Food Allergies: Gluten and Other Food Issues Develop
During the winter of 2011 our family was thrown into a situation that we could not have anticipated nor were prepared to deal with. We had just returned home from a family excursion to a foreign country and in the weeks and months that followed I began to rapidly lose weight. Weight that I really didn’t have to lose. I looked gaunt, was suffering from chronic fatigue, muscle pain, gastric pain, bloating, and unusual bruising among other symptoms too unpleasant to write about.
Our youngest child, who was 2 years old at the time, had difficulties soon after birth that were later determined to be linked to food allergies, dairy and egg consumed through my breast milk. So while we had some experience with the process of eliminating foods from our diets we were unprepared for how far reaching this new situation would prove to be. Our two children were enduring a host of symptoms also but didn’t know how to express what they were feeling. We would be awoken every night to their choking and coughing. Unable to get comfortable at night led to their being excessively tired all of the time. Their growth was very sluggish and their stools abnormal.
The troubles that I was experiencing caused me to stop and question everything. Why were the children so uncomfortable at night? Why were their bodies unable to regulate their digestive tracts? Why were their tummy’s hurting so frequently? Then it hit me that many of the symptoms that the children and I had were very similar. I was going to many doctors to try to obtain a diagnosis for my set of circumstances. It was clear to me that my body was rejecting something. I spent many hours researching a possible cause to our illnesses, many hours pouring over my family’s medical history. It was driving me crazy. How could I be 30 years old and be unable to get out of bed in the morning?
I suspected celiac’s disease, knowing that it was in my mother’s family line. After going through (2) rounds of an anti-parasitic drug (as a possible cause due to international travel), I was referred to a gastroenterologist. This doctor performed the typical tests for celiac disease – lab work & a biopsy of my small intestine. Immediately after the tests were completed I removed ALL gluten and soy from my diet. Slowly day by day my symptoms seemed to lessen. Two weeks following the tests I received a phone call from the hospital, “My blood work was botched and had to be repeated.” I had to return to eating gluten. How could that be? The last thing I wanted to do was return to the food that I felt was causing my misery. After only two days of ingesting gluten I returned to the hospital to repeat the lab work only later to find out that the results were “Inconclusive”. The tests had conflicting results and I would not be formally diagnosed with anything.
When I asked the doctor how I should adjust my life style as a result of the tests he had nothing to offer other than to say, “Keep doing what you’re doing.” How frustrating! I underwent a whole barrage on invasive tests to have no professional opinion rendered. I did what I knew was best from that day forward. What harm would it be to remove gluten from our family’s diet and see how things improved?
Removing gluten from our diet was the best decision we could have made.
The children’s pediatrician felt that our decision to remove gluten was very valid. It proved to be a very wise decision. The children’s sleep habits improved tremendously and so did their dispositions. Prior to the adjustment in our diet, we were struggling with constant illness for sometimes 6-8 weeks accompanied by several rounds of antibiotics. That vicious cycle is now a thing of the past for the children. We now prepare ALL of our food at home. At times that can feel like a huge sacrifice. However, when I am quickly reminded by my husband of the illness that ensues if we choose to eat food processed outside of our home, I come back to my senses.
Since removing gluten we have also made the choice to forego egg and dairy in our diet to eliminate other lingering symptoms. Our daily menu now includes lots of fresh veggies, fruits, nuts and nut butters, alternate grains such as quinoa, brown rice, millet, sorghum, teff to name a few. Things I had never heard of before our adventure began.
What seemed to be an insurmountable task in the beginning has now become a way of life. One valuable life lesson I’ve learned from this new chapter in our life is – Don’t be afraid to change something for the good. Join me as I share our journey for a zero waste, gluten free lifestyle.
Live out your imagination, not your history!
If you want something different, be it better health, more time with your loved ones, less debt, be the change! You can do it!