The Insiders Guide to Gluten Free Living
Initiation to the Club I Never Intended to Join
I definitely didn’t seek out the Gluten- free life. When I joined this club it was by default. If I would have known about the hard core initiation that I would have to go through, I’m not sure I would have jumped on board so readily. Giving up almost every great restaurant that I loved and having to eat products that tasted like cardboard for over a year wasn’t pleasant, but I had a vested interest….my son. I couldn’t let him go it alone. So, I think I almost convinced myself on purpose that I had gluten intolerance so that I could offer support to Nathan in this difficult part of his life.
Although my life has been changed both physically and mentally from living Gluten-free, I don’t claim that I’ve walked in my son’s shoes because unlike him, I don’t suffer from severe Gluten Intolerance. Meaning, that I don’t have skin issues, stomach aches, digestive issues, attention/focus issues, mood swings, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and leaky gut syndrome. I can empathize and I do, but it’s tough to have a severe gluten intolerance or Celiac and it’s constant work to keep yourself clean. I admire my son and his diligence and allegiance to this club that he never wanted to join. He’s moved up in the ranks and his membership is “gold” now. He’s loyal and he has seen great change in his life as a result. He deserves an award!
As a result of joining myself, I have reaped great benefits as well. My memory capacity has increased. I’m not as forgetful. As well, I never suffer from indigestion, or that heavy, full feeling after I eat. I don’t feel stuffed and therefore I don’t experience that pain in my stomach anymore after eating a heavy meal. I feel lighter, have a lot more energy. I feel younger and that’s important because I’m in my 50’s now.
We joined this club rather late after having a membership for years in another club called “Multiple Food Allergies”. I knew when Nathan was very young that something was up! He had a lot of digestive issues that would have us running to the bathroom a lot. As well, he suffered from eczema, many colds that turned into major respiratory infections, major ear infections, asthma, and hives. His tonsils would swell so huge that they wanted to take them out. I refused because that was the one indicator I had that something was not right before he would break out into these hives that would take weeks to cure with Prednisone. After, so many antibiotics and steroids we received a diagnosis. It seemed that it took forever because we had to jump from doctor to doctor. Our pediatrician knew nothing about food intolerance issues. While living in Chicago, we found Dr. Mercola, who specialized in Nathan’s type of issues and he tested Nathan with the IGG Elisa Allergy Test. It was a 90 panel food intolerance test that indicated Nathan was intolerant to seven different foods, including the big three: wheat, dairy and soy. Barley and Rye showed up as well, so I should have had a clue, but I was completely clueless about gluten. I didn’t know what it was or what it did. No connection whatsoever entered my brain. I do believe the reason that Dr. Mercola never mentioned the word “Celiac” is because it was considered very rare at the time.
Although my son became much better after we took him off these foods, he still had issues, which made me question myself a lot. This self doubt and guilt for taking away all the treats and comfort foods had me breaking the club rules a lot. We found ourselves spinning round and round and up and down like a yo yo for a few years. It didn’t help that my family was non-supportive during this time. I was deemed crazy for taking away Nathan’s milk, bread and candy, the sustenance of a child’s life! (Praise the Lord, they have all since embraced it fully.) It didn’t help that that we moved to three different countries during these years, as well. When we were living in Asia, everything had soy sauce in it! When he would react, I automatically assumed it was just the soy, but it was a double whammy for him because soy sauce is full of wheat too, which contains gluten!
When I finally decided that we needed to become major players in the “Multiple Food Allergy Club”, I knew that we had a lot of work ahead of us! We settled in Atlanta, Georgia in 2006 and we began to take the elimination of the certain foods more serious. I had to put my foot down and become hard core. We hired a nutritionist and began taking enzymes and a lot of supplements. It wasn’t easy. When I began to participating with my son, and gave up dairy, I noticed that I no longer had any sinus infections and the ringing in my ears went completely away. Lots of stuff I just lived with and thought was normal, evidently wasn’t. It was making a difference for Nathan too. His skin cleared up, no more colds.
Still, Nathan had these strange emotional outbursts and focus issues. As well, he was not growing at the rate we thought he should be. During this time, I began talking with my sister-in-law about Celiac Disease because there was a girl in her office that had it and many of her symptoms were just like Nathan’s. She was also dairy intolerant. This made me want to find out more information and so the research, plus the results of going gluten free for about two months had us convinced. After that, we went and had Nathan tested. Although he tested negative, because he was already off the gluten, it was unmistakeable that his symptoms were definitely Celiac related and he was advised to stay off gluten permanently. So we joined the club and he literally grew 3 inches within the 2nd month of being gluten free! It was amazing. His focus became much better and now we knew where all the emotional outbursts were coming from! They dissipated when the gluten was removed. I would love to tell you that joining the club made Nathan well, and then that would be the end of this book, but it was only the beginning of a journey that will be life long.
Learning to live this life is tough, but definitely worth every step we’ve taken because the results are life changing. Celiac proved to be more than just eliminating gluten because with any food intolerance, your body becomes damaged by the abuse you gave it for so many years and it takes a long time to repair. It also becomes damaged by accidentally ingesting gluten which happens frequently because you can’t control cross contamination. As well, we all make mistakes and believe that certain foods don’t contain gluten because we want them so bad and then have to pay the consequences later. So, next, we will learn about about living the life daily and you will gain the tricks and tips we have learned along the way. It’s full of shopping tips, recipes, social etiquette, and the emotional side of living the life!
I want you to know that yes, you will have to pay your club dues, but the benefits far outweigh the dues and there are other members out there to support you along the way. So, welcome to the gluten-free life and I hope you enjoy reading the Insiders Guide to Gluten Free Living!