I was in my late 30’s and under tremendous stress. My Dad had just passed, we relocated cross country, and my son was newly diagnosed with Autism when my body seemed to literally short wire on me. Meanwhile, I went to the doctor several times and they ran many tests, but nothing seemed to help. Who would have ever thought this could have all been happening because I was gluten intolerant?
A few of my symptoms
I suffered from debilitating migraines, horrendous acid reflux, brain fog, and severe arthritis pain in my neck, back, knees, and hands. I experienced random hot and cold flashes and dizzy spells throughout the day and had strange bumps on my arms that looked like pimples. Of all the symptoms, the extreme exhaustion was the least bearable, because I could barely endure a day of being a mom. I had pretty much accepted all of this as my new norm. After all, my doctor seemed to have a permanent diagnosis for each one of the symptoms.
I should have known I was gluten intolerant way back when…
Thinking back, these symptoms started when I was in my teens. I remember being very self-conscious about wearing my strapless prom dress because of my chicken skin and bumps on my arms. I recall having a bottle of Maalox on my desk at work and doing a shot of it before I had to speak with someone, so the pain in my throat would temporarily subside and I could focus on the conversation. Interestingly, I seemed to feel my best when I was on a high protein diet and I have a sneaking suspicion it wasn’t because of the high protein but because of the lack of carbs which meant very low to no gluten.
Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance
Have you ever wondered if you or someone you love is gluten intolerant? Here are some of the well-known symptoms:
- Abdominal pain
- Autoimmune disorders
- Brain Fog
- Diarrhea, constipation, or smelly stool
- Hormone issues such as PCOS
- Iron deficiency
- Joint pain
- Keratosis pilaris – chicken skin on the back of your arms
- Leg Numbness
- Neurological symptoms such as dizziness or a feeling of being off-balance
- Unexplained weight gain
- Skin Problems such as psoriasis, alopecia areata, chronic urticaria
For more information on the symptoms of gluten intolerance, you may want to check out MBG Food’s article 10 Signs You Are Gluten Intolerant.
If these symptoms match with someone you know, please share this blog with them. In this instance, sharing is truly caring!
How I found out I was gluten intolerant
It was really a crazy set of circumstances that led me to discover I was gluten intolerant. My son had just started seeing a new naturopathic doctor, Dr. Sarah Axtell who authored Ditch the Wheat, Drop the Weight and needed to have some blood work done. He was afraid and refusing to allow the technician to take the draw, so I asked the clinician to draw my blood for the same panel. Luckily, the clinician was very accommodating, quickly got a set of orders from the doctor and took both Drew’s and my blood. Even more luckily, they happened to be testing for food intolerances that day. A few days later the doctor called and told me even though my son was showing some significant health concerns, she was more worried about my results. I tested such a high gluten intolerance that she recommended I never eat it again.
Results of Going Gluten-Free
Today, roughly three years after going gluten-free, I am symptom-free of the above, more than 95 percent of the time. That means I no longer suffer from debilitating migraines, horrendous acid reflux, brain fog, dizzy spells, hot and cold flashes, fatigue and severe arthritis pain in my neck, back, knees, and hands! Wow! It is amazing to think of the havoc gluten can put on your body!
And, it’s not just me, several of Weight-Loss-Confessions followers have reached out to share their personal gluten intolerance stories with me and the internet is flooded with gluten-free success stories. Here are a few great ones. Check them out if you have a moment: Gluten Spinner’s My Story of Gluten Intolerance and The Curious Coconut’s My Experience with Gluten Sensitivity.
How to find out if you are gluten intolerant
Most physicians are able to run a quick blood test for gluten intolerance. Having said that, I have been told by multiple doctors, the best test is an elimination diet. If you are experiencing symptoms of gluten intolerance, Healthline’s article, How to do an Elimination Diet and Why suggests taking the food group out of your diet for 2-3 weeks and slowly reintroducing it. If you are intolerant of the food, you should see a reaction when you reintroduce it. Both JJ Virgin and The Whole30 are popular diets that eliminate foods that commonly trigger adverse effects and can be a great starting point if you feel something you are eating may not be bringing out the best in you.
My best advice for going gluten-free
My best advice for going gluten-free is don’t do it like I did – seriously. I told my story in The Gluten-Free Diet Caused Me to Gain Weight! and you don’t want to replicate it. Take going gluten-free as a chance to focus on introducing more healthy unprocessed foods into your diet, don’t go out foraging for new processed foods that have the GF symbol on them.