At the end of this post, I said that I would leave the discussion of gluten for another day.  It’s a big topic for me personally and “going gluten free” has gotten a lot of attention lately, so I want to give it the treatment it deserves.

As I explained in that post, from 1995 until 2005 I ate a “clean” diet and avoided artificial ingredients as much as possible.  I focused on whole grains, organic produce, and minimally processed ingredients.  In 2005, after experimenting with the removal of dairy, I totally eliminated it from my diet.  I felt a lot better, but still had symptoms that suggested something was awry: horrendous GI pain and problems, arthritis and persistent cystic acne.

As you know from my post about minimalist shoes, I eschew health and fitness fads.  I run the other way.  So after my endoscopy came back negative for celiac disease, when my gastroenterologist told me there was no reason at all to avoid gluten, I enjoyed grains aplenty.  I did try to introduce a few “heritage” grains into my diet: spelt, millet, and amaranth, most notably.  And I used a lot of the Ezekiel sprouted grain products.  But, my M.D. had said I was fine to eat gluten so I saw no reason to eliminate it.

Fast forward to the summer of 2011.  My skin was in the throes of a nearly year-long eruption that made me look like a teenage girl’s worst nightmare.  (I was 37, mind you.)  I’ve suffered from acne since the age of twelve (a longer post on this topic is forthcoming, by the way) so I was no stranger to eruptions.  But this was the worst my skin had ever looked in my life.

I had just weaned my children (for the uninitiated, that means they stopped breastfeeding) and I assumed that the hormones were causing the intense acne.  I had other symptoms I attributed to weaning, too, like horrific mood swings, ocular migraines, and dizziness.  I consulted my acupuncturist, my naturopath, and spent every night reading posts and combing medical journals for clues.

(If you are wondering why I didn’t go to the dermatologist, just wait for the acne post.)

Meanwhile, I was spending loads of money, time and energy investigating the GI issues as well.  (You can insert months of tests and visits to specialists here.  I won’t bore you with details.)

I had been hearing more and more about the Paleo lifestyle and, just as with my previous flirtation with veganism, I wondered if it might help clear my skin and help my ailing stomach.  But because it had become so popular, I resisted mightily.

However, the more I read about “leaky gut syndrome” (click here for some background from Chris Kresser), the more I wondered if my gastroenterologist had been wrong.  Maybe gluten was a problem for me.  Maybe I didn’t have celiac, but maybe I had some other condition that conventional medicine hadn’t named or substantiated.

It took me awhile to admit that just because conventional medicine wasn’t acknowledging my problem, that did not mean my problem didn’t exist.

There’s probably some psychology behind that.  I am, after all, the daughter of an M.D.  Despite all of the wonderful healing and wellness I have found outside the conventional medical paradigm, I still carry baggage from childhood.

Was part of me resisting a healthful change because I thought someone might not approve?

In July of 2011, I took the plunge.  I went hard-core Paleo plus a little autoimmune protocol.  (For a great explanation of the autoimmune protocol, read The Paleo Mom’s series on The WHYS of the Autoimmune Protocol.)  I eliminated all grains, including corn and rice, plus all legumes and nightshades.

I started on a Wednesday.  By Saturday I wanted a bowl of oatmeal and some pasta.  So I ate them.  That was the last time I ever craved or sought out gluten.  There is an off-chance I’ve ingested some out and about somewhere, but since that weekend I have not purposely eaten it.

And here’s what happened:

  • My arthritis and my generally achy joints stopped hurting.
  • I started to sleep better.
  • I felt leaner.  I looked leaner.
  • I ate breakfast at 7ish and wasn’t hungry again until 1 or 2pm.  (As opposed to before when I needed to eat every 3 hours.)
  • My moods stabilized.
  • I grew thicker, fuller hair.  (My stylist noticed.)
  • My vision improved.
  • The world seemed brighter and more vivid.  (This may sound odd, but it really did!)

And here’s the kicker:

  • My stomach problems VANISHED.
  • Then, after about a year, so did my acne.
I don’t regret going gluten free.  Not for a second.  My life is happier and healthier.  The world just seems a little brighter.  I don’t understand it.  I can’t explain it.  I don’t have a name for it, although “gluten sensitivity” seems the most fitting.  I just know that I don’t want to go back to living life the way I used to live it.
Your turn.  Please share.
* * * * * * *
(If you are curious about Paleo, check out the book links to the right.  Robb Wolf’s book [amazon_link id=”0982565844″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Paleo Solution[/amazon_link] provides a lot of the foundational information and is delivered with a dose of self-effacing humor.  Diane Sanfilippo’s newly released [amazon_link id=”1936608758″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Practical Paleo[/amazon_link] is a treasure.  It features simple, clear explanations about the whys of the Paleo lifestyle, plus recipes and special modifications for a variety of issues you might be facing.)

4 Responses to “My Wellness Journey: Why I Eat the Way I Do, Part II”

  1. on 17 Oct 2012 at 9:11 pmKathy S

    That is amazing. I keep hearing stories like yours and am so intrigued. We have no real health issues at this time but I want to do what’s best for my family (proactively). Does your whole family follow the same diet? If so, how do you handle school snacks? Birthday parties?

  2. on 17 Oct 2012 at 9:48 pmKristine Rudolph

    My middle child, M, is strictly gluten free. If she ingests gluten, she complains after about 15 minutes that her stomach hurts her. We tested for celiac – negative – but the pediatrician (who I love) said, “If it hurts her to eat it, she shouldn’t be eating it.” Love it when commonsense prevails!

    I don’t serve gluten in the home, but I do sometimes serve them other grains such as a random corn tortilla here and there. We also all eat white rice on occasion.

    A few months ago, my husband decided on his own to go full time Primal (Paleo + dairy). He had been eating that way at home so it was more doing it while on the road and at lunch. There have been challenges, of course, but I think he would say it has been worth it.

    My oldest child, W, will sometimes eat a gluten product at an event. We talk a lot about it and I usually let it be his choice. Sometimes he opts to avoid it and sometimes he eats it. He’s well-armed with information now and I want him to make his own decisions. But we talk a lot about how we feel after we eat certain things.

    I have found that part of coping with parties and such is to just be very prepared. We eat a meal in advance of a lot of events. I used to bring cupcakes (usually homemade with coconut or almond flour or in a pinch, a Pure Knead one from a local health food store) but now I am able to just assure them they will get a treat when we get home instead. And then I either give them a cupcake or some dark chocolate, or some other goodie I have made.

    After a few years of communal school snacks, our school changed its policy and now each child brings in his or her own snack. I was a vocal advocate for that change and really, really appreciate that they made it. It’s taken a load off my mind, although now my children are old enough to know what foods contain gluten.

    There are so many food allergies, vegans / vegetarians, and people with celiac these days that I have found having a special diet is not all that unusual anymore.

    My favorite “treat” source is Elana’s Pantry – I also have her two cookbooks. Her recipes are simple and have turned out very nicely for me. I use, too.

  3. on 18 Oct 2012 at 11:01 amKathy S

    Thank you for all the info and resources. I have lots of reading and research to do!

  4. […] you have read my posts about why I eat the way that I do, you may recall that for a very, very long time, I suffered from major digestive problems.  To go […]

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