Why this carb-lover is going gluten-free…and how I’m doing it.

gluten free for beginners

The whole idea of being gluten-free used to make me laugh. Chortle, really.

I adore baked goods. I swiped my kids’ graham cracker snacks all the time because hello? YUM. Annie’s white cheddar mac and cheese? Um, yes please.

A life without gluten sounded like a life not worth living to me. Until all of a sudden, just a few weeks ago, a host of health problems hit me (seemingly) out of left field.

Before the real drama started, I hadn’t been feeling my best for a while. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know I deal with depression and anxiety. I’ve written about how I’ve been frustrated with this terrible “brain fog” I’ve been feeling for months, seemingly because of antidepressants. My concentration has been nonexistent, I’ve been feeling like I have ADD, and I’ve just been out of it for ages.

Also, I should mention that I’ve always had IBS, which is the catch-all term for when your GI system doesn’t work right but no doctor can figure out why. I was tested for Celiac but it was negative (and I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief because see: my love of carbs?). But my GI system is still freaking out.

Anyway, to combat the brain fog and all that jazz, I’ve been weaning off antidepressants – again – in hopes of correcting these symptoms by clearing out my system. As of mid-May nothing had changed, even though I was down to a very low dose of my SSRI.

And then out of nowhere, I got really ill on Memorial Day. It’s a loooong story, so here’s the nitty gritty: I thought I had the worst PMS known to woman, got misdiagnosed with vertigo, ended up getting CAT and MRI scans, and then saw a neurosurgeon to be sure a brain thing I was born with (called a chiari malformation) wasn’t causing all this. Oh, and found out I have a cyst on my pituitary.

Um – say WHAT???

The nausea and balance issues have begun to fade, but all my other symptoms are still going strong: vision issues and depth-perception problems that prohibit me from driving. Headaches. Exhaustion. And all the neurological crap. Writing this post has taken me AGES because I can’t think clearly and looking at my big computer screen for too long is hard.

Finally my doctor ordered blood work – you know, after scaring me with the idea of brain surgery first – and got the Lyme test I had been requesting because I live in Tick Central, USA. She didn’t want to order it because I don’t have typical symptoms. But after me pestering her about it, she did.

In the meantime, Hubs started researching my symptoms himself.  What could be causing all this? And lo and behold, guess what can cause most of my symptoms? Yes, late-stage Lyme disease. But also? GLUTEN. Not Celiac – simply a general gluten intolerance. (I have found many articles about gluten intolerance symptoms, but this one lays it out best to me. I have 8 out of 10 symptoms on the list.)

Feeling so out of control of so many aspects of my health, I decided five days ago to go gluten free to see if I could improve my symptoms. And it’s been a whole lot easier than I ever thought it would. I’m mostly sticking to fruits, veggies, meats, potatoes, and rice. I’ve been following these Mayo Clinic guidelines to understand what is and isn’t GF. And I asked some GF friends for a few basic gluten-free snack recommendations, and they’ve all been delicious.

Seriously. I’ve been eating delicious, healthy food and still having some yummy snacks – and most importantly, ice cream. And it’s been easy! I didn’t even want to eat my kiddos’ muffins this weekend because those muffins now symbolize my GI issues and maybe even my other health issues. They no longer look tasty to me. It’s amazing.

I also found out on Friday that yes, I have Lyme. So I’m now on antibiotics and waiting for the confirmation Lyme test – and treatment of late-stage Lyme is controversial (who knew?) so I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that this round of meds works.

Honestly, I’m not sure if being GF with help with my neurological issues. Perhaps all of those issues are due to Lyme. Or my cyst. I won’t know more until this coming week.

But however the Lyme/cyst stuff turns out, I’ll have a feeling I’ll be staying gluten-free, simply because it’s already helping my digestive system. As I continue on with this GF thing I’ll be blogging about recipes and products I like, challenges I’ve had, and other discoveries.

If you’re thinking about going gluten-free, I invite you to follow along my journey and see what happens. Maybe being GF could change my life – and yours.

Here are my gluten-free meals and snacks so far. See? I’ve been eating well!

– Spicy fish (not the taco part) topped with Newman’s pineapple salsa

– Veggies sautéed with Wegman’s oil, over rice with parmesan cheese

– Salmon baked with GF teriyaki sauce, rice, snap peas

– Sandwich in GF wrap with GF pretzels and fruit

– Steak, veggies, potato

– Enjoy Life chocolate chip cookies

– Glutino multigrain crackers and Skippy’s all-natural peanut butter

– Nature’s Path Organic: Mesa Sunrise GF cereal

– Synder’s of Hanover GF pretzels with Newman’s pineapple salsa

– Talenti GF gelato: chocolate peanut butter (the most AMAZING thing EVER)

– Nutella and pears (Yay that Nutella is GF!!!)

Have you been thinking about going gluten-free? What intimidates you about it?
Also, if you are dealing with late-stage Lyme – I’d love to hear from you about tips and resources.

6/18/14 Update: It’s not Lyme, according to the second blood test. So now I’m off to a neurologist to try to unravel this health mystery.

photo credit: J P Davidson via photopin cc

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19 Replies to “Why this carb-lover is going gluten-free…and how I’m doing it.”

  1. Girl, you have been going through so much! I hope going GF helps. I haven’t attempted it because I’m like you were with carbs. It’s awesome how many GF options are available these days.

  2. Glad you are trying this and hope this helps you tons. I have been toying with Gluten free, because I have GI/IBS issues sometimes, too and kept hearing this could help. So, I thank you for sharing some of your gluten free diet choices here today, as well. Thinking of you and hoping you are feeling better as these changes are ongoing 🙂

  3. This year, I also had extremely bad PMS and periods and had brain fog so bad, I couldn't get words out or focus on much. My stomach hurt and I didn't want to eat anything and I kept getting bloated and gaining weight. Once I found a wellness doctor, she did some tests and told me to cut out gluten and also corn, citrus and all grains. Those came up as doing harm to my gut. So I cut those out and started another program called repairvite. Here is her link on the program http://drmariamaricich.com/weight-loss—detox/repairvite.html.

    I haven't had gluten or many grains since the end of December and I feel great! I also had Lyme disease twice, but caught it early, so I know what you mean by the neurological stuff. My mom had late-term lyme and she had to be really proactive about making her doctors keep treating her because of the politics of insurance and Lyme Disease. There is a book written by a woman from NY about Lyme and it helped my mom fight for herself with the doctors. http://whatislyme.com/cure-unknown-by-pamela-weintrub/ After two rounds of antibiotics, brain scans and spinal taps, Mom is is great condition. She was a little off mentally for a while, but getting the treatments helped and she's a normal 65 year old and is sharper now than in the past.

    This is a great resource for recipes and even some health info. She often posts recipes on Facebook http://againstallgrain.com/. I wish you luck. I think more and more people are becoming sensitive to foods like gluten and grains because of how they are grown (GMO) and processed. It's best to stay away from processed foods, even the so called healthy ones. I wish you luck and fun with being creative with food! It's not that bad!

  4. I hope this helps you as much as it’s been helping me. I feel so much better and am definitely eating much more consciously. Amazing what food can do to our bodies.

  5. That is an amazing tale of tenacity and knowing your body. I’m so glad you insisted to get the Lyme testing. I’m glad you are feeling better and much luck to you healing from the Lyme. Such a difficult diagnosis, but hopefully you won’t struggle too long.

  6. I’m glad you were willing to try it and that you are feeling better. Eating well helps us all! The hardest part is learning to ignore the people who keep telling you that Gluten intolerance doesn’t exist. I don’t care if anyone goes to McDonald’s and fills their bodies with crap, so why do you care that I don’t???

    BOTTOM LINE: You know how you feel, and follow your body’s response! I hope you feel better soon!

  7. So sorry to hear about the Lyme disease. Glad that you are finding options that make you feel better though! Keep it up and thank you for sharing what sounds like a tough post to write.

  8. Glad you’re feeling better. I also used to only eat carbs (known as the bread lady at camp when I was little because I refused to eat anything but bread) and I could live on pizza and pasta, but celiac got me. While it is still annoying after a year, I know that eating anything with wheat will just make me sick and makes it not at all worth it. And, of course, ice cream. Lots of ice cream. And (most) chocolate. May all of your other symptoms go away quickly and forever.

  9. What a strong woman you are!! That is a lot to deal with and I am super glad for you that GF is helping. A mom in our homeschool group has Celiac so I have learned a lot about it in the past year. Also one of my twitter friends, her daughter has Chiari. Just learned about that this past year also. You attitude seems so positive and I hope nothing for the best for you!!

  10. Nut Thins crackers and cheese is a favorite snack around here. My Hubby is also loving gluten free wraps right now in place of sandwiches. Chex cereal is also gluten free – love the Honey Nut flavor. And Betty Crocker has a YUMMY g-free sugar cookie mix. I hope this make you feel better. You don’t need any more shit to deal with – pun intended. Love you!

  11. I’m just happy to hear that you’re feeling a bit better! You also give this fellow carb/baked goods lover hope that I could cut out some of the “crap” and replace it with gluten-free and not lose my ever loving mind! xo

  12. I too was told I had IBS for years and when I was finally diagnosed with Celiac 6 years ago I didn't know what was worse the diet or living with the constant GI symptoms. But I've mastered the diet and I found it changed so many things for me. Not to mention the food choices are so much better now. Good luck on your GF journey!

  13. My nutritionist said I have a gluten sensitivity & to cut back on gluten but I “don’t have to go crazy”. Even with that being said, I notice a HUGE difference in my mood even if I have one piece of wheat toast. So I try to avoid wheat as much as I can. Good luck!

  14. I have definitely considered trying gluten free, especially with my younger daughter. I appreciate this post, because you are giving specific, helpful information about exactly what you are doing! Thank you! :)-Ashley

  15. This is SO inspiring, JD! I have no reason to go GF but my Moo has been tested for Celiac’s due to a tendency for diabetics to have it. I am intrigued by the notion as I have read some things about how we just consume way too many carbs in general and the effects that has on our systems. Very good to know that it’s not as hard as it seems and I do hope it will yield good long-term results for you!

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