Aug 232013
 

Paleo Diet pathI left the doctor’s office that day, March 2, 2009 with new hope.

The Lord had heard my pleas to “Show me something,” (see part 1), and was about to open a floodgate in answering me. My task was to follow the doctor’s orders and figure out what gluten was and getting it out of my diet!

While I took the time to figure out what gluten was I decided that I really needed to go back to following the strict phase 1 of the Fat Flush Plan (see part 2) – I had felt better on it and we were really praying and wanting to get pregnant again. So I began this leg of my journey doing this.

I also began googling gluten and gluten-free. Here’s some of what I learned in my beginning research.

  • Gluten is generally defined as the protein found in wheat, barely, and rye, and all derivatives of these grains. (there is more this that I will cover later)
  • Oats are often contaminated with gluten by the way they are grown and processed.
  • Gluten gives bread products its elasticity and keeps it from being crumbly. The word gluten comes from the Latin word for glue, it is sticky and acts as such (source).
  • More gluten is added to bake goods to give them a nicer consistency.
  • Gluten can cause a whole lot of health issues.

During the course of my research and sticking strictly to the Fat Flush Plan (which is gluten-free as it eliminates all starches and grains) we discovered I was again expecting. We were elated and scared – and had every reason to be we’d find out soon enough.

I won’t go into all the details here as this is my Journey to Paleo, not my Infertility Journey, but like our 1st pregnancy this one also ended exactly 2 weeks from our positive pregnancy test. Only this time not with a miscarriage, but in learning that my precious baby was not in my uterus but in (or on) my fallopian tube.

Crushed and devastated don’t even begin to describe my feelings at this point. In fact, 4 years later it still breaks my heart more than I can say, and I’ll be honest with you I’ve been putting off writing this section because of it. Having to deal with an ectopic pregnancy (and the extremely poor care I received) was one of the most difficult times in my entire life.

But God was with me!

And what I discovered soon after gave me the motivation to continue on my Journey to Paleo with steadfast determination no matter how much I wanted that donut I was offered!

Healthier Without Wheat

I already knew I was healthier without wheat, but I wanted and needed to know more about gluten. So I went online to see what books my library had and found this book and got it:

I’m just now realizing what a miracle this was. I knew this book was new after I read it, but I just saw as I grabbed that image that the publishing date for it was March 1, 2009 – just one day before my doctor told me to figure out what gluten was! My library isn’t known for having the very newest books, and seeing as how this was April 2009, I know God directed this book straight to me!

I read Healthier Without Wheat straight through in less than 2 days. It explained so much! Here’s a short list of what it covered(note I’m doing this from memory).

  • the history of wheat
  • differences between wheat allergy, celiac disease, and non-celiac gluten intolerance
  • list of over 200 different symptoms and diseases that have been linked to gluten (the list I believe is over 300 now!)
  • a thorough explanation of how clinical methods for diagnosing work, and the pros and cons to each (this is very useful information when dealing with medical professionals!!!)
  • a general discussion of how to eat gluten-free
  • lots of testimonials

The 2 parts of the book that stuck out to me the most where the list of symptoms and diseases linked to gluten and the diagnosing information. The big symptom that hit home to me was an increased risk of miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies, not to mention infertility in the first place. I was stunned.

The doctor who attended me during this last pregnancy had the gall to tell me that the statistics were so stacked against me in these 2 pregnancies that I was “lucky and should go play the lottery”! By her numbers, less than 10% miscarry after a fetal heartbeat has been detected, and less than 1% of pregnancies are ectopics. However, with undiagnosed gluten-intolerance these statistics jump, a lot – I can’t find my source but if memory serves correctly, to 20-30% for miscarriages and 15% for ectopic pregnancies!

If this symptom alone wasn’t enough, of the 200 symptoms and diseases listed in the book I have experienced 27 of them. I went over the list with my mom and we discovered that my siblings both ranked somewhere in the teens, and she had well over 60! (Her story with this is pretty incredible too.) I also learned that it is a genetic disorder.

Gluten Intolerance Symptom List

 

Gluten Free Journey

All during my research time I was eating wheat free (as far as I could identify that it was in a product) and trying back and forth to remain on the Fat Flush Plan. I felt better than I had before doing all of this, but I still hurt. Especially my back that was injured in a car accident in 2006. My back was physically healed, but Doc told me that if I didn’t do something I was going to have fibromyalgia – I was only 26! But I could already feel it. It hurt too much to do much of anything. I couldn’t carry my purse through a store, I couldn’t wear high heels, and I couldn’t even play ball anymore with the little boy that I nannied.

Three weeks after figuring out what gluten was and completely eliminating  it from my diet I was pain free!

Just 3 weeks! I had been in some state of pain for 2.5 years after my accident – and within 3 weeks it was gone! I felt great! I could play with the kids again and had energy to spare! (It was a good thing too, as the little boy wanted to do nothing that summer but play catch and hit a baseball!)

I also noticed just how bad I really felt when I did have something that contained gluten (I call this getting glutenated). It’s awful! Rarely are the symptoms immediate or even within a short period of time of eating the contaminated food (this is what makes diagnosing so difficult) – but within a few hours to a day I feel AWFUL! Everyone experiences symptoms differently. For me being glutenated usually means my legs and my back hurt, I get some stomach discomfort (bloating and such), I feel hungry constantly, and I generally feel very yucky for 3-5 days. I also get very depressed. Sometimes I have other symptoms as well or varying degrees of these symptoms, but this is my “normal” gluten reaction. These varying symptoms also makes diagnosis difficult.

For all of my symptoms to fully disappear again it generally takes about 3 weeks. Needless to say, the momentary pleasure of a sweet delicacy really lost its appeal at this point – especially knowing that it affected my fertility as well.

I’ve stuck with a gluten-free diet at a minimum since this point – and I haven’t looked back! It was a lot of work to relearn how to eat and cook, but the benefits have far outweighed the losses, and it does get easier with time. There are still parts that are difficult – mainly in dealing with social situations, but I’ve found that in general people are interested in learning more about it and though they may not understand completely they will honor my no thank you when offering me glutenated food.

Gluten Free Resources:

I spent a lot of time going back and trying to retrace some of my online research to share with you. What I found saddened me, as there is still a lot of confusing and misinformation out there. Here are some sites that can help point you in the right direction if you’d like to do your own gluten research.

Symptom Lists:

I searched all over trying to find a good comprehensive list to share with you of the 200/300 symptoms but came up with very little to show for it.

Books:

Healthier Without Wheat: A New Understanding of Wheat Allergies, Celiac Disease, and Non-Celiac Gluten Intolerance by Dr. Stephen Wangen (Kindle Edition here) (Highly recommend!)

The Gluten Effect by Dr. Vikki Petersen (Very good resource! It looks in depth at how gluten affects several large categories of health issues.)

Blogs:

A lot has changed in the world of gluten free since I really last took a look. I need to evaluate some of my old go to sites, and update later 🙂

God showed me a whole lot of something with this leg of my journey and it helped not only me, but Chris and my family as well. My prayer is that it will help you too.

But He still had a lot of showing left to do…

 

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  16 Responses to “Journey to Paleo – Part 3 Gluten-Free”

  1. Great article Crystal ! Very informative! 😉

  2. I’m interested with the fat flush plan as I also experience some symptoms indicated here. will bookmark you post. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. I am so glad that you finally found the cause of all your pain! So happy it is working for you 🙂

  4. I have to admit, I tried being gluten free for a year and yes, my lower system seemed to run so much better. I don’t think I am allergic in any way, just that my bowel works better without all the wheat. I honestly think I was eating way too much bread and pasta and getting away from that for those months proved my point. I did try and still use gluten free pasta. The bread hasn’t been one of my favs at all. So many of the symptoms above is also related with going through menopause too. So, I stay away from bread as much as possible and do have a cookie now and again. I have a sweet tooth.

    Good luck in your journey and great post.

    • I definitely have a sweet tooth as well! In fact today I had to stare down a Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter Fudge dessert! However, I’ve learned I can make A LOT of stuff myself – and sometimes even better! The chocolate chip cookies I make are my best friend’s favorite ever – and she’s an award-winning pastry chef! So it can be done – without the wheat and what-not, but it is a challenge. I’m glad you’ve found relief of your symptoms!

  5. I think I’ve seen that book, Healthier Without Wheat, at my library! I’ll try to find it again next time I go in there. I’m really enjoying reading about your Paleo Journey, Crystal. Thank you for the resources to look at–I did the sensitivity test and definitely need to look into cutting out gluten for awhile again. Looking forward to the next post!

  6. I’ll be interested in knowing what your favorite blog and recipe sites are for gluten free living/cooking. 🙂 Do you even use many recipes now? I find the longer I’ve been gluten free the less I use actual recipes and more just make things up as I go.

    • I do use recipes, but I have a lot that I’ve just made on my own. I’m planning at the end of the series to include a list of my common go-to sites. Usually if I’m looking for something specific I just type it into a search with gluten-free, or now Paleo 😉

  7. I eagerly await the portion of your blog each week now. I feel like I’m crying and triumphing along with you. Hubby and I are on day 11 and the withdrawals are getting easier. I’m so impressed with you and all that you’ve accomplished and I can’t wait until next week!

  8. Thanks for sharing your story Crystal. I might want to start reading that book. I’ve been thinking of taking gluten out of my diet because I’ve always been told it’s much healthier without it but never understood the reasoning behind it until I read this today. I don’t have all those issues but I do have some and I wonder if gluten could be behind it. Will certainly be reading up more on it as well myself.

    • Gluten intolerance is interesting. Some people are asymptomatic most of their lives – and then BAM! out of the blue it shows up. Other people’s symptoms change over time. And everyone has different ones. For Chris his main symptom is eczema, but I’ve never had it. I’d definitely check into it. Praying for you.

  9. You have an amazing story, Crystal. Your willingness and courage to share it will definitely help others.

    ~Lorelai
    Life With Lorelai

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