I have known for a very long time that I need to be completely gluten free, to the most minute degree. Although I was never diagnosed with Celiac disease, I have the same level of sensitivity. It now makes me obviously and incredibly sick, however for most of my life I had no idea that gluten was bad for me.
How is this possible? Well, according to some reading I’ve done, when you are first introduced to a substance that is bad for you then yes you get sick. But then you quickly climatize to it, although it is still doing a lot of damage. Like how cigarettes make you sick when you first start smoking them, but you get used to it, and although it is doing a ton of silent damage you don’t really notice. Symptoms gradually get worse and worse, until one day you body screams enough, and collapses. With cigarettes that may be increased sinus infections, allergies, headaches, leading eventually to emphysema and cancer.
With gluten, I had no idea the myriad of vague health issues I had was related to it. I thought everybody had headaches 4 or more days per week. I thought it wasn’t unusual to get migraines on a monthly or more basis, since there were several people in my family who had this. I was taking ibuprofin almost every day and had no idea that the chronic pain, mostly in my head, was not normal. A friend tried to tell me, but I just brushed them off and didn’t really think about it.
Although I could “write” on my skin, scratching with medium pressure would cause swollen red lines because of the high level of histamines in my system, I thought it was just some weird random fluke. I never connected it to the fact that it really hurt to get my teeth cleaned because they were so sensitive, nor to the fact that rain to me felt like little cold needles. Nor to the fact that I was always so cold, and that once cold it was in my bones and took forever to feel warm again. I thought it was just cold out or that other people didn’t like talking about how much teeth cleaning hurt.
I was tired all the time, but hey, I thought, who isn’t? I frequently got super cranky but I thought it was just because people were being especially stupid that day. I had a cold or the flu once or twice a month, which I knew was more than other people, but I thought I had just inherited a bad immune system from my mom who was also sick frequently. (Did I mention that food intolerances are hereditary?)
NONE of this is normal.
I know this because I finally got sick of being sick and was finally willing to do the elimination diet, found out that gluten is my kryptonite, and have been hypervigilant to keep it completely out of my life.
From what I have researched, the ONLY way to know for sure what you are allergic to is to do the elimination diet – it is the “gold standard” according to my doctor. The blood and skin scratch tests are not very accurate. I have read that they are now finding that there are antibodies (allergic response) that develop in the bowel that never make it into the blood. If you are serious about getting well, you must do an elimination diet. (And of course, consult your doctor first! And hopefully your doctor is one that actually understands elimination diets. If you don’t have one, get one)
I am doing much much MUCH better now that I have completely eliminated gluten, in even its tiniest forms (such as the evil maltodextrin and “natural flavors”). I only eat at places that understand celiacs and have strong protections in place against cross-contamination. And, of course, my own house! Most of the food I consume was prepared by me in my own house from scratch. No boxed food! Few canned or bottled either.
I NEVER get a headache or a migraine unless I have been “glutenized” (ingested some gluten). In a year, the three times I had a cold was when I was glutenized. My teeth don’t hurt now when they get cleaned! You can no longer write on my skin. Many other health problems have cleared up as well.
However, lately I have been feeling kinda tired and off. I know that I am also allergic to corn, sesame and chocolate (yes, chocolate). I have been wondering if there is something else that is slowly poisoning me. I have my suspicions about dairy and the nightshades, especially potatoes and tomatoes (sob!).
My spouse has been thinking that maybe she has allergies too and has been wanting to try the elimination diet. Her mom recently was confirmed with Crohn’s Disease and is thinking of doing one too.
So here we go, Elimination Diet round two!