On Not Being Able to Eat Gluten

A little over six months ago, I noticed that I was having some sort of allergic skin reaction to something unknown.  It appeared out of nowhere as red splotchy spots all over my shoulders, torso, and thighs.  And when I scratched, inflamed lines were left where I had scratched.  It FREAKED me out.  What could I possibly be allergic to that I do not know about?

Many times, it was suggested to me that it was my laundry soap, which I was just not willing to accept as a plausible explanation since I had been using the same kind for years.  While I did not completely exclude this from my list of possible explanations, I just would not accept that as the reason.   So, I kept investigating.

Weeks passed, and I could NOT figure out what was wrong.  One of my dearest and closet friends was getting married in a few short weeks.  I was worried that I would have this mysterious allergic reaction and have to suffer through it at her wedding.  At her bridal shower, her mother mentioned that my rash-like spots looked to be like something one would get when one had a food allergy.  I thought that must be it.  After all, it is more and more common every day that people develop food allergies out of the blue.

I slowly began eliminating foods from my diet, and still reacted almost everyday.  It was becoming intolerable.   I could not stop itching, and I did not know what was wrong with me, but I no longer had health insurance so I could not afford to go to the doctor.  I was miserable.

It got so that I eliminated everything from my diet EXCEPT noodles.  I was eating plain noodles everyday in an effort to clean out my system of any other type of food.  I planned on slowly re-introducing food into my diet to determine if something would set me off.  However, toward the end of the week-long noodle fest, I had a thought.  The ONLY thing I am eating is NOODLES!  What if it is noodles that is causing this, or more specifically, what about noodles would cause this?  Then I remembered that my son’s aunt on his dad’s side had some sort of gluten-intolerance – Celiac Disease.

Oh noodles! How could you betray me so!?

I began my research.  There are over 300 symptoms associated with this disease!  But there is a shorter list of the most common twenty or so, depending on the website you go to.  Among those, I had over half!

I thought back over the past year, and the biggest red flag was probably unexplained weight loss – 40 pounds lighter in just two short months with no exercise…I dropped 6 pant sizes!  Who needs Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers?

Not to mention that two people in my family, that I know of, have been diagnosed with intestinal disorders directly increasing the likelihood of developing an intestinal disease oneself.  My grandmother has Crohn’s, and my sister has ulcerative colitis, which are sister-diseases of the intestinal tract.  AND -a research team examining associations between celiac disease and Crohn’s disease has now confirmed four common genetic variations between the two diseases.  Yeah.

Now, I am self-diagnosed, so I am not 100% sure whether I have Celiac Disease of Non-Cleliac Gluten Intolerance, or neither, but I do know that I can’t have gluten anymore without suffering the consequences – most noticable amongst my symptoms now is excessive fatigue.  (But that’s what coffee is for, right?)

Thanks for helping me with gluten-induced fatigue, new best friend!

And it is hard to cut out gluten completely!  Very hard.  Things like Oreo’s, Papa Murphy’s pizza, and the occasional beer (yes, even beer contains gluten) break down my will.  Shopping is really challenging in general.  So, so many processed foods have some sort of gluten-containing product in them.  I am still too impatient to stand read labels as carefully as I know I should.  But, in the months since I have self-diagnosed, I no longer buy wheat flour noodles or loaves of wheat bread – my two biggest weaknesses.  So, that is a solid start, I would say.

It is my 2012 goal to master the gluten-free diet.

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