Sometimes I just need to take my own advice, even if it does kind of suck. Thus began my gluten-free experiment.
I’ve suspected for a while that I’m mildly gluten-intolerant. I tested negative for Celiac several years ago, and have never had any of the severe reactions that I’ve seen so frequently in clients (fibromyalgia, infertility, extreme GI distress, etc). But, I had definitely noticed milder reactions – low-level GI stuff, a seeming correlation to headaches, fatigue, etc. And lately I’ve been feeling a bit spacey and tired. So, I did some research and ordered a gluten-intolerance test kit from enterolab.
Now, testing for gluten intolerance is a tricky thing. I’m obviously not a doctor, but everything I’ve read about various gluten sensitivity testing options indicates that there’s no one test that is 100% accurate – or even anywhere near it. I’ve personally seen clients who were so gluten intolerant they were practically bed-ridden, yet had negative test results for celiac (and yes, their symptoms cleared up on a gluten-free diet). I decided to go with enterolab for 2 reasons: 1) it uses a method that is believed to pick up even milder forms of gluten sensitivity and 2) they also offer genetic screening (if you do not have one of the genes associated with celiac, you are almost guaranteed to never develop it). Not shockingly, my test came back positive. And, I have 1 of the 2 genes associated with celiac disease, so I’m genetically pre-disposed. This was definitely a bummer, as I do love my pizza.
To be really sure, I decided to do an elimmination/challenge with gluten (I’ve done such challenges before, but never with just gluten). Basically, I cut out all gluten for one month, and then did a gluten “challenge” – a big ol’ gluten-fest to see what happens.
First of all, my gluten-free month was actually not so bad. I experimented with GF banana bread, brownies, and zucchini muffins that were quite tasty and satisfying when I felt like I needed a little something. And I definitely felt less sleepy during the day, and like I could concentrate on the task at hand more. I even felt stronger, and seemed to sleep better. Interestingly, my digestion didn’t seem to change much (I was eating more dairy, so maybe that’s why), but all in all I was feeling pretty super.
Last night I decided to go for the challenge – the gluten-fest. I had a crepe from Luna, part of a croissant, and a cookie. Pretty tasty indeed. And no immediate reaction.
Alas, about 3 hours after dinner my sinuses filled up, and it almost seemed like I was having an allergy attack. And this morning I woke up with a migraine-like headache. Big bummer. I wish I could say this was a coincidence, but I don’t think that’s the case. If I were my own client, I would certainly tell myself to accept reality. Like I tell my clients – at least now I know what I’m in for, if I do decide to eat anything with gluten. In my dorky mind, it’s all about making educated decisions. Next time I am faced with a pizza craving, I’ll know there’s likely a headache that will come along with it. And really, when will I want that?
Gluten intolerance manifests with so many different kinds of symptoms, and on various levels of severity, it can be darn confusing to figure out. The decision to eat it or not eat it is often not as simple as “yes” or “no”, and it certainly is an emotional issue. If you think something you’re experiencing is related to a food intolerance, I highly recommend doing an elimination/challenge experiment. Sometimes it’s easy to talk yourself out of a diet/lifestyle change because of what you think you’ll be missing (different foods), but what these challenges can do is teach you what you’ve been missing (better health).