On a good day, parenting will test the integrity of your character. On a bad day, parenting will test your will to live. Parenting children with trauma histories will cause you to test the integrity of everything and everyone you thought you knew, for the rest of your life.
~J. Skrobisz

Sunday, August 22, 2010

gluten free

Well, if you follow Christine you know that she is all about eating right. She has fun recipes and great tips for better living through healthy eating. For that matter, so does Corey. Huh. Maybe it's names that begin with a 'C' that makes posts about food so exciting? I digress.

I'm not going to post recipes or such in like kind because that's not really my thing. Quilting? yes. Food posts? not so much. But, I will tell you about my gluten-free journey.

No, AB isn't my gluten-free kid. Fact of the matter is, AB's diet is so limited due in large part to his overwhelming sensory issues over food [1], that making him gluten-free would limit his diet too much. Besides, his developmental delay doc says that when it comes to sensory issues, stimming and other typical autism spectral disorders, there's no long-term clinical proof that gluten-free diets are as effective or better than medications, OT, PT and modifications.

Gluten-free then, is for me. I was having the following symptoms:
1. migraines complete with auras and vomiting, losing up to 4 days a month in bed
2. traveling joint pain with no rhyme or reason; I thought I had early fibromyalgia
3. hypoglycemia
4. vertigo
5. severe irritability without reasonable cause; it would just come on suddenly and not be related to my cycle
6. irritable bowel syndrome

Of course, I also have hypothyroidism or Hashimoto's Disease. I was diagnosed at age 22 but suffered from the symptoms since age 19. I take daily medication and have stabilized my weight but have never lost weight and kept it off after the initial gain from my wonky metabolism. In addition, I have all of these ridiculous issues with my "girlie parts". All told, my body has not enjoyed life on this sphere.

So my sister suggested I try a gluten-free diet. It's been rough, it's been tough. It's expensive and sometimes irritating when you try to eat out (usually I end up just eating a salad but there have been times I've had to request to see the ingredients on house dressings which is troublesome). At first, the cravings were horrible and just about everyone told me I had to stick it for at least a month before I noticed any benefit because it took that long for my body to detox from the gluten already in my system.

I did it. I survived. I am one very happy woman.

ALL of my symptoms have gone away. Every time I had one of the symptoms, i could trace it back to something I ate that had gluten in it. (really, salad dressings are tricky. Maltodextrin and caramel color usually get me because I miss them on ingredient lists [2]) As for the thyroid, weight and girlie parts, well, jury's still out. I have a sneaking suspicion that it's going to take longer than eight weeks for those issues to abate. But I'm on the right path.

Once in awhile I get brave and I try a little gluten just to make sure I'm not imagining things, that the gluten really is the culprit for my ailments. Yesterday I had a grilled chicken sandwich on a whole wheat bun. Whole wheat, can't go wrong with that, right? Wrong.

In five minutes flat, I had vertigo, a dull headache and ringing ears. In half an hour I had IBS. And today, I'm still feeling the affects with some pretty nasty moodiness as that bun breaks down in my large intestine. Last time I had gluten it took a full SIX days for all of the intestinal issues to abate. Yep. I think it's safe to say, gluten is no friend of mine. What's more, wheat products actually taste kind of nasty when you haven't had them for awhile!

Here's the unexpected benefits I have already gotten from going gluten-free:
1. ENERGY! Holy cow do I have energy. I feel like I'm 19 again
2. increased libido - I was feeling pretty sluggish in that department before and figured it was hormone related. nope. just diet.
3. Clear mind - I can think and problem solve so easily now
4. cravings - they are ALL gone. No more "omg, I have to have chocolate" with my cycle or "i just have to have a mcdonald's burger"
5. 10 lbs. smaller - i didn't go gluten-free to lose weight and at my size, 10 lbs. isn't even noticeable but I'll take it.
6. blood pressure is normalized
7. heart flutters are gone

I'm not going to pretend like making such a drastic change in my diet is easy. It's not. Just yesterday I had supper at a friend's house and had to bring my own gluten-fee bun for the burgers she was serving. And everyone ate chocolate cake while I watched.

I'm not going to get on a podium and tell you that gluten-free is the answer to all that ails you. At best, my results are subjective qualitative analysis.

I'm not going to ask that you even try it. I'm just going to say:

Gluten-free works for me

[1] AB's GI tract is completely affected by his developmental issues, some of it is the asperger's some of it is her chromosome 19 duplications. He has a geographic tongue, chronic acid reflux and very irritable bowels with chronic constipation followed by bouts of diarrhea. Going "science teacher" on my readers, the blastula stage of development, just prior to zygote and then embryo, develops the rudimentary cellular structure of the alimentary canal first. This would be 3-7 days after fertilization of an egg. Thus, it is safe to assume that AB's development was impaired very early in gestation due in large part to chromosomal anomalies and possibly but not conclusively, to exposure to environmental toxins in the womb (anything his BM consumed or ingested before she knew she was pregnant)

[2] gluten is in: wheat, barley and malt products. Tricky things to watch out for that have gluten: modified food starch (holy cow, gatorade has a carbohydrate drink that has modified food starch in it - GLUTEN in a drink!!!), maltodextrin, caramel flavorings and caramel color (watch out for those processed instant oatmeal packages they have caramel color), soy sauce (if it doesn't say gluten free on the label, it's not) even corn flakes, doritos and roasted peanuts have barley or wheat flavorings, powders or starches. Slim Jim, meatloaf, gravies, sauces, anything that has a thickener that isn't a corn starch product has gluten. When in doubt, don't eat it! Need something sweet? dried fruit or better yet, FRESH fruit with a dollop of lite cool whip. Yum.


Bren said...

Do you like ranch dressing??? I make my own. The recipe is here...

It is amazing how what we put in our bodies creates in our health.
So glad you are feeling better!

Happymom4 aka Hope Anne said...

Sympathies. My son with Asperger's has SEVERE wheat and dairy allergies. Even a trace of it in something can make him sick for several days. It affects his GI tract with very nasty symptoms that he can not hide from the world . . . so needless to say . . . his food choices for eating out are VERY limited and every pot-luck or teen-gathering is a huge stress to him. We have a cooler that has a shoulder strap that is nicely padded, and that thing is our best friend when it comes to hauling food around. It pretty much goes every where we go.

Anonymous said...

Ah - another Gluten Free Gal in the fold. Glad to hear that it's working for you. Congrats on feeling better! It seems like it's hard at first, but truly there is a plethora of food out there that is gluten free - lean proteins, cheese, all vegetables, all fruits... So much of what contains gluten is crap that we shouldn't be eating the first place. Good luck!

Oh - and if you haven't already - check out a great blog - "Gluten Free Girl and the Chef" at http://glutenfreegirl.blogspot.com/

marythemom said...

My youngest was gluten free from age 2-5 (he's 11 now), before he apparently outgrew it. When I walk through the regular grocery store I'm amazed and jealous about how many more choices are available now.

We loved the Gluten Free Gourmet book series. I had a few recipes (including chocolate cake and sugar cookies) that I wish we could have kept all the flour substitutes around for because they tasted better than the "real" thing. Some of the Phase 1 recipes from the South Beach diet cookbook are pretty good too (waffles and popovers made from eggs - yum!).

Although I love to bake, I'm glad I don't have to do it all the time anymore. I made some cookbooks of our gluten free family recipes (we don't do spicy) if you're interested.

Mary in TX

Glad you figured out something that makes you feel better!

kisekileia said...

Have you ever tried AB on a tricyclic antidepressant? They're great for IBS.