It certainly has been quite some time since I have been glutened that I had truly forgotten how crappy you feel and how long it truly takes to recover.
Even after years of working on health, cleaning up every aspect of my life sometimes one decision can stop your progress and drag you right back to where you started, quite honestly it is humbling and it makes me truly grateful that I don’t feel this way anymore everyday.
You never forget what it feels like to get glutened but when it has been months or even years you may not notice the signs that your body is sending you right away that says “Houston we have a problem”.
I became exhausted. Not your regular tiredness but exhausted to the point of not wanting to get up out of bed, tired. So, I decided to take a bit of a break and stay in for the weekend and just rest and recharge my batteries. I had been working really hard and having trouble sleeping so I just thought it was my body telling me I needed to slow down. At no point did I think that I had been glutened yet….
I had a headache that wouldn’t seem to budge that lasted for several days. Now, I use to suffer with massive migraines so a low grade headache was annoying and happens from time to time but really didn’t set off any alarm bells yet…..
My hands, feet and legs ached. Ached to the point of pain and throbbing. Now I have had rheumatoid arthritis and this flares up from time to time and with the hurricane Matthew heading towards Florida so I really didn’t think much about this either yet…..
As a celiac, I have trouble with my lymph system and this is always something that I am aware of. What it looks like for me is excessive fluid in my legs. My legs can get so full of fluid that that stretch and begin it itch because my skin gets so tight. That means that my drains are clogged and I need to do certain exercises, get a lymphatic drainage massage and really slow down because my body is working way to hard. Now for me this is a work in progress that I have been dealing with for several months now so having a flair up of fluid did not automatically lead me to thinking that I had been glutened yet…..
My brain suddenly felt like it slowed down. I’m a writer and a creator and I suddenly found myself staring at a blank screen with no thoughts about anything. I attributed this to writers block, sounded reasonable, right? Some days no matter how much you want to or try to, the words just won’t come and the worst thing you can do at this point is stress out about it. You just have to take a step back, do something else, do some self-care and give yourself a break and it generally comes right back in a day or two. Well on day seven, I knew that something was up just wasn’t sure what it was yet….
I broke out in patches of bumps that itch to the point for me of bleeding (dermatitis herpetiformis). I keep my nails short because I have a tendency to scratch while I’m sleeping only to wake up with track marks of dried blood on my legs. This was for me undoubted the last straw, I knew I had been glutened and just couldn’t ignore or justify the signs that my body was sending me.
The thing is these clues didn’t happen all at once because if they did, then I would have known what was going on, I had each of these for a day or two and then would go back to being exhausted and then on to the next clue. These clues happened over a 3 week period.
Now why would that be? Usually, when you get glutened you have eaten something that causes a reaction in your body. And, then you go backwards and investigate what you have added into your diet and remove the culprit. We’ve all been there I’m sure.
For me, it wasn’t a food but it was a supplement that I added that I was taking 3 times a day, that was recommended to me to help with a hormonal imbalance that I have been having. And, it’s not like I don’t know to read the labels of everything that goes in or on my body but this time it made no mention of wheat, barley, rye or gluten as an ingredient. It made no mention of the fact that it was processed in a facility that processes wheat. I made sure that the ingredients were sourced from a good source and it didn’t have a bunch of fillers added and yet still I missed something. Clearly!
And, in truth this was really a wake up call to just how important it is to listen to our bodies. Listen to your intuition and don’t try to over think why your body is having a reaction, don’t make excuses for what could be going on, pay better attention to your body. Your body is constantly sending you a signal that something is wrong.
- Pain is that message!
- Exhaustion is that message!
- Fluid is that message!
- Brain Fog is that message!
- Lack of motivation is that message!
- Itching is that message!
- Dermatitis herpetiformis is that message!
Now I realize not everyone has the same clues or symptoms that equal that you have been glutened, the key is to recognize what are your symptoms? What are the clues that your body sends you?
I think we are all so use to feeling like crap that we have forgotten that feeling good is very much how we are suppose to be. How we are suppose to feel? We have all become so use to looking for band-aids and quick fixes to everything that it would have been all to easy for me to take something for my headaches, something for my arthritis, put some ointment on my itchy skin and take yet another nap and ignore the signs my body was sending me. How about you? How many band-aids do you use to get through yet another day of pain?
After years of being gluten free, living my life with zero cheat days, a commitment to my health, and a commitment to myself I have learned to take a step back and figure it out. Keep digging, keep investigating, keep looking for what is causing these issues. Yes, it took longer that I thought to figure out what was going on with my body but that was a great reminder that this is a lifelong disease. In truth, I am even more committed to my health because I absolutely know what feeling better feels like and it sure as heck isn’t this….
Do you remember what better feels like? Do you know what life without pain is? Do you know what healthy even is anymore?
Unfortunately, I have found far too many celiacs and people with autoimmune diseases that have pretty much given up and assume that their pains are what their normal has to be. That they go from doctor to doctor looking for answers and yet another prescription to hide the pain and what we have forgotten is that it’s each forkful that has the greatest impact on our health. I’m not saying that some prescriptions and supplements are not necessary for us to help our get in balance for a time it’s when we start believing that these will be needed for the rest of our life that this should raise some red flags for all of us.
I’ve been there, heck I was just there, I just chose to take a supplement that was suppose to fix my hormonal imbalance instead of looking at my diet first. I had cut out a certain food from my diet for the last few months and that food was what my body absolutely needed. My body had been screaming for this food and I missed it because I was too busy. I’m sure you’ve been there too, huh? We all are busy and don’t have the time to listen to our bodies! Right?
That’s a bunch of hogwash because now that I have added this food back in I can feel my body readjusting to it and it is the coolest thing is to know that when you feed your body what it needs, that your body can work efficiently and you can feel better even though I am still dealing with ramifications of being glutened. I can feel my body bouncing back again. Yes, I still have a ways to go before I am 100% because in truth it only takes 1/ 1000 of a gram of gluten (that’s equivalent to one crumb) to get into your system, to set off and trigger an immune system response in your body for the next three months.
Should you want to learn more about celiac disease and my philosophy feel free to check out my book Gluten Free Guide to a Healthy-Do-Over it's full of goodies, secrets your doctor most likely doesn't know and tips on how to live your best life when gluten is poison to your body.
The key is to absolutely keep searching and believing that better is possible because it is….. You just have to want it and be willing to make some real changes in your life.
* Here's my little disclaimer, I'm not a doctor, researcher, immunologist, just someone deeply concerned and trying to help as many peeps as I can make conscious, good, healthy choices for their health and their bodies when living life with gluten challenges. I have not been compensated or obligated to write this article, and as always, all thoughts and opinions are honest and my own!