June 2012 and could not eat or go to a bathroom. It had been a week since my last bowel movement and I was very worried. I went to the doctor who told me to take laxatives and stool softener. They of course did not work and I didn’t want to keep taking medicine if nothing was happening. I went to a different doctor and she tested me for everything. Stool and blood test did not find there was anything wrong, and I tested negative for celiac’s disease. She also asked me to take a class on IBS. I had found my answers. The class helped me understand that everyone symptoms are different, to pay attention to the foods that upset my stomach, and I met other people that shared their stories that help me realize that these pains were not in my head. A girl from work has celiac’s disease and she had cut out wheat from her diet. I thought it was really interesting, because when I ate bread or something with wheat I would balloon up and the pain would come back. The balloon feeling was so bad that I would imagine myself taking a knife and pushing it through my stomach and popping it like a balloon. I would be so uncomfortable. I tried to cut out gluten, and when I did I immediately felt relief. I did more research online which confirmed my symptoms and I am now confidently saying I am gluten intolerant!

    • Shani says:

      Hi Gail-
      Wow it sounds like you went through a ton of struggles to figure out your gluten intolerance! You must be so relieved to finally be feeling better. I went through a lot of the same struggles as a kid and the doctors always thought it was milk. I was so happy to finally figure out the gluten intolerance. And now my face isn’t puffy any more either! You might want to also do a little research into Candida too, it sounds similar to some of the other symptoms that you have such as the sugar cravings. http://healthwellnessconnection.com/2011/09/27/why-is-it-so-difficult-to-stop-sugar-cravings/ That said you might want to get used to cutting out the gluten first before you try something else – it might be too overwhelming. I know I had more than a few tears as I tried to figure out what I could eat. Another one to try is the Clean Diet – I think they may have updated the book, but the older version you could do without buying all of his protein powders, etc. It’s another great way to figure out if there is anything else that you are allergic too. I was amazed at how much energy I had when I did three week cleanse. Good luck with your new way of life – I’m sure you will start feeling like a completely new person in a very short time!

      • Shani says:

        I agree! The Cleanse is a really great way to find out if you have problems with gluten and other things as well. I did the Clean program as well and found I had so much energy. I would recommend to people if they are doing it to find out food allergies that creating your own smoothies rather than buying the kits would be the best way to sustain your eating plan once you have figured out what bothers you.

  3. Babyflitestreak says:

    I recently found out that I am gluten intolerant and I’ve been suffering needlessly for years. I was tired all the time, especially after meals. And the horrible stomachaches after eating. After graduating tech school in 2000 I was fired from 3 different jobs because I was falling asleep at my desk an hour after I ate. Once I got past the sleepy stage there was the gas and bloating. I had no idea what was going on. My doctor thought I was diabetic (because I am obese) so I was tested using the super sweet soda pop method (ACK! Never do this!). The results showed me borderline low, quite the opposite if I was a diabetic. He just scratched his head and told me there was nothing wrong with me..just all in my head. I knew it wasn’t but I couldn’t get a 2nd opinion without a referral from my doctor…rules from the insurance company. ..and I couldn’t afford to go out-of-pocket so I just continued to suffer. After I lost job #3 this year I was totally broke, so broke I couldn’t really afford enough bread to feed a sandwich loving family of 3…just me, my sister, and my dad. The only bread I was buying was Nature’s Own 100% Whole Wheat…had the lowest carb count (dad is a type 2 diabetic) of all available. ..and I could no longer afford it at nearly $3 a loaf. So I set out learning to make my own bread since at least I knew it would not have the chemical lab that is in the Nature’s Own bread. My first 2 loaves bothered me some but I thought it was because of the density of the bread. My 3rd bread making attempt was very successful…nice high rise, soft crust…just like the bread at the store only it tasted far superior. Unfortunately, that lovely bread gave me a horrible stomachache after I tasted a “test slice”. What I did differently on the 3rd loaf was the French “slap and fold” technique demonstrated by Richard Bertinet on YouTube. This type of kneading really developed the gluten. Anyway, I felt absolutely rotten so I looked up everything I was feeling and it all boiled down to “gluten intolerance”. I love bread and just wanted to cry. At that point I had no idea what I was going to eat because all of a sudden I am the only gluten intolerant person in the house. Thankfully, I already had some items gluten free…quinoa, rice, peanut butter, beans (dry and canned), and Dr. McDougall’s Chili Bean soup (excellent with rice..find it at Sprouts, maybe Whole Foods). I had several boxes of items from Trader Joe’s I could no longer eat, including my favorite…Just the Clusters Ginger & Cashew cereal (WAAH!) so I took them back to the store. I picked up the gluten free rolled oats which are excellent. Topped it with a little maple syrup (I only buy the real thing…not stuff like Aunt Jemima), powdered Ginger, and Vietnamese Cinnamon. The oatmeal came out real thick so I added a little milk. I did get a very mild stomachache after eating. I wasn’t sure if it was the milk or the oatmeal (I’ve had bouts of lactose intolerance in the past) until I made meatloaf patties last night…it was the dairy because I used the TJ gluten-free oats as the only filler…no breadcrumbs, crackers, etc. and did not get a stomachache. …so instead of being just gluten intolerant, I am also lactose intolerant. Overall, I am starting to feel better, more energetic, and sleeping better. I was waking up every 2 hours, now I sleep thru a full 8 hours. Thankfully, I love to cook so hopefully this will get easier as I adjust. The hardest thing for me will be the bread. I have a loaf of Udi’s Whole grain. It tastes ok but it just isn’t the same. I might try some Pamela’s bread mix next. …and then going from scratch.

    • Shani says:

      Wow it sounds like you have been on quite the roller coaster. You must be so happy that you have finally figured out what has been causing you problems. You used the best method – trial and error and listening to your body. You breakfast oatmeal sounds yummy! I’ve been wanting to start having oatmeal again now that the weather is starting to cool off. You could try almond milk or coconut milk, so that you can enjoy it lactose free. Keep us posted on how you do with making gluten free bread – we’d love to post your recipe. We have enjoyed a few gluten free bread mixes, but they always end up being quite heavy. Udi’s is great – my favorite is the buns. For me, instead of finding gluten free breads, I just learned to have the GF versions only as a special treat because they are so high in calories and carbs. It’s a whole new way of thinking, and it will definitely get easier over time. Keep us posted on your journey and let us know if we can help out!

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