When I was a teenager and leading up to my first pregnancy six years ago, I had issues with my gall bladder. I was in the hospital scheduled to have it removed, but after talking with the gastroenterologist, decided that maybe just a few dietary changes could solve my problems. I opted out of the removal because I wasn’t too keen on getting cut open for something that I could fix by changing my diet! I reduced the amount of fried foods, pasta, and fresh bread that I ate, because those were my biggest triggers for a gall bladder attack. After I got pregnant the first time, my symptoms subsided a lot. I would have a random attack here or there, but nothing like the constant pain I was in before after eating anything.
Since that time, I have noticed that my body still doesn’t handle bread well. I’ve always loved baking it for my family and enjoying that fresh bread smell in my home, but I have never been able to eat a lot of it, and pay for it dearly when I do. Sometime last summer I realized that it was hurting more than helping me and that is when I decided to try the Paleo diet. I noticed major changes in my body and loved it. Then I got pregnant again and slipped into a few crackers or some toast here or there. I baked bread a few times last fall, but not many. If I ate even one roll/bun I would end up with a stomach ache.
Fast-forward to February 1, 2014. I got sick. Really, REALLY sick. I started having severe abdominal cramping and gas pains that would not go away. I was writhing in pain on the floor and couldn’t eat or hardly move for days. I also had diarrhea that lasted for 5 DAYS. That’s right, 5 days where absolutely everything I put in my mouth went straight through me. It was horrendous. I was also having migraines at the same time. It was not pleasant.
I was so ill for those first three days that I couldn’t do anything. I stumbled to the bathroom, hunched over, then back to the couch to my heating pad. At night every time I moved it would send another spasm through me, leaving me awake and miserable and moaning. On the morning of the fourth day my husband was scheduled to fly to Spokane for a conference. I was feeling slightly better . . . meaning I could get out of bed on my own without crying, so I told him to go. I ended up enduring several more days of feeling terrible on my own with the three girls, but we all survived. I’m sure I lost a bunch of weight. I couldn’t put anything in my mouth without my insides instantly rejecting it and hurting. I don’t think I’ve been so miserable for so long . . . ever?
After some research and talking to my midwife we decided that a gluten elimination diet would be the best step for me to take. I’ve wondered off and on if I wasn’t gluten intolerant for a while now, so we will finally figure it out I guess. Basically, when you are gluten intolerant/allergic/sensitive to gluten, your body just rejects it and it makes you ill. It is not the same as Celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disorder where your immune system attacks the lining of your intestines.
As of Feb. 1, I have been gluten-free. The only way to “test” for a sensitivity is to completely eliminate that substance from your diet and then after a determined amount of time (1 month to be fair) you try a little bit and see how your body responds to it. I am now 27 days in and feel pretty great.
It hasn’t been hard for me to eliminate gluten. I have realized that it hides in a lot more places than you would think, but because of the way I was already (mostly) eating, it hasn’t been that difficult. I eat meat and veggies mostly and fruit. I was already experimenting with grain-free recipes from doing the Paleo diet, so I had a few good ones to lean back on when I felt like I needed something different. I did have a couple of days just this past weekend where I went out to eat with friends, ordering off of a “gluten free menu” but ended up feeling some cramping and pain later that evening and the next day. That has been the only time in the past few weeks I’ve felt anything similar, and I just wish I could pinpoint exactly what it was. That is the risk of eating at a restaurant while trying to eliminate certain things from your diet I guess. You can’t ever be completely sure.
Over all, it’s been a good experience for me. I feel really good and just the thought of EVER feeling that sick and in so much pain again is enough to deter me. I’ve even baked delicious rolls and cookies with regular flour and other things for people I know, but haven’t been tempted at all. The one time I wanted to cheat was when we were at my mother-in-laws for dinner and she made lasagna. It smelled SO GOOD. I wanted it, but pasta is one of the things that gets me the worst, and I didn’t cave! I had salad . . . then warmed up a baked potato that I brought to eat in just such a predicament. It was filling and delicious and I didn’t suffer.
I haven’t decided whether or not I will even “test” this right away by eating bread in the next week or so. I would be scared to even try it! But that’s what is happening in my diet right now, and I am just thankful to be feeling better and finding ways to get around things that might upset me.