Avoiding gluten seems to be a fad for many, for others it's not even a choice. I fall somewhere in between; although those around me would say that it's not really a choice for me anymore either.
When I became sick in 2010 my doctors ran every test in the book, including tests for celiac disease to determine if a gluten allergy was making me sick. All of the tests came back negative and eventually I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
While the only answers doctors had for me came in a prescription bottle, there were plenty of other people around me giving all sorts of advice. I heard from several people that diet changes were sure to make me feel better. The problem is that they were suggesting everything from dairy to gluten to meat. If I gave up everything they suggested might be making me sick, what I would be left with?
For the next two years, I continued to ignore the suggestions that food sensitivities (not allergies) might be at the root of my illness. Finally, I'd had enough. Enough feeling terrible. Enough fatigue. Enough pain that kept me on the couch instead of living life. Just enough. I was willing to try anything. However, rather than simply jumping on this idea that it was definitely food sensitivities and definitely gluten, or dairy, or eggs, I decided to have some tests run to see if I was, in fact, sensitive to certain foods.
The Results Are in
The tests were positive. While the results showed very low markers for sensitivities, the markers were there for gluten, whey, eggs, and yeast. So, I decided to try living without these foods. I removed all of them completely for a full month before I tried any of them again. I felt so much better within just a couple of weeks that I decided I wasn't interested in re-introducing any of the foods. Eventually, however, I did.
The first time I had gluten again was completely an accident. We'd gone out to eat, and I ordered something that sounded safe enough. However, I should have asked. The next day or so I felt awful. I was suddenly reminded of just how bad I'd felt in the years before my diet changes. The over-arching pain and fatigue were back. Fortunately, as I returned to a gluten-free diet the fatigue and pain went away, and I felt good again.
I've now been gluten-free for four years. I'm thankful that it's become a fad of sorts, because that fad has made my life much easier. It's so much easier now than it was four years ago to go out to dinner and find a gluten-free menu. Better still, it's easier to find options on a gluten-free menu that aren't just salad.
I'm grateful that I don't have to avoid gluten to the level that someone with celiac has to avoid it, and these days if a little gluten sneaks in it isn't going to lay me out like it did four years ago. I don't have to be as careful now, but I am still careful. I still avoid gluten.
I have to say that weight wasn't really something I considered when I decided to cut out gluten. But, within six months of removing it from my diet, I lost 40 pounds. That's one positive side effect that I never had with any of the prescription medications that I tried for my illness.
I'm also eating healthier overall. Instead of simply replacing pasta and bread with gluten-free versions, I've mostly removed those items from my life. I eat more salads these days and more fruits and vegetables in general.
I rarely ever feel like I've given something up.
Why did I go gluten-free? I went gluten-free because I wanted to feel better. At the time, I didn't know if that change would work, but it did, and although I might miss certain foods on occasion, I have to say it's been worth it.