What If It’s Not (Only) Gluten?

When I first went GF, I spent a lot of time on the Celiac.com message boards; it was a great comfort and source of information. I still visit regularly, but not as often as I once did. One thing that intrigues and concerns me are the posters who still feel sick after going gluten free. For whatever reason, these people continue to feel awful despite eliminating gluten.

In some cases, it’s clear the posters have made a half-hearted attempt at gluten free. They’re paying lip service, and they’re paying with their bodies. Years ago, for other reasons, I toyed with a gluten-free diet. I was *mostly* good, but wasn’t serious. I cheated. And I convinced myself gluten wasn’t my problem.

It was. I am extremely serious about my gluten-free life now. Had I known then what I know now, I would have, oh, six years of my life back. My problems only got worse after that failed experiment. I’d say it was the folly of youth, but, alas….

Gluten takes a bit of time to clear our systems once it’s eliminated from our diets. You’ll start feeling the results in days after you stop all gluten, but the full healing can take weeks or months, especially if you have celiac disease. The longer it takes to diagnose you, the longer it takes your body to recover.

But you should see improvement. If you don’t, and you are completely gluten free, you need to talk to your doctor. Please read this again: TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR. Not the internet. Not your friends. Medical problems should be addressed with professional medical people — people who have, you know, gone to medical school.

(And remember, the people who frequent message boards online all have biases; take any and all advice with appropriate grains of salt. Seriously. I cannot emphasize this enough.)

If your doctor doesn’t take you seriously, find another doctor. I’m not kidding. Food is not supposed to make us sick. When it does, it’s a problem. And the truth is, sometimes a gluten-intolerance/celiac diagnosis is just one part of the puzzle.

I have a slight sensitivity to dairy. I control this by not overindulging. This is part of my life. I deal. Eggs, dairy, sugar, caffeine, soy, shellfish…lots of foods impact us!

Sometimes gluten isn’t the problem at all. We’ve all diagnosed ourselves via Dr. Google. Gah, that week before I had my endoscopy, while I waited on the results of an unrelated blood test that would determine if I had a deadly and incurable disease? That was the week I learned my lesson.

No more trying to self-diagnose. Ever.

(Obviously, my test results were fine.)

Seriously, what I’ve learned from the Internet is that many people suffer from multiple food intolerances. I have a friend who, and this is not really a joke, has dietary restrictions so severe, air is pretty much her safe food. I feel very lucky.

Bottom line is that your health is in your control. You are in charge. Don’t assume gluten is the problem. Don’t assume gluten is the only problem. If you’re not feeling better — short term, long term — seek professional help.

Tip of the Week

Celiac is an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases often have very similar symptoms, making it difficult for doctors to hone in on the true problem. Help yourself by paying close attention to the triggers that make you sick.

Menu of the Week

I’m facing a bit of a challenge, eating-wise, this week. I’m out of town, and, sigh, some formerly reliable gluten-free sources are no longer in business (or they’ve changed their menus). My hotel’s breakfast options are both overpriced and filled with gluten.

I’m scraping together leftovers and grocery store ready-made items for lunch. Even when you’re traveling with little time for seeking out foods, you can usually pull together a quick meal. Tonight, as I write this, I have steak that I’ve already cut into bite-sized pieces, some rice, and grapes. I’m storing them in my mini-fridge, and they’ll be perfect tomrrow!

  • Leftover Meat or Veggies — or —
  • Microwavable Lentils or Stew
  • Microwavable Plain Rice
  • Fruit, either whole or a cut fruit from the store

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