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’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 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.
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.
- Symptoms & Conditions Potentially Associated with Celiac Disease (this is the most comprehensive list I could find)
- Am I Gluten Sensitive? (symptom list and lots of good info here!)
- Symptoms of Gluten Sensitivity and Celiac Disease (general listing of symptoms)
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.)
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…
Stay tuned as I continue to share my Journey to Paleo. Bare with me as it’s a long story to tell.If you’d like to receive updates of when this and other posts are available please sign up for emails here, Facebook here, or Twitter here.
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