I have been eating gluten free for exactly four weeks today.
Since the beginning of the year, I had been feeling progressively worse and worse both mentally and physically. I was always exhausted, no matter how much (or little) sleep I got and my digestive system was bothering me more and more. My worst fear was that my anxiety and depression had escalated to a level where I would need to increase the dosage of my anti-depressants, so I put off going to see the doctor as long as possible. Five weeks ago, it came to a point where I couldn’t deal with feeling gross anymore, so finally sucked it up and made that doctor’s appointment.
Shortly before going to see my doctor, a friend said to me, "I know other people who have had some of the same symptoms as you - it turned out they couldn’t eat gluten." While I didn't really believe this would be the case with me, I was determined to ask whether it was a possibility.
When it came time for the doctor’s appointment, we talked about a lot of the possibilities that it could be - everything from allergies to hormones to depression. In the end, it was suggested I try a gluten free diet while they did some blood tests. It took about ten days to get the results of the blood tests, and even though they had discovered a B12 deficiency and potential iron overload (which I need to get tested for again next week and REALLY hope was just a false alarm), by the time these results came in, I was already feeling so much better that I decided to stay on the gluten-free diet.
And it was hard for the first two weeks, but as soon as I started seeing positive results, it got progressively easier. And now, only four weeks in, so much has changed, and I’m super excited about it all. So I feel the need to brag. (And thus, this post.)
The most important item first - I will fully admit that I didn’t realize I had IBS until I stopped eating gluten. For the past ten years, I had figured that it was normal to be in pain a lot of the time, to have really bad cramping every single day. It had originally come on so gradually, that I didn’t even consider I shouldn’t be feeling that way. How bizarre is that, that I didn’t even think that wasn’t normal? It was so strange for that to disappear as soon as my system flushed itself out, and I have been cramp free for about three weeks now. That alone is enough to leave me committed to steering away from the gluten.
The next two items are related, and I never thought that the change in diet would fix this. I’ve always had a bit of psoriasis on my face. Within two weeks, it had completely cleared up - that has NEVER happened before, no matter what I’ve done to treat it. Also, the scalp issues that I’ve had since childhood are improving greatly. These have plaguing me a very long time, and no matter what shampoo or treatment I have used things don’t improve - including what dermatologists and stylists have recommended. There’s still a long way to go before it’s completely 100% better, but it’s already improved so much that I have noticed a huge difference.
Then lastly, there’s the weight issue. I’m not large, but I’m not comfortable with my size. And I’m not comfortable with the fact that in the past 5 years, I’ve put on 20 lbs and can’t fit into most of my clothes. I have tried everything I can to lose those 20 lbs again. When one has done everything from dieting to changing her exercise routine, and then some.... well, it was getting extremely frustrating and disheartening to see that, on the good days, my weight would remain constant. Except! In the past two weeks, I’ve lost 4 lbs, and the only thing that has changed has been the removal of gluten from my diet.
It’s so strange to think about how much can change with just eliminating something from your diet. And although it’s hard, it’s actually not as bad now as it had been even just two weeks ago. I've always cooked a lot of the food I eat from scratch, so a lot of it is just changing a few ingredients and changing a few habits. While this has been a challenge, I'm proud of myself for sticking with it and am excited at the positive results I've seen from it!