One of my goals in starting this blog was to not only have you hear from me, but to also hear from my amazing instructor team! I am surrounded by awesome ladies and count myself very lucky. Without further ado- here is Tara who is sharing her journey of discovering that she has a gluten intolerance.
“Celiac Disease, or gluten intolerance, is becoming increasingly common today. In the United States, more than 2 million people or 1 in every 133 people are affected by this disease. The risk increases to 1 in every 22 people if you have a parent, child or sibling with the disease.” (http://www.superkidsnutrition.com/nutrition-articles/kids_nutrition-concerns/nc_facts-celiac-gluten/)
Just after the birth of my oldest son, Jackson, almost 3 years ago, I felt that my health was rapidly deteriorating. I had lost some baby weight, but still had a round, bloated belly as if I were 5 months pregnant. I had pretty severe joint and muscle pain, to the point that I was afraid to carry Jack for fear I’d drop him, and I was suffering my second bout of depression. I chalked all of this up to new motherhood, and postpartum blues, but something just didn’t seem right. Could motherhood actually make me physically hurt? I broke down to my husband one night, and I made an appointment with my doctor right away. I went through all sorts of tests, and started antidepressants once again, but everything we were looking for came up negative. The best my doctor could come up with was that I had Fibromyalgia. So, we added on more prescription medication, and I started exercising to ease the pain - this was around the time I joined Stroller Strides.
I started feeling somewhat better and my mood certainly improved, but all of this was still a mystery to me. I started to put two and two together that when I ate certain things, I felt absolutely horrible. Not one to be satisfied with living the rest of my life on meds, I wanted to get to the root of my health issues. I’d started hearing about all of these “food intolerance” issues and tried a few different diets. Was dairy the culprit? Proteins? Soy? Nope. It was wheat a/k/a gluten.
The more I thought about my health up until this point, I know I’ve always had stomach issues - I can even remember as far back as first and second grade knowing something was wrong. My symptoms were so random (which is typical of gluten intolerance), that I could never get an accurate diagnosis. Nevermind the fact that most traditional doctors don’t seem to be totally on board with “gluten intolerance”. I mean, we’re all supposed to be eating whole wheat, right?
I found a couple of doctors who do believe this is an issue for a lot of people, and did some various testing. During that time, I cut out all gluten from my diet, and within about 6 weeks I was off of all of my medications, and feeling better than I ever had. I have read that Celiac and gluten intolerance is hereditary, and thinking about everyone in my family, I can almost pin-point who is and who isn’t. My little guy, Jackson, has a full-on allergic reaction to it...not pretty. But most poignantly, my mom, who passed away 4 years ago at the age of 52.
She was diagnosed with liver disease at 39, my senior year of high school, and within a week, was placed on a liver transplant list. The transplant never happened while her health slowly deteriorated. She was being cared for by a team at the University of Michigan Hospital, but in all of those years, they could never really figure out what she had, when it started, and how to stop it. The more I learn about all of this, I’m convinced that she’d developed Celiac-related Hepatitis. Something so simple that could’ve been fixed...
So, now it’s my mission to educate myself, my family, and anyone who is willing to listen, that “gluten” isn’t just a fad. It can be a very serious problem. Testing can be confusing, but if you think you have some of the symptoms, just cut it out. See how you feel after a few weeks. If you feel better, then make the switch 100%. It’s so easy, and there are so many products available now, once you learn a little more about it, making the change is simple. One bonus is that wheat gluten is found in almost all processed foods, so if you’re already cutting those out, you’re half-way there.
Most food intolerance issues stem from gluten sensitivity, so if you’re already avoiding something, there’s a high probability gluten is an issue for you too. Want to hear a silver lining? If you work out your gluten intolerance (avoiding it and recovering from it’s damage), there’s a really great chance that you’ll be able to add in other things you’ve avoided, like dairy for instance. You’ll likely never be able to eat gluten (wheat) again, but at least you get to gain back what you had to avoid before.
Check out these links to learn more about symptoms, some informative books, and great cookbooks. And, if you’re interested in chatting about this more, or have more knowledge to share, feel free to contact me or grab me at class.